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November 22, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

"Hello, my name is Allison, and I have never seen Star Wars.  Nope, not any of them. " - confessions of a Star Wars virgin as she watches Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
posted by Artw (124 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm just glad she started with Ep 4 cause having your first time be Ep 1 sounds pretty traumatic and horrible.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:42 AM on November 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also glad she pointed out that scene where Luke is playing with toy spaceships like a 7 year old. That always bugs me.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:43 AM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no such movie as Episode 1!
posted by 1adam12 at 7:51 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


ut I liked all of the new additions, including the Imperial Walkers (which I found kinda terrifying) and Lando, who I was convinced was Lionel Ritchie for most of the movie.

Billy Dee Williams looks like Lionel Ritchie, wtf?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:52 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife had never seen the movies either, she's Indian, so we watched them in the last two years. They aren't very good, bad dialog, acting, Luke is just awful, Leia is highly annoying, even Han is very wooden. The special effects holding up better than expected, was the only bright spot.

Don't even get me started on the prequels. Anakan and Edward Cullen should write a manual about how to stalk women.
posted by KaizenSoze at 7:53 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Billy Dee Williams looks like Lionel Ritchie, wtf?

Hmmm...
posted by Artw at 7:55 AM on November 22, 2012


I watched Star Wars again last weekend for the first time since it came out. And the thoughts I came away with were:

1. The visual aspects of the film (sets, costumes, vehicles) were great.
2. Pretty much everything else was dreadful.

But I can see why I enjoyed it when I was six, and why my six-year-old son enjoyed it at the weekend - because it's space opera for children. Why adults seem to invest so much time and energy into Star Wars remains a mystery to me, but I suppose they're welcome to it.
posted by pipeski at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


I would live this to be true:

Pop Culture Moments: George R. R. Martin totally stole Jaime and Cersei’s story from Luke and Leia, didn’t he?
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're not leaving this seat until you learn who Indiana Jones is.
posted by figurant at 8:06 AM on November 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh, I adored them when they came out. I was 10 when the first movie opened. All I did in those days was dream about spaceships blowing things up; I was in Heaven.
posted by thelonius at 8:08 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


and by the way, what a great thing that scroll is — such a simple way to convey backstory exposition, yet you never see it used elsewhere

Au contraire! (I totally remembered it from repeats of the ancient Flash Gordon series when I was a kid)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:11 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Black and white doesn't exist for under 30s.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I watched Star Wars again last weekend for the first time since it came out. And the thoughts I came away with were:

1. The visual aspects of the film (sets, costumes, vehicles) were great.
2. Pretty much everything else was dreadful.


I would agree they aren't very good and got considerably horrible, but for an adventure yarn the first couple are entertaining.

I would argue that the audio as well as the visuals was great as well.
posted by juiceCake at 8:17 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


She likes the ewoks... /instant dismissal of all other opinions
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:18 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also glad she pointed out that scene where Luke is playing with toy spaceships like a 7 year old. That always bugs me.

Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2012 [36 favorites]


The first one in particular is AMAZING audio storytelling, in terms of both sound design and the score.
posted by Artw at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Billy Dee Williams looks like Lionel Ritchie, wtf?

Yeah, I thought this was weird. I mean, I guess I can kind of see how a young Lionel Richie looks similar to Billy Dee Williams, but the comment ends up coming across as a sort of "they all look the same to me" moment. I'm sure that wasn't her intention, but that line gave me a weird vibe.

I totally remembered it from repeats of the ancient Flash Gordon series when I was a kid

That's exactly where Lucas got the concept from. So much of Star Wars is paying homage to older space operas and sci-fi serials (and Westerns), but its blockbuster power has overshadowed so many of its original sources of inspiration that people think Lucas invented a lot of the things he does out of whole-cloth.
posted by asnider at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2012


I recently met a 40 year old parent who said they had never seen any of the Star Wars movies ever.

I nearly fell off my chair.
posted by George Lucas at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Ah yes, the monthly let's crap on SW thread. I was eagerly anticipating it.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:37 AM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


The first one in particular is AMAZING audio storytelling, in terms of both sound design and the score

I just watched these a few weeks ago and what amazed me was this. How they used the audio to enhance the experience.
There's the famous scene where Darth Vader uses the force (?) to strangle one of the military guys (sorry, I don't know the names or the rank).
Listen to the sound of the Death Star engines before, during, and after this scene.

Spoiler alert

Before and after, the ships engines have sound at a medium frequency, similar to the sound you hear in a plane.
During the strangulation, the engine sound suddenly drops a ton of Hz on the frequency scale, to a low, vibrating rumble
Once Vader lets go, the engine sound changes again

End Spoiler Alert
posted by bitteroldman at 8:39 AM on November 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Ah yes, the monthly let's crap on SW thread.

While there are always going to be haters, I think this thread should actually give us an opportunity to talk about how great Star Wars is, because it is letting us vicariously see it again through fresh eyes.
posted by asnider at 8:39 AM on November 22, 2012


Also glad she pointed out that scene where Luke is playing with toy spaceships like a 7 year old. That always bugs me.

[puts away toy spaceship and hangs head in shame]
posted by mazola at 8:39 AM on November 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


Star Wars appreciation: someone tell her of the 4 billion $ that will be spent on education.
posted by uraniumwilly at 8:40 AM on November 22, 2012


On the downside, the money will be used to teach kids about Wookies.
posted by mazola at 8:41 AM on November 22, 2012


They aren't very good, bad dialog, acting,

Yup, Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing couldn't act their way out of a paper bag.

The movies are not Citizen Kane, fine, they are however absolutely loaded with awesome bits:

- Harrison Ford: Awesome, an actor just completely understanding a roll, inside and out.
- Leia: A strong female roll model, at a time when there were just NONE in such movies.
- Anthony Daniels does an amazing amount of work with just his voice and body motions for C3P0, there is consistent character structure to almost everything he says and does that informs the viewer greatly.
- Yoda: The idea that someone small, ugly, old could be so powerful is really great for kids to see.

There is so much more, really, I'm at work and can't type anymore right now but there are dozens and dozens of really wonderful things all throughout the movies, especially the first one.

