Sunday, September 28, 2008

already over

I was all worried about Episode 3 (which I put my foot down he will *not* watch before he is nine), but he didn't even make it halfway through Episode 2.

Moving on to the earlier movies, Episodes 4-6, I'm more worried about the sad roles that women have than about scariness. Quick, name a female character in 4-6 who is not Princess Leia. Hmm, yeah. I can't think of any either. Uncle Owen's wife, who is killed with her husband in the first half hour. Don't some of the Ewoks (the ones taking care of the baby Ewoks, unless I'm mistaken) wear sort of female-signifying clothing?

I think the part of Episode 4 that made the biggest impression on me as a 5 1/2-year-old was the garbage compactor, although Luke & Leia swinging across that abyss on a fishing line was a close second. I was older when I realized that it was really Luke swinging across, and he just sort of took Leia with him. At the time it didn't occur to me why there was only one woman character, and she was young and beautiful. I don't remember if I was disappointed in how she held her blaster as though she were scared of it, how she gritted her teeth and cringed while pulling the trigger. You could chalk it up to inexperience, but as I recall she was a pretty good shot, and wasn't Luke just as inexperienced? I don't remember him cringing.

Here's one that didn't occur to me until a few days ago: Han Solo calls Luke a kid all the time, but he makes no comments about Leia's youth. Of course, she is more worldly and sophisticated and seems older, but I don't think that's why. More likely it's because she is, in the immortal words of Alfie Doolittle, "old enough to be interesting to you gentlemen," and once a woman has reached that age, a man like Han Solo doesn't ask himself how old she is exactly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

not what you expect

So the parts I thought would scare him, didn't. Quai-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Jar-Jar almost eaten by a huge fish? No big deal. "They should have gotten their swords out!" But the mere sight of Watto or Sebulba*, even when they were doing nothing in particular, was scary.

Since this is meant to be about children and Star Wars, not just my son and Star Wars, I'll mention that my colleague reports that her daughter, who I think is about seven, is scared silly by Star Wars. Also that I don't remember being scared by any of Episode 4, ever, even though I was not yet six and easily scared by movies. That includes when Luke comes back home from...wherever he went and all that was left of his parent-substitutes were two smoking skeletons who had clearly been slaughtered while trying to run away.

*In Mayan mythology, Xibalba (with "x" pronounced like "sh") is the name of the underworld.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's done

I was five and a half when Episode 4 came out in 1977.
Episode 5--eight and a half.
Episode 6--eleven and a half.
I watched them on video a few times, after VCRs became common, and eventually understood why Han kept calling Luke a kid, and also why some people didn't like any of these movies that I enjoyed so much.
Some time in college, in the early 1990s, a friend informed me that the three existing movies were actually the middle three of nine. That George Lucas had started with the middle three because they required the least special effects, and that he would make the rest when the technology was available for him to realize his vision. We probably debated what order they should be watched in, by future generations who hadn't seen the first movies before the last ones were made.
I didn't think much more about it until probably fall of 1998, when my husband and I were waiting for some other movie to start and a huge green field appeared on the screen. Lumpy things rose over the top of the hill. They moved slowly over the top and down. They opened up and disgorged row upon endless row of what I now know are battle droids. I could hardly remain seated when I realized what was going on.
Some time between the releases of Episode 2 (2002) and Episode 3 (2005), my husband and I had a son. Now the question of what order the next generation should watch the movies in became more important. Still, I had time to think. [parental naivete]He wouldn't be ready for such scariness and violence until he was at least seven.[/parental naivete].

Well, now it has begun. Someone in my son's day care class has been humming John Williams's soul-stirring Imperial March, and it caught his fancy. Before I knew it, my baby (now four and a half), was playing a computer game that put him in the pilot's seat of an X-wing fighter. He already knew that Darth Vader used to be Anakin Skywalker. (Why did I think that any sentient, English-speaking person might be able to reach the age of seven without finding that out?) He was eager to watch the movies, and I would rather he see them before he gets the idea that it's all just about shooting at bad guys from a space ship. Yeah, I know I'm mostly kidding myself that it's about more than shooting bad guys from a space ship. But still. I figured that maybe he was ready, and I was sure tired of waiting. As luck would have it, we have dvds of Episodes 1 and 2, so tonight, a half hour before his bedtime, we let him watch the first 40 minutes of Episode 1.