So the first time I saw the Star Wars original trilogy, one of the biggest powerhouses in the shaping of pop culture, was just after this Thanksgiving.
This has been mind-blowing to people I talk to (my boss included,) but I come from a Star Trek household. My dad especially has no interest in anything but traditional science fiction; low fantasy work such as Star Trek, Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow, Inner Space, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, you get the picture- or you just had an interesting google search. He always says the writing in Star Wars is bad and the acting wooden. I was never inclined to agree or disagree. (Spoiler: I do disagree!)
As it was explained to me, Star Wars is high fantasy. Being a daydreaming nerd that loves video games and movies full of magic and fantastical creatures, it was no surprise that I was much more receptive to the trilogy. While my dad would complain about wizards in space with laser swords, of course I’d be all over this by comparison.
So some thoughts on watching Star Wars for the first time: I’ve always liked Mark Hamill as a voice actor and Luke Skywalker simply has a presence that most people can’t help but endear to. Harrison Ford may be super over the entire franchise and Han Solo’s overbearing insistence about Leia’s feelings for him are cringe-y to a woman who’s heard that nonsense before, but his cynicism and wit was all very welcome to me. Most rough situations in life are easier to look back on with a supportive sarcastic friend… although I think we all know Solo wouldn’t necessarily admit to that description.
It was seeing Carrie Fisher’s big claim to fame as Leia that really resonated with me. Sure she’s damsel in distress, but she still pulls plenty of weight! Now I understand why my dear friend considers her one of her first female role models. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the prison break scene in A New Hope (between Carrie Fisher taking a gun from Hamill and making a new escape route and Ford torching the intercom due to “boring conversation…”)
My understanding went beyond that case though, because after being alive more than 2 decades, I finally understood countless pop culture references. Star Wars made ripples in entertainment long before Force Awakens! (Which I decided to hold off on seeing until I watched the trilogy and examined its cultural impact.) Still stumbling behind that bandwagon though, “who shot first” and what have you.
What was most interesting about how I was finally joining the overwhelming majority of society in seeing the original trilogy was imagining what it was like to watch them when they were released. It’s oddly surreal to imagine a world where no one knows who Luke’s father really is; honestly, I got the sense that the excitement around these movies and the story they tell wasn’t dissimilar from that of the first moon landing. Stephen Colbert himself talked about how he knew, in the special preview screening he experienced before the world at large, that this piece of entertainment was going to be revolutionary to entertainment.
Now I just think it’s a shame we’re down to the Last Jedi when we just barely had the Return!