Star Wars Vs Star Trek Word Battle

December 15, 2017
By

(This article was first published on r-tastic, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

It will go without saying that I’m super excited about the premiere of another Star Wars movie and I’m not an exception. This, together with with Piotr Migdal’s challenge posted on Data Science PL group on Facebook where he suggested comparing word frequencies between two different sources. It didn’t take me long to decide what source to choose! So in this short kand sweer blogpost I’m comparing word frequencies between two movie scripts: “Star Wars: The New Hope” (1977) and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979). I chose these two because of 1) the obvious “competition” going on between the two camps and 2) similar time they were first broadcast. Let’s get cracking!

Let’s load necessary packages:

library(rvest)
library(dplyr)
library(tm)
library(tidytext)
library(ggthemes)
library(ggplot2)
library(DT)

The first one, rvest, comes in handy in web-scraping text from the movie scripts (it’s amazing what you can get online for free these days):

# SW and StarTrek URLs
swIV_url <-"http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Star-Wars-A-New-Hope.html"
startrek_url <- "http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/startrek01.html"

## scrape movie scripts
# StarWars
star_wars <- read_html(swIV_url) %>%
  html_nodes("td") %>% 
  html_text() %>% 
  .[[88]]

#StarTrek
star_trek <- read_html(startrek_url) %>%
  html_nodes("pre") %>%
  html_text() 

# here's what we've got
str(star_wars)
##  chr "\r\n\r\n\n\n\n                                        STAR WARS\n\n                                        Epis"| __truncated__

As you can see, the script texts are very messy, so I write a customised function to clean them up a bit:

# remove messy bits ;)
clean_text <- function(x) {
  x <- gsub("\\\n", " ", x)
  x <- gsub("\\\r", " ", x)
  x <- gsub("\\\t", " ", x)
  x <- gsub("[[:punct:]]", " ", x)
  x <- x %>% 
    tolower() %>% 
    removeNumbers() %>% 
    stripWhitespace()
  x}
    
# apply the customised function to both datasets
clean_star_trek <- clean_text(star_trek)
clean_star_wars <- clean_text(star_wars)

# result
str(clean_star_wars)
##  chr " star wars episode iv a new hope from the journal of the whills by george lucas revised fourth draft january lu"| __truncated__

That’s MUCH better! From here, we are only a few steps away from getting the desired word frequency tables:

data("stop_words")


sw_tokens <- clean_star_wars %>%
  as_tibble() %>% # trasforming vector to tibble
  rename_(sw_text = names(.)[1]) %>% # assign a column name
  mutate_if(is.factor, as.character) %>% # convert it from factor to character
  mutate(swt=unlist(sw_text)) %>% 
  unique() %>% 
  unnest_tokens("word", sw_text) %>% # break text down into single words
  anti_join(stop_words) %>% # remove stop words
  count(word, sort = TRUE) %>% # count word frequency and sort it in decreasing order
  rename(sw_n = n)


st_tokens <- clean_star_trek %>%
  as_tibble() %>% 
  rename_(st_text = names(.)[1]) %>%
  mutate_if(is.factor, as.character) %>% 
  mutate(stt=unlist(st_text)) %>% 
  unique() %>% 
  unnest_tokens("word", st_text) %>% 
  anti_join(stop_words) %>% 
  count(word, sort = TRUE) %>% 
  rename(st_n = n)

sw_tokens
## # A tibble: 3,385 x 2
##    word      sw_n
##        
##  1 luke       726
##  2 int        314
##  3 han        269
##  4 star       235
##  5 death      229
##  6 threepio   217
##  7 cockpit    196
##  8 ben        176
##  9 ext        167
## 10 vader      162
## # ... with 3,375 more rows

TA-DA! Our tables are ready and squeky clean 🙂 Now, I’ll use inner_join() to narrow down the data to only those words that the two scripts have in common. To compare the frequencies I’ll use a variable called log_word_prop: logarithm of the proportion between Star Wars and Star Trek word frequency. This means that the more positive the value, the more drastic the difference in frequency it is in favour of Star Wars. On the other hand, the more negative the value, the more commonly it was used in Star Trek (in comparison to Star Wars).

