A view on Star Wars on the 14th of December 2015

UpdatesPosted by C. John Tue, December 15, 2015 08:41:26

The date is very significant. It is a view written before the general release of The Force Awakens. And it begins with a prediction: a predication about the reviews that will come following the release if the film. No spoilers here.

Whilst there will be some that say this is the best Star Wars yet, that the mythology has been fully restored, and JJ is destined for sainthood, there will be others wishing him to fall on his sword-and if he cannot provide his own they’ll willing help out, at least metaphorically.

But I suspect the majority will say it’s not as good as the originals, but at least a whole lot better than the prequels. I have some further comments to make on those demonized films later--but this prediction may seem blindingly obvious. Yes it is, but a more interesting question is why?

I think the mythos surrounding Star wars is about recovering childhood dreams. Or not.

Were the originals made for children (as has been suggested about the first of the prequels)? Well, I remember a quote taken from George Lucas (and I paraphrase) “I never expected to end up making films for children” So possibly. But the originals and the prequels too were a reflection back to the experience of Saturday Matinee cinema established for kids where we find Flash Gordon looming in shades of grey. An interesting aside relating to this comes from the blog of SF author, Peter F. Hamilton. He took his young son to the 3D version of the Phantom Menace. The son liked it, and when asked for a highlight the boy mentioned the funny guy, you know Binks. So what I am suggesting is that your view point will reflect the age you first experience the films. I was just out of school and experiencing my first attempt at living away from home when I saw the original film, so still a big kid at heart. It is clear nobody and nothing is going to be able to recapture that moment. So the prequels were destined to fail for the generation that grew up with the originals.

Now to a confession. I actually quite enjoyed them, and I might say though the first trilogy’s Empire Strikes Back is something of a high watermark (I saw it at the massive Leicester Square Odeon cinema in London - and it blew me away). The Return of the Jedi, with Ewoks.... Hum.

So what was it that appealed to me about the prequels? Well I actually thought that Ewan McGregor cut a dashing young Alec Guinness and then there was the art. Now my favourite game when I was younger was Myst and particularly its sequel, Riven. I thought those games should have been reclassified as a work of art. I love the realism that 3D computer art brought in to my dream worlds making them concrete. I remember Andy Serkis and Gollum here, not Jar Jar.

Visually, the original Star Wars used 2001 special effects to tell a story which my Dad (a westerns buff) reported back was “Cowboys in Space”. The space fantasies I had dreamed about as a child were there on the big screen and looked real. Though to the discerning eye they were limited by the technology of the day. By the time the prequels came along 3D computer art was reaching new heights and we saw this on the screen. So my appreciation here comes perhaps more for the artwork and less for the story telling. Nonetheless I really enjoyed “Attack of the Clones”.

As a post-script to these comments I just watched a rescreening of the original Star Wars on TV (part of the media hype to the Force Awakens). Maybe it was because it was on the small screen, maybe it’s because I have become old and jaded, but the magic wasn’t there any longer for me. Let’s see what this new film awakens