Saturday, May 26, 2007

I meant to post this earlier, but got sidetracked, so now it's a day late since I'm writing it at 12:17 AM on Saturday the 26th. Oh well. Story of my life, I suppose.

Anyway, happy 30th anniversary to the little space movie that could, Star Wars.

The above image is, more or less (I looked for quite a while online for a pic of the actual poster itself, but alas came up empty), the first Star Wars thing I ever saw. When the film premiered, I was 17, and working at the local Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut, not Pizza THE Hut mind you, was giving away these posters, with art by Greg Hildebrandt, to promote the film and naturally I took one home. Not long after (or perhaps slightly before- as with so many things in my teenage years, I'm a little fuzzy on the details for some reason), I saw the Marvel Comics adaptation with art by Howard Chaykin and snapped that right up as well, since I was firmly a Chaykin fan even back then.

Yep, that's the cover, right there above. Funny how they took Bat Lash's tagline there, isn't it? I picked up the first 7 or 8 issues, sticking around long enough to realize that Chaykin was only going to be on board for the first few, and even then he was heavily inked by several people, many of which just didn't mesh well with his pencils at all. Besides, I have this peculiar psychological predilection to be disinterested at best and disappointed at worst by damn near every comic book adaptation of a film or TV vehicle, which continues to this day (I'm not buying Buffy, can't ya tell) that was pretty much it for my SW comics collecting experience.

Anyways, I was fully primed for Star Wars by this time, and one Saturday afternoon, when my folks went shopping in Bowling Green, I asked them to let me off at the twin cinemas in the (soon-to-be obsolete, even though we didn't know it then) town Mall, where I could screen this phenomenon for myself. And yeah, I liked it a lot...I could tell that it was going to change a lot of the rules in the future. The thing I remember being most impressed by, and I know this seems like the most trivial thing here 30 years later, was the scene in which the Rebel fighters were being prepped to fly into battle against the Death Star, and they (and us, the audience as well) viewed a computer-generated diagram of the orbiting spherical warship, which turned and twisted hologramically right there in front of all of us...and that really struck me in that way which only previously-unimagined-of visual input can strike. It was far from the most important special effect in the film, but it made the deepest impression on me.

So looking back now, as a theoretical adult, I can see just how simplistic the basic idea Lucas and his people had was...and I think that's the beauty of it. Sometimes the most direct and unencumbered ideas ring the truest. It wasn't until subsequent years, when he larded his vision with cutesy-poo tribal alien teddy bears and finally went up his own ass, twenty plus years later, with (ironically) the same CGI that the earlier debriefing scene helped usher in, that he watered down and diffused his saga almost to the point of ruining it...and even then, the simple homage-to-the-old-movie-serials concept provided a strong enough skeleton to support whatever dubious material he wished to hang on it. So, even though I was hot-and-cold on the most recent prequels, I believe overall the whole SW shebang was a qualified success.

That said, I think it's time for Lucas to either rest on his laurels, or make a movie about something else (which he's strangely never showed an inclination to do) and please stay far, far away from this particular galaxy for a while.

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