Eh oui, Le Movie Snob is writing about the new Star Wars movie.
NOT reviewing it. But I do look forward to seeing it, eventually.
I haven’t seen any commentary reflecting the bigger picture I see in this cinematic event.
Although the buzz has been positive, it has been dominated by bloviated geek-tweets, complex summaries and analyses of the movies and its troubled history, and puffy PR.
Along with just about every other member of Generation X, I saw the first movie (now the fourth) when it opened in 1977.
My mother, a non-cinephile if ever there was, took my brother and I to the then majestic Creve Coeur cinema. We waited in a long line that literally circled the building.
I didn’t realize this scene was playing out across the country. I wasn’t yet ten years old, but I do remember not having known anything about Star Wars before she took us to see it.
Our lives, like those of our fellow Gen Xers, were forever changed after seeing that movie, albiet to varying degrees.The careers of many creators of the CGI effects we see today in movies were inspired by Star Wars.
We both got toys, lots of toys. I treasured my Princess Leia doll which towered over that of my namesake and had real acrylic hair buns.
Star Wars told a story that to which we all could relate, be inspired by, and perhaps most profoundly, it did not feel like the movies aimed at our demographic that felt like being sat at the segregated kiddie table.
With hindsight, I can see how Princess Leia was a far better role model than the other characters I wanted to emulate like Jill (Farrah Fawcett) on Charlie’s Angels.
To illustrate, that same year, 1977, on the evening of a classmate’s slumber party, her mother dropped off us gaggle of girls to see Pete’s Dragon.
No way was she going to sit through that half-cartoon, half-live action, Helen Reddy-starring dreck.
Whether it was due to my advancing age or an expression of my nascent inner cynic, by the end of the third (now sixth) movie, Star Wars began to feel off. I suspected the Ewoks were meant to hook the latest under-ten demographic. I moved on.
Update: I just found proof that my suspicions were confirmed by Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz in this Los Angles Times interview from 2010.
When the original movie was re-released in 1997, my girlfriend and I went, not because we had become Star Wars geeks, but because we wanted to feel the way we felt when we first saw it.
I did not expect the experience to be bittersweet. I didn’t even know director George Lucas had changed the movie. (To learn more about this, I highly recommend watching the 2010 documentary The People vs. George Lucas.)
The experience was ruined before the movie even started. We met audience members who hadn’t been born when it was released.
I wasn’t that kid anymore. (Little did I know that would be the first of many “OMG! I’m OLD!! moments.)
The disappointment of the subsequent trilogy figures prominently in the heightened expectations of the new movie. Fool the fans one, twice, thrice….
Because it did not remain a single movie, it became a saga. Our lives are sagas, not single stories, and we all have sustained coincident scars as the distance from our youth grows further.
Forgive me for the following analogy: heroin provides its most sublime high on first use; pursing a repeat of that experience is futile and leads to addiction.
Except The Force Awakens promises to make us feel the same way we did when we saw the first movie the first time. We get to be who we were then, before we were buffeted about by the passage of time.
Geeks will appreciate the talents of the director J.J. Abrams and his rescuing their beloved story. For the rest of us, we will be reunited not just with the characters we knew, but with their original actors. Save for the late Alec Guiness (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi) and a living but bitter Kenny Baker (R2D2), they’re still here with us.
They were there all those years ago, and they’ve come back to connect us to who we were then, when our world cracked opened with possibilities.
People, not just critics, are saying the movie lives up to, if not surpasses, its hype. It seems J.J. Abrams no longer needs to worry about being nicknamed “Jar Jar Abrams.”
The Force is Awakening US.