How I fell In and Out and Back in Love With Star Wars
By Huw Parry
I’ve never attempted to properly put into words just how much of an impact Star Wars has had on literally my entire life, after seeing ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ twice and rejoicing in just how bloody wonderful it is, I think it’s about time I tried.
I will preface what I’m about to say with a reminder that this is wholly my opinion, there will be a portion of this where I am quite critical and picky about things.
I really can’t remember a time when Star Wars wasn’t a part of my life. I have no recollection of when or where I first saw the original trilogy. Given how I was only two years old when ‘Return of the Jedi’ was released I’ll have to guess it was either on VHS or TV.
One thing I know for absolutely sure: I watched those films incessantly as a kid. I think my poor grandmother who used to sit for my sister and I during the school holidays knows them as well as I do purely due to me watching them on rotation every single day (really, EVERY DAY).
They just stirred such a sense of wonder within me, swelled my imagination and excited me like few things ever have. It was all snowballed by my uncle and his love of Star Wars, a man who watched every showing of the first movie on the day it was released in 1977 and had so many of the toys that got handed down to me. He even had an original Star Wars fan club watch, which even as a kid I would constantly remind him I was to inherit. I’m a man who owns a Force FX Lightsber and regularly swings it around in my room just to hear that familiar BSHOOOOM VWOOOM VWOOOM, has photos of him ‘Stormtrooping’ whilst wearing a Stormtrooper helmet and a shirt with a Stormtrooper Stormtrooping on it (if you can even follow that, see the pic below and it’ll make sense!). As well as having a load of new figures in my new mini office setup.
Star Wars wasn’t just about being a great series of films to me at that stage of my life (and still isn’t), they helped me connect with people and triggered the first sparks of fandom in me. It was a way to bond with family members and friends, when you’re a kid trying to find your feet that’s something that really does matter a lot in hindsight. As someone who unashamedly proclaims himself to be “full bore geek” the best way for me to express what Star Wars is to me is that it’s my first and biggest love, a lot of who I am and what I love is due to Star Wars. But for a time, I really did fall out of love with Star Wars. My feelings towards it went from one extreme to another.
Fast forward to 1997 and the release of the special edition versions of the original trilogy. At 16 years old this was the first chance I had to see them on the big screen with my uncle and I can still remember my excitement and how I felt sitting there when ‘A New Hope’ started. So started the slow decline in my love for Star Wars.
The films had never looked better visually, the tidying up of the practical effects and the blaster shots etc along with the soundtrack made the movies an auditory and visual feast. They looked stunning, after 20 years of being out there and with added scenes they were back and better than ever.
But that’s the problem, they weren’t better than ever in my eyes. Granted, they looked and sounded more crisp than ever but after seeing ‘A New Hope’ I was rather disillusioned with a lot of it. Now, I know the whole ‘Han Shot First’ thing has been around long enough to be a joke these days but it really did bother me. Apart from the obvious (and for me, pointless) changes to how you were meant to see Han Solo, the execution of the scene and how they worked in Greedo shooting first was horrendously bad! Add to that the equally shoddy execution of the added scene with Han and Jabba the Hut, I left the cinema worried more than excited about what I’d seen.
Thankfully my favourite Star Wars movie ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ came out reletively unscathed in that respect, with only a few minor additions that just seemed to needlessly string out a scene or two. They could easily be ignored.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of ‘Return of the Jedi.’ Granted, it’s my least favourite of the trilogy, but it’s still a movie I love. With a new musical number added in, CG aliens galore, pointless shots of Boba Fett Flirting and poorly CG’d in ropes around Han Solo’s legs on Jabba’s skiff to name some of the changes. I left that one baffled at what was going on.
Then came the prequels, which I will be as brief as I possibly can about, because I don’t want the negativity to last! I’ll be blunt, the prequel trilogy broke my love for Star Wars. Not only do I think that for the most part that they’re pretty bad movies, but I couldn’t help but feel it’s almost as if they were made with no regard for what had gone before (or after, depending on how you look at it!). The way The Force is trivialised into something that can be found via a blood test as opposed to an ethereal and unseen power that some were chosen to harness for good or bad spoiled its wonder being one of my main gripes. I’ll spare you any more moaning about them as I’ve no doubt all of my issues are ones that have already been documented numerous times by others.
Then, as a result of the prequels, more changes were made to the original trilogy to ‘fix’ continuity errors. Literally every release of the original trilogy since 1997 onwards, right up until the Blu-ray released suffered new changes and additions.
Thank the maker that someone decided that on a limited DVD release of the Original Trilogy Special Edition to include a bonus disc with the original theatrical versions on them. With just the effects and sound tidied up. These are the only versions of them that I watch. To me they are the truest representation of how they are meant to be according to what I fell in love with as a kid.