final_tokens = sw_tokens %>% 
  inner_join(st_tokens) %>% 
  mutate(log_word_prop =  round(log(sw_n / st_n),3),
         dominates_in = as.factor(ifelse(log_word_prop > 0, "star_wars", "star_trek"))) 

final_tokens
## # A tibble: 1,293 x 5
##    word     sw_n  st_n log_word_prop dominates_in
##                         
##  1 int       314   110         1.05  star_wars   
##  2 star      235     9         3.26  star_wars   
##  3 death     229     1         5.43  star_wars   
##  4 ext       167    49         1.23  star_wars   
##  5 red       152     7         3.08  star_wars   
##  6 fighter   121     1         4.80  star_wars   
##  7 wing      112     1         4.72  star_wars   
##  8 ship      109    48         0.820 star_wars   
##  9 space      90    45         0.693 star_wars   
## 10 surface    87     5         2.86  star_wars   
## # ... with 1,283 more rows

And we can finally visualise our findings: first, let’s have a quick glipse on what words occured in pretty much the same frequency in both movies:

set.seed(13)

final_tokens %>% 
  filter(abs(log_word_prop) == 0) %>% 
  arrange(desc(sw_n)) %>% 
  sample_n(30) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(word, log_word_prop),  y = log_word_prop, fill = dominates_in)) +
  geom_bar(stat  = "identity", show.legend = FALSE) +
  theme_minimal() +
  coord_flip() +
  xlab("") +
  ylab("log(word_prop)") +
  scale_fill_brewer(palette = "Set1") +
  ggtitle("Sample of words that occur with the same frequency in SW and ST")

I must say, I expected this most similar vocabulary to be much more technical. At the same time, this time according to expectations, those words reflect action and drama in both movies: things cease, emanate and shove, people shock, experience agony and are determined and knowledgeable.

What about most polarizing words? I chose to show the words that were at least 12 times (log_word_prop > 2.4) more common in one movie than the other. What are they?

final_tokens %>% 
  filter(abs(log_word_prop) > 2.4) %>% 
  filter(!word %in% c("ext", "int")) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(x = reorder(word, log_word_prop),  y = log_word_prop, fill = dominates_in)) +
  geom_bar(stat  = "identity") +
  theme_minimal() +
  coord_flip() +
  xlab("") +
  ylab("log(word_prop)") +
  scale_fill_brewer(palette = "Set1") +
  ggtitle("Words that show strikingly different frequencies in Star Wars and Star Trek")

Haha! You may not be surprised that the most Star Wars-y vocabulary is full of words like death, star, imperial or even father, but I didn’t expect female or cloud to be THAT much more present in Star Trek! Some things never cease to surprise even most determined and knowledgeable people, even if they have assistance of imperial technician 😉

UPDATE!!

After Piotr’s suggestion, I decided to play a bit with ggplot’s excellent geom_text(). This little tweak can give you surprising inisghts into the Word Battle matter! Below I plotted the more dominant frequency of a given word againts a relative difference in word proportion:

final_tokens %>% 
  mutate(dominant_freq = as.numeric(ifelse(sw_n > st_n, sw_n, st_n))) %>% 
  filter(!word %in% c("ext", "int")) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(log_word_prop, dominant_freq, label = word)) +
  geom_text(check_overlap = TRUE) +
  theme_minimal() +
  ylab("Word frequency in a dominating movie") +
  xlab("log(word_prop)") +
  scale_fill_brewer(palette = "Set1") +
  ggtitle("Word frequency by word proportion in Star Wars and Star Trek")

Not a bad start! A much more appealing – although a bit less readable – look can be achieved with geom_label():

final_tokens %>% 
  mutate(dominant_freq = as.numeric(ifelse(sw_n > st_n, sw_n, st_n))) %>% 
  filter(!word %in% c("ext", "int")) %>% 
  ggplot(aes(log_word_prop, dominant_freq, label = word)) +
  geom_label(aes(fill = dominates_in), colour = "white", fontface = "bold") +
  theme_minimal() +
  ylab("Word frequency in a dominating movie") +
  xlab("log(word_prop)") +
  scale_fill_brewer(palette = "Set1") +
  ggtitle("Word frequency by word proportion in Star Wars and Star Trek")

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