Mark Hamill is not much of an actor, fine, I think pretty much everyone else is fine though and a lot are better than fine.
posted by Cosine at 8:44 AM on November 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


I think Allison's right, and you haters are wrong -- the original Star Wars trilogy is actually pretty good, even by modern standards. And, for the era, for a SF-ish movie, it was freaking phenomenal. It captured the feel of a world with omnipresent aliens in a way that I'm not sure any other movie ever has. Remember, the first one came out thirty-five years ago! That's a long, long time, especially when you think about the giant subsequent advances in CGI.

These days, even TV series can do a pretty good job of evoking weird, futuristic environments (like the newer Battlestar Galactica, which was amazingly rendered), but they didn't have those tools in 1976, when that first film was being made. They had to build everything by hand, and use real plastic models, and then manually paint the blaster bolts and stuff into every frame. Considering what they had to work with, and considering that its predecessors, with almost identical technologies, were so terrible, it was an immense technical stride forward in filmmaking, even if the acting was weak.

Another point is that it was harder to find SF-ready actors and actresses back then; it was a fairly unusual genre that nobody took seriously. It took a whole generation of kids growing up and becoming actors, after being exposed to Star Wars, that really made the present casting possible, where you can get good or even great performers that will treat the material seriously.

I just don't think it's fair to criticize those films lightly. I think it takes the subsequent advances for granted, advances that were largely based on the pioneering work that they themselves did.

Now, episodes 1 through 3? Sneer at those to your heart's content. If every copy of those were piled into a heap and burned, it would be less polluting than letting people play them.
posted by Malor at 8:48 AM on November 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


I'll admit, maybe it's the nostalgia that's clouding my judgement - but to be honest, I've watched the Family Guy versions of SW more times than the actual ones,...

So I'm not that biased - but I kinda like the fact that the technology and the effects were kinda tacky (i.e. how they had to speed up the frames when the sliding doors would open and close).

But imagine the tricks they had to employ to get some of these effects. Some simple, some complex.

Obviously they're no more creative (or less) than film-makers today, who have more tools at their disposal, but I have a sense of admiration for the MacGuyver-like solutions they had to find to get a specific effect.

In today's films (even LOTR II and III, and James Bond), there's too much reliance on these choreographed action scenes. I mean, each chase/fight scene lasts so damn long. Maybe I'm getting old, but all these explosions and such are getting tiring. It's like they create the action scene first and then fill it with story to make up for any missing time.

I'm curious to see how the Hobbit will turn out. If I remember correctly, the book had some action, but only 1 all-out battle near the end. Let's see what the movie holds.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:50 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean, each chase/fight scene lasts so damn long. Maybe I'm getting old, but all these explosions and such are getting tiring.

1) eponysterical
2) I think Roger Ebert said the last Bourne movie ushered in the "post plot" era.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:53 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree the younger cast had more energy than talent, but that took them a long way. Hamill does a great job acting with a puppet, which I mean in all seriousness. Even his immature and kind of annoying Luke in Ep IV is appropriate for the story.

Guinness and Cushing were critical for audience buy-in. They added just enough talent/depth to make you believe in the rest.

I'm not sure anyone experiencing Star Wars in 2012 can quite understand the '77 experience. It was a way different world back then and a way different connection with media, fantasy, sci-fi, marketing, etc. It was wild and imaginative.

Not enough can be said about the sheer volume of creativity that was poured into every aspect of those first movies. And because they were built out of real physical stuff, much of the magic was in suggestion and what you think you see (and the audio and soundtrack support that illusion). These movies tap into the audience's own imagination and become personal.

I kind of like these movies still.

May the force be with you.
posted by mazola at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm willing to go along with all y'all's points going forward as long as we can agree that

Wrath of Khan > all the Star Wars ever
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:57 AM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think Allison's right, and you haters are wrong -- the original Star Wars trilogy is actually pretty good, even by modern standards.

It's important to remember what Lucas intended with the movies. He wanted to do light SciFi movies in the vein of those old Flash Gordon serials. Stars Wars really did hit that sweet spot, Empire attempted to grow up, Lucas didn't like that and brought the series back closer to his vision with RotJ and the prequels.

This is why Empire Strikes Back is the best movie of the lot.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:57 AM on November 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


May the force be with you.

May the force be with you, always.
posted by Artw at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


May the force be with you.

May the force be with you, always.


May the force be with you, always, HERE.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:00 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reading the comments here, I was expecting the reviews to be overwhelmingly negative, but was pleasantly surprised to see otherwise. Even with an admitted slight antipathy, she ended up liking them and realizing why they were significant. It's a little sad she didn't see the theatrical releases, but even CG ghost Anakin can't completely ruin the trilogy.

I'm curious as to whether her reviews of the prequels will be as positive. I doubt it since, stereotypical fanboy complaints aside, the acting and story telling are a good deal worse.
posted by Muttoneer at 9:00 AM on November 22, 2012


I don't get adults obsessed with Star Wars and I don't get adults obsessed with shitting on Star Wars. They're wonderful adventure stories - they're not Shakespeare and they don't need to be. I didn't always think so, of course. When Episode One came out I was all butthurt and offended and didn't understand why Lucas would make such a shitty movie with such shitty characters until I talked to a five year old who got his mind blown by the same flick I was so frustrated by. His take on the forty minute long podrace scene? "I didn't know who would win!" His take on Jar-Jar? "Hahaha, he's so silly!"

That's the moment I realized the new movies weren't precisely for me and the old movies weren't really for a grown me. They were huge to me once because I saw them when I was little, got my mind blown like my young friend would twenty years later, and in place of an objective appraisal of their quality I was carrying around a fond memory.

Still though: when I was six years old, we got our first VCR and my aunt sent us a tape with Enemy Mine, Ghostbusters, Dune and Empire Strikes Back on it, which my brothers and I watched on a perpetual loop. If that tape had never come home, I would probably be a very different person today. That said, when a friend recently confessed to me she had never seen Star Wars like Allison here, I didn't bug out like she'd never heard of happiness before. I shurgged, said "they're pretty good, yeah," and we watched the Rocketeer instead.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:02 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've watched the Family Guy versions of SW more times than the actual ones,...

