(SPOILER-FREE, unless you haven’t seen the first six episodes – and, if you haven’t, what the hell are you waiting for?) When I watch a movie, there are two of me sitting in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs, stuff that explodes, monsters, axe-maniacs, and the occasional light saber, rarely stopping to deeply consider what he’s seeing. We call the kind of movies that guy likes POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who tends to tag along with him, usually uninvited. This guy might like some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. He tends to prefer foreign movies and has an eye for cinematography, thematic motifs, and character development. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie; he wants it to change his life. Here’s what happens when these guys start talking about all things STAR WARS. CINEMA: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . POPCORN: Dah, dah, da-da-da-da, dah-da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da-dah . . . CINEMA: So, for the seventh time in cinematic history, a Star Wars movie has broken box-office records. Released on December 18, THE FORCE AWAKENS had the highest grossing worldwide opening of all time, becoming the fastest movie ever to reach a billion dollars – POPCORN: Dude, fifth biggest moneymaker in 2015, and it came out the last two weeks! CINEMA: – which may or may not be surprising, considering that the saga changed hands a few years ago. George Lucas gave it all up to the mouse that roared, including whatever future had originally lain in wait for the characters he created, and Disney gave its first crucial installment to the man who had already tinkered with the STAR TREK universe. Not without a bit of criticism, I might add. POPCORN: But the people have spoken, bro. I know some dudes that already seen it twelve times. It’s, like, part of their bible now. CINEMA: Box office tallies do not equate with excellence, of course. Otherwise, Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler would only have a little more in their bank accounts than I do. Even amidst the frenzy and geeked-out salivation that marked the return of Luke, Leia, and Han Solo to our earthbound world, the film has met with some criticism. It’s unavoidable, really. POPCORN: Dude, everybody criticized the hell outta the Jar Jar trilogy too, but the man himself put all that out there. Haters gonna hate, right? CINEMA: True. What some are calling derivative, others are saying homage. THE FORCE AWAKENS is definitely treading the same ground where Lucas walked in 1977, but one could call it thematic unity. It’s not as if the first STAR WARS was the most original, never-before-told story when it took off nearly forty years ago. POPCORN: Hey, man. CINEMA: No, I enjoyed it. I’m with you on this, but I also prefer to look upon my darlings with my eyes opened. Nostalgia and a continuing sense of childlike wonder were in the theater as I watched this latest film unfold, but STAR WARS is, and has always been, a very flawed series. POPCORN: That’s kinda funny, since I see that Darth Vader cookie jar up on your bookshelf – CINEMA: I’m not saying – POPCORN: – and there’s that Yoda with the little book of wisdom and shit. And how about that remote-control Millennium Falcon? Or when I asked if you’d let me have that Emperor with the arms out, lookin’ all sinister, cuz he ain’t nothin’ but covered in dust up there, but you said blah-blah-blah sentimental blah-blah – CINEMA: Whoa, whoa. Put down your lightsaber, Anakin. I’m trying to reach a question here, a thoughtful inquiry going out to anyone who’s been a fan of the Star Wars universe. In this spirit of inquiry, I’ve invited a very special guest into our somewhat limited discussion. POPCORN: Um, dude . . . who’s the dude? CINEMA: I’d like you to meet George Luke. George Luke: Hi. POPCORN: We got George Lucas??? CINEMA: No, George Luke Weinheimer. We’ve got a limited budget here. But he knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who once spoke to George Lucas at a convention. George Luke: Really nice fella, from what I understand. POPCORN: Dude, what’s up with his voice? He sounds – CINEMA: Just like him, I know! More appropriately, he sounds like someone trying quite successfully to mock him. Well, don’t just sit there; welcome the man to the show. POPCORN: Uh . . . George Luke: It’s very nice to be here. CINEMA: I hope you had a decent flight, George Luke. George Luke: Oh, it was very nice. I hope you don’t mind, but I parked my X-Wing Fighter in your front yard, heh-heh-heh. POPCORN: Dude, no. How do we know this guy knows anything about Star Wars? CINEMA: I met him on a message board at TheForce.net. POPCORN: Oh, well, if you met him online. Dude, come on. Alright, time for the test . . . so George, what’s in this picture I’m holding up? George Luke: Well, you should know if you’re holding it up. But because you don’t, I’m going to tell ya. It’s a sarlacc pit. POPCORN: Dude, it’s a vagina. And where do you live? George Luke: I currently reside