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Star Wars Episode II: Attack of The Nerves?
I admit it. I am a 'Star Wars' anorak. Although I can't claim that
'Star Wars' was the first film I saw at the cinema (that dubious honour
goes to 'Abba: The Movie...what can I tell you, I was five years old),
it was the first film that gave me an impression of what movie-going
could really be like. I distinctly remember sitting in the cinema with
my father and, as the title came up, the entire cinema broke into
spontaneous cheers. Foolishly, I thought that all movies should be
greeted like this in a cinema...what can I tell you, by this time I was
SIX years old.
By the time 'Return of the Jedi', the last of the original trilogy, was
released, I was a pre-pubescent at secondary school. I had been through
the turmoil of Darth Vader turning out to be Luke's father (sorry if I
spoilt anything for anyone there) and was satisfied that in the end,
good had eventually triumphed over evil and all was well in the galaxy.
Just like in all the best westerns By then, we all knew that at some
point Lucas would make the 'prequels' (what a terrible word), that
would answer the questions burning on our pre-teenage minds. How did
Vader get encased in that mask? What were the 'Clone Wars'? And, more
importantly, how long would we have to wait?
Almost fifteen years as it turned out..........that's an awfully long
time, especially when you know that the answers ARE coming. An
especially long time when you considers what the films had put us
through, during our formative years:
- The first film introduced me to the old fashioned adventure. I say
introduced, that's not strictly true - my father has always been a huge
western fan and I had been brought up in the company of Gary Cooper,
John Wayne, Audie Murphy and any other cowboy the BBC saw fit to show
on a Sunday afternoon. And 'Star Wars' essentially was a western -
although set in space instead of Dodge City, substituting lasers for
six shooters, space stations for ranches and starships for horses. The
good guys and the bad guys - Luke in white (although no
Stetson) and Darth Vader in black. If nothing else, westerns seemed
like a lot more fun AFTER I'd seen 'Star Wars'.
-The second film screwed with our heads. Released three years after the
original, the rules had changed. I guess the title should have given me
some clue as to the nature of the film, 'The Empire Strikes Back'. But
I was nine years old by then. I just wanted to see more cool aliens,
lots of space battles and, of course, some more of those lightsabres.
Of course, what I got was one of the best movies ever made. Long before
'Seven', ''Empire...' gave most of us our first taste of a truly
'downbeat' ending. The bad guys won. And to top it all, our hero had
had a hand cut off and was told that his arch enemy was actually his
father! Once again, can I just reiterate that I was NINE years old at
the time........ We can only guess at what effect
this depressing ending had on nine to eleven year olds the world over!
I remember constantly asking my father as we drove home 'Can Darth
Vader really be Luke's dad?'. All he could do was shrug. I think he was
as shocked as I was.
- The third film was (up to that point) the most eagerly awaited event
in my entire life. I was a victim of hype even then...was it to be
called 'Revenge' or 'Return of the Jedi'? Why was there confusion over
the title? How was it all going to be wrapped up neatly? Did it all
really have to end..........? As it turned out, it wasn't all wrapped
up neatly. Sure, the questions were answered (it was a shock that the
'Jedi' in the title didn't refer to Luke, but to Anakin returning from
the dark side - I felt very clever explaining that to my
school friends), the speeder chase was exciting and Ewoks were cute,
but we all wanted more. The more the saga had unfurled, the more it
felt like we had come in mid way through.
Which, of course, we had.
When the first rumblings of the Lucasfilm hype machine started churning
around 1996/1997, I was a twenty-something professional. Mortgage,
marriage, company car, big dog (only the big dog still remains, it must
be said!), but I couldn't help but feel the tug at my ever juvenile
heart strings. 'Star Wars' was coming back. George Lucas, a
generation's prodigal father was returning to keep his kids on the side
of the right and the just. The questions would be answered. Of course,
by that stage, the internet had made it very easy to get hold of film
production information (and/or rumours), so that just added to the fire
- who was going to play the young Obi Wan? Was it true that Han Solo's
father was a character? The excitement was
And so, I found myself, in New York City on May 19, 1999 for the
10:00am showing of 'Episode 1: The Phantom Menace' at one of the
downtown cinemas. No, I wasn't disappointed with it. Yes, I saw it
again in the U.S before I came home...and then the realisation hit me.
Maybe the film WASN'T as good as I had been anticipating..... But that
didn't sway my faith. I saw internet newsgroups spring up berating
Lucas for giving us a 'kids' film, when they wanted a dark, brooding
story (You see the effect that second film had back in 1980??). They
didn't want the cutesy, cuddly kids and the 'hilarious' CGI characters.
But the kids did. And it was those kids - the ones who were the same
age as I was when I saw my first 'Star Wars' film - who made 'The
Phantom Menace' the fourth highest grossing movie of all time. They
bought the toys, just like I did. And they are the ones who are
anticipating the new movie, just as I am.
And now, it's almost upon us, "Episode II: Attack Of The Clones". My
ticket is already booked for the midnight show on opening day. No need
to fly to the U.S this time, thanks to simultaneous release dates. But
the questions remains: Can Lucas win back the Star Wars faithful?
There's no question that it will be a box office behemoth. The kids
whose first exposure was 'The Phantom Menace' will see to that. But
what can we expect from the film? Will it have the extra substance that
the thirty-something's will demand? The trailers certainly seem to hint
that that is the case...... and before we dismiss it too easily, just
remember what Lucas did to us, when we were kids, with the second film.
We went in to 'Empire' expecting
another fast paced adventure and what we got was a dark, menacing movie
that made us realise that maybe good doesn't always win over evil. That
made us question things around us. That made us want to ask 'Why?'.
If I were a parent, I would be expecting some rather difficult
questions from your children, if 'Attack of the Clones' hold
true to it's promise.
At least, that's what I'm hoping, anyway.