You're not the only one.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:03 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


What was the best sci-fi/action movie prior to Star Wars?

The answer (whatever it is) should give you an idea of Star War's advancement over what was currently available at the time.
posted by goethean at 9:08 AM on November 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think Allison's right, and you haters are wrong

Is this ,"NUH UH!!!" reaction to honest analysis that always falls along the lines of, "The effects were really revolutionary and it created some iconic scenes and characters, but by modern standards much of the story and acting don't really hold up," that makes me extra dismissive of the whole Star Wars thing. It confirms my belief that the entirety of SW's popularity is due to a kind synergistic fanboyism.

They're fine movies. You're allowed to like them. Most of the acting is sub par and the plot of six movies and counting revolves around a missile that makes a 90 degree turn into a tunnel whose only apparent purpose is to provide direct access to the part of the ship that makes it blow up.
posted by cmoj at 9:09 AM on November 22, 2012


It was a smart bomb. I'm shocked and awed that you don't get that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, it was a thermal exhaust port (right below the main port).
posted by nathancaswell at 9:13 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Right.
posted by cmoj at 9:16 AM on November 22, 2012


It was a smart bomb from a certain point of view.
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


What was the best sci-fi/action movie prior to Star Wars?

Okay, 2001 A Space Odyssey was pure sci-fi, not action, but it still stands up very well on a lot of levels.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:19 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey, man, you don't talk about Lucas. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll... uh... well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "Do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"... I mean I'm... no, I can't... I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's... he's a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas...
posted by mazola at 9:21 AM on November 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


What was the best sci-fi/action movie prior to Star Wars?

The answer (whatever it is) should give you an idea of Star War's advancement over what was currently available at the time.


Forbidden Planet, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, even Silent Running are way better than any of the Star Wars films.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:26 AM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


there's too much reliance on these choreographed action scenes. I mean, each chase/fight scene lasts so damn long.

And such is encouraged everytime someone complains about 'where is the action' when watching old movies still considered classics that had story development as dialogue VS having story development being something moving fast in the frame of blowing up.

(and yes I've heard the youth of today complain about what is just upthread - 2001 A Space Odyssey due to the lack of action. Wait long enough for the re-make and it'll be all action and no Pan-Am.)
posted by rough ashlar at 9:27 AM on November 22, 2012


Hey, I've never seen a Star Wars movie voluntarily either, but as a child in the '80s, they were REQUIRED viewing. We saw one of them in school!! They played it for us in the library.
posted by bquarters at 9:29 AM on November 22, 2012


Wrath of Khan > all the Star Wars ever

ST2:WoK was a nice little nautical adventure story, and I love nautical adventure stories more than almost anything, and I wish the other movies had more stuff like that—but Star Wars has a grander scale and more narrative range and pulls it all off pretty well, so I gotta disagree.
posted by fleacircus at 9:31 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


They played it for us in the library.

While in a chair with your eyelids held open like Alex so you'd come to understand the value of mass produced entertainment to the citizens?
posted by rough ashlar at 9:34 AM on November 22, 2012


Soooo, the reviewer finding them enjoyable, and possibly deserving of their place in film history somehow translates into "they were pretty bad"?

Snarkfilter indeed.
posted by fnerg at 9:35 AM on November 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


In fairness, 2 minutes is not a long time in which to scan a set of articles, so the pressure to comment first may be the true villain here.
posted by Artw at 9:38 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, I was six when Stars Wars came out, so I probably wasn't too into 2001: A Space Odyssey or Solaris.
posted by goethean at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was my opinion, not an attempted summary of TFA. I tried watching them again and I find they do not hold up. Sorry. If you enjoy them, that's great.
posted by thelonius at 9:50 AM on November 22, 2012


Leia: A strong female roll model

Are you saying that because her hair looks like cinnamon buns?
posted by kirkaracha at 9:55 AM on November 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


You know, it would be possible, I'm sure, to write a strong rational critique of the plotting, pacing, and characterization in Aesop's Fables, the Grimm faerie tales, and the Bible (Job's acting is really wooden, you guys). But that would be missing the point. Critiquing Star Wars on the grounds that Mark Hamill is a bad actor is like saying Munch's The Scream is a bad painting because omg who would put that up in the dining room (I would, but you get the picture). There is a point where one's own cognitive skill, cleverness, and cynicism start to cloud over entire realms of experience, and that's what we're seeing here.

There's a reason that millions of people love Star Wars, and there's a reason that a million voices cry out in unison when George Lucas makes spectacularly awful grafts and mutilations to the series. And it's not because they're dumber than you, have a less refined aesthetic sensibility, or don't know bad acting when they see it. People love Star Wars because it taps into a mythopoetic consciousness that in some strange way transcends the quirks, gaffs, and crudities of the movies. Now, you can say that it's calculated commercialism alone that accounts for the story of Luke Skywalker mirroring the hero's journey, but such a claim baldly ignores the litany of movies--dozens, hundreds, thousands of movies--that in fact make such a calculated commercial gesture and end up falling flat.

I know that it may be cool (or at least fun?) to highlight one own savvy and wit and poke fun at other people's sincere appreciation for something that on surface analysis does not pass some kind of muster. But you ignore at your own peril those beacons of culture that tap into deep emotions, even if you think (emphasis on 'think', i.e., cognize, i.e., flight from feeling) those emotions are stupid. I can't connect to the Twilight series. But it's important, and I wouldn't dare call it stupid or childish or bad writing, for the simple reason that emotionally moving someone else, let alone thousands or even millions of people, is maybe the best thing we can hope for.

Enough of my rambling that is for now, hrrrm?
posted by mister-o at 9:56 AM on November 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


But I can see why I enjoyed it when I was six,

Oh, I adored them when they came out. I was 10 when the first movie opened.


I was eighteen when the first movie came out. I stood in line to see it opening day in Vancouver (it had already been released elsewhere, so word had spread big time). I guess underwhelmed describes my response even though those action sequences were pretty damned cool. Because the movie really was kid's stuff. Nothing wrong with that except ...

