Star Wars – A New Appreciation

strwrsep4I was nine in 1977 when Star Wars first appeared in the theaters. It was only a few months after my father died.  He was a big Star Trek fan and would have really appreciated Star Wars.

Episode 4 – A New Hope was an amazing new frontier in the movie industry.  Nothing like it had ever been seen on the big screen.  It was epic and high tech.  Imagine taking  your “Iron Man” Blu-Ray and your HD TV back to the 1950s and showing it to them.  It was like that.

People saw it hundreds of times.  They couldn’t get enough.  Every three years the next episode came out and it was awesome.  It was described by the press as “Cowboys in space”  and it basically was.  The hero saves the princess and the galaxy.  It was what people wanted to see.

I was in elementary school at the time and of course merchandising was rampant.  I remember my best friend drawing amazingly good x-wings and tie-fighters.  I owned many of the toys and had the record of music from the movie.  John Williams became my favorite composer and gave me appreciation for classical music.  I still have the record but have nothing to play it on.

strwrsep1Flash forward a thousand years to 1999.

George Lucas gets off his ass and continues what he started.  The Phantom Menace hits the theaters and the world rejoices.  Old fans are reduced to tears at the thought.  Young kids, used to space epics still appreciate the pre-continuation of the saga.  Lines form and money is spent.

But wait… After everyone has seen it, there is a split between those who think it is awesome and those who are greatly disappointed.  A larger selection feel let down by the new movies.  I was among them.  But how can someone be disappointed to the point of anger by these epic movies?

Why did I feel that way?

I believe the main problem was that the new series was just not what we expected.  There was no hero.  There was no princess or galaxy being saved.  It was a lot of talk and meaningless action.  I gave up on the new series and ignored its existence.  It just didn’t mean anything to me and didn’t live up to my childhood expectations of awesomeness.

During the recent Memorial Day weekend it was being shown on TV as a marathon.  I had watched it all a second time before but it still left me feeling frustrated.

This time I decided to watch it with an open mind and do my best to make sense of it.  The difference between the old series and the new one is that the new one is more of a political thriller than a space shootout.  Understanding these movies would take some serious attention and research.  I was ready to give it a try.  It was on Spike TV so there were more commercials than movie but through the magic of the DVR it was much less annoying.

I watched Episode One knowing that important stuff was going on in the boring talk scenes.  A number of times I had to hit rewind and watch the same scene over and over because my mind kept wandering away and I missed everything they said.  Eventually, with the help of closed captioning, I felt like I was making sense of what was happening.

Still there were so many questions.  I paused the movies and picked up my iPad to search for answers to my questions.  When I was satisfied I pressed play again.

I felt much better and was looking forward to Episodes 2 and 3 this time.  I was watching with my mind open and my expectations closed.  I now have a new appreciation for the films. As I reached the end of Episode 3 I felt myself wanting to see more instead of wishing it would be over.

Episodes 1-3 require your attention.  I think that is why they received so many bad reviews.  In today’s society of Attention Deficit Disorder and Instant Gratification the common man will have a difficult time appreciating them.  Of those who thought they were awesome at first viewing were probably of two groups:  1. Sharp minds and able to follow the story.  2. So dull that they just liked the flashy light sabers and shiny, pointy ships.  I was in the middle so it was difficult for me to enjoy.

If you do a search for “What is the Phantom Menace”, you will get all kinds of answers.  The simple people are thinking it was Darth Maul who was only really on the screen for a very short time.  The Phantom Menace was more of a political threat.  Most likely (in my incomplete understanding) having to do with the fake war created to give Senator Palpatine more power in the Senate and eventually to become Emperor.

George Lucas is, in actuality, warning us in real life.  In the U.S. we are slowly giving up our rights and allowing more power to the government for the sake of “safety” against a false threat of Terrorism.   As the Senate applauds the new supreme powers given to the emperor, Padme remarks, “So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”  Real life, people! Wake up!

If you want to re-discover Star Wars Episodes 1-3 take my advice:

1. Open your mind and lower your expectations.
2. Turn on closed captioning to help your brain stay focused on the dialog.
3. Pause and Google things you are questioning.
4. Read this article on the Politics of the original Star wars.
5. Read this Yahoo Answer for a quick understanding of the new series.
6. Search for more explanations using the key words STAR WARS POLITICS.
7. Watch it again.  The more you catch the more sense it will make.

In conclusion, Star Wars episodes 1-3 are not casual viewing and pretty pictures.  They require diligence and research.  Leaving more questions than answers you will find a new appreciation for the internet. In the end, I now salute George Lucas for his complex work.  It wasn’t a mistake after all.


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