“I grew up on the original three so anything after that just confuses the hell out of me”. That is my standard reply anytime I’m asked if I intend to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I know I sound like I’m either a snob or just too stuck in the past to accommodate the future.
The future looks too blurry and crowded with remnants of the past drifting with the newly established order.
We now embody a time that is desperately searching for valid reasons to destroy the memory of the good old days when making a movie was an instinctual tendency that was facilitated without the input of clueless people who have zero idea about what it takes to be under the spell of the creative process.
As George Lucas carefully pointed out to Vanity Fair recently when he was asked if he will be making another Star Wars film in the future — being a filmmaker in this age of “oversharing” and “polluted interference”, is no longer a sacred act of artful defiance. You basically have to either be a franchise junky or regulate your mindset in predictability mode.
“You go to make a movie and all you do is get criticized, and people try to make decision for what you’re going to do before you do it”. “And it’s not much fun. You can’t experiment. You have to do it a certain way. I don’t like that, I never did, I started out in experimental films and I want to go back to experimental films”.
So the answer is no. George Lucas comes from a time — a galaxy far, far, away. So far away that hardly anyone can recall what that climate was like because nobody wants to dare imagine it. But it was real and it did exist.
This was a temperate period that was devoid of the grimy tentacles of social media — clawing away at anything that doesn’t quite fit the assigned norm. It was also a time when people actually went into hibernation to foster the thought process and emerged wiser and heavy with testimonial gems.
Those gems still endure today but unfortunately there won’t be anymore left for the generations to come.
Nobody makes those types of movies anymore. All we have are recycled delicacies that carry very little residue from the almighty blueprint. We see elements that evoke nostalgia but the rest frustratingly reminds us why we wish people would just leave things exactly the way they were.
That’s how many like me feel about all the installments that have followed the stunningly operatic — Return of the Jedi.
That film was released in 1983. I was in the States that summer. I remember thinking how weird it was that at ten years old — I was saying goodbye to the period of my life that had been dedicated to the Millennium Falcon and the Dark side of the Force.
I felt so very lucky that I had been conceived at the right time. Thank God, that as an impressionable child — I had the pleasure of witnessing the magical consequences of “experimental filmmaking”.
Of course I was too young to make that assumption. All I could so was grasp my mother’s hand and accommodate the goose bumps spreading all over my little body as the trumpet sounded and the iconic score by John Williams signaled what was to come.
And anyone who is a true fan of the beloved trilogy can attest that it was a life-changing experience to behold the interplay between the forces of good and evil. Such a basic principle that even a child can readily comprehend it without assistance.
I understood all I needed to know about Luke Skywalker and his intergalactic posse. I adored Princess Leia because she was pretty and knew how to give it right back to the dashing Han Solo.
I wanted to give Chewbacca many hugs because he sounded like he could use some. I wanted to play with C-3PO and R2-D2 so badly. My feelings for Darth Vader bordered on cautious fascination as I recognized what he was but still reveled in delight when he appeared on screen.
Everything about the original three was and still is spellbindingly awesome. Even the titles were grand and dramatic — my favorite being The Empire Strikes Back.
What happened after that is something I still have a difficult time grasping.
The confusion started back in 1999 with Phantom Menace and has persisted ever since and the upcoming much-hailed entry isn’t going to alter that fact — even with the original cast members being thrown in the mix.
Director J.J. Abrams who is a distinguished creator and one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation certainly has the flexed muscles to pull off yet another highly-touted installment but my guess is that this latest contribution will continue the streak of senselessness that plagued the other three that precede it.
Sure, the lure of seeing the aged faces of Luke, Leia and Han Solo somehow makes this one a little bit more legit. But it also saddens me.
One of the best things about The Return of the Jedi was the ending. Seeing them all gathered with the celebratory Ewoks frolicking around them — smiling and content that good finally overcame evil and the Stars were now aligned accordingly is the image ingrained in my memory and adulation of the franchise that secured my obsession with cinema.
And now thanks to greed and unimaginative habits — everything is ruined. Suddenly there is more to the story. We have to somehow stitch together the prequels and the sequels. Why? Is it because the famed trilogy didn’t do a good enough job tying all the ends together neatly?
This is the new thing now. Even the Fast and Furious juggernaut is hungrily making plans for future films that will showcase how Dom and his gang became the thrilling characters we have come to know and love.
So, here we are, almost forty years since George Lucas’ masterpiece re-worked the landscape of cinematic excellence and the legacy has been mercilessly tampered with — almost beyond recognition.
I choose to ignore what is presently happening and stick to the classics. I won’t allow the unnecessary additions to ruin what was and still is seamless perfection.
To the new members of the galaxy — I hope you enjoy the ride but I promise it won’t be nearly as good for you as it was for me.
You are tragically getting the more diluted version of events whereas I was privy to the delightful rawness of a story that was compiled effectively and delivered impeccably.
Even with the age of CGI and all the other desirables that make the movie viewing experience seem otherworldly — it is highly unlikely that The Force Awakens will be as affecting as the films that started it all.
The new characters are trapped in a time warp and from what I can tell they don’t carry any significance other than their familial connection with the core members. This is sweet enough but still not intriguing enough to warrant more films added to an already bloated roster.
I’ll probably watch a marathon of Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back(1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983) the night the biggest movie of 2015 debuts on this side of the pond.
I’ll catch it in a couple of years when it unexpectedly streams across my screen.
Until then — May The Force Be With You.