Getting Started with ‘Star Wars’
How to open the uninitiated to The Forceon December 6, 2012 at 8:30 am
Unless you’ve been living under a Martian rock these past few months (which DOES NOT have organic life, way to go NASA), you’re aware of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, and with it the rights to pretty much everything “Star Wars”.
Fans such as myself have a range of emotions on the matter. How would you feel if your childhood sold for a few billion dollars? Conflicted, to say the least. While the market has been saturated with “Star Wars” well before even the prequel movies, the upcoming sequels are sure to draw more interest.
Believe it or not, there are some red-blooded Americans out there who haven’t even seen the Original Trilogy. Please, resist the urge to strike them down (anger leads to the Dark Side). Rather, we should embrace their naiveté. If they are willing, we can quietly and carefully guide them to fandom.
A few months back, a friend of mine wanted to introduce his girlfriend to the GFFA (Galaxy Far Far Away). This short primer sprang from that advice, and has since been revised to include to-be fans of all ages.
1. Watch the episodes in this order: IV, V, VI (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi)
I know it seems illogical to view the films “out of order”. But Episode IV (originally just “Star Wars” but later retitled to “Episode IV A New Hope”) was the first theatrical release. Despite series creator George Lucas’ comments, he really didn’t plan any of this shit out. It was probably a ploy to get people interested in future films, lend an air of mystique. You’ll soon see how that turned out.
DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT watch the films in numerical order (I-VI). Everyone always asks about the prequels… my advice is to avoid them until viewing the original three films. The prequels are VERY different films, and would certainly sap any mystery and wonderment from the original trilogy, where the heart of the story is (again, ignore George Lucas’ spiel about this being Anakin Skywalker’s story).
I’ve heard stories of young children seeing the prequel trilogy first and becoming fans. While I don’t begrudge their fandom too much, responsible parents will start them with the originals to give proper context.
2. If possible, watch the original versions of the films
To be clear, this means the original theatrical cut of Episodes IV-VI. These are available on DVD individually or in a box set. While there have been many home video releases, the original cuts are the most authentic you can get. These are not cleaned up/restored or high definition, but they are also not altered. Eventually, you’ll come to find substantial changes to key characters and effects in the Special Edition VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray editions, each format containing more and more changes.
This is because George Lucas is crazy… and rich. He did whatever he wanted to films that people love regardless of flawed or dated visual effects. Even so, the effects were spectacular for their time, and there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with them. Inserting a few lines of dialogue here, a new CGI creature there… it’s all wholly unnecessary and a source of great debate in the geek world.
Even Star Wars virgins will instantly recognize what was original and what was altered. The new CGI sticks out like a sore thumb. Greedo shooting first looks awkward. They WILL know, so you might as well give them the purest version possible. Before the dark times… before the edits. The good news is, with Disney in control, chances are good that fans will finally get the original films restored to their full glory. And maybe the “Holiday Special”…?
3. Start as young as possible
I’d wager most “Star Wars” virgins are adults. Through whatever set of circumstances they grew up with, “Star Wars” viewing was not a part of their childhood. While the films are timeless, the purest experience is that of a child’s. There’s plenty of whiz-bang flashy action, and the metaphors are spelled out in black in white (literally, at times. You’ll have no trouble telling the good guys from the bad).
“Star Wars” is, essentially, a modern fairy tale. You have to be cool with that. You can’t like it in a hipster/ironic way, like you would “Battlestar Galactica” (the original show). Yes, there’s weird shit, but you have to embrace it.
Even the Ewoks. What’s an Ewok, you ask?
You will know when the time comes.