more Star Wars neepery
January 8, 2016
Right before going to see SW: The Force Awakens for the first time, I had a strange experience.
I had meant to do more fangirling prep for the movie — reading comics, watching movies, etc. — but I got busy. Between working on some brand-new projects and getting ready for xmas, it just didn’t happen. But literally just a few hours before going to see the new movie, I made time watch Star Wars. The first one. Just to get in the spirit. To remind myself how it feels. And it was so strange, so odd, so weird. Because I was so in the mindset of watching a new Star Wars movie, that Episode IV was suddenly new. I felt like I was watching it for the first time all over again. I’m not sure how that happened, and the strangeness of it made me cry a little, in that “who knew this was possible” kind of disbelief.
Here’s what I think: it’s been a long time since I just sat and watched Star Wars mindfully, not doing anything else, not putting it on in the background, but just watching it. And my writer brain was on and noticing all kinds of things I hadn’t really thought of before, like how we don’t actually meet the hero until about fifteen minutes in. Rather, it’s as if the world is the main character and we’re dropped into it to slowly immerse, learning about battles and droids and empires and the rest of it as it happens. This movie has a magnificent straight line plot, and every scene is late in/early out, just like we’re taught in writing school. Not a wasted second. Moreover the tension in each sequence escalates in just the right way to keep the audience engaged. This movie is really funny. The prison break scene? Never stops being funny, from the moment the trio is facing the wrong way when the elevator doors open to C-3PO thinking they’re dying in the trash compactor. The three heroes are earnest and dorky and absolutely lovable, and I think that Han falls in love with Leia before she falls in love with him. It happens right there after they’ve been fighting over money and he says, “I’m trying not to, kid,” after Luke asks what he thinks of her. Han’s got this look like, Holy shit my life is never going to be the same, and it scares him, but he may also be a little bit relieved, because it wasn’t like his life was going anywhere good before this. And in weird bit of counter-intuitive pacing, the entire third act is the battle of Yavin. Like, there’s nothing else that happens but guys in X-wings fighting the Death Star. But even that is well modulated and escalates tension. The whole thing is a sleek model of fast action pacing.
The other really amazing thing I noticed: The heroes are all so young. I’m well old enough now to be Luke and Leia’s mother. (But not quite Han’s, thank goodness.) Isn’t that crazy? They’re babies. But maybe it takes bright-eyed babies to save the universe.
And that’s when I just started bawling. Because this movie that I have loved since I was five years old, that I have seen countless times and that I know so well, can still seem new to me, and it is still my favoritest movie ever.