I decided to show the classic Return of the Jedi in my study hall yesterday. What the heck, Easter break is here, and it's Star Wars for the love of Yoda!!
Watching this classic brought me back to my own high school days. Actually the saga spanned throughout my elementary education and well into high school. We had to wait about three years for each sequel! What patience we had then! I could tell you some amazing trivia. I knew the actors and actresses behind the costumes, I knew the space systems, the creatures. I owned those classic action figures. Yes indeed, those were the salad days....
Now Return of the Jedi had "state of the art graphics." We were blown away by the speeder-bike chase, the "new" Death Star, and the wild alien creatures that came creeping out of the mind of George Lucas. How 'bout that Sarlacc Pit? Nasty! Star Wars was COOLNESS PERSONIFIED.
As I was reflecting on this, I was suddenly sucked back from my 80's nostalgia and into the present 2007 "everything's digitally enhanced is that a real person\city\landscape I can't tell the difference anymore" world. One of my 16 year old students mumbled "This is like a bad YouTube video."
Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they say!
A bad YouTube video? OK, in all seriousness, compared to today's special effects, sure, the Ewoks were a little cheesy, the Death Star did look like a big firecracker blowing up in space (would there be sparks?), and what was up with the Admiral Lobster Head Guy?
But we suspended our disbelief, we got lost in the story. And that was the missing link between the old school Star Wars movies and the new ones, so loaded with computer generated images that the actors were mostly working in front of a blue screen staring at nothing: the missing link was a good story.
I was quickly comforted after this blow to my beloved Star Wars by another student, who nailed it on the head; "If they had this story with the new effects, those movies would've been sick." (this means "exceptionally spectacular, Mr. Donaghy!")
So, wake up America! Let's get back to those epic tales of good versus evil, cheering for the underdog, and the crushing complexity of the hero who learns to let go (finally!), putting others before himself. We've been super-soaked by special effects and we're drowning in a blue pool of virtual reality. The kids are suffering from a numbing of the mind... a snuffing out of the sense of wonder. We need an appeal to the real, a drama we can enter into ourselves. We need to look and see that the best movie ever made is you and me. The REAL LIFE! And also we need Peter Jackson to make The Hobbit!! Yeah!!
PS - Speaking of Star Wars, many of us hoped the latest "episodes"
would have recaptured the glory of the originals for a new generation,
and we were sorely disappointed. George must have had an accident
involving wet linoleum and the hanging of a clock. For a good laugh at
this sad reality, enjoy the following video wondering what the "new"
Lucas would have done if he directed the Lord of the Rings.
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