When I was growing up, Star Wars (collectively the three original movies) was on so often that they morphed into one movie for me. As a teenager I learned to distinguish between the three, and that the best one was The Return of the Jedi, I will fight you. While there were things I didn’t like when Episodes 1, 2, and 3 came out, I didn’t despise them instantly. Well okay, Anakin’s love scenes I despised instantly. And the midichlorians. Oh, and C-3PO. I probably shouldn’t go down this particular rabbit hole, and shall instead cling to my ambivalence wholeheartedly.
When we started having kids we also began having the debate as to where to start watching the movies with our kids. I’m pretty sure every fan of my age is familiar with this conversation. Chronological in the Star Wars timeline, chronological in terms of release date, or the more frivolous route, in order of parental preference? We wanted our kids to grow up with the same experience we had, the same growing love for a galaxy far, far away, but we couldn’t avoid the first three movies completely, it’s just not possible. Then when the final three movies started coming out, giving our kids the same viewing experience we had in the eighties went completely out the window.
We’ve had the movies on over the years, our kids have picked up bits and pieces. I don’t think any of them have sat and watched one straight through, paying attention the whole time. I don’t think they could separate the story lines if they tried, though they are all still under ten so I should probably cut them some slack. When I think about it, they are growing up with them like I did, in the same casual manner. We’ve never forced them to watch the movies with any kind of precision or system.
As it turns out our ten year old is desperate to see the new movies, and I feel like he should have a more solid basis than an adhoc viewing over the years. So, on his lead, we’ve been watching Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace together. Over the years my dad has been a staunch advocate of Episode 1. His feeling has always been that the movie was made for the younger generation, for a new audience to be captivated by the same magic of the originals. Jar Jar Binks is a great character, because, no matter what we adults say, kids love him.
C-3PO is a great addition, because it’s one of the things they recognize well from the later movies, and so it gives them their own connection. The antiquated look of the tech in the original movies would just seem ridiculous to kids growing up with personal computers, and during the dawn of the touchscreen, a higher quality look was necessary.
Re-watching the movie with my ten year old, I discovered I was able to enjoy Episode 1 much more than I remembered it. After all these years of trash talk, though I still balked at the midichlorians, experiencing it with him allowed me to simply enjoy the movie. He loves the Gungans. He was significantly impressed by Queen Amidala’s plans to involve the Gungan army in the defense of Naboo. He felt that Obi-Wan should just have broken the walls of the red force field, and helped Qui Gon out a little more. Darth Maul is equal parts scary and awesome. Jar Jar, well, Jar Jar is just plain funny. He is the fart joke of the Star Wars empire, and my kids love their fart jokes. I truly believe that watching Episode 1 with a ten year old is the only way this movie should be watched. Honestly it helps you get over yourself and just enjoy the universe set before you.
I will now go drown my sorrows in a big mug of cocoa upon the realization that my spell checker recognized the word midichlorians.