Star Wars


It's over; the circle is complete. All loose ends have been carefully woven back together; the prequels have finally wrapped up. Even the stardust has had the necessary time to blanket down and sufficiently settle. It's now official: Star Wars has been told.

Bull. Shit. Bullshit!

That's because it really ended in 1977, with the destruction of the Death Star. Or, generously perhaps, the end instead came in the early eighties with the suspiciously cute Ewoks partying down after the Revenge of the Jedi. In a galaxy far, far away we were - or just speaking for myself, I - had been taken somewhere new. And really, I never have been taken back. To that galaxy or another.

Right age, right time. Holy shit was I knocked back when that Rebel Ship roared across a trembling silver screen, lasers tagging its behind. And then - Jeezers H. Freaking Christmas - that Star Destroyer! When the theater rumbled in the dawning of the (d)evil incarnate that was Darth Vader, something serious was clearly afoot. Mechanized breathing, bass bellows of a voice and a hulking presence of foreboding. Dark Father (refresh your Dutch), indeed!

Sometime after my jaw was retrieved from the floor, slobbering and popcorn-stained, or perhaps before - time stood still - it was on to Tatooine and its otherworldliness of Jawas, Banthus, and the alternately god- and fatherlike figure of Obi Wan Kenobi. Yes, of course I can stop now. We all know. Wow.

How to truly explain something like that, that stunning removal from my own time and place to someplace so appealing, exotic, yet black-and-white simple, too? What a magic was performed, that so many of us went together for this amazing ride! Yea, a cinematic spell was cast complete with a princess, a wizard and a sorcerer apiece on both sides (Go Yoda! Down With the Emperor!), plucky heroes, and good facing a certain and all-encompassingly-evil foe.

How we all wanted to go there! A universe with neither vagaries nor pettiness (in the grand scheme, anyway), mysterious worlds and cultures, and - not the least - futuristic and fast land speeders floating on air. There was scale, too - an intergalactic empire! Hot damn!

But then, these...these...these pretenders to the throne came along. Prequels, they called them. More aptly, leeches. Parasites. (Don't get me started... oops, too late!) For all the pure emotion that issued forth, or at least was universally felt, in those first surprising movies, all life was sucked out in the subsequent ones.

Innocence lost, I suppose. An ever-more-calculating world, now twenty plus years later. The original release came in the early pantheon of summer blockbusters, not preceded much by Jaws - it even redefined the blockbuster concept at an early stage of the phenomenon. It didn't roll out in a storm of accompanying product lineups and tie-ins, either, but spawned them instead. Coming from nowhere it took us somewhere else. And we went joyfully.

Yet these latest...frauds!...came screaming out of the gate, clamoring for the right to be seen with equal respect on the same throne without earning it themselves. These weren't trumpets blaring this time, however, but pots and pans banging about. In their preemptive sea of merchandise, too, they sullied and scarred a grandiose and ebullient memory. They asked to be part of it by virtue of name alone - for shame! The cagey and flirting interplay in workclothes between Han, Luke, and Leia? Completely missing, replaced by knightly, flowing robes and stilted, wooden nonsense between Anakin, Obi Wan, and What's-Her-Name. Would that that charade were never ventured, I say.

Surely, the original three formed not a holy writ, nor did they present more than a story well told in an novel aura of blindingly stunning special effects. Yet they were cohesive, lively, and the escapism uncovered therein was complete and fantastic. Above all, it was fresh and new - that kind of lightning can't strike twice in the same field by definition. The sad truth is that it's highly unlikely that, ever again, so many of us will be taken aback. We'll never be caught quite so unaware of the tidal wave rearing to hit us, sweeping us away to a futuristic and fantastic realm. More beautiful worlds will be wended, of course - no stopping technology. More intricate plots will weave far more complex webs, too. But we'll never be caught again quite so off guard.

Mostly it was with sadness that I viewed those prequels, however, not anger. This was no defiance of some pure vision that I felt, open to the prequels bringing back some of the magic from so many years ago. No, I was dejected more than anything by the fact that they made me painfully aware that I wouldn't be going down that road of awe ever again, not cinematically anyway. That hurts immeasurably to think about.

There will be fun ideas, visual extravaganzas, and evermore new and odious villains. Those will never dry up. But I - me, me, me - won't be new to such an experience again, not on such a completely unsuspecting level. Instead, as each of those prequels sallied forth, I found myself repeatedly bashed and blinkingly slapped with one cold, hard fact: innocence is never regained. Indeed, what truly saddens my heart is the knowledge that the surprises in life only happen once.

(2005)

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