Star Wars VII! The Force Awakens! (Spoiler Alert!)
Doug and I just went to the above-mentioned movie for his birthday. I definitely enjoyed it, but it resembled the first one, Star Wars IV, so much that I found it distracting.
I remember seeing Star Wars in the theater when it first came out. Actually, I saw it at the Montana Theater in the 8000-or-so-person town of Miles City Montana, so I most likely saw it several weeks after it first came out, even if I was at the first showing. Much of popular culture was old news by the time it hit Miles City.
That movie made such a huge impression on me. I couldn’t say why I loved it so much, but it hit me in scene after scene. Luke’s underground home with his Aunt and Uncle – wow! Cute, beeping robot – awww! The mysterious man in the robe who turns out to be a jedi – brilliant! The saloon filled with so many varieties of creatures, and very few humans – amazing! A kick-ass princess! A lowly hero! Scary bad guy! The magic Force! Space battles! Action! Suspense! IN SPACE! BOOOOM!!! (That was the sound of my eight-year-old head exploding.)
I never developed into a Star Wars geek who could name all the planets in the story or who knew the names of the different creatures. I think it even took me awhile to figure out that the white-armored soldiers were called stormtroopers. But I knew the heart of the story, and I loved it. I had more boys as friends than I did girls, so I spent my share of recess time playing the role of princess Leia, running around with rebel forces and imagining my hair in big twisty buns on the sides of my head.
I’ve heard that other people have noticed that this movie followed the 1977 movie almost to the beat. But I wonder how they felt about it. How did I feel?
I felt a mix of comfortable familiarity, entertainment, and disappointment. I found myself looking at the same characters represented with an outward twist: same hero, only female; the lady is rescued from Darth Vader’s death star, but this time by a black man; the death star is actually not that, but an exact copy that’s 10 times bigger, and Darth Vader is someone else, of course, but he still wears all black, including a voice-distorting mask, and he’s in the middle of father/son issues. Etc.
Perhaps my disappointment stems from remembering how the first movie gave me such a sense of newness and wonder. But I suspect no true Star Wars movie, however original, could do that for me. For one thing, I’m not eight years old. Back then, I don’t think I had ever seen a movie set in space before. Also, I hadn’t seen many movies at all. This was in the days before the wonder of VHS tapes. (Movies in your home? Without commercials? On that 13-inch TV screen? Ridiculous.)
Also, Star Wars may have been the first time I had seen such an archetypal hero story onscreen that wasn’t Disney. It was like a fairytale, but told with phasers and hover cars!
Now, close to 40 years later, I’ve seen many more movies, enough to recognize common patterns and to know what will probably happen next. Instead of having the total surprise and newness of an 8-year-old watching Star Wars, this time I had a double dose of predictability: extreme similarity combined with decades of movie-watching experience.
Anyway, it was nice to be out on a date with my husband, and to see a very entertaining movie in which good is stronger than evil.
I’m looking forward to the next Star Wars movie. Will the similarties continue? Or will the next film chart a new, unique course that still keeps true to the story’s heart?
I’m hoping for the latter.