in the basement of my mother’s condo in Albuquerque. POPCORN: He’s solid, dude. CINEMA: Okay, George Luke. With your extensive knowledge of the Lucas universe, I hope you can help to enlighten us on the nature of fandom. You see, this is the question that I’ve been pondering for nearly as long as the Star Wars saga has been the huge phenomenon that it is: why do people like Star Wars? George Luke: Well, the simplest answer is that it’s really neat. POPCORN: It’s really neat? Oh man, I’m gonna go get my bong. George Luke: Hold up, fella. No need to get illegal. I can give you a better answer. You see, the first novels I ever read were the Timothy Zahn series . . . CINEMA: Good series. George Luke: Yeppers. HEIR TO THE EMPIRE came out when I was in the fourth grade. So, when everyone else was reading GOOSEBUMPS, I was exploring the first entries into the expanded Star Wars universe. There have been endless books since then, and I’ve read them all. That’s well over a hundred books, buddy. When you include the comic books, video games, and fan fiction, there’s a wealth of material there that’s virtually endless. Whether the seven movies themselves are any good almost becomes irrelevant. They are all excellent, of course. But they are also part of a much bigger universe, and there’s something for everyone in that universe. POPCORN: I don’t, like, read stuff. But the Marvel comics were pretty sweet. There was that big talking rabbit with the blaster, or that lady Vader chick with all the whips – CINEMA: That’s nice, but our visitor came a long way to be here for this, and . . . George Luke: No problem, fella. I enjoyed Jaxx and Shira Brie too, though it’s hard to consider the Marvel universe as Star Wars canon. POPCORN: Come on, dude. Not even when Luke blew that chick outta the sky? They were in that big battle and the Force told him to. But then it was Shira and everybody liked her. They were all like ‘what the hell, Luke?’ and kicked him outta the alliance. So he goes to that planet where she was s’posed to be visiting her parents’ grave and it’s really some kinda thing where she can talk to Vader – George Luke: Oh, I remember it, fella. I’m just saying that it’s a bit like SPLINTER OF THE MINDS EYE. That was a book by Alan Dean Foster, taking place shortly after the events of A NEW HOPE. Great book, but Luke and Leia have a sexy wrestling match in the mud, and then Luke cuts off Vader’s arm in battle. While being the first expanded universe story – and a very intriguing story – it’s not exactly canon. CINEMA: Ha! Told you. So, George Luke, to get back to my question . . . POPCORN: Dude, who shot first? George Luke: Well, Mr. Lucas would have us thinking retroactively on this one. Possibly in order to make Solo a more politically correct character, he added that missed shot by Greedo in the special editions. Han was now reacting instead of being the aggressor. But the aggression he showed when we all first saw that movie was part of what made the character of Han Solo. I’d like to add that the guy who knew the guy who knew the guy said that when he met George at the convention, George was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘Han Shot First’. POPCORN: Ha! Told you. CINEMA: Whatever. So, my question . . . George Luke: Why do people like Star Wars? When George set out to create STAR WARS, it was against the backdrop of Vietnam, Watergate, and the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. In his mind, he felt that our world was in need of more fairy tales. The world had lost its hope, so he wanted to give us . . . a new hope, heh-heh. CINEMA: He based it partially on the 1958 Japanese film, THE HIDDEN FORTRESS, about a warrior who seeks to protect a princess from warring feudal lords. However, the storytelling devices he used were the same ones that have structured myths and religious tales for centuries. Luke Skywalker is on the ‘hero’s quest’ that mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote about in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. According to Campbell, the hero quest is usually very simple. He leaves his ordinary world . . . George Luke: . . . and ventures to a place of supernatural wonders, where he faces a series of trials to prove his worth. He is granted some kind of reward, like the medal that Leia puts around his neck at the end of A NEW HOPE . . . CINEMA: . . . or his knowledge of the Force. Then he returns home with his reward, more or less the same person but better than when he left. Of course, the only reason Luke returned to Tatooine was to cut a few of Jabba’s guards in half . . . George Luke: The movies came from mythological themes that have been around for thousands of years. George said, “Emotionally we haven’t changed very much in the last 3,000 years, and I think our deep-seated feelings about things and need to know how things work in terms of a family, in terms of our place in society and that sort of thing, is exactly the same. That’s why people relate to it.” POPCORN: Naw, dudes. People ain’t sittin’ at