Thirty-Five years ago today, a little film called Star Wars (remember this was before the title changed to A New Hope) released and had an undeniable impact on cinema and pop culture forever. While a lot has changed in the Star Wars universe over those three and a half decades, it's something I continue to enjoy, even though a lot of fans have given up. I feel the negativity is unfair and I'm here to try and explain why Star Wars is still going strong for me, and why the changes that have been made aren't as terrible as many think.
It's no secret that I'm a mega-Star Wars nerd. I've got a massive collection that takes up a house, some storage units, and is constantly growing. It's something I've been doing since I was 5 years old, and it's probably never going to stop. Sure a lot has changed with Star Wars over the years, with the changes in the special editions to the prequels, and now the Clone Wars TV show (though I'll stick my focus of this article to the Original Trilogy). Sadly, these adjustments have turned off quite a few fans, but Star Wars is still going strong to me.
I'm going to be real honest here, nothing frustrates me (film-wise) quite as much when I hear "George Lucas raped my childhood" or "Star Wars died a long time ago". Quite simply, it's ignorant and makes little sense. Star Wars WAS my childhood. It filled my imagination and is the primary reason for my going into the film industry. None of the changes Lucas made to the original Star Wars trilogy has taken that away. I'm sorry, did Lucas go back in time and make changes to the film as we know it before it's release? No? Then how in the hell did he 'rape' your childhood. It's such a silly statement, that comes off more as whiny than anything else.
I'm not arguing that all of the changes he made in the special editions are good. Some of them really should have just been left alone. Even so, they don't bother me in the least, and I still watch them on a regular basis. Here's why: everytime he makes a change, it makes the movies feel "fresh" again.
Let's face it, after two decades of watching the same movies over and over again (that's how long it's been for me) even great films aren't as thrilling to watch. Sure, I still got enjoyment out of it, but it was so familiar that a lot of the times I did other things while having it play in the background. Yet, when the special editions released and changes were made, I watched the films with an attention I hadn't given it in years.
I paid more attention to each scene, eager to catch any new details. You know what I discovered? Suddenly, it was like watching the films brand new all over again. Like re-reading a book that I hadn't picked up in a while, some of the minor details had been forgotten and I found immense joy in re-discovering them. Hell, even scenes that he hadn't altered or changed felt fresh and new to me, because I was looking at them with a clean palate; something I had not been able to do in a long time.
This was the same feeling I had each time there was a new change to the series (with the DVD, and subsequent blu-ray releases of the film). So I can't be mad at Lucas, I can't claim that he destroyed something I love, because in truth, he managed to give me back something I thought was gone; the ability to watch Star Wars as if it were new again. This is even better since I can now share that experience with my own son.
The fact of the matter is that Star Wars was very influential for everyone and still remains that way today. A new generation of kids are just now getting into it and having those same wonderful childhood experiences that us older fans did back in the day. Is it right for us to condemn the franchise then as it's evolved? The answer for me is 'no'. Even if you were upset at the changes that have been made, it was still something you enjoyed when you were younger. Nothing about that has changed, and those memories can always be with you. Let's not try and spoil it for the next generation of nerds.
After all these years, I still enjoy sitting down and hearing John William's score blare out through the speakers. Changes or not, it's makes me content and brings back fond memories of my own childhood as I watch my son swing around a plastic Lightsaber making humming noises. There's still magic as I hear Leia plead "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope". It's a sense of adventure that few films to this day can evoke within me. That's the power of a good franchise, that's made a few missteps along the way, yet can remain culturally relevant as time goes on.
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