Friday, November 9, 2012

Star Wars and Faith

by Jonathan Harrison

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...


Was awesome. Hayden Christianson wasn't Luke's dad, Yoda had never fought with a light saber, and none of us had ever heard of Jar Jar Binks. Star Wars was a movie that you rented from the local Hollywood Video (you remember those?) on VHS, and everything was perfect.

But then, the emperor decided that perfection wasn't good enough. That everything needed to be changed. Computerized animals started appearing in the background. Before long, the movies that we knew and loved were no longer the same.  

Then came the prequels.

Decades later, the crumbling husk of a perfect film franchise lays in ruins. The emperor, clearly realizing he has left nothing to salvage, has sold the rights to the evil empire. And now, the empire hints of "another Star Wars film", as if the irredeemable suffering of Episodes 1-3 didn't ruin the lives of countless children who had never seen Episodes 4-7. The time was dark for the rebel alliance...

I don't know a single person that enjoyed the prequels. In my opinion, the prequels systematically destroyed the wonder and joy of the first three films in such a way that their creation is the cultural equivalent of a Van Gogh's Starry Night being ripped from the walls of The Museum of Modern Art and given to the hands of a over-emphatic three year old with unlimited water colors. They ruined everything. Thankfully I fully immersed my self in the first three films before Lucas decided that he couldn't leave well-enough alone, but anyone born after the prequels will be exposed to those abominations before they fully realize how awesome Episodes 4-6 are. They won't have the Star Wars that we all grew up with.  That, to me, is pretty sad. 

Just last week, a million voices all cried out at once (and then...silence) when Disney announced it had purchased Lucas Films and was planning on creating an episode 7. In my opinion, the prequels caused so much irreparable damage that a few sequels to the original films wouldn't hurt anyone (even though a terrible film would make me cringe), so Disney is more than welcome to create a new film. But once I heard the news, I couldn't help but reflect on why the prequels. suck. so. much. and why no one is looking forward to any new movies.

My answer: Faith.

Yes faith. One of the most salient moments of Episodes 4-6 comes when Yoda moves Luke's X wing fighter out of the swamps of Dagoba simply by using the force. Until that moment, the viewer knew that Yoda was a wise old kooky sage who spit epigrams like a Buddhist Guru, but when Yoda moved the X wing, however, you suddenly realized that the little guy had
real power. We only had a hint of what Yoda could accomplish, and the mystery of not knowing the full extent of Yoda's power made his aura that much more incredible. The little kid inside of me died when master Yoda fought Count Dookoo in Episode 3. Star Wars fans no longer needed to believe that an alien of Yoda's stature could accomplish anything with the force because it was shown to us through the power of CGI kitsch, and it turns out he wasn't that powerful. 

Honestly, I wonder if the power of mystery is totally lost on George Lucas. The first three movies seemed more like fan fiction than an actual story, and it seems that Lucas accidentally stumbled into cinema history by making Episodes 4-6 with the full intention of explaining everything away with the prequels. It's strange isn't it? That someone so talented couldn't see they were destroying their own work. 

Yet Lucas gave us Episodes 4-6 and the subsquent story of supreme good versus supreme evil is entrenched in the American psyche. Evil can be overcome with good if you
just believe man. Isn't that, in some weird way, the story of the Gospels? I'm sure that someone has probably already written this book, but the vaguely Christian overtones of the first three movies could very well have contributed to society's love for the films: Temptation. Faith. The lust for power. The ability to accomplish anything if you believe. The knowledge that some unknown force could take a person from the most humble beginnings and turn them into the savior of the universe. Redemption. The belief that faith could move a mountain (or a star fighter, if you will).

These were the themes that made me love the first movies, and the absence of these themes in Episodes 1-3 made the prequels seem like hollow exercises in creative writing. Hopefully, Disney will learn from the mistakes of the past and inject life into a pretty damn good story by going back to the themes that permeated both Episodes 4-6 and our Judeo-Christian upbringings.  

Or they could just kill off Jar Jar. That would pretty awesome too.

Jonathan Harrison has recently left his parents basement and has discovered what society calls the female race.  He returned promptly because they scared him.  In his free time he stares at his unopened mint condition Bobba Fett action figure while contemplating if Greedo did indeed shoot first.  Don't follow him.  Please.  It makes him nervous.

No comments:

Post a Comment