I don't get adults obsessed with Star Wars

Except I guess, I do get it. I bet they saw the movies first when they were still quite young. I bet they had their little minds blown in the best possible way, and thus, it's a cherished memory.

and I don't get adults obsessed with shitting on Star Wars. They're wonderful adventure stories - they're not Shakespeare

I agree. Except every now and then the adult-obsessed just get annoying. Put yourself in my place. Think of that kickass kid-directed franchise that erupted when you were in your late teens, early twenties (ie: getting excited about bigger, more mature, BETTER stuff), and how annoying it would be to have it shoved in your face for the rest of your life by those who were kids when the marketing first hit them.

Trust me, the shitting on Star Wars is purely defensive ...
posted by philip-random at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2012


Yeah, I thought this was weird. I mean, I guess I can kind of see how a young Lionel Richie looks similar to Billy Dee Williams, but the comment ends up coming across as a sort of "they all look the same to me" moment.

Dunno, even peak Billie Dee Williams wasn't anywhere near nostalgia Lionel Ritchie. [ngram]

I think to fully appreciate what Lucas managed with the first Star Wars, especially, you have to know a little about his source material -- not just the old serials, but the war movies and the Kurosawa. (The Hidden Fortress resembles SW very little, plotwise, but the C-3PO and R2D2 characters -- innocents inexorably drawn through an adventure bigger than they are -- are obviously drawn from it.) The story structure, the acting, all these are built on old and somewhat hackneyed storytelling, but the narrative structure of ANH is seriously distilled quite well to the point that it's nearly perfect.

I can agree, for instance, that Hamill was already a little too old for Luke, who is obviously supposed to be an overgrown teenager rather than a young adult failure-to-launch man. I don't agree he shows no emotion on the deaths of Beru and Owen -- there's even a hint of tears at the point where the music swells to Lawrence of Arabia proportions against the twin suns -- but then that's not what this story is about. I don't think Ford is bad at all here -- he's clearly showing immediate and full grasp of the role and imbues Han with much humble humanity, such as the breakout sequence.

I'm sure that anyone can make a case for there being better films, but I think that ANH is one of those cases where subsequent rehashes and even advances have obscured the achievement, which was state of the art for the day. This was definitely one of the first SF movies to show (what I think Lucas called) a "lived-in" universe, notably with a banged up speeder. The harks back to older movie adventures were very deliberate, an attempt to bring a child's appreciation of fun back to movies in an era that was -- in 1975, you may recall -- somewhere around the pinnacle of cynicism. I mean, nobody could make a good old American Western anymore, you know, because they were essentially drawing embarrassed laughter. We needed a new frontier in which to cast our mythic vision, and space opera provided one.

I went to see ANH the first week it was in my home town, and that alone -- the road show nature of cinema back then -- tells you much about how different an era it was. There was nothing like it before, not at all.
posted by dhartung at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The arguments in this thread are silly. Clearly, Star Wars' enduring popularity owes something to its excessive merchandising campaigns and endless remakes (special edition! In 3d!). Imagine if "Jedi" had been the end of it in 1986. Would anyone remember or care about the series now? Perhaps, but certainly not on the massive scale it is. Lucas is a clever businessman. He knows his product must remain in the zeitgeist to retain future profits.

But I agree with Allison that there is something weird going on with the original trilogy that gives it a magnetic quality, especially around Empire. The campiness has a quaity of... sincere ambition? It is not great cinema. It is not well acted. Occasionally, it is well directed. Still, there is something appealing about all those people working for so many years to construct a fake ice planet only to blow it up on camera. It liberates the Hollywood epic from the confines of historical or biblical adaptations. Even though the special effects aren't great by modern standards, there's a sort of weridness to how seriously the material is taken, how much attention and sheer man-hours and money is put into it.
posted by deathpanels at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]



I don't get adults obsessed with Star Wars and I don't get adults obsessed with shitting on Star Wars.


This. They were fantastic movies to see as a kid. I can still remember standing in line on a sunny day to see the first one as a little kid. They were the perfect bracket for my childhood, and I loved them. I hope some four or five year old kid this year gets to have a great movie experience like that.

But as an adult, excessive fanboyism and excessive GRAR seem equally out of place. It's a movie series, fun but not exactly high art, incredibly important culturally but increasingly dated as time goes on. I don't get the strong feelings, I guess.
posted by Forktine at 10:01 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before Star Wars the only things even approximately similar were Star Trek TOS, 2001, and Silent Running. Forbidden Planet was mostly set on the ground, though the opening sequence was beautifully done. Everything else -- and I mean everything else -- resorted to slowly scrolling obvious astrophotos to depict "space travel."

Star Wars was first in depicting space as a place where fast-paced things happened, where the music wasn't "futuristic" with theramins but orchestral, where space itself was just another place to be where the characters were just going about their business, not making grand new discoveries on the forefront of future science, where blowing up a planet is just a matter of Imperial scale engineering. Every scene in Star Wars seemed to reveal some new thing that had never been put on a movie screen before.

You simply cannot imagine what that was like in 1977 if you didn't live through it. Star Wars begat direct ripoffs of its look and feel like the original Battlestar Galactica and Battle Beyond the Stars and it had a lot to do with how Star Trek: The Motion Picture looked when it came out.

By the time Lucas made Jedi the world was awash in tropes that Lucas had introduced himself, and he was having to reach for new things. From that world, where all those tropes have always existed, Star Wars looks dated and amateurish. But for all its faults, Star Wars is very much the Citizen Kane of science fiction films. You can look at it today and see all kinds of things that might be done better, but in its day it was full of totally new awesome.
posted by localroger at 10:03 AM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


as a child in the '80s, they were REQUIRED viewing. We saw one of them in school!! They played it for us in the library.

Ditto, seems so weird now but our whole school was taken out of class to go to the gym and watch Star Wars, say 1982ish.

"Leia: A strong female roll model

Are you saying that because her hair looks like cinnamon buns?


Leia: A strong female cinnamon roll model.
posted by Cosine at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2012


I was a child in the 80's. I've never seen a Star Wars film all the way through.
posted by anagrama at 10:25 AM on November 22, 2012


These days, even TV series can do a pretty good job of evoking weird, futuristic environments (like the newer Battlestar Galactica, which was amazingly rendered), but they didn't have those tools in 1976, when that first film was being made.

