The Force Is With Us?

You’ve probably heard something like this before:  Star Wars was the first movie I saw in a theater and it blew my little mind.  I saw each of the original three films multiple times in the theater and probably around a hundred times since then.  Though it kicked off the blockbuster culture in Hollywood I’d argue that until Batman in 1989, there were no other movies on its level for my friends and I.  The Indiana Jones movies were close but they didn’t create a whole other world for adventure to take place in.

Things are much different today.  Star Wars is still really popular but  it’s not the same experience for kids now as it was for us.  Instead of three movies coming out three years apart, they have novels, a TV show, the prequel films, comics, etc.  For us, the events before that first battle over Tatooine were a mystery.  What was it like when there was still a Jedi order?  How exactly did Darth Vader turn to the dark side?  Who is Luke and Leia’s mother? 

I spent several years after Return of the Jedi finding out if any of these questions had answers.  There wasn’t much to go on.  Even finding interviews with George Lucas was tough because back in the olden days we didn’t have this fancy interweb.  Was I the only one who heard rumors of books existing that told the story of Episodes I-III?  It turns out the idea that books existed before the movies came from the fact that the Star Wars novelization came out a year before the film.  If I’d known that I would’ve been able to give up the search a lot earlier.

By the way, that novelization had a short summary of what happened before the original movie that gave the only answers I was ever able to find.  In just over a page it laid out how the Republic had fallen as Palpatine took over as Emperor.  It was the most exciting page I had ever read.  The novelization of Return of the Jedi also revealed that Darth Vader’s injuries were a result of being knocked into a “molten pit” by Obi Wan Kenobi.

I’ve formed the opinion that Star Wars has lost much of its magic as Lucas and others have filled in every blank space.  I used to get excited imagining a squad of Jedis going into battle together.  We’ve now seen that a hundred times.  No need to wonder how Yoda handled a lightsaber fight.  He has one every other week.  We now know what Anakin was like and who the twins’ mother was and it was, um, uninspiring.  Plus the books and comics have charted out a history of the galaxy stretching thousands of years before the films and hundreds of years following.  I haven’t read many of them because the one’s I did depressed me by turning my favorite space opera into a soap opera.

So am I being a grumpy old man thinking what was once magic is now routine?  Is my whole point of view because I experienced the original films as a child?  Let’s face it, you can’t love any movie as much as an adult as you could then.  Or am I right in thinking that Lucas has dimmed Star Wars‘ luster by turning it into just another franchise?


One thought on “The Force Is With Us?

  1. Well phrased my friend- we are not grumpy old men at all… at least not yet. I don’t think that magic is “routine”, per se… just poorly executed. (I think we could go off on a whole other tangent about studios not taking risks on true creativity and depending too much on CGI… but I digress).

    Feels like when the writers/creators try to button everything up, it leaves the audience little to wonder about. But isn’t wonder is the best possible result? Isn’t the point of art to instill an enduring reaction? Wonder breeds deep curiosity, forces imagination and further involves the audience. It allows us to invest our thoughts and feelings in the piece. When everything is explained away, there is very little to interpret or discuss, post viewing.

    I’d say your (and my) feelings on this matter are because we’ve experienced movies, books, comics, music, television, etc. that were really well done and do just that. We have something to compare them to…. so yes, we’re a bit older, wiser, and won’t sit down to read/watch any old piece of crap.

    The long and short of it may also be that experiencing moments of great storytelling in movies are few and far between in life. I would say that the Harry Potter series really pulled me in over the past few years – but before that?? It was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

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