I have this weird relationship going with Star Wars, where I find it really compelling but so much cheesier than most things I like. Last month I spent a couple of weekends rewatching the films in release order (and making sure I had actually watched all of them, because I’m pretty sure I missed a couple before) and checked in again. It still seems to be true. Even though Star Wars just isn’t it for me, there’s this part of me that can’t help but love it.
To be honest, I don’t really get that invested in the movies. Maybe it’s the lackluster, somewhat dated special effects. And the unappealing character designs and over-the-top costumes. I didn’t grow up watching the movies, so I don’t have the same forgiveness for those elements that a lot of people do, who first watched the movies in wonder as kids.
Still, I can take myself back to that child-state to enjoy them. I love watching R2D2 roll around (or jet around), beeping away and acting all emotional. I also love how cute the ewoks are, the sarcasm we get from epic characters like Han Solo and C-3PO, and the variety of awesome locations we get to visit. In fact, getting to see all the drama unfold in the Galactic Senate and watching the flying cars on Coruscant are some of my favorite things in the series.
But then there’s all the other stuff that I don’t really like — well, that I don’t buy. Like, why are so many of the aliens humanoid? What’s up with Chewbacca, and why do I find his echoey growls so annoying? We’re never going to have shiny, rigid, British-accented protocol droids, and I hope some of those hairstyles never come into style. (Let’s not get started on Jar-Jar, either.)
I guess it’s like Star Wars has this funky, retro-futuristic vibe going on, which is really charming but not at all realistic. For the part of me that wishes I had been a tech expert or an astrophysicist, Star Wars is kind of a let down.
But you can forgive it so easily. That’s what makes Star Wars so special: Even though you don’t believe much of it is realistic, you can see that George Lucas and the filmmakers had a real vision for this universe and its story from the beginning. In fact, some of the storytelling is among the most engaging I’ve found. (I really, really like Revenge of the Sith.) Even the politics of the brewing war and the relationships between different planets and cultures are well-woven. I may not find the aliens themselves that compelling, but the stories they’re part of are fascinating.
It’s kind of like I don’t buy Star Wars, but I believe in it, because the creators do. That comes across very strongly.
It seems that Star Wars has a special place in the hearts of those who watched it as children, but adults are not as easily swayed. (You saw the How I Met Your Mother episodes, right?) It’s like, as an adult, there are things about the Star Wars movies that I’ll never get that into. But there’s also something really cool about letting go of my adult-mind and enjoying the story the way a kid would. That’s how I appreciate it. You kind of have to watch the films that way, because they have the type of humor and drama and costumes and accents that kids really, really like. I mean, take Yoda: He may be extremely funny-looking, but there’s no denying he’s one of the most badass characters ever, and his short stature and speech make him a favorite with children.
I guess the older I get, the more I feel like the movies are for kids. That’s not a bad thing, and hey, kids-at-heart can also love Star Wars. That’s why a part of me does.
Plus, the worldbuilding itself is really cool even without the films. In fact, I like it better than the movies themselves, which are filmed in a way that feels very cheesy to me. That’s why I loved reading the Star Wars encyclopedia to the kids I used to nanny for. I found it all so interesting: the characters, the settings, the politics, the funny, old-fashioned sort of technology. It’s also why I have really enjoyed Star Wars video games. I even read a Star Wars book once. It’s all so cool, and it’s actually easier to suspend my disbelief when I’m not watching a live action film, if that makes sense.
The makeup of elements might be kind of childish and whimsical, and some of the writing might be cheesy, but that’s what makes Star Wars very different from most other science fiction (science fantasy?) we see today. After all, Star Wars isn’t supposed to take place in our world or resemble our future, it’s in a galaxy far, far away.