' ' Cinema Romantico: The Force Is Still With Me

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Force Is Still With Me

This week is the 30th Anniversary of the release of an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny movie you may or may have not heard of that changed cinema (and - oh well, why not? - the world) forever and ever entitled "Star Wars". Being a young male during the time the first trio of movies were beyond huge it's safe to say they meant an awful lot to me.

"Star Wars" affected all of us who are facing the dreaded age of 30 this year. We all had plastic light sabers and countless action figures and perhaps even Star Wars Bubble Bath (not that I'm saying I did). But there was something more at play here. "Star Wars" opened up our imaginations. Without it how could my bedroom ever have become the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon? How could I ever have leapt from the couch to the chair in my basement on Waukee Avenue as if I was Luke Skywalker, with Princess Leia dangling on me, swinging across the Death Star chasm? How could I ever have feigned that a plastic egg beater was a laser blaster when pretending to be Han Solo? We all wished we possessed the bravado to fight back against something, anything as tyrannical as the galactic empire.

"Star Wars", see, knew what it was like to be a kid in a little town who dreamed dearly of escaping it for something bigger and grander. When Obi-Wan-Kenobi advises Luke that he must accompany him on his journey to Alderan and Luke hangs his head and says he can't because it's so "far away", I felt that. Every kid I knew felt that.

It is difficult to now address those landmark films without addressing, or at least thinking about, the more recent and less landmark prequels. And that's a travesty. Yes, the first one made me want to weep alone in my room and the third one made me want to drink myself into a stupor so I wouldn't have to remember it (I still have not seen the second one, and have since decided I never, ever will) but I've come to a place where I choose to not acknowledge their existence. It's really quite simple and you can do it, too. (I've also stopped acknowledging the existence of the Bruce Springsteen song "Real Man".)

There is a specific reason the new movies were not as good as the old ones and there is a reason the phenomenon of "Star Wars" did not catch on with today's youth in the same way it caught on with those of my generation. It didn't root itself to anything but CGI and plot mechanics. The audience was given nothing with which to identify.

"Star Wars" is often talked about for its scenes of spaceships and laser guns and light sabers and groundbreaking special effects but none of that has anything to do with the single scene I remember the most fondly from any of them. It's when Luke has been arguing with his Uncle and Aunt about going to the Academy. Angered, Luke gets up from the table and marches to the door.

Aunt Beru: "Where are you going?"
Luke: "It looks like I'm going nowhere."

And then he goes outside and puts one leg up and looks off into the distance at the twin suns as the music swells oh so passionately and brilliantly and, damn it, even now - at 29 years of age - I still feel my heart crack. That's what the original movie was about! It was about the human spirit! It was about your dreams, how you yearned for them to come true and how one farm kid from Tatooine watched as they did come true. And when he marches down that aisle in that huge hall and gets that medal, well, I get the chills just thinking about it.

"Star Wars" is still to this day the most pure, most inspiring tale I've ever witnessed of the most simple of all stories - good triumphing over evil. And that's why, even though it is now 30 years old, it is still as new and vibrant as ever. That's why it will never be forgotten. That's why it's ageless.


Wretched Genius said...

I've had a lot of "Star Wars"-related conversations over the years. I, too, was a fan of the original trilogy, and I too possessed as many "Star Wars" brand items as I could possibly get my tiny little hands on (including the bubble bath). I had a "Star Wars" blanket, and "Star Wars" wallpaper. In fact, my first memory of ever being in a movie theater is a small, 2-second flash from when I saw "Return of the Jedi" at the River Hills at age 3.

But in 1997, in only my 2nd week of working in a movie theater, the films were re-released. Ever since that day, I have hated "Star Wars." The films were wonderful to watch as a kid. But once the CGI stuff started, and the obsessed fans started to surface in droves, it ruined the whole thing for me. Everytime I watch the movies now, all I can see are the faults. I've heard too many people claiming that it is the greatest thing to ever touch celluloid, and now it's all I can think about when I see them. And I am talking about the originals here, not the Special Editions or the 2nd trilogy. The dialog is atrocious, the acting is stilted (apart from Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, who still have some of the best onscreen chemistry I've seen), and the direction really isn't very good, either. And now that's all I see. The fans ruined it for me.

Rory Larry said...

even though he all but admitted he phoned in his performance, Alec Guiness will always get a pass from me as will Peter Cushing as the much more intriguing villain Grand Moff Tarkin. Darth Vader, blah! Sadistic almost SS costumed facist Tarkin, now that's a villain. His cocky retort at the end near his death made me miss him the rest of the trilogy.

I'll also still defend Empire Strikes Back which had the double bonus of not being written or directed by Lucas and was before Lucas started going crazy with Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks.

To quote Clerks' Dante Hicks: Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All "Jedi" had was a bunch of Muppets.

Anonymous said...

Um I may sound like the girl here... partly because I am.. But I like the Ewoks... But really though what I like about Retun of the Jedi is well that fact that he returns. Luke is so wicked when he comes in the first time to see Jabba... I get a rush every time I see it. Then again I always did like more brians then brawn in a man. But it is my favorite. And like nick said, everyone needs someone to relate to in these movies, and well I have known a person or two in my life that can relate to Wicket.
And what about Chewbacca? Hmm??? He is a huge muppet if we are going to play fair. He is just tough one. So are we going to pick on the small and fuzzy? They can't help that they were made that way, and gol darn it... I say more power to them!

Anonymous said...

I know George Lucas is too stupid to know it, but every day he should thank God that he was born when he was. If he'd born thirty years later, he would have made Episode IV like Episode I, and he'd be relegated to the trash heap of history. Instead, he is revered as a genius. And he is. Nobody (NOBODY) markets like him. I'm surprised the Senate chambers of the Republic wasn't called the "Diet Coke Senatorial Arena, Presented by Pixar Films' New Movie 'Excited Feet'." The man knows how to make a crap-load of money, and that's always respectable. I just wish he owned an oil company and took his money by raping the planet and his consumers, not by destroying our childhoods.

By the way, Greedo apparently shot first.