As a result of everything I’d just mentioned, I had a really hard time bringing myself to watch Star Wars. After the prequels were all out there and all the changes had been made, it had become something incredibly negative for me. I’d spent far too long seeing it slowly go from something I loved wholeheartedly to it being a trigger for feeling disappointed, angry and incredibly sad.
Maybe if this had happened later in my life, when I could’ve been more pragmatic about it and realised what I loved wasn’t gone, I could still watch it in the form I loved, things might’ve been different. I guess a lot of it came from a place within me that was distraught at the thought that maybe Star Wars wouldn’t be for my kids (when the time comes!) what it was for me. Along with so many people with whom Star Wars had helped me forge a deep and incredibly meaningful bond with suddenly feeling negative towards Star Wars. I really felt I’d lost what it felt like to let myself unabashedly love Star Wars.
All this admittedly happened at a time where my thought process towards things wasn’t quite as open as it is now. A thought process that in no small part that has been nurtured by being involved with Talking Comics.
Fast forward again, Disney buy Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars. An announcement follows that a new Trilogy is in the works, but not only that we’re going to get anthology movies in between episodes. I really didn’t know what to think at first, Disney as a rule don’t make bad films and had been hitting great strides with the Marvel Studios output at the time. Then slowly, details came to light: JJ Abrams directing, a guy who I’m a fan of but is prone to the odd misstep. Things were looking in the right direction, but no details about where things were headed yet.
Next came the announcement of the title, ‘The Force Awakens.’ A cool title, but given my distaste for the way The Force was treated in the prequels I was still worried. To steal a line from The Force Awakens, when that first teaser was released, “there has been an awakening” hit the nail on the head about my feelings.
I was excited for Star Wars again! That new footage was thrilling and felt like the Star Wars I love. With each trailer that got released, my excitement grew stronger and stronger. I pulled my DVDs off the shelf for the first time in a few years and dared to watch the original trilogy, it felt so good! In the months leading up to The Force Awakens I became increasingly, yet still tentatively, optimistic that I was about to get a new Star Wars movie that was akin to what meant so much to me for so long. I was finally allowing myself to see past what it was that had caused me to step away for so long. I’d even bought a few action figures from the new merchandise range for The Force Awakens. Other than the Blu-ray and DVDs of the prequels I never bought a single thing to do with them.
Opening day for ‘The Force Awakens’ comes around, by which point I’d worked myself up to unprecedented levels of excitement. I honestly don’t think I’ve been so pumped for a movie in all my life. I wanted so much for it to be good, just to feel like Star Wars again, to look like Star Wars again. I wanted Star Wars to be given back to me.
Yes, I get that what I just said that makes me sound very entitled! But I assure you, it comes from a place of knowing that if I could feel that way, many others would too and that means so much to me.
So, my aforementioned uncle Rhys and I take our seats, nervous and hopeful for what’s to come. The screen goes dark and ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….’ appears on the screen and I feel a rush of overwhelming excitement. Then, the title ‘STAR WARS’ and the first note of the theme hits and I well up.
Over the next 130 minutes we smile, gasp, cheer, shift in our seats to help the X-wings turn faster and tear up numerous times for numerous reasons. The movie ends and I take off my 3D glasses, wipe my eyes (it had been raining on my face) and turn to see my uncle with a huge grin on his face (as well as some rain, too) and he says “that was awesome.” It sounds cheesy and contrived, but at that moment I got exactly what I wanted, Star Wars was back! I felt like an 8-year-old boy again, wanting to watch Star Wars over and over. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since and as more people who I’m close to see it, people who love Star Wars as much as me (some even more, *cough Mara *cough) share the fact that they loved it too just brings it all flooding back. I guess you could say this entire piece is all a glowing review for The Force Awakens.
Star Wars, MY Star Wars is back in my life in a big way. Possibly bigger than ever due to me having so many more friends of the geek variety to share this with as well as the sheer joy of sharing my love for it again with family and old friends. Non-stop texts about what we loved about it and theories as to what lies ahead keep coming my way and it’s so great to be part of this outpouring of Star Wars related joy. I keep finding myself so overjoyed that The Force Awakens has turned out to be good and that so many love it too that I well up just thinking about it. All helped by being able to contact so many so fast and geek out about Star Wars which has made for such a wonderful few days and long may it continue. I have rediscovered my childhood love that means so much to me and has woven a path through my entire life. It feels wonderful to be back so deeply in love for something that transcends being just a series of movies to me and to see so many loving it, too.
And no, this doesn’t mean I’ll watch the prequels again!!
I hasten to add, if you like the prequels that’s totally cool. Each unto their own, these are just my thoughts. I hope I didn’t annoy you with my distaste for them.
May the force be with you, always.