Thursday 26 May 2005

I've spent too long on your trail

Star Wars has been a part of my life since I was 4 years old and my dad took me to the cinema when we were on holiday in Guernsey to see the first film. In those days it was simply called 'Star Wars', but apparently we now know it as 'Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope'.


I don't remember it at all.

My first proper Star Wars memory comes a couple of years later in 1979 or 1980 when I queued up in the rain outside the Electra Cinema in Newport Pagnell to watch 'The Empire Strikes Back'. I don't remember many details about that first viewing, but it clearly made a massive impression on me because I began to collect the Star Wars figures (I think my first was C3P0 - the original one with the arms and legs that didn't come off). We also began to play 'Star Wars' in the school playground. In those days, everyone wanted to be Luke Skywalker, in the completely mistaken belief that he was the coolest person in the films. The only way we could persuade anyone to be Han Solo was by pretending that he had a little lightsabre dagger (let's face it - lightsabres were, and are, pretty damn cool). I used to go round to my best friend's house with all my figures in a bag, and we would play 'Star Wars' for hours. I lost count of the number of tiny little plastic guns that we mislaid.

I remember anxiously waiting for the release of 'The Return of the Jedi'... I can even remember when they changed the name from 'The Revenge of the Jedi' because revenge wasn't an appropriate emotion for a Jedi (ah, if only Annakin had understood that, then the galaxy would have been saved a whole lot of bother).

I don't remember having a problem with the Ewoks either. In fact, I was desperate for my mum and dad to buy me the Ewok Village for Christmas, and was devastated when they didn't.

At around this time, I taped 'Star Wars' off the telly on our Betamax video. To this day, when I watch the film, I can still remember where the adverts were. As I recall, they were mainly adverts for the Boxing Day sales....

Damn it, I loved those films.

I think I first bought the videos at some point around 1995, and a year after that, I found myself at University with a whole bunch of people who had also grown up with these films - they were a common cultural reference point. This, together with the fact that the Special Editions were about to hit the cinemas again, and the growing availability of fanboy information on the internet, deepened my interest in the films, and I learnt all kinds of totally pointless information (can you name the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon during the attack on the second Death Star? I can....). I was now watching the films with a markedly different standpoint from the first time around. I had now worked out that 'Empire' was the best of the films by miles (and still is), that Han was the coolest character by miles (and still is), that the Ewoks were a travesty.... all sorts of geeky stuff. Cool though it was to see the films in the cinema again, I was also fairly pissed off that George Lucas had tinkered pointlessly with the films that I loved: Greedo now fired first, Jabba appeared, Mos Eisley had bigger crowds of people.... big deal.

I bought the Special Editions on video (and idiot that I am, I left my original videos with an ex-girlfriend). I also bought a couple of the newer, bizarrely muscular, new figures as well...although I don't think my heart was really in it (I had a Luke with a Yoda in a little backpack, but I gave it to my friend Tracy). I had a Yoda t-shirt.

'The Phantom Menace' came out in 1999. The teaser trailers had been fantastic (double-bladed lightsabre!), so how could I not be excited? The UK release date was some time after the US, and so the first thing I did when I stepped off a plane in Orlando, Florida, was to head to the cinema to watch the film. I fell asleep during the pod race scene. 'The Attack of the Clones' was better, but was muddled. I still bought both of them on DVD. I also picked up a Darth Maul lightsabre.

The Special Editions of the original trilogy were released on DVD. I bought them.

I plodded off to see 'Revenge of the Sith' as soon as I got back from Korea. It's pretty good. No, it's better than that. I'll buy it when it comes out on DVD.

I am sad that you can't buy the original films in their original edit. When they are released on DVD, as they surely will be, I'll probably buy them too.

I've got loads of opinions on the films: on the classic trilogy, on the prequels, on George Lucas and his so-called 'vision' and his ham-fisted self-mythologising, on Jar-Jar bloody Binks.... but at the end of the day, I've decided that I don't have the energy, and it's not that interesting for anyone except my fellow geeks. For better or for worse, my life has been bound up with these films for more than 25 years now. How the hell can I be expected to offer up anything approaching an objective opinion?

Now excuse me, I have 5 films on DVD to re-watch and a second trip to the cinema to make....

:: how jedi are you? ::

(yeah, I know I've posted this before, but it seems relevant)

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