Sure. I really don't see anyone "hating" on that. People are disappointed with the stories. Most people are fairly happy with the adventure stories of the first 2 films. From Return of the Jedi onward, the franchise became a higher tech Star Wars Christmas special. What with the kids, and the beeps, and the lack of an adult story or any depth whatsoever.

Both the Clone Wars animated stories are far better than the movies have been since RotJ. Special effects dated or otherwise have nothing to do it with, else the Godzilla film with Mathew Broderick would have been a "great" film.

I just don't think it's fair to criticize those films lightly. I think it takes the subsequent advances for granted, advances that were largely based on the pioneering work that they themselves did.

Where is the criticism of subsequent story advances unfairly leveled at Star Wars? It's the lack of even fundamental story telling that left the franchise that the discontent lays. Take Darth Maul for example. A guy who looks bad and is a good solider. That's all there is to say about him. Great story telling. I was astounded at how horrible that film was when I saw. Sound and effects were great. Characters and story were at some sort of Intellivision video game level.
posted by juiceCake at 10:50 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Star Wars won't be complete until it stars (actual cannibal) Shia Labeouf.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2012


The Nerd Parent's Guide: When and how to introduce your kids to Star Wars
--------
I've been watching the Clone Wars animated series for the last couple of weeks. Had originally wanted to see if it was appropriate for my kids, and got sucked in.

It's too violent and dark for my kids just yet. (To be expected, since it's a show about a galaxy-wide war.) A lot of characters die.

The show's okay. The show is creative and the stories generally well told for a cartoon, although they do tend to telegraph their endings. Many characters have gained quite a bit of depth as the show progresses, and their arcs play out. Some moral lessons are conveyed more subtly than others. They're paying careful attention to continuity, which is nice. The animation style isn't my taste, but you get used to it and the way they provide movie-style perspectives is excellent. I'd watch it just for the lightsaber battles.

There are horrible and good episodes. Anthony Daniels does the voice of C3PO, which is nice.
posted by zarq at 11:24 AM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm 43. I think I've seen half of the first one, at about age 12. I fell asleep. Doesn't sound like something I need to put in my life.
posted by scruss at 11:27 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: the studio wanted to cash in on trends of the moment and give Star Wars a disco soundtrack, but Lucas took Steven Spielberg's advice and hired John Williams to create the classical score instead. In my opinion (disclaimer: I am a classical musician), that's one of the things that made the movies so great, because it's a space opera and it needs a weighty score full of gravitas.

It's also, imho, why people hate the ewoks. The film presents the Ewoks as small creatures, misjudged as cute and non-threatening, who nonetheless come together and provide a decisive victory against an unimaginably powerful force of unimaginable evil. But the theme for the Ewoks is played on a toy piano (you can hear it under the winds), and it trivializes them. Compare this to another movie leitmotif for another set of small, underestimated creatures who provide the key to victory over a dread evil. Very different emotional resonances.

I sing with the Seattle Symphony, and several years back we performed the symphonic version of the soundtracks for all six Star Wars movies. I was kind of snobbishly dismissive of it at the time; the choral bits for that in particular are just not very good, and the audience for the Star Wars symphony is, well, not our most critical audience, let's just say that. But when we got to our first rehearsal with the orchestra, and we were all seated together waiting for our part, and they played the main opening theme. . . I just straight burst into tears with the sheer overwhelming awesomeness of it. There are a lot of things to criticize about the Star Wars soundtrack, but that opening fanfare is beautiful.
posted by KathrynT at 11:27 AM on November 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


Metafilter: The arguments in this thread are silly.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:50 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been pretty immersed in Star Wars over the past few weeks as I'm, er, researching for something I'm currently calling "Untitled Feminist Deconstruction of Campbellion Space Opera: Episode IV: A New New Hope" and I think her perceptions are pretty spot-on. I've watched A New Hope twice in two weeks (two different versions!) and Luke is petulant and whiny, but Hamill grows nicely into the role by V, which is appropriate. He really should have been somewhere between fourteen and sixteen--Hamill does a good job, actually, of capturing both the childishness of that age and the yearning for adventure in the world beyond.

Also metafilter is the most intelligent pro-Star Wars community on the internet. Haters? Pshaw. The vast majority of posters here critique because they love.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:54 AM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also:

there’s a great amount of world-building that could leave room for prequels

This. Word. I keep meaning to write a blog post about how the best possible plot for a Star Wars prequel was right there in A New Hope. I wish we'd gotten to see the movie described by Obi-Wan instead of, well, you know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:56 AM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Speaking of a new hope - the (co-)writer of Empire Strikes Back is allegedly on board for the new Disney trilogy.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:30 PM on November 22, 2012


I went to MIT. It is so isolating to be there never having seen any of the Star Wars movies.
They had a Star Wars viewing during orientation week and I promptly fell asleep. Still haven't seen it...
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 12:35 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


As an adolescent kid who'd been raised on SF and despaired of ever seeing a real SF story made with a good budget and effects (other than a very few, such as Forbidden Planet, which was already a couple of decades old by then), I went nuts for the Ralph McQuarrie concept art. Couldn't wait for the flim to come out. But by the time it did the story had been published and I really didn't like it. I thought and still think they were horribly written and mostly horribly acted and if Lucas and Campbell decided to retroactively give each other cred in their respective spheres that's their choice. But i don't have to swallow it: the screenplays are simply dumb.

Empire's dark turn is a nice bit dramatic relief (and it's the only one of the first four made that isn't resolved with the identical battle tactic), but Han and Leia's 'gorgeous guy like me / laser brain' scene always stops me from getting that far.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:46 PM on November 22, 2012


I keep trying to read the Alan Dean Foster George Lucas "novelization" published before Star Wars but it really is pretty dreadful. The McQuarrie art is amazing, though.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:51 PM on November 22, 2012


One day, there will be children who grow up only watching Episodes VII, VIII and IX. And what a world that will be.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:01 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first one in particular is AMAZING audio storytelling, in terms of both sound design and the score.

