A Long Time Ago…

I know I am not the first to say this, but George Lucas cannot write romance to save his life. he writes romance the way Stephen King writes endings.

As mentioned in my previous post, I am ill and sitting on my couch. Pretty as the snow covered Canadian landscape is, one does grow bored of looking out at it constantly…so I am now into Episode III of a Star Wars marathon.

Lucas is second to none in writing multi-pronged battle scenes. He is the Master Jedi as he flashes between fights going on simultaneously in space, on the Endor Moon and the light saber duel in the new Death Star. However, watching the smile on Han’s face after discovering that Luke is Leia’s brother without so much as a double take…

In the prequels, the romance on Naboo in Ep. II, Attack of the Clones is horrendous. With that dialogue, it is amazing Anakin did get fruit thrown at him by Amadala, never mind get her to spread her legs for him.

In the original trilogy, he avoided it save two scenes in The Empire Strikes Back…and, admittedly, when Han is about to be frozen and responds to Leia’s “I love you” with “I know” is hilarious.

Of course, I say this with all due respect. Lucas has made billions on these six films and the animated TV series…of which I have not watched a single episode.

Let us be honest though. Star Wars does not survive on writing, nor acting…although the second trilogy generally was a giant leap forward on the level of acting.

More than anything the first three films succeed on a visual level that, for their time, were well ahead of anything else. The stories were very basic, and were aimed at 10-15 year old boys. The visuals dragged everyone else in.

The second set of films had story and cliche issues from the beginning…mesay glad they didin keep dat Jar Jar fella. They were not as much of a technological advancement as the first set were, but they were still wonderful to watch. Ewan McGregor was a perfect choice to play a younger version of Alec Guiness.

For the record…the critique stops here.

These films, however, are probably the best film series ever and will never be matched. From Harry Potter to James Bond to Frodo Baggins to Axel Foley to Clark Kent to Neo and Trinity…none will have the allure of the six films documenting the life story of Anakin Skywalker…aka Darth Vader.

That’s what these films are. We meet him as a young boy in The Phantom Menace…and Return of the Jedi ends as Luke burns the remains of his father…

I recall sitting in that cinema with my dad the first time I saw A New Hope. My mother had put me on the bus with specific instructions to the driver that my dad would be waiting for me at Fifth Avenue and Second Street in downtown Calgary. My first time on the bus by myself…I turned seven that day in 1977…that bus ride was the longest half hour of my life. I was nervous and I had no idea that my dad was going to introduce me to characters that would become like voices in my head for the rest of my life. We arrived late and sat in a near empty movie house. We walked in as Threepio and Artoo were wandering the desert and about to be taken by Jawas. After the movie was over, we stayed to see the beginning of what we had missed…and ended up watching it all over again.

The Empire Strikes Back remains my favourite of the six films. I was ten when I first saw that. A cinema that resided beneath Calgary’s greatest landmark, the Calgary Tower. Myself, my brother, and a boy I am pleased to say is still a friend to this day watched together…gasping at the back of Darth Vader’s head and near tears as Lando and Chewie take the Millennium Falcon to find Han.

For Return of the Jedi my setting changed…now a thirteen year old living in Denver, Colorado. Again with my brother as well as friends…a brother and sister who were the children of my father’s boss.

The Phantom Menace, in 1997, held another setting change as well as life changes. I was married to ex wife #1 and I was now living here, in the General Toronto Area. My father and I, being we were working together, took the afternoon off and met my brother to watch it. The film was a bit of a disappointment after all the hype, but still memorable.

Attack of the Clones, in 2000…unlike the previous four, I only saw this film once on the big screen. Ex wife #1, now expecting my youngest, and I went up to one of the new megaplexes that had sprung up since the mid-90s. The film certainly brought my hope back for the series.

Finally, Revenge of the Sith in 2003. Only a few months before our split, ex wife #1 and I saw it opening night. Again, order 66 almost had me in tears. Was not like we did not know what would happen, but this film succeeded to return Star Wars to the stratosphere for me.

Speaking of which, as I watch this, order 66 was just given and Yoda has dispatched with the clones trying to take him out. Of course, that is followed by Skywalker taking out the Jedi children…which brings more water welling up in the eyes.

I have wondered if they might ever get around to telling the story of how Chewie and Han get together. I know that everyone would doubt this, but I find this lack of faith disturbing.

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