I can’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars, but I know that it comprises some of my earliest memories of media. The earliest memory that of being terrified by a film that I think was The Poltergeist and running away to play a pirated copy of Centipede on my dad’s Apple II. I do remember however watching all of the Star Wars movies any time I had the opportunity to. A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were the defining movies of my childhood. When I accidentally rented a making of The Empire Strikes Back, thinking it was the movie from our local video store I was further engrossed by this world. I watched absolutely captivated and enraptured as these wizards called model makers, matte painters and stop motion animators turned concept sketches into tiny models into enormous war machines fighting a galactic war.
I read the books, I watched the Ewok movies, I played the games, I watched the prequels, I debated and calculated and quantified the technology on newsgroups and forums. I wrote fan-fiction for god’s sake. Somewhere along the way Star Wars lost it’s magic. Though that fanfare still immediately stirs emotions and memories, it feels more Pavlovian than anything else.
People talk about wishing they could see or read something for the first time again and recently, I had the opportunity to do this with Star Wars, if only vicariously. And it has been absolutely magical. Acidic Lactor has been writing about experiencing the series in the now (internet) famous Machete order and watching her reactions and predictions develop has firmed my support for this being the new official order. It’s easy to think about it in hindsight and go “oh yes, well this works because of X and Y” but for someone new coming to the series with only the most pop culture of pop culture spoilers known there’s new layers to it – subtexts that I’d missed over the years because I was expecting certain outcomes already and ignored the red herrings rather than looking closely at them.
Star Wars has a magic to it that has been lost through decades of repeat viewings and obsessive dissection. It’s still more than just a series of movies to me, but I don’t have that childish wonder when I see it anymore (except for the crawl and opening flypast, that still always gets me). But reading Acidic Lactor’s minute-by-minute reports on the films has brought it back. I’m seeing the films again for the first time through someone else’s eyes. Having those vicarious reactions to the interaction of heroes and villains. Watching someone try to figure out the plots and machinations that we know by heart and because we can’t even remember a time when we didn’t know them, assume everyone would figure out automatically.
The series is so seminal that I can’t help but think that we underestimate it, we’re so overexposed to it by the time we reach the age of any critical thinking that it’s easy to dismiss. But there is something to Star Wars that captured my heart, along with countless others, and in watching someone who has the depth and breadth of pop culture of science fiction knowledge – to the point where they point out “a hairstyle that makes her look like a Krogan” see it for the first time, it’s clear that the magic is still there.
Links to the blogs:
Machete Order Analysis