Yeah, so, I guess I have to admit it - I don't really get Star Wars. And, I went and saw Revenge of the Sith today and, um ...
Well, I was just really bored.
I was born in 1980 - right in the ideal zone for life-long Star Wars mania - but I never saw the original three movies while I was growing up. I'm not really sure exactly why, but I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that I always just watched whatever films my parents were watching, and, to put it mildly, they weren't really interested in movies like Star Wars. I think they got a VCR for the sole purpose of watching Fanny and Alexander. As a result, I don't think I even really knew the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars until about 1996. The only film in the franchise that I ever ended up seeing was A New Hope, and even that was only at the desperate begging of a well-meaning boyfriend who felt that my general ignorance of and apathy towards the series was totally unacceptable.
So, I understand that there's this near-universal emotional attachment to these films, but I have no idea what that emotional attachment feels like, and I certainly don't understand the fanatical devotion it inspires.
I went into Revenge of the Sith yesterday with a blank slate - no nostalgia, no expectations; nothing, really, but complete indifference. Well, not "complete" indifference - I did really hope that it would affect me in some way. I really hoped that I would watch this film and suddenly understand what the big fucking deal is. I really hoped that could somehow figure out how to access this giant, communal media experience.
That didn't happen.
What am I missing here? Why don't I get it? From where I stand, the most remarkable thing about the six films (and, admittedly, I've only seen the first and last made) is the progression they make from the organic to the artificial. Film by film, Lucas replaces real things with fake things, real actors with computer generated characters and/or pretty boy empty vessels. Revenge of the Sith is the culmination of a 25 year experiment in computer simulation, and it's noble just as proof of how little we actually care about authenticity. Is George Lucas the new Josef von Sternberg? The latter director was once complimented on a shot of the ocean in one of his films, and he responded that that was his least favorite shot - because it represented the only thing on set that wasn't completely artificial.
It's troublesome to me that everyone seems to agree that there are a lot of things about this film that are simply not very good - but everyone also seems willing to pretend that "not very good" is more than good enough. No one is running around praising Hayden Christensen's performance, or the laugh-out-loud insipid dialogue, or the complete lack of chemistry between the supposed lovers at the center of the film - but everyone is willing to brush these things aside with a stacatto stammer: "But - but - but - but ... it's okay." The will to like the film is so strong, and shared by so many, that Lucas can pretty much get away with anything.
For starters, we're asked to care about humans who are so vacant and generally binary as to blend in with their robot companions. When machines die, their parts give off steam - but lightsabered limbs don't even bleed, which basically renders death and violence in general as a floating abstract. Meanwhile, everybody's hanging out with a farting animatronic trash can that basically functions as Lassie-in-space ("what's that,
The thing is, it would be too easy for me to just trash Sith just because I find it dull and unengaging and pretty much devoid of organic emotionality. Because you guys are into it, right? There's obviously just something wrong with me.
And I'm sure you'll tell me what it is.