home, like, look at me all bored in my ordinary world. Oh hey, a fairy tale about families, that’s the ticket. They’re more like – lightsabers, yes! Kick-ass! Cuz everybody wants to cut some shit in half. George Luke: <snort laughs> Maybe if you’re twelve! CINEMA: Yeah, maybe if you’re twelve! Jeez. But seriously, I’ve thought about this quite a bit. Despite the presence of actors and actresses who have done some very impressive work in other films, when placed in a Star Wars film these same performers often come across as a bit wooden. Initially I assumed that Lucas was just not a people person. You know, he’s great with scope, with these big ideas of intergalactic warfare and all-encompassing mystical powers, but when it comes to telling Natalie Portman what her motivation is in a scene . . . POPCORN: So Lucas is just a shitty director? CINEMA: That’s not what I’m saying. Maybe he purposely kept these actors from doing too much acting, for the sake of the mythology. Kept them kind of vague, and the whole story broad enough to encompass everyone. With characters that are more like character sketches, there’s enough space where we can drop ourselves into those roles. If you watch the movie when you need to feel innocent and heroic, you fall right into the Luke role . . . POPCORN: Some dickweed pisses you off at work, so you watch Vader choke out all his generals? George Luke: Or watch JEDI and imagine that you’re a pretty slave girl in a gold metal bikini. CINEMA: Um, sure. You see . . . once upon a time, we all gathered around the fire to tell each other stories, but now we gather in darkened movie theaters to watch our stories flickering on a screen that’s larger than life. Motion pictures, in this sense, are a shared experience. They are a mirror held in front of an audience that reflects the collective unconscious of a culture. POPCORN: Dude, what the hell are you sayin’? I go see these flicks cuz I wanna be Han Solo? George Luke: Or Leia as a slave. CINEMA: Not necessarily just Solo, but a smart-ass, a hero, a villain . . . a slave girl . . . or whatever it is that you can’t be in your real life. Lucas, like many creative people (and not a small number of politicians), simply knows how to tap into that cultural need on a very large scale and throw it back at us as entertainment. POPCORN: I dunno, dude. If I wanna be a smart-ass, I just be a smart-ass. George Luke: I think it’s the communal experience. It might be in the theater or in the home-theater, but I enjoy getting together with my homies, some chips and dip, and sharing the experience of something we all know very well. POPCORN: You got homies? CINEMA: I’m not really after the communal experience. The large crowds that were there for opening weekend were merely overwhelming to me. I would be like the overzealous fan that rented an entire theater so he could watch it by himself. Except I had to see it with him – POPCORN: Dude. No, man, I want that place packed. Freaky people dressed up like Stormtroopers and Ewoks. Crowds cheerin’. Popcorn flyin’ up in the air. Kinda like them old serials George used to go see back in the day. You know, that inspired all this. CINEMA: I think, even more than just wanting to participate in this huge cultural event, Star Wars has religious meaning for many people. Don’t laugh. There is a huge spiritual element to these films, cloaked as it is in lightsabers and Death Stars – George Luke: Oh, I wouldn’t laugh about that. I’ve been ordained as an acolyte in the Sith Academy. Seriously, fella. “We are dark lords of the Earth and we claim it for the Empire by right of might and supremacy of will.” POPCORN: Dude, you couldn’t claim a cracker with cheese on it. CINEMA: Following the huge popularity of the first film, Francis Ford Coppola told his friend George Lucas that he should start his own religion. Lucas has continued to scoff at such suggestions, even as recently as REVENGE OF THE SITH telling his fans “it’s a movie, just a movie –“ George Luke: Judge me not by my size. I could Force choke you right now, if I wanted to. POPCORN: Come on, man. You can’t even keep your dark side and light side straight. If you’re a Sith, then why’d you fly here in an X-Wing? George Luke: I confiscated it in the name of the Empire. CINEMA: But the truth is, there are numerous books available – and apparently organizations – that apply serious academic study to the religions and philosophies of this fictional universe. Not to mention, the nearly Talmudic dissection of scenes and characters and hidden meanings that occur in these films – POPCORN: Then I want you to levitate me right now. Come on, Lord Poindexter, fling my ass against the wall over there. George Luke: I could do it. POPCORN: Then do it, dude. <the sound of rushing air and crashing is heard> CINEMA: – but mostly I believe these films are promoting an incredible means of cultural escapism. Who wouldn’t want to escape into the Star Wars universe, where good eventually triumphs over evil? Or where it’s even clear which one is which. In an increasingly terrifying