Sunday, September 18, 2011

Expectations and Nostalgia: How They Hurt the Prequels

"Did you like the prequels?"

Every Star Wars fan is asked this question at some point. The prequels are a highly debated topic. Many loathe the new movies; some refused to watch them a second time. Others think they are fun and exciting.

The prequels had factors stacked against them before George Lucas begin filming. Expectations and nostalgia killed any chance of the movies total acceptance by longtime Star Wars fans.

Expecting the Impossible
Fans spent years imaging how Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader. Why was he "more machine now than man," as Obi-Wan told Luke. Who was Leia and Luke's mother? How did Vader not know about the twins? Why did Leia go to Alderaan and Luke Tatooine? How did the Jedi die out? What were the Clone Wars?

Fans imagined epic conclusions and expected something more amazing than they could fathom. George Lucas blew the minds of moviegoers in1977. He's next three movies had to do the same, right?

If you look forward to something for too long, it can become so mentally amazing that the reality can't touch it. This happened to the prequels. Fans built them up so much that it was impossible to please them. When something you expect to be perfect falters, those faults seem worse than usual.

The prequels have faults; so do the original trilogy. These faults, however, can be overlooked because the story of Star Wars is so strong. I can overlook some of the instances of weak dialogue in “A New Hope” because Luke, Han and Leia’s journey is so engaging. I can forgive Anakin’s awkward dialogue in “Attack of the Clones” in favor of the story. In addition, in Anakin’s defense, people in love usually say silly things. Not everyone is a poet.

Clinging to the Past

Sometime between the releases of "The Phantom Menace" and "Attack of the Clones," my aunt told me that "A New Hope" would always be her favorite and the best Star Wars movie. She said it was because of what Star Wars meant and how it changed movies. Many of us have fond memories of the OT. Some feel like we cannot enjoy the prequels as much because of this. This mentality is fine to have, but it does make it harder for the prequels to take a larger space in our hearts.

Nostalgia is another reason why some people won’t purchase the Blu-Rays or Special Editions. No, I don’t like that Greedo shoots first now or that Vader says “Nooo!” in “Return of the Jedi,” but the movies look so much better.

Some changes are fine, like fixing errors and effects, but it’s when the story is altered that fans cry foul. We all know that Han Solo’s character was changed when Greedo shot first. We all fell in love with Han as he was. He didn’t need that alteration. In regards to the Vader “Noo!” I am surprised that Lucas added that in. It goes against “show, don’t tell.” By having Vader verbally react, it takes away from the drama of the scene. While I don’t agree with these changes, I’ll still watch the Blu-Ray version.

It will be interesting to see what those who saw the prequels first say about the saga. These people are no less fans than those who saw the OT when it first hit theaters, or those who became fans from watching the or with their families later in. Star Wars needs a diverse group of fans to stay alive.

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