But but but... sounds in space!?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:16 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Butt sounds in space?

That's juvenile!


and I like it!
posted by mazola at 1:50 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


A neat perspective! Although I find the way she refers to pre-CG effects as "graphics" a tad disconcerting.
posted by brundlefly at 1:55 PM on November 22, 2012


Ah yes, the monthly let's crap on SW thread. I was eagerly anticipating it.

Pairs well with the "What's bothering me about the Doctor Who Show-Runner" thread that comes along every month or so.
posted by KingEdRa at 2:34 PM on November 22, 2012


Mark Hamill is not much of an actor, fine, I think pretty much everyone else is fine though and a lot are better than fine.
posted by Cosine at 11:44 AM on November 22


OHELLTOTHENAW!

Mark Hamill may have been voted out of live action films, typecasted forever as Luke Skywalker but his work as a voice actor playing VILLAINS is on a class by itself. not only has he been the voice of The Joker in all the iterations of animated Batman tv shows and movies, but he made me really, truly hate him as the voice of Lord Ozai in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

as a voice actor, Hamill is superb. the only other guy who i found terrifying and hateful has been Ron Perelman as the voice of Slade in Teen Titans. don't let the teenage mimbo acting in Star Wars fool you.



(yes, i am too old to be watching these shows. i may or may not use my sons as an excuse to sit down and watch with them).
posted by liza at 2:41 PM on November 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


I know two people who have never seen Star Wars and don't want to. TWO PEOPLE. One of whom is my age. It boggles the mind.

On the other hand, I'm sure there's movie classics I haven't seen either that would piss people off, so. I only saw Harold and Maude maybe about a year ago because enough people got mad at me for not having seen it-- so sue me, that wasn't the sort of movie my parents would have watched growing up, okay?

Next week I'm gonna go see the One Man Star Wars show. Huzzah to that!
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:50 PM on November 22, 2012


My husband (50) has yet to see any Star Wars content of any kind. None of the movies or the cartoons or the tie-in novels or even the Holiday Special.

It's kind of fun being married to a Star Wars-naive subject.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:56 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband (50) has yet to see any Star Wars content of any kind.

I am astounded that this is possible for so many people, especially someone who would have been in the key teen demographic the time, or anyone who was living in the West and who was born after 1970.

None of the movies or the cartoons or the tie-in novels or even the Holiday Special.

Life Day is only a month away... give or take a day.
posted by Mezentian at 3:20 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, don't blame Mark Hamill for the crappy Luke Skywalker performance. Remember, this is the same director that turned Natalie Portman into a painted board. He was young, and in poor hands, so of course his performance wasn't that great.

The man is a titan in voice acting. He's not as famous, maybe, as Billy West, but the man is just mesmerizing in front of a microphone. He made the Joker really work as a villain.

If you've never seen Batman: The Animated Series, you should just watch it anyway, but even if you can't stand Batman, watch a couple of episodes with the Joker in it, and realize that this is lightsaber boy. If your jaw doesn't metaphorically hit the floor, then I propose that you are broken, and need repair.
posted by Malor at 3:43 PM on November 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


What localroger said, but also, where ANH is a pretty straight quest story, ESB makes some crazy left turns plotwise, rewriting everything you thought you knew from ANH. I think its pretty brave stuff and very weird in a way that usually gets a glancing appreciation.

And, if anything, RotJ is possibly darker (well, it is if you interpret it as Luke's slide into madness and has become a lone dark side Jedi whose delusion is going to cause a tragedy in the new Republic.)
posted by wobh at 3:48 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Guinness and Cushing were critical for audience buy-in.

Really? People went and saw it because they were in it? Or were they key to funding?

Guinness was certainly smart in getting a cut from the profits but he didn't mince his words about it, "What I didn't tell Lucas was that I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo."

Too bad he didn't say something. Might have helped.

Pairs well with the "What's bothering me about the Doctor Who Show-Runner" thread that comes along every month or so.

It does indeed, since they suffer from the same horrible story telling issues.
posted by juiceCake at 4:15 PM on November 22, 2012


I watched Star Wars again last weekend for the first time since it came out. And the thoughts I came away with were:

1. The visual aspects of the film (sets, costumes, vehicles) were great.
2. Pretty much everything else was dreadful.



I watched Star Wars again on TV a few years ago for the first time since it came out...

1. The dents and grime on the hardware were a revolutionary concept in SciFi cinema at that time.
2. It's mostly just goofy fun, but the scene in that big trash compactor is pretty neat.

Some people think that 'The Empire Strikes Back' is the high point of the whole exercise. I agree.

"What worked best: I loved that the Rancor had a friend. I felt bad for him, you know, kept in that dungeon and such, and then when the guard cried over his death I felt vindicated."
Now that was an interesting moment. Fascinating stuff.

(Also, we watched the crowd-sourced re-enactment compilation last year, and if you haven't seen that yet, it's really excellent!)
posted by ovvl at 4:53 PM on November 22, 2012


Really? People went and saw it because they were in it? Or were they key to funding?

No, he means that using high quality actors like that means making the suspension of disbelief easier - if you're seeing good actors making these fantasy characters believable, it's easier to believe everything that's going on.
posted by crossoverman at 6:02 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, their performances made the movie much better than it ought to have been.

Thank you.
posted by mazola at 6:04 PM on November 22, 2012


Cushing had top billing. Vader was initially uncredited.
posted by Artw at 6:08 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had never even heard of Star Wars until this thread. In fact I had look up the word "star" to know what you people were talking about.

I am an astrophysicist at Cornell. I do not own a TV, although I have directed several film adaptations of medieval Manchurian epic poetry.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:44 PM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't get adults obsessed with Star Wars and I don't get adults obsessed with shitting on Star Wars.

The films are a language, which invites others to come in an create new words with it. As such, the film invites many active participants who enjoy either playing within its limits or pushing them. This massive new language, which new media being produced in it on a global scale, can cause over saturation, which ferments derision in those outside the fandom.

It's become so big that is is both inviting and repellent. Depending on the individual and their state of mind, it could be both at different points in their life.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Billy Dee Williams looks like Lionel Ritchie, wtf?

