I will not be seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Part of that is just that I’m not that fond of seeing old actors doing big budget curtain calls. As it is, every time I see Harrison Ford, I think, “Have we really gotten that old?” When I saw him in Firewall, I thought he looked like he could use a walker. And that was almost ten years ago! But maybe I’d feel differently if I cared about any of the cast. Certainly, if Johnny Depp revisits Jack Sparrow in thirty years, I’ll be waiting in line. The truth is that I didn’t like the first Star Wars.
Let me be clear. I saw Star Wars on 4 July 1977 with a packed crowd at the Summerfield Cinemas in Santa Rosa. I remember it was July Fourth because someone threw a fire cracker at the screen when the bad guys blew up the planet. And I didn’t dislike it. I just didn’t see what the big deal was. It’s an action film set in space with stock characters. Darth Vader is easily as silly as Robot on Lost in Space, without the saving grace of it being camp. The only character I thought was cool was (despite the name) Obi-Wan Kenobi, and he gets offed in the second reel.
In my discussions with people who are fans of the franchise, it is clear why they like it: because they do. It struck something ineffable in them when they were in their tweens or teens. And I appreciate that. I wish it had been similarly magical for me. If I had not been such a pretentious intellectual in training, maybe it would have done it for me. Certainly, Close Encounters of the Third Kind was more up my alley. But that one didn’t do much more for me either. If there was any film that captured my imagination as a tween, it was Jaws. And I’m pleased to report that it really is an excellent film.
This explains why Star Wars fans have been more and more disappointed with the franchise as it has gone on. The problem isn’t the films; it’s that the viewers are no longer 13 years old. It’s the same way that Star Trek will never be quite as good as the original, despite the fact that nothing that came later will be as silly as “guy in a reptile suit” in “Arena” or the space hippies in “The Way to Eden.” Hold on. We’ve really got to watch Kirk fight Gorn. It’s funny that Gorn never thinks to use his teeth:
But I can see why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is such a big deal to people. It’s a way of revisiting the past in a way that is new but the same. From what I hear, the film is largely a remake of the original. And that’s just fine. People are allowed that. Just the same, it’s not like Hollywood does much more than give people retreads of old things. It reminds me of myself when I’m doing anniversary posts and can’t find anything interesting to write. I go back and look at what I wrote before. But that seems to be step one for Hollywood.
I hope all you Star Wars fans out there enjoy this. Really, if I could get in on the adoration, I would. But I didn’t even manage to drag myself to see the second Star Wars film; I’m certainly not going to watch the seventh.