Thursday, May 4, 2023

5/4 Be With You



 When John and I saw the first Star Wars movie, we were totally blown away, and we envisioned ourselves in years to come, settling in for an all-day, in-theater, super binge of all the projected episodes. I loved cocky Han Solo and that giant Yorkie-like Chewbacca. Obi Wan Kenobi was terrific. I even liked Princess Leia and the buns on her ears. Luke, not so much; he seemed pretty wimpy. But the music and the sweep of the story were great, and the visuals were unlike anything we'd ever seen--even better than Space Odyssey 2001, our previous standard of wow.                                                


The Empire Strikes Back continued the story in fitting fashion. We bought a DVD of it and Justin--in second grade and out of school for a prolonged time with rheumatic fever--proceeded to watch it every day. It was still good-- the ice planet and the wonderful Walker machines and wise little Yoda and master of evil, Darth Vader--still a great story with fantastic visuals.


But then came the eagerly awaited The Return of the Jedi. And there were Ewoks--cutesy little furry critters that just screamed Won't the kiddies love these?


That pretty much ended my fascination with the Star Wars franchise. The plot holes and incongruities that I'd happily overlooked in the first two episodes, suddenly seemed more glaring. I don't think I ever saw any more of the episodes--the thrill was gone, the luster tarnished.

But the intense pleasure of that first viewing of Star Wars, surrendering to the myth and the music as the introduction scrolled up the screen and goosebumps rose on my arms--I'll never forget that.

(It's possible that I was a little stoned for the event. That could have contributed.

Don't judge.)



Barbara Rogers said...

Ah the first time seeing Star Wars. What a memory that brings back. Having sons helped me jump into the saga with both feet. May the force be with you!!

Sandra Parshall said...

I well remember standing in a line that stretched several blocks down Wisconsin Ave in DC to get into the big Uptown Theater to see the first Star Wars.I remember that the day was hot. I remember enjoying the film but not being swept away by it. I think we saw one more, but I never loved Star Wars the way I have loved Star Trek from the beginning. Trek has the soul that's missing in SW. And Trek is still going strong on Paramount+ TV, with new series being developed steadily. Just finished the third and final season of Star Trek Picard, starring the original Jean-Luc Picard -- Patrick Stewart, who is a bit older than President Biden now and proving that 80 is not the end of viable life. Trek has always presented a hopeful few of the future, when United Earth leads the way in demonstrating that peace is possible, both within one world and between different intelligent species from different worlds.

Teddy said...

“In a universe, far, far away”. Right there with you.

Anonymous said...

Probably unbelievable - but - I've never seen any of the Star Wars flicks. No real explanation - just doing other things, I guess. However, like Sandra, I was a Trekkie. And definitely not judging. Being stoned added to the enjoyment of several movies and other experiences during the 70s (and 80s. And I STILL think it should be legal.) What I question lately about the Star Wars message that earth might lead the way to peace, is whether the apparent increase in UFO sightings lately is a warning to "Don't make us come down there!" Could be slightly presumptuous of us to think we're the only - or even the best - intelligent beings in the Universe. Oh, well, that's just me...we all have opinions.

JJM said...

I was in grad school when the first Star Wars movie came out -- and, yes, the line stretched halfway to forever, but the line for tickets (note: for future performances, since that day's were long since sold out) was even longer! The opening shot, with that rebel ship zooming into the distance, was thrilling. But when that Star Destroyer rumbled by overhead, and just kept going and going and going ... Wow. OMG wow. (And, yes, I do mean "overhead", because my memory firmly tells me I saw it flying directly overhead, however impossible this memory is.) That first episode (and I shall always think of it as the first) is still the best, in my mind. Of the prequel trilogy I only saw Chapter I, at the midnight showing of opening day; while I was impressed by the CGI ("How did casting manage to find an actual alien??? ... Oh. Wait."), in the end that film had no heart, much less soul. I never went back for the next two, and didn't go see the last film in the sequel trilogy. Still haven't, even on streaming.

However: Note to those who mention the Star Trek mini-series episodes over on Paramount+ -- you do realize that Disney+ is producing Star Wars mini-series? The Mandalorian is excellent, and Andor was what the miserable pre- and sequel films could and should have been more like. Just sayin' ... : )

Sandra Parshall said...

JJM -- I do know about the Star Wars miniseries for TV, but have zero interest in watching them after sampling a single episode. Little Baby Yoda is cute, but... it's not Star Trek, which seems so real to me after all these years with it. These are two different visions of the distant future, and I prefer the ST vision. It has soul and heart, and Strange New Worlds has Anson Mount as Captain Pike, which is definitely a bonus.

Anvilcloud said...

Star Wars was an awesome development in cinema. I tink it cam out at about the some time as Raiders of the Lost Ark, which ws also special. What I have seen since then, has seemed poor by comparison, or derivative in some cases. My daughter and grandson do keep up with the he franchise, however. I remember taking her to the originals.

JJM said...

Sandra -- I brought up the matter of the >Star Wars mini-series merely to expand upon the conversation, not to counter any part of it or argue with anyone. If you took it as such, however, please allow me to correct any misapprehension I have left: as so often, I made the mistake of not being more precise in my wording. The fault was mine. (So much for my childhood dream of growing up to be a writer, like you or Vicki!)

As it happens, I love both Star Trek and Star Wars equally, albeit in different ways. I fully agree with you that Captain Pike is a bonus (I never really thought much of Kirk, but Pike ... yeah, him, I'd respect), while Picard leaves me in awe. Obviously, however, I see something in, or bring something to, the Star Wars "universe" that you do not. This is natural, since you and I are different people with different backgrounds. In addition, the vision behind those two series was from the outset very different. It is hardly a surprise that we have responded to them differently.

Star Wars is framed as an adventure story, a struggle against tyranny, and a hero's journey in the Campbellian sense. That is where Lucas's emphasis lay, and his guiding hand still steers the franchise in that direction. The heart and soul lie more in the motivations of and the relationships between the characters, implied far more often than stated -- read into the story by the audience rather than written into it by the screenwriters. (Although I might mention that heart and soul have become very central in The Mandalorian, especially as the bond between the titular character and Grogu, i.e. "Baby Yoda", grows and blossoms.) Roddenberry's vision, the central core around which he created Star Trek, was a future without racism and sexism, a future wherein intelligent species could live in peace and mutual benefit. After his passing, the series and films moved somewhat away from this to contemplate also on the attainability of this ideal and the extent to which the very nature of these intelligent species would be capable of reaching it: a darker universe in general, with a decidedly imperfect Star Fleet. Heart and soul here are front and central; in Star Wars, not so much.

Moreover, to the more general conversation within this comment thread, I would also add the various mini-series derived from the "Marvel Comic Universe" (MCU) films and the comic books from which those, in turn, are derived. (I might mention in this regard Wandavision, which left me weeping helplessly at the end. "But what is grief if not love persevering?") Unfortunately, the MCU mini-series demand at least some level of familiarity with the backstories involved, whereas background familiarity with Star Trek and Star Wars is just a little more "strongly advised", as it were.

However, this would move us even further from Vicki's post, and, while I have enjoyed this conversation, I do apologize to you, Vicki, for hijacking the thread.

Vicki Lane said...

Hijack? No way--you have elevated the discourse. Thank you!