Saturday, April 25, 2015

Star Wars films

I recently watched the first two Star Wars films, Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).  In their time, these films and their special effects laden representations of cosmic star battles and the American Dream of a would-be Jedi knight on a lonely planet may have been groundbreaking and entertaining.  I probably saw the first Star Wars film eight or nine times in the first year of its release (I was old enough at the time to know better).  These films were great fun.  They were exciting. But viewing them some 35 years later, they seem corny, awkward, badly managed, and dead.  They seem about as real as the portrayals of space on the old Lost in Space television series.  Watching these films, I remember the initial rush of discovery and surprise they gave the first time I saw them.  But today there is no rush.  The notion of an intergalactic empire is patently unbelievable. Moreover, and most importantly, people don’t talk to one another as the characters in these films do.  The supposed flirtatious banter between Hans Solo and Leia is excruciating.  And why exactly do people on distant planets walk around clothed in the garb of ancient Rome? 

I can overlook the costumes, but not the dialogue, and not the patently absurd premise that underlies these films.  Not to mention “the Force.” Most of all I can’t overlook how badly the films are made.  The pacing is flat, the editing poor. Lucas made things worse by adding in digital effects that often seem superfluous when these films went to DVD.  He added scenes and dialogue intended to create unity with the larger narrative he would later embellish in the films released in 1999, 2002, and 2005, and which the Disney Studios will continue to develop in its own production of the last three films of the nine Lucas originally envisioned.  They don’t work anymore.  Have I grown too old?  Am I just a complaining human version of C-3PO?

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