world where the belief in religions often serves only to increase that terror, there is something here to believe and find comfort in. POPCORN: Did you see that shit??? George Luke: You saw nothing. CINEMA: I saw nothing. So, despite the flawed storytelling that takes place in the Star Wars movies, all those moments that don’t seem so well thought out – George Luke: A sister kisses her brother just a little too often. POPCORN: Dudes keep on building Death Stars. George Luke: Ewoks. CINEMA: – there are enough fascinating elements, carefully constructed beneath the surface, to keep us all coming back. POPCORN: Dude, it’s like puttin’ a 454 big block engine in a ’84 Pacer, trickin’ that shit out with some Cragar rims and a Bose stereo hookup, then giving a ride to a bunch of chicks and dudes with some serious weaponry. Yeah, you’re still in a Pacer, but ain’t nobody gonna beat your bad-ass Pacer. For real, man, you didn’t see that?? George Luke: He saw nothing. CINEMA: I guess it’s up to me, as usual, to reel everything in for some kind of conclusion – POPCORN: Dude, that was sweet. Can you teach me how to do that? George Luke: An apprentice can’t actually take on an apprentice of his or her own – CINEMA: – which, in a way, brings us back to that first movie in 1977. Despite mixed reactions to the prequel trilogy, the anticipation for its third installment was still quite high – George Luke: – but we might be able to work on a few tricks. CINEMA: REVENGE OF THE SITH not only served as what we thought would be the final piece of the Star Wars puzzle, connecting one trilogy to the other, but it also tried to reach those fans of the original movies who had lost faith in the series. Everyone was, in essence, hoping that this was the one. Because there was something about seeing those first movies as a child that completely blew us away, and it was going to take a miracle to get it back now . . . POPCORN: Dude, I got it. CINEMA: Got what? POPCORN: It’s all build-up, dude. All these months of lookin’ up spoilers online, watching that trailer, like, twenty-seven times. That’s after everybody spent years bitchin’ about Jar Jar and that whiny bitch Anakin. But here we go, dudes campin’ out two weeks before the movie opens. Arguing about why we went to see the shit in the first place. But you wanna know why? CINEMA: Well, that was the title of this week’s episode – POPCORN: You wanna know why? CINEMA: Yeah, I – POPCORN: That image, dude. Where Luke is standing there in the desert, looking out at the twin suns of Tatooine. Dude’s just a farmboy. Doesn’t have shit, probably won’t ever amount to shit. But he wants something better. He’s lookin’ out there like the future’s out there, and it might even be okay. He ain’t even my favorite dude in Star Wars, but when he’s standing there like that . . . they don’t even need words, man. CINEMA: Wow. Hmm, so . . . hope is why people like Star Wars? POPCORN: Hell, I dunno, dude. I just like the toys. CINEMA: Well, there you have it. We like STAR WARS because of the toys . . . or maybe because it gives us hope. Or something. Be sure to join us again next Friday, when we’ll be talking about THE FORCE AWAKENS. You’ve all had long enough to see it now, so don’t be surprised if we go ahead and ruin everything for you. See larger image Star Wars Trilogy Episodes IV-VI (Blu-ray + DVD) Star Wars: The Original Trilogy on Blu-ray+DVD Combo feature Star Wars Episodes IV-VI. The STAR WARS saga concludes with Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, aided by an unforgettable assortment of courageous characters, lead the Rebellion to bring balance back to the Force! Star Wars Episode IV: A New HopeNineteen years after the formation of the Empire, Luke Skywalker is thrust into the struggle of the Rebel Alliance when he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has lived for years in seclusion on the desert planet of Tatooine. Obi-Wan begins Luke’s Jedi training as Luke joins him on a daring mission to rescue the beautiful Rebel leader Princess Leia from the clutches of the evil Empire. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes BackIn this installment, Luke Skywalker and his friends have set up a new base on the ice planet of Hoth, but it is not long before their secret location is discovered by the evil Empire. After narrowly escaping, Luke splits off from his friends to seek out a Jedi Master called Yoda. Meanwhile, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, and C-3PO seek sanctuary at a city in the Clouds run by Lando Calrissian, an old friend of Han’s. But little do they realize that Darth Vader already awaits them. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi(4 years after Episode IV) In the epic conclusion of the saga, the Empire prepares to crush the Rebellion with a more powerful Death Star while the Rebel fleet mounts a massive attack on the space station. Luke Skywalker confronts Darth Vader in a final climactic duel before the evil Emperor. New From: $18.79 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.