Tag Archives: Phantom Menace

Star Wars: The Next Generation

One of the fun aspects of parenthood is sharing your child’s first experiences with some of the wonders of the world:

  • First time they experience snowfall
  • First time they see a Christmas tree
  • First witnessing of a fireworks display
  • First time they hear: “Luke, I am your father!”

When the girls were 6 and 8 we watched what I consider the first Star Wars movie, the 1976 classic with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. They loved it. So then we followed up with The Empire Strikes Back and the priceless moment when they realized that Darth Vader was the father of Luke Skywalker. Then we watched Return of the Jedi, in which they hear that Luke and Leia are siblings. Three seconds later, they both suck in their breath as they remember the kiss Leia gave Luke in Empire Strikes Back: “Ewwwww!”

So I’m in Costco, and they’re selling Star Wars I, II and III in a set, so I thought I’d pick them up and do a marathon with the kids, in preparation for the new Star Wars movie I’d heard is coming out. Bit early, I know, but still. You have to study in advance. I’m no Star Wars scholar, so a little brushing up is necessary. (Someone should have told George Lucas.)

So about 10 minutes into Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, my 10 year old turns to me and asks, “What’s with the accents?” We live in Vancouver, so she’s familiar with a Chinese accent, and it seemed inappropriate in this context. I vividly remember the uproar when these movies came out, because of all the cultural stereotyping.

As we watched, it dawned on me that the real marathon was going to be my answering questions about 1) the Star Wars storyline, 2) the bizarre details in the “first” 3 Star wars movies, and 3) the Star Wars storyline inconsistencies overall.

(It must be said that the “first” three are WAY longer than they had to be. We were actually surprised by how short the original Star Wars movie is.)

Remarks during The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, And Revenge of the Sith:

“How come they have nicer spaceships than in the other movies? This is supposed to be the olden times for the other movies!”

“Wow, R2D2 has rockets! He can fly around! Hey, how come he doesn’t do that in the other movies?” …(answering own question)…. “Must have got damaged or something.”

“If they don’t trust Anakin, why do they let him do important stuff? Shouldn’t he be locked up?”

“Why is Anakin so stupid? All that old guy has to do is say,”Search your feelings,” and it’s game over.” (The apparently effortless manipulation of Anakin really irked us all.)

“If they want to hide Luke, why did they put him with Anakin’s half-brother? That’s his real uncle!”

And so on. I was sort of playing Candy Crush when this was going on so I wasn’t paying full attention and frankly, I found this series to be hard to follow even when in the theatre, so my answers were, to say the least, unsatisfying to my questioners.

Then we decided to watch Star Wars IV: A New Hope, the original 1976 movie. I have to say, this movie is much more enjoyable than the later ones, even with all the CGI advances. Much more laughter, even though my 8-year-old loves JarJar Binks and laughed a lot when he was on screen. But in this movie you see the big disconnect between the prequels and the story’s “continuation.”  The questions came fast in this viewing:

As the first stormtroopers enter the Rebel ship: “Are these the same clones? How come they don’t have that accent?” (referring to the New Zealand accent of Jango Fett)

“Why is Obi-Wan so old?” (Good question. It’s only been, at most 23 years since Luke and Leia were born. Obi-Wan was, at most, 35 years old in the last movie, so why is he 75 instead of 58? This led to many other age-related questions. Like, how old are the stormtrooper clones?)

Obi-Wan: “Your father wanted you to have his lightsaber.” Kids: “What????”

“Why doesn’t Obi-Wan recognize C3PO and R2D2? They were together in the other movies!”

“Why doesn’t Darth Vader recognize R2D2 and especially C3PO? He made him!” (They loved the detail that although Anakin Skywalker made C3PO, his mom had to finish it. Because that’s what moms do. We’re quite familiar with this particular division of labour when it comes to crafts.)

“Yoda didn’t train Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon did!”

Leia to General Tark (Tarkin?): “I should have known you’d be on the end of Vader’s leash!”  Kids: “What? Is he the emperor? Why is he the boss? That doesn’t make any sense!” (You can hear the penny dropping.)

“How come Leia says she remembers her mother?”…answering own question…. “She must mean her adoptive mother.” Kids look to me for corroboration: I shrug and make a “sure, why not?” face.

“Why doesn’t Obi-Wan call Darth Vader “Ani”? Haha, that would be funnier!”

“What would happen if Luke joined Darth Vader? Aren’t there only supposed to be only 2 Sith Lords? How come the Emperor’s ok with this? How come they don’t talk about the Sith in these movies?” (my answer: The writers hadn’t thought of it yet.)

So, they’re only 8 and 10 and they’re paying closer attention than apparently George Lucas did when he started writing the prequels. The inconsistencies were such that I had to be ruthless and provide an explanation that went like so:

“When they made the first Star Wars movie they didn’t really know how big it would be and that they’d have to continue. So then when they made the next one, someone on the writing team probably said, “Hey, we should make Darth Vader Luke’s father!” and everyone loved that so they wrote it in. And they were probably writing during filming, so that’s why the kiss and they just didn’t take it out. And then they put in the Emperor because as soon as they made Darth Vader Luke’s father they wanted him to have at least the possibility of being a good guy underneath it all, so they needed an even bigger baddie. So, Emperor. And they didn’t think of the Sith Lord thing until they started with the prequels. And they were able to do much cooler things with CGI in the 1990s than they could do in the 1970s and 80s, so I think they got a bit carried away and had the technology of the past be superior to the technology of the future. They couldn’t help themselves.

And I don’t know why Princess Leia is a princess when her adoptive family wasn’t royalty and her real mother wasn’t a queen when she had Leia.

And I don’t know why Han Solo calls Jedi an “ancient religion” when it’s only been 20-odd years since Jedi were the galaxy’s peacekeepers.

And I don’t know what Anakin’s doing with his hands under the covers when he’s having a bad dream. I think he’s itching or something.”

We’re watching Return of the Jedi piecemeal as now we’re into the week, so I’m only letting them watch a bit at a time. Then I serve up the greatest line after “because I told you so”:

“OK, time for bed. If you’re up too late you’ll be tired tomorrow… You object? Search your feelings, you know it’s true!” Although that phrase doesn’t work the same magic on my kids as it does on Anakin and Luke.

 

 

 

 

 

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