“The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”
I distinctly remember going to see “Star Wars” in 1977. I was only 8 years old, but my parents took my sister and I to see the phenomenon. It was only showing at a single screen theater in downtown Lake Charles at the time, but we stood in line got our tickets and changed our lives.
From the moment the music hit and the crawl started up the screen I was hooked. Then a Star Destroyer flew in over my shoulder and I was in for the duration.
The Star Wars trilogy was positively transformative to my generation. It was our first real “new” cultural touchstone. We spoke fluent Star Wars on the playground of Dolby Elementary. Batman and Superman were replaced by Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as the pretend characters du jour.
We riffed on what would be cool in another Star Wars movie before the word sequel was ever part of our lexicon. Some of us even began to write stories featuring our new religion, long before we had a clue what fanfic was.
Please note, that nowhere above do I refer to the original movie as “A New Hope.”
That is not a mistake.
You see, I refuse to believe that George Lucas had 6 movies storyboarded when he set out to make his original with a cast made up of largely unknown actors and actresses.
And somewhere along the way, George drank the Kool-Aid and started believing his own press. What was a fun spaghetti western in space turned into a ridiculously overwrought space opera that included trade embargos and legislative politics.
Not so much.
The prequels were as much fun as root canal surgery. We all know it. The promise of Darth Maul was replaced by the alien stereotyping of Jar Jar Binks. The innocence of Mark Hamill was replaced by the woodeness of Hayden Christensen. Not even Yoda throwing down on Christopher Lee with a blazing green light saber was enough to save this steaming pile.
And what’s worse, it changed the whole context of the first three movies. It went from being about the rise of a hero, Luke Skywalker, to being about the fall of Anakin Skywalker, his full embrace of evil and his iron fisted domination of an entire galaxy. His deathbed betrayal of Palpatine is much less empressive when held up against the ease with which he was manipulated into being at the Emperor’s side to begin with.
This point was driven home a week or so ago when my four year old son, Jack, who has watched “Star Wars” several times in recent months, got bored enough with “Attack of the Clones” to ask me to turn it off. This was despite the promise of more Stormtroopers than he could count and the aforementioned ass-kicking Yoda.
If these movies can’t hold the attention of a kid then what’s the point of making them. Well, besides the millions in revenue from licensing.
These movies were magical when I was a kid and I look forward to sharing the original three with my boys, but when the mystical “force” is turned into some kind of biological abberation, well, then, we’re just overthinking things far too much.