It's the 'stache.
posted by straight at 7:37 PM on November 22, 2012


At this point, even someone who's never seen the movies knows the whole story, right?

Star Wars Retold by Someone Who Has Never Seen the Movies.

posted by straight at 7:39 PM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would argue that the audio as well as the visuals was great as well.

Many years ago I recorded Star Wars' audio onto a couple of cassette tapes and listened to it several times on road trips. It's fantastic.
posted by neuron at 8:56 PM on November 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


My husband grew up in Cleveland and is a computer research scientist. I have no idea why he's never seen a lick of Star Wars, but he does generally prefer comedies to action-adventure movies. On the other hand, he likes Star Trek.

He literally didn't know that Darth Vader was Luke's father until a couple of years ago when my brother and I were goofing around about it, and it somehow became apparent that husband wasn't getting the joke at all.

He could not tell the story to save his life. Pretty much his entire exposure to the mythos is via our nephew's Legos. It's not A Thing for him, either; he just doesn't care one way or the other.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:00 PM on November 22, 2012


This could've been me 4 years ago, except that my husband said he couldn't marry me if I hadn't seen Star Wars. So I did and it was fascinating. I was constantly saying, "so THAT'S why people say that!" I had heard the lines my whole life but I never knew their origin or context. It was kind of like reading Shakespeare or the Bible in that way.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 10:56 PM on November 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm a 33 year old American and I haven't seen the 'first 3'.
posted by k8t at 2:02 AM on November 23, 2012


Billy Dee Williams looks like Lionel Ritchie, wtf?
It's the 'stache.


It's the Soul Glo.
posted by Mezentian at 2:06 AM on November 23, 2012


I know a woman who works as a physical / occupational therapist, mostly with kids with autism. She hasn't seen any of the Star Wars movies, which I don't understand. How can you work with 9-year-old boys on the spectrum and not have Star Wars literacy be part of your certification training?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:29 AM on November 23, 2012


Anyone writing off Star Wars' success as merely being a great "kid's movie" or nothing but a tool for merchandising either wasn't around or doesn't remember what it was like in 1977.

Besides headlining at Mann's Chinese Theater for 11 out of its first 12 months of release, shattering all kinds of box office records (for comparison's sake, imagine a movie today playing theatrically for 6 months and earning 5 billion dollars), Star Wars also grabbed a shitload of Academy Awards and nominations, (even requiring special awards to bd invented just to honor its achievements).

Most of the toys for Star Wars were not available until almost a year after its initial release. In the meantime, Star Wars continued to make cultural history, being referenced by politicians, entertainers, political cartoons, clergymen, etc. Ask someone over 60 today the name of the main character in Avatar. I'd be surprised if 5% got it right. But go back to 1977 and ask a grandparent who C-3P0's companion is, and I bet 50% or more would know it (or at least be close)

All of this cultural phenomenon cannot be attributed to a simple "kids' movie" or nostalgic fanboy-ism. Granted, it is partly popular for those reasons, but there's obviously something much, much larger at work here. Like Tolkien, Lucas wanted to create a contemporary mythology for his time and place. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, I think.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:11 PM on November 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does anyone of any age remember the main character's name in Avatar? I don't remember any words from Avatar, except unobtanium.
posted by crossoverman at 2:44 PM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I see you Jake Sulley.
posted by Artw at 2:59 PM on November 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't remember any words from Avatar, except unobtanium.

You've forgotten the giant robots and "Get away from her, you bitch"?
That was the best bit of the film.
posted by Mezentian at 8:48 PM on November 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


First of all: Padmé, girl, no. Look, I got out with the wrong type of guys too, but if one of them told me that he had just slaughtered an entire encampment or men, women and children because of his rage feels, well, as Liz Lemon would say, “that’s a deal breaker!” Like things weren’t creepy enough in Phantom Menace between these two, now Anakin has just taken to staring at her with dead eyes, to which she replies “you’re making me uncomfortable.” Red flags! - her review of episode II is online
posted by crossoverman at 10:31 PM on November 23, 2012


That just reminded me: way back when the first trailer for The Phantom Menace was released, I thought the strange alien character (who we would come to know as Jar Jar) would be the Chewbacca character of the new movies, a Nein Nunb like co-pilot, probably some sort of lithe ninja, fighting a jungle war against The Sith.

I guess I was a bit off there.
posted by Mezentian at 10:41 PM on November 23, 2012


I'm just glad she started with Ep 4 cause having your first time be Ep 1 sounds pretty traumatic and horrible.

Considering this was the very first comment, my initial response was "That didn't take long." But seeing the ensuing dismissal of even A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, my response was, "Well, this is... different, at least."

Clearly, Star Wars' enduring popularity owes something to its excessive merchandising campaigns and endless remakes (special edition! In 3d!). Imagine if "Jedi" had been the end of it in 1986. Would anyone remember or care about the series now?

Star Wars was in a dead period from '84 to '96. Even if the theatrical special editions had never been done, the old fans would still have a genuine, enthusiastic fondness for it. Same with, say, Godfather I/II. The new stuff certainly helps in bringing in new fans though, of any age.

If anything, the prequels hurt the reputation of the originals (people will say they liked the originals better, but no one really says they liked it more than before). If Nirvana or Barry Sanders had stuck around longer, maybe they would've had embarrassing Fat Elvis or Wizard Michael Jordan years. But instead, all we have to remember is the good stuff. Star Wars doesn't have that benefit.

Lucas is a clever businessman. He knows his product must remain in the zeitgeist to retain future profits.

Well, he used those profits to make the prequels without being dependent on studios (and make a lot of swanky facilities). If he were driven solely by profit, he could've gone the Jim Davis route, have drones crank out movies constantly, and rake in money on brand name alone. (Yeah, Disney changes this to an extent, but it doesn't change his approach to the prequels.)

When people wonder if Avengers or Batman are this "generation's Star Wars"... Star Wars inspired a lot of people to pursue a lot of different fields, whether it was film, art, music, science, computers, military, etc. I can't see any modern movie having the same impact, especially because blockbusters are so commonplace now. And by the same token, Star Wars seems less special now because the industry has caught up.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:12 AM on November 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Read her reviews up to this point, and they're fun without being overly clever, or overly clueless. Inevitably there are some things to take issue with. Hopefully she likes Ep III, but I already know she won't be crazy about the ending.

