I don't remember the first time I saw Star Wars or Empire Strikes Back. I think I may have seen both on TV. I do remember seeing Return of the Jedi when it was released theatrically in 1983 at the Palace Theater on Flinders St, Melbourne. I would have been 10 years old. We waited in a line that ran around the block into Russell St for 2 hours.
Like every 10 year old boy I was obsessed with Star Wars. I spent hours playing with "Star Wars Men
" and we obsessed over any little factoid in the school playground. I remember one kid returning from a trip to the USA with news that the 3rd film was to be called "Revenge of the Jedi". It turned out that he was right - George Lucas later changed the title to Return of the Jedi deciding that revenge wasn't in a Jedi's nature.
Most every friend I've had has been obsessed with Star Wars. Even at University we were elated by the news that a new trilogy was to be made. We willingly purchased box set after box set of original Trilogy videos. THX Editions, Special Editions, Hong Kong Silver DVD Editions. We even sat through Star Wars with a sheet of paper discovering all the bloopers. Star Wars fans indeed.
The hair stood up on the back of my neck when I heard the first brass fanfare for The Phantom Menace at midnight on the day of it's theatrical release. I didn't form much of an opinion of the movie until I saw it a few more times and it became clear that most folks didn't think it held a candle to the original trilogy. My opinion is this : "Bitter and jaded 30 year old Star Wars obsessives are not the target audience for these films - 10 year old kids are". Sure George Lucas destroyed your childhood with these new films, but he also made plenty of 10 year old's favourite new movies.
I saw Attack of the Clones at it's midnight showing as well. This was the movie that the 30 year olds (with their new collections / investments of still boxed Star Wars Action Figures) pretended was better than the first one and held as a hope that Lucas really was making these movies for them. In reality this movie just had more light sabre action and some big battles that made them think they were 10 again for a bit. The computer generated graphics in this film really were (and still are) quite outstanding.
I don't understand why George Lucas made Revenge of the Sith a Mature (recommended for 15+) rated film. He did get to finally use 'revenge' in a title though. I guess he had to do something pretty unpleasant to turn Anakin into Dark Vader and it couldn't be done in a PG film. I wonder if this effected the Box Office? Since it's not restricted to 15+ like an MA rated film, I suspect not. I wonder how many parents actually knew it wasn't rated PG going in. I think this one will be viewed by the 30 year olds in the same way as the previous one - passable. Some parts of the graphics in the first battle were beautiful.
A handful of thoughts on the whole Star Wars phenomenon :
- On Filmbuffs Forecast on 3RRR they pondered the order in which these 6 films are intended to be watched. The new prequel trilogy gives up the main plot twists of the original films. It was a big deal to find out Darth Vader was Luke's father in Empire when I was a kid. Now you know going in. This guy watched the films in chronological order with his 7 year old, who raised quite a few concerns.
- Another radio station questioned why many fast food restaurants had Revenge of the Sith tie in "Kid's Meals". Based on it's rating this film isn't aimed at children.
- My own conspiracy of the Star Wars galaxy is this : George Lucas never anticipated more than one film when he made the original Star Wars. The signs pointing to this are considerable and would fill their own blog post. I do love to see my cranky 30 year old fan buddies fire up about it though. He made the whole mythos up as he went. There was never a coherent story to be told over 6 films.
- Every kid I have every asked thinks Jar Jark Binks is great!
The Star Wars trivia continues and rumours of 3D releases and television programs abound. My interest level diminished some years ago, but I like to keep up with the odd bit of news. The most interesting tidbit of late is that George Lucas now wants to make the "arthouse films that no-one will watch" that he intended to make before Star Wars became a phenomenon. I wonder what a billion dollar arthouse project would look like.
I still have a healthy collection of Star Wars Men, but they haven't been buried in the back yard for some years.