After my post on 10 Iconic Films (/Series) I Haven’t Seen got a decent bit of attention, I thought I’d make a bit of a series out of it where I actually work my way through and (gasp) watch them! I’m not going to be watching them in any particular order, just as I feel like it. I also might not watch full series, but I’ll at least watch the first and offer my thoughts. Today, in the first instalment, I’m talking about probably the most famous film series on that list: Star Wars.
I haven’t watched all of the films, so this is just about the original trilogy which are really the most iconic ones anyway. I’m planning to watch the prequels and maybe also the sequels/stand alones that came out recently, but we shall see. I watched these with my boyfriend who had seen them before, but not for a long time. It was great watching with someone who’s more familiar with the franchise, because then I got answers every time I asked “who’s that” or “what species is that?” which was roughly every twenty minutes.
Naturally, the first one we watched was A New Hope, the original film. It’s now episode IV, and the first of the original trilogy, but at the time it was intended to be a standalone film (fun fact for anyone who, like me, knows basically nothing about this franchise!). The thing that struck me about this film was how different it was to my expectations. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting to be honest, I think I was expecting everything to feel more… alien. The aliens themselves were pretty alien, but the planets themselves weren’t as alien as I was expecting them to appear. Nor was there as much action as I was expecting — there were a couple of fights, but there’s also a lot of plot and character development, which wasn’t what I was expecting the focus to be. Of course I wasn’t quite so unfamiliar to the franchise to not know who the main characters were, but what I wasn’t expecting was to find myself the most attached to C3PO. I just feel like he and I are very similar insofar as a human can be similar to a communications droid. I really enjoyed the first film, though I wish there had been a bit more explanation of what the Force is and what the Jedi are, because I feel like most of what I know about that came from previous knowledge absorbed from living in the post-Star Wars society, but the film didn’t really explain much.
A couple of days later, we moved on to episode V, The Empire Strikes Back. This one had more action, and more lightsabers. A win! This one also had, in my opinion, peak Darth Vader. The planets, again, didn’t feel that alien to me, and the scale of the film was still for the most part smaller than I expected, but then there were technical limits that don’t exist now. The main thing for me was that I didn’t get the sense that these battles were occurring at a galactic level. Based on the size of the sides/armies we see, it seemed to be more on the scale of a civil war than of a galactic fight for freedom. This was something that was present throughout the entire trilogy, but for me it became really noticeable in the second film. The second film also made me laugh a lot as there were a few things mentioned in the first film that had to be kind of walked back in order to actually have continuity. Clearly, some decisions about the content of the second film was decided after the first film was made. Again, I felt like there could’ve been more about the Jedi and Luke’s training. Luke is referred to as a Jedi Master, but the Jedi aspect of his identity really didn’t feel like it was played up. He seemed to go from having no knowledge or understanding of the Force straight to having mastered it.
Then, the final episode in the original trilogy, The Return of the Jedi. The first half an hour or so of this film is kinda unrelated to what happens in the rest, but it was still really entertaining so I can’t really be mad about that. This is the film that has the highest stakes, the biggest feel, and the most action. The Rebellion has their final chance to defeat Darth Vader and the Empire. I did have to laugh at the Death Star 2 being the new weapon. Like come on, guys, that’s like building the Titanic 2! Again, I really feel like Luke’s Jedi powers weren’t really explained or used to the best of their potential. For most of the film I forgot he was a Jedi Master and just thought of him as another Rebellion member until the final scenes. One very important aspect of this film though were the Ewoks. Yes, they’re there as marketing so they could sell kids cute Ewok toys but also I totally want a cute Ewok toy and I’m 21. Despite the final instalment having the most action, I think episode V, The Empire Strikes Back was my favourite of the films, though the presence of the Ewoks in The Return of the Jedi does give it a run for its money, but I feel like I should probably base my opinions on more than fluffy bear-like creatures.
I am glad I’ve finally watched Star Wars, though it wasn’t what I expected. I think a lot of the things I was surprised by (the scale of the fights, the limited settings) were limited by the time period they were made in. I do wish there had been more made of Luke’s ascension to Jedi Master, and more about what that actually means, but again, I think conventions at the time dictated that films stick to around the 2 hour mark. Now, with films regularly clocking in at about 2.5 hours, and with Avengers Endgame being a whopping 3 hours, there’s more time for this kind of development that there simply isn’t time for in a two hour film, so again, I think that is linked to the time it was made in. As I said earlier, I do plan to watch the prequels, so let me know if you’d like to read my opinions on those, because I know they’re quite divisive films!