A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, (or in this case, 1970’s California) George Lucas, inspired by some of his favorite 1940s serials, wrote of the fantastical adventures of Young Luke Starkiller, which is turn was told by ancient beings called the Whills (hence the “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” at the beginning of the story every movie).
I think it’s safe to say that Star Wars differs from Lucas’ original vision. As the writer and director of A New Hope, Lucas strove to show us the world he created in his mind but due the limits of technology and budget, he never quite hit the mark he envisioned.
When the technology did arrive, Lucas made numerous changes to the original trilogy (Young Anakin’s force ghost appearing in “Return of the Jedi”, Han infamously no longer shooting first, added CGI sprinkled all throughout, just to name a few) and introduced retcons during the prequels (Hello, Midichlorians!), only to be met with a varied response, to say the least.
Star Wars has by no means been the only franchise to do similar things with their continuity (*Points to Burton/Schumacher Batman movies*) but it definitely is an unique case. Fans have always blamed problems like this either on the company, (a faceless and greedy juggernaut) or a particular person, (the evil megalomaniac) who doesn’t respect the material. What do we do when the person changing everything is the very person who gave it to us? We can get into the “Does the art belong to the consumer or to the artist?” debate until the proverbial cows come home but frankly,that’s not the question I’m interested in.
A few days ago, as I was rewatching video essays from the amazing YouTube channel, FilmJoy I found a 2-part essay, “How We See Star Wars”. The videos recounts some of the reviews and reception of the Star Wars films when they were released. Throughout the videos, the host used clips of the various movies in greyscale, much like the serials of the 1930s and 1940s.
As I said, it wasn’t the first time I’ve seen those particular videos and definitely not my first time seeing Star Wars but a new thought popped into my head as I watched the video: is it possible to see Star Wars through Lucas’ eyes?
I grabbed a copy of the Last Jedi and after a few minutes fumbling with the media player on my laptop, I watched the opening battle in greyscale. The stakes are still high as countless soldiers die and Paige’s sacrifice is forever beautiful and but somehow, it now held a certain campiness to it. The closest thing I can compare it to is the Power Rangers season finale where they discovered Tommy (spoiler for a 20+ year old series) was the green ranger. Sure, it was staged in a ridiculous way but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) negate the very real emotions it evoked.
It also thrilled me in a way I hadn’t felt since the first time I watched it. Paige’s scenes, for example, felt smaller and more intimate whereas BB-8 trying to fix the ship made me giggle like a toddler. I was just drawn to everything, my eyes eager to soak in every detail.
Energized with this new feeling, I wanted to just dive into other movies and let this be one of those nerdy, borderline hipster thing that I’ve done but I wanted to do the series and perhaps even George Lucas some justice.
I decided (Pretty reluctantly, admittedly) to rewatch all eight Star Wars movies in order of release and write about the experience here. I won’t be watching Rogue One or Solo because while they are Star Wars movies, I feel those movies are more supplementary and didn’t have the same demands on them that The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi had.
We will be watching the in order of release so episode 4: A New Hope is first.