Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome: Celebration V Friends & Star Wars Fans

I have been a Star Wars fan ever since I saw the Star Wars Holiday Special on CBS on November 17, 1978. My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up and I didn’t get to see the original movie on the big screen until the Special Edition was released twenty years later in 1997. The first Star Wars film I saw on the big screen was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I was mesmerized from that day forward and became what Mark Hamill calls an Ultra Passionate Fan (UPF). I had of course seen Star Wars on television, cable and VHS, but that could not compare to seeing it on the big screen. When I did finally see Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition) on the big screen, I was lucky enough to be with a group of first graders from my nephew’s elementary school. I don’t know who had more fun, them or me. Okay, me!

I didn’t feel lucky to watch A New Hope with first graders because they aren’t critical of the movies they see, but because they’re more honest in their reactions. If children don’t like a movie they aren’t afraid to say that they hated it and are equally open to saying they loved it. The problem with adults is that they’re sometimes so influenced by what others think that they are unable to have their own, honest opinions. By others, I mean film critics and the entertainment media.

Film critics stopped giving informative critiques that helped me decide whether or not I should invest, not only my money but more importantly, my time in a film. Money can be replaced. Time is an unrenewable resource that you can never get back. The American Film Institute’s Catalog, the most authoritative database on film on the web, includes extensive entries on over 32,000 American feature-length and 17,000 short films produced from 1893-1974 (American Film Institute. 2010. Web. 20 Aug. 2010. <>). Taking into account the approximately 49,000 films created in the United States before 1974 and ignoring my love of foreign films, if I live to a life expectancy of 81 years olds and watch an average of nine films per week that means I can only watch 37,908 films in my lifetime. That’s if I started watching movies the moment I was born. My daughter can claim this particular luxury because we played movies in the delivery room where she was born. Her father and I were on a Neil Simon binge and had The Odd Couple (1968), The Out-of-Towners (1970) and Plaza Suite (1971) playing on continuous loop. The rest of us, who have normal parents, can’t claim such a luxury. Having normal parents myself, film critiques were an important part of my life.

When the reviews for Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition) were released, I was desperate for news about the film. I found that even twenty years after the original film's release, a surprise financial success,it was still loved by fans all over the world.  George Lucas still wasn’t recognized for telling a wonderful story—our first modern, cinematic myth—but was credited only with “good timing” in the words of one Washington Post staff writer. That article, which ran on January 31, 1997, was the last movie review that I gave any credence to. The movie media seemed to be the Galactic Empire lead by a collective, cynical leader—movie critics—who was bent on sucking the joy out of my movie-viewing experiences. Like the Empire, they under estimated my ability, to tell a good movie from a bad one, and my passion for a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Jump ahead circa 1999-2005 and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith are released. The movie media had given the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition a collective grade of an A but felt that Episodes I, II and III only deserved a collective B. One letter grade lower may not seem like such a big deal, but I grew up in a cash-poor household where A’s earned $20 and B’s only $15. I never came home with a B. A B is still a good grade, so they tell me, but the implication is that the prequels aren’t as good as the original trilogy and any observant, intelligent Star Wars fan will tell you that that just isn’t the case.

The “Why We Love the Prequels” Star Wars celebrity panel at Celebration V was created to discuss the prequels in a positive light and share, with those Star Wars fans who may not understand why we Saganites are so passionate about all the films, examples of why we love all the Star Wars films. It was also meant to be an opportunity for fans to express their love for the films that, when joined with the original trilogy, give the Star Wars myth more resonance and meaning than it could ever have had before. I am just as passionate about Clone Wars (television and film versions), which opens up a universe of possibilities for storytelling related to the Jedi, their skills and their relationships. The Clone Wars will be included in the blog discussions of our love for the Star Wars saga.

Because the panelists seemed to be defending the prequels more so than expressing why they think they are totally awesome, I have created this Star Wars Fan Site to show them how its done. Not, in anyway, to undermine their thoughts and feelings but to show them that Star Wars fans are the best and the brightest fans in the universe.

So, bring your thoughts, your ideas, your examples and your evidence to this discussion of the Star Wars Saga and Why We Love the Prequels. Even if you don’t know why you love them and you just do, you can use this forum to applaud your favorite characters, lines, scenes etc. from all the movies. Share your pictures, drawings, poems or other unique expressions as we all explore the many facets of the Force within us.