A wise man once asked, “If you aren’t trilling it up once every three years, then what are you doing with your life?” It’s an interesting question, and though it was intended as a joke on How I Met Your Mother, I think I’m going to take it pretty seriously and read into it a bit. You see, the phrase “trilling it up” refers to marathon-ing the original Star Wars trilogy. Rather than doing my job and writing an actual review, and taking a brief break from my regular Shakespeare-ing, I trilled it up, yo.
Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983)
The Plot: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there lived a young desert farm boy, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who yearned for adventure. One day, he gets swept up in a quest to rescue Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), one of the leaders of a plucky rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire. Joining forces with Obi-wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), a wise old Jedi (samurai space wizard), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), an arrogant but loveable space cowboy, and Chewbacca the Wookie (a wookie), Luke must save the rebellion, face down the evil Darth Vader (James Earl Jones), and learn the ways of the Jedi.
Star Wars is sort of like The Adventures of Robin Hood, in that there’s never a point in my life when I don’t remember having seen it. It molded my childhood along with Robin Hood and Universal Studios monster movies such that my Halloween costumes since age three were Robin Hood, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Robin Hood, Dracula, the Mummy, and then Middle School happened, when I branched out a bit. My action figures were Star Wars, Batman, Ninja Turtles, and Power Rangers. The Phantom Menace was a big deal less because of the movie itself and more because Lego picked up the Star Wars deal and finally made a blond hairpiece. These were movies that I could watch with my parents or with the other kids and when I wanted to play it at recess they actually knew what I was talking about.
Okay, so Star Wars was kind of a big deal. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, things that you loved as a child are not always as good when you watch them again as an adult. Like The Phantom Menace, which yeah, I enjoyed when it came out, because I was six. A fair amount of re-watching and re-loving Star Wars is nostalgia. It’s the power that allows me to ignore the faults of Return of the Jedi, among other things. I’m also now at age, though, that I can understand how actually really seriously good these movies are. Here are a few observations I made this time around:
- Such good fight scenes—Those light saber fights are incredible, man! I tip my hat to the late Bob Anderson, probably the best swordfight choreographer ever. What makes them so good, and sets them so far above those that we see in the prequels, is that they’re not just fancy. The characters bring a lot of baggage and weight and motivation to the conflict, and you can see all of it in their movements without even the dialogue. Check out the fight from the end of the first movie. It may not look like much, but you can see that Obi-wan is not trying to kill Vader; that Obi-wan is only stalling; that despite Vader’s line, “Now I am the master,” he’s still Obi-wan’s pupil and he’s still trying to prove himself; that Obi-wan was planning to die; and that Vader is actually a little guilty and disappointed at the end.
- Darth Vader does so much with his face—What face? I mean the mask. I’m still not totally sure how they pull this off, but somehow you can tell what Vader is feeling and thinking under the mask in any given situation. See this clip from the end of Return of the Jedi? Is that just me?
- Harrison Ford is the MAN—He is. He so is.
- THE STORMTROOPER ON THE FAR RIGHT HITS HIS HEAD ON THE DOOR
- George Lucas totally forgets about Jedi wisdom—Yoda at one point says that the Jedi only use the force passively, and never in aggression, that’s kind of a dark side thing. Luke occasionally uses the force in combat, but that’s part of his internal struggle. EVERYONE uses it as a weapon in the prequels. Every single Jedi and it doesn’t matter.
- Han and Leia’s romance is really well done—Anakin and Padmé? What’s that all about?
It’s nice to see a movie again and continue to notice amazing things about it. This is one of the marks of a great movie: rewatchabilityness, which is a real word recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary, or else I’m dangerously unqualified to write this column. But you don’t care about my credentials, do you? You care about Star Wars and what it means to me, or else this is just a meandering filler article that I whipped out quickly because I’m on vacation. But, perhaps after eight hundred and seventy-five words you are ready for me to get to the point. Here it is:
Not everyone is in the same boat as I am. I get that. Maybe Star Wars isn’t your Star Wars, if you get my meaning. It doesn’t have to be, but there must be some movie or book or game or hobby that you loved as a child and don’t get to do very often. That’s your Star Wars, and it’s important to relive that facet of your youth when you can. It’s humanizing. It puts things into perspective. If you aren’t trilling it up once every three years, then what are you doing with your life?