I think I’ve always conceived of Darth Vader as being some all-powerful evil villain, and to see him just hanging around the council, running his own errands and in fact getting in a fighter jet to go out on an attack run himself confused me greatly.

That's part of Vader's coolness. He starts out serving someone more evil than him, before getting the fleet (and theme music) to himself. And even then, he still serves the Emperor. And he's not shy about flying around and blowin' up rebels himself (Obi-Wan does mention his skills).

Also I expected his voice to sound like something in between Christian Bale‘s Batman and Tom Hardy‘s Bane, but he was quite normal, which disappointed me a bit.

Tom Hardy's Bane = Darth Vader + drunk Sean Connery


I like her observation of Empire's "mood lighteners," and the fact that she was surprised by the humor of the series overall. So do a lot of people who haven't seen (or won't see) the movies presume they're dry, self-serious melodrama, maybe with a lot of technobabble?
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:39 AM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now, I wasn't there for this, but here's something I never hear in relation to Star Wars:

We'd only just gone to space! The US landed on the moon in '69, capping off a massive race with world-defining consequences (I mean, this was literally a proxy war between "good" and "evil", played with science).

Now what? Space stations, maybe?

Star Wars was perfectly timed, and perfectly constructed, to capture the overwhelming media frenzy and excitement that practically every American remembered. First we go to space! And then...adventures!
posted by effugas at 8:02 AM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tom Hardy's Bane = Darth Vader + drunk Sean Connery

Darth Vader: "NOOOOO!"

Bane: "NOOOOH!"
posted by straight at 6:59 PM on November 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by peacrow at 8:20 PM on November 24, 2012


Now, I wasn't there for this, but here's something I never hear in relation to Star Wars:

We'd only just gone to space! The US landed on the moon in '69, capping off a massive race with world-defining consequences (I mean, this was literally a proxy war between "good" and "evil", played with science).

Now what? Space stations, maybe?

Star Wars was perfectly timed, and perfectly constructed, to capture the overwhelming media frenzy and excitement that practically every American remembered. First we go to space! And then...adventures!


Yeah, I can tell you weren't there. In 1977 when Star Wars was released, the last Apollo mission to the moon was 5 years ago, the final two missions being cancelled due to poor ratings (I'm kidding, but it's not far from the truth). The Apollo 11 moon landing was 8 years earlier, the time between the first manned space launch and the moon landing (1961-1969) was coincidentally, 8 years. I want you to think carefully about that: the whole Race To The Moon, from the first Russian flight to the moon landing, took 8 years, and the Space Race was over 8 years before Star Wars was released. The excitement of the space program was a distant memory to most of the public. The last manned NASA mission was Skylab-4 in 1974, the US had no human space flight capability until the Space Shuttle was launched in 1981.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:40 PM on November 24, 2012


It's easy to think that in retrospect, but yeah, it was a bit of a lull space-wise. Still, 1977 was the year that the Enterprise began its Approach and Landing Tests, and there was this sense of a new era in space travel beginning. The thing about Star Wars was that up till that point, science fiction* had never been really mainstream, and had almost always come with a large dollop of cheese. Star Trek and 2001 were among the few exceptions. The immediate predecessors in the public's mind (leaving aside, say, Silent Running) were the Planet of the Apes movies (not without interest, mind you, but largely space opera), Soylent Green, and Logan's Run. There was also a large public sense of encroaching disaster, from environmental to social, and Star Wars offered a hugely unexpected swing back to unadulterated heroic escapism. I think that's far more important than the "going to space" aspect.

* Leaving aside Lucas's insistence that it was space fantasy, we're talking about the public's perception.
posted by dhartung at 9:43 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The last manned NASA mission was Skylab-4 in 1974, the US had no human space flight capability until the Space Shuttle was launched in 1981."

Nah, the Apollo-Soyuz mission was in 1975.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:58 PM on November 24, 2012


I stand corrected. And I should know better, I have a Russian vintage enamel Apollo Soyuz badge that I used to wear on my leather jacket. I thought I recalled ASTP was before Skylab, but it was the last available Apollo spacecraft so it was after.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:29 AM on November 25, 2012


And she finishes off with Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:24 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


charlie,

Eight years isn't a distant memory. Seems about right for a reboot.
posted by effugas at 4:00 AM on November 25, 2012


I always heard about Star Wars arriving more in the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam, so the country had gotten pretty cynical and disenchanted, and the movie was a big antidote for it.

Interesting contrast to how the country was doing in the late '90s, and the reaction that Phantom Menace got.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 4:35 PM on November 25, 2012


Watched Phantom Menace with the kid this afternoon. Ehhhhhh... She enjoyed it but spaced out for much of the talking, and I think she mostly ignored the dumb Amadala impersonation thing. I can't see multiple rewatched being demanded in the way of Star Wars.
posted by Artw at 5:35 PM on November 25, 2012


It is not, BTW, a movie that will be better than you remembered it being.
posted by Artw at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


34 year old Canadian, haven't seen any of them.
posted by meowf at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2012


Watched Phantom Menace with the kid this afternoon. Ehhhhhh... She enjoyed it but spaced out for much of the talking,

It's like children aren't interested in trade embargoes!

And now, since I spent forever looking for it, Cosmic Wars:

THE GATHERING SHADOW

It is a time of uncertainty. the
empire's ambiguous tariff statutes
mandate close reexamination of
galactic export quotas. Interim
Princess Agoomba has co-chaired
a subcommittee to draft amendments
to existing trade policies.

Meanwhile, regulatory agencies
are being heavily lobbied by a
consortium of mercantile interest
groups and their suppliers to
streamline loading restrictions for
class C cargo vessels. The... [trails off]
posted by Mezentian at 6:51 PM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Adorable tribute to the rancor
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on December 9, 2012


"Star Wars" Was Based On A True Story: A galaxy far, far away looks awfully familiar. In Star Wars And History, historical scholars compare Lucas's universe to our own.
posted by homunculus at 12:16 PM on December 9, 2012


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