I was born in the early 80s and went through my teenage years in the 90s. I experienced Star Wars as a kid on VHS. No special editions, no question about who shot first. It was just pure, unadulterated Star Wars. In a lot of ways it was glorious. Except for the small square TV and the Panavision that made the picture fit in your square screen by cutting out all the stuff on the sides. It’s not important, right? Plus, the picture quality kind of sucked after we watched each tape more than once. On a couple of the episodes, the tape was so worn out it was almost unwatchable. Almost, but we tried anyway. This was back when it was just Star Wars. Not “A New Hope,” just Star Wars. That is how I spent most of my childhood. That is how I always remember Star Wars.
Star Wars – The Originals
I consider myself to be part of what I like to call the “In Between” Generation. I didn’t really see the original trilogy in the theater. I may have seen Return of the Jedi, but if I did, I don’t remember. The only way I had to experience the original Star Wars was on bad VHS tapes, or worse, on TV with commercials. We didn’t complain, mostly because this was how we experienced all of our movies. We just thought it was cool that we could buy movies and bring them home. We didn’t care as much about rewinding the tape, because that’s what we knew.
To be honest, I never thought I would ever experience Star Wars on the big screen, and I was ok with that. It did not hinder my love for the show. Or anyone’s, really. My generation embraced George Lucas just as much as the generation before us, and the generation after us. We became passionate about it. We thought about how Anakin would become Darth Vader, how he would turn from the light and embrace the Dark Side. We argued about what exactly happened in the Clone Wars and the Droid Wars. We pondered questions like, “Who was the greatest Jedi, Obi Wan or Yoda?” We didn’t have all the novels, they were just starting to appear. All we had were three perfect films. We filled in all the rest. We didn’t need the prequels. We didn’t need or want the special editions. We made our own prequels in our backyards. We were the prequels, or something like that.
Star Wars – The Special Editions and the Prequels
Maybe that was part of the problem. We had in our minds how everything played out leading up to the movies we had. We had already pictured in our heads what the Clone Wars were. We pictured Obi Wan as Yoda’s young padowan (only because Obi Wan told us that). We had already imagined all of this. And then the prequels were announced. These were the movies I mentioned before that we didn’t need. Until, that is, they were announced, and we needed this more than anything else.
I remember when the first trailer for Phantom Menace came out. I was working in a movie theater at the time, and probably watched a thousand times. That was an accomplishment in those days, because we didn’t have YouTube. I was so excited to see that movie, so excited that I didn’t even feel disappointed with it the first four times I saw it. It was Star Wars and it was on the big screen and it looked and sounded amazing. That’s all I ever wanted.
Except it wasn’t. What I really wanted, what I think most Star Wars fans at the time really wanted was the perfect prequels. The stories we had pictured in our heads, the scenes we acted out on the playground. That is what we wanted. We knew the stories that we wanted to see, and that was not what was delivered. I always imagined Anakin being this big epic hero, making his fall to the Dark Side even more tragic. What we got was whiny teenager. It just wasn’t what we imagined, so like the typical geeks we are, we hated it. We picked it apart and over time, we began to feel like we were above it. We became Star Wars snobs. If you liked the prequels you weren’t a true Star Wars fan, but how could you be? If you hadn’t suffered through the VHS era, how could you appreciate Star Wars in its purest form?
Star Wars – Episode VII
Now, here we are, awaiting the release of a new Star Wars movie. This time it is a sequel. The events following the Return of the Jedi have been written about and discussed and there were certain things many fans took as canon. These are all ideas that have been built up in our heads. Yes, Disney came in, bought the franchise and declared all those books as non-canon, calling them legends. It’s not like a switch in our heads, though, that we can just turn off. We still have our ideas of what we want to see happen in the next movies. Will they suffer the same fate that the prequels did? Will they fall victim to fan expectations?
Before you start sending me the hate mail, just wait. I am totally on board with the sequels. The Force Awakens looks incredible, and I cannot wait to see it (I will wait, because I am not seeing it until December 21, more to come on that later). I think it will be better than anything we saw in the prequels. I think it may redeem the franchise and set it back on the right track. It will be the best Star Wars movie we have ever seen and will probably restore our faith in humanity. I mean, with expectations like that, how could it possibly fail to meet them all?
It’s Star Wars week here on the Geeky Mormon site, and this post is our first post leading up to the film. Keep checking back as each of our new posts will be about Star Wars in some way, ending on December 21, when I will post my review of the film, after seeing it with my son Johnny. Tell us what you think about the new movie. Will it live up to all the hype, or will it be a disappointment? Let us know in the comments section, or send you feedback directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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