When Jedi Love Dies – Wishing I Could Love Star Wars

(written on train, beware lousy grammar and spelling and reasoning)

What would I give to be excited about the new Star Wars movie?

To lack giddiness for The Force Awakens is to declare yourself a citrus eyed cynic, a joyless grouch, a spent and twisted vessel who spits at rainbows.
Yet I loved the first film, at least I think I did. I remember the excitement over the collectable cards housed with dry gum. My sort of Uncle, a former military man, did not understand why I should be excited by getting hold of card number one (Luke Skywalker), and interrogated me as if he was annoyed by my delight (he was a military man). In a real adult world, card number one is no more remarkable than card 43 (probably the trash compactor), but this was not the real world, this was an eight year old’s world. Number one is special.

I know from the memories of what I did, and from the things blu tacked on my nd from the creased copies of Starburst magazine in that cupboard, that I was enthralled by this new age of boy’s own, laser gun, nobble-headed alien hijinks, but I can’t recapture that joy. I can for Hawk the Slayer or The Monster Club or Battle Beyond the Stars, I still get a little kick of delight watching the original Star Trek series, but something happened with Star Wars and I don’t know what has dispersed its nostalgia. I am pretty sure I enjoyed The Empire Strikes Back, and that at the time of Return of the Jedi I was not perturbed by the introduction of muppets.
Dougal and the Blue Cat delights, but the Star Wars franchise does not.
I could say it is the clunky scripts. I watched TESB or ESB with my son and I was surprised at how plankish the spats between Han and Leia were, close to John Wayne’s Genghis Khan flick (“why, you are beautiful in your wrath”), but this doesn’t stop me enjoying an occasional Blake’s Seven or Space 1999 (and that can be prime teak and dutch elm disease acting).
Too much merchandise, not enough plot?
Too much worry about the shape of the doll, not enough about the shape of the character?
Has the wash of CGI emulsion smeared over the originals subliminally dampened my spirit?
Is it the hype? So much hoopla, I, the obstreperous child, refuse to join in?
I don’t think my inner child is dead. Maybe the childish me has so many outlets he doesn’t need Star Wars too (but I would happily watch anything by Oliver Postgate again and again).

George Lucas was not some cold careerist who, after a parade of focus groups, decided that Tattooine was the cash cow. So I can’t blame THX coldness can I?
I watched Mad Max Fury Road with seat edge delight. I am not against reinvention of the fictions of my past.

I will go and see the new Star Wars. I have no choice, I have a seven year old who may manifest Freudian father ramifications if I don’t take him to the big screen. And watching his wide eyes as he fumbles for popcorn and accidentally eats his own hand may be infectious.

Why does some youthful glee and excitability grow into nostalgia and others die on the vine? I better see a cinetherapist, but I won’t lie on their couch if its Hitchcockian.

Baby, Baby, where did my love go? Probably scavenged by Jawas.

Here is hoping it punches me in the gut as mightily as Mad Max: Fury Road

Book Shambles podcast is back, and our latest guest is Chris Hadfield http://cosmicgenome.com/shambles/ (also Stewart Lee, Sara Pascoe, Laura Duckbill…)

Plus, two nights of music and comedy with Vitriola https://www.thebloomsbury.com/event/run/15049

Shambles podcast will return this week and I am doing a one off full length show in Folkestone robinince.com

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6 Responses to When Jedi Love Dies – Wishing I Could Love Star Wars

  1. James Cragg says:

    I have a theory (not quite a theory, more a notion) about why this happens. When Star Wars was a simple, straightforward story it was easy to buy into. Now it’s a huge, complicated universe that demands an internal logical consistency it just doesn’t have. Oliver Postgate’s world(s) still retain their magic because they are not over-analysed, and we all still want to live there to explore for ourselves (I grew up on the English-Welsh border and could see Ivor the Engine’s North Wales hills from my bedroom window). Star Wars was magic when stuff just happened and we didn’t need an explanation, we could engage our imaginations that way.

  2. Richard Boon says:

    Hardly anyone recalls that when Star Wars was announced, Lucas said it would be in 9 parts, but would start with the middle three. Shame about the mess of the, later, first three…

    • David Brain says:

      He also said that he’d like to wait to do the rest of the “story” he had in mind until the actors were old enough to be convincing. Which they now are. (I have sometimes wondered if he cast Iain McDiarmid as the Emperor first time round because Lucas knew that he’d want him back for the prequels and they couldn’t be made for decades either.)
      He did give Timothy Zahn permission to write something along similar lines – what happened to Luke and Leia a generation later – because I think he concluded that he’d never get to tell that story himself. Now someone else is having their own go. But the basic elements of the story – Luke, Leia, Han and their children – were always going to be the same.

  3. Mike Morris says:

    The thing is, if you watch it as an adult, it’s… well it’s not very good. I don’t mean WAAAH THE PREQUELS, I mean – as you say – the original trilogy has some really ropy dialogue. Watch it as a child revisiting your childhood, it’s fun. Once you try and introduce someone else to it – well suddenly you see all the problems. That’s what I find, anyway.

    What Lucas had, which is terribly underrated, is an understanding of how to make an immersive universe which seemed entirely cohesive. The bits all fit together in a design sense; the architecture of the world holds up. That’s what attracts children, I think – that and the fact that when you’re nine, Han and Luke and Leia really talk the way you think grownups talk. Lucas understood kids well – all his characters are nominally adults, but they behave like children behave.

    When you’re a child, that’s astonishing. When you get older, it just feels like bad writing. Set design doesn’t seem as important, because we’re trained to look at characters. A lot of the sniffiness about the prequels (not all of it, they have obvious problems) comes from the fact that Lucas – how dare he – was still making films for kids.

    The new film won’t have any of that, of course, but it is made by one of Hollywood’s “safe pair of hands” who won’t make any mistakes – rather than that slightly odd chap who’s fascinated by models (both computer and physical) and environments, but isn’t very good with actors or camerawork or dialogue. In other words, the new film will be the best-reviewed, and least interesting, film of the lot.

  4. John D says:

    I suspect it’s the hype, & I feel just the same. For me, I have the same reaction with Doctor Who; the old stuff was frequently rubbish but is still fun. The new stuff has great production values but is so often monumentally idiotic that the hype about how great it is grates.

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