“Nope, Never Seen It”: The Original Star Wars Trilogy

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in “A New Hope”. (Lucasfilm)

(Originally published on Glen’s Lens at WordPress on May 5th, 2020)

Back when I frequented nerdy social circles (as if I ever really stopped), one of my favorite pastimes was telling them that I’d never seen Star Wars. Their shock was immense and immediate; it was as if I told them I never had McDonalds. I got so much enjoyment out of telling people this that I intentionally avoided seeing the films as a result. However, there were so many ‘You HAVE to see it!” remarks a girl could take, and eventually I had to check it out.

And now, I can finally say that I’ve seen the original Star Wars trilogy.

It’s alright I guess.

Hear me out.

What the series does best is tell the story of the hero’s journey through the use of archetypes.

A New Hope is a prime example of this, as it hits the beats a movie of its kind should. This is not a bad thing at all. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do: introduce this epic story through the eyes of the scrappy, determined young hero previously held back by pedestrian life and is now bound by his strong will to fulfill his destiny. I’m honestly surprised there isn’t talk of Luke being a Disney princess. Sure he’s not an actual princess like his sister Leia nor does he ever marry into nobility, the shot of him looking at the two suns is screaming for an “I Want” song a’la “Belle (Reprise)” from Beauty and the Beast or “Reflection” from Mulan.

All of the main characters, from the old sage Obi-Wan Kenobi, to the reluctant hero Han Solo, to the comic reliefs C-3PO and R2-D2 are all tools who help Luke grow from farm boy to hero of the galaxy.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia (Lucasfilm)

One of the most intriguing aspects of the movie (and the whole series) for me was Princess Leia’s character. I wasn’t expecting her to be as wholly headstrong as she was. I presumed that she would have this arc in which she’d have to build up her inner strength to achieve a higher level of ferocity in a climactic scene. Nope, she was consistently fiery throughout, from her interactions with Luke and Han Solo to her leadership in the fight against the oppressive regime that previously victimized her. This doesn’t mean that she is reduced to a stereotypical “action girl” (although she may have laid the groundwork for the infamous trope). To me, she was frustrated and annoyed by Luke and Han Solo’s lack of preparation and the Galactic Empire for, well, destroying her home planet and torturing her. It’s realistic, which is something lead female characters in films have a tendency to lack.

The Empire Strikes Back poster (Lucasfilm)

The Empire Strikes Back is probably my favorite out of the three, as it is the less formulaic and contained more substantial events than the previous film. Even after all the spoilers, parodies, and corrections of the line mentioned, the “No, I am your father” reveal still maintains its impact due to the careful execution of suspense. I gotta say was extremely surprised by this. The mythology of the Jedi and the Force was intriguing enough, as the fight between stubborn, world weary skepticism and blind faith continues on in Luke and me as a viewer.

Return of the Jedi poster (Lucasfilm)

Out of all the films, Return of the Jedi was the most bewildering. Granted, because Disney Plus contained the special edition versions of the films, I was left to witness the Jabba’s “improved” dance number in its CGI-filled, blues and rock and roll inspired glory. Aliens with big protruding lips donning lipstick while others had their mouths nearly kissing the camera lens, their breath wafting through the screen. It was the first WTF moment I had throughout the whole series. This movie was also the biggest drag out of all of them, but that’s probably my bias against the Ewoks talking.

Granted, it concluded the story of Luke’s journey as a hero, as he grows past the tempestuous anger festering inside to see the goodness in his father through his blind faith. It was beautiful to say the least.

Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), Yoda, and Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) materializing as Force Ghosts (Lucasfilm)

As a first-time viewer, seeing the young, feathery haired Hayden Christensen replace the middle aged man who lived in the Darth Vader suit was jarring. After absorbing myself into this timeless version of the Star Wars world , this brought me back to life in more ways than one. Not only was I reminded of the prequel films, I also doubted that Luke would have any idea who this fresh-faced force ghost was. It cracked me up. A perfect ending in my book.

I admit I felt kind of empty after this marathon and I couldn’t put my finger on why. Was I not paying enough attention? Is the “magic” beyond my reach because I didn’t see it as a child? I almost started to believe that there was such a thing as watching the series too late. And then it hit me- I don’t usually watch war movies! The dialogue was mostly full of war strategy jargon, and it was literally called Star WARS! No wonder I couldn’t get too invested. I always considered myself more of a Trekkie, anyway.

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