Through sheer luck, I can approach Star Wars like a man 20 years my own senior, not like many others my age forced to start in the wrong place.
I lived in London, still in short-shorts (so to speak) when the remasters were released to old trusty VHS in 1997. Enthralled from the get-go, those three tapes were worn through by the time I hit adolescence.
I was even pulled from school by my folks come the 1999 release of The Phantom Menace.
Some may claim the trilogy was always meant for children. Even so, does it make these films any less poignant come adulthood?
It seems to calm the outrage in their minds following the news of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm – the production behemoth behind the original trilogy, and the abominations that came after.
But this is not, as some would have you believe, about Mickey and Minnie infiltrating the galaxy far, far away. After all, in a market cluttered with comic books envisioned for the computer-generated age, Disney’s productions (Iron Man, The Avengers et al) have by far been the most commercially successful and critically palatable.
What we ought to fear is the flogging, incessantly, of a dead horse already rotten and fly-blown from light-years of abuse.
Star Wars creator and director George Lucas was at the forefront, in the 70s, of a new guard of distinctly Hollywood directors not shy to let the imagination run free. A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi are morality tales played out like a weaponised 2001: A Space Odyssey on LSD, and are spectacular pieces of cinema because of it.
The cynics will point to a cluster of films that just as hammy as each other. Luke Skywalker’s howl of pain upon learning the truth about Darth Vader was overacted and forced – I won’t deny that. But the foggy and scarlet-tinged lightsaber battle that preceded that scene was the act of an auteur; a genius behind the camera.
Even the closest readings of the original triumvirate still stand up after nearly 40 years of scrutiny. Slavoj Zizek reads Darth Vader as “the Freudian, primordial father, this obscene over-potent father, the father who doesn’t want to die.” But try and hunt for unconscious and philosophical in Attack of the Clones, for example, and we’re left with nothing but a diluted battle between good and evil.
The later three had their moments: vast swathes of CGI gave an expanded scope and depth to dogfights and gun battles, but who wants to watch a film about the politics of a trade blockade? Lucas’ worst crime of all was to unveil just how The Force actually worked.
The further and further any Star Wars sequel escapes from its source material, the more likely we are to be left with a heaving, bloated mess on our hands.For those fans who still treasure that core trilogy, the only thing left for us to hope for is a reinvigoration of imagination, and the whole damn thing kept as far away from George Lucas as possible.
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