Does STar Wars really hold up?
A few months back, during one of the podcasts I occasionally am involved with over at Sanspants Radio, I got into a debate with a friend about Star Wars. He argued that the original trilogy, while brilliant for their time, are heavily clouded by fanboy nostalgia and are really quite dated by today’s standards. Naturally I argued against him, but the thing is, if I’m being honest, I was really just subscribing to said fanboy nostalgia. The last time I sat down and watched the original films was as part of a six film marathon and after sitting through the brain bludgeoning of the prequels I wasn’t feeling terribly fond toward Star Wars. I enjoyed them, but not really as individual films, more as part of the overall experience of drinking beer and watching movies with friends.
The thing is, with all the renewed interest in Star Wars prompted by the announcement of Episode VII, a sneaking fear was starting to invade my thoughts that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t really love those movies. After all, while I saw them all as a kid and thought they were awesome, my childhood was really more coloured by Lord of the Rings than anything else. Weirdly, I began to feel as though I was a liar when I went on about the awesomeness of Star Wars, like I was just saying that to fit in, when really, I hadn’t watched any of the films on their own merits in years. Did I really share the same love and nostalgia for the films as everyone I discussed them with?
Which brings us to this morning. Usually I like to watch something while I eat breakfast, just in the background. How I Met Your Mother or Scrubs are the standards. But I couldn’t find my hard drive and was too lazy to commit to a prolonged search, so I grabbed the first DVD I saw, which happened to be Star Wars, the original. Figuring I might just watch the first twenty minutes or so before switching it off and getting up to do something constructive, I put it on. In the back of my mind though, that strange fear lingered; what if I found it boring? What if now I realised that my controversial friend was right, that Star Wars was dated and lame by today’s standards? To hell with it, I thought, and settled in to watch. At first, I didn’t pay much attention. I checked Facebook and texted. And then, right around the time Ben Kenobi starts telling Luke about the Force, a warm, familiar feeling started to creep up in my chest. Then the lightsaber came out and I was grinning. Moments later Luke realised the Stormtroopers would be heading for his home and suddenly I was sucked in. I was laughing at Han Solo’s exasperated barbs, on the edge of my seat during Ben Kenobi’s final duel with Darth Vader and cringing during the garbage compactor scene. I found myself pausing the movie if I had to reply to texts and giving only one word responses so I could keep watching sooner. I was meant to be going to a work party but I didn’t care; I would finish the movie first, drinking be damned.
Because here’s the truth; while yes, I felt nostalgic about the first time I saw Star Wars and about how much I loved it as a child, more than anything else I remembered why it is such a cultural phenomenon. It’s a brilliant movie. It’s a perfect adventure story with great characters, awesome action scenes and an intriguing mythology. It moves at a rollicking pace and despite the effects and occasionally clunky dialogue it holds up brilliantly. As soon as my kids are old enough, I will show them Star Wars and expect them to love it. I might shield them from any and all knowledge of the prequels, but the original trilogy will stand as an integral part of their education, as it was part of mine.
I delayed seeing friends and more importantly, playing Red Dead Redemption for Star Wars. And I was okay with it, because it felt worth it. Hopefully, it will for years to come.
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