It’s now less than two weeks until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I am at maximum excitement. I was pleasantly surprised that I could still get this excited about Star Wars. My anticipation for the new movie has also fostered a renewed appreciation for the Star Wars Saga as a whole.
While I grew up watching the Original Trilogy (OT) on VHS, my real excitement about Star Wars began when my best friend Aren and I saw the Special Edition releases of Star Wars in the theater in the 90s. Soon after, Episode I was announced and the anticipation began. Over the course of about 10 years, the Prequel Trilogy (PT) was created and released, and that’s when my excitement began to fade.
When Disney first announced they’d be making the Sequel Trilogy (ST), I was interested, but I assumed my disillusionment from the PT would keep me from developing any significant excitement. It’d even been years since I’d read one of the many Star Wars Expanded Universe novels, which were all I read once upon a time.
Then that first trailer dropped. That old excitement was back.
Kotaku released an interesting article about the masterful marketing of the new movie. Nostalgia for the OT is being targeted while simultaneously distancing The Force Awakens from the PT. The hype is being carefully managed. So, maybe I’m being emotionally manipulated, my excitement orchestrated. I feel it all the same.
Regardless, renewed interest in Star Wars has led to some incredible analysis being written or re-surfacing. I’m fascinated by a theory posted to Reddit by user Lumpawarroo that makes the case that Star Wars creator George Lucas originally intended for the big baddie of the PT to be Jar Jar Binks. Seems absurd? Read the theory. The theory is that Jar Jar would have been revealed as the sinister puppet master in Episode II in a reveal to mirror that in The Empire Strikes Back. According to the theory, Lucas scrapped this idea after all of the fan backlash against Jar Jar. Just the existence of this theory makes me more excited about the PT.
In general, though, I’ve been cultivating a renewed appreciation for the PT. The AV Club posted an article recently about the literary value of the PT within the context of the entire Saga. While individually the three prequels suffer from well–documented issues, when looked at collectively with the other three movies, it is clear that Lucas made some very considered choices and wove many threads into the PT.
The article references a fascinating website called Star Wars Ring Theory. I’ve never read a more complete and complex analysis of the Star Wars Saga than Mike Klimo’s dissertation found on the Ring Theory website. At more than 25,000 words, the piece takes a while to get through. It makes a convincing argument, though, that Lucas constructed the PT carefully and with intention, so as to fit the entire Saga into the ancient literary technique ring composition. This composition is then a deep reference to the spiritual symbolism inherent to Star Wars’s exploration of the unification of our dual nature. My view of the PT and the Saga are forever changed after reading Klimo’s Star Wars Ring Theory.
It is in the spirit of this new view, my renewed appreciation for the whole Saga, that I have decided to rewatch it in episode order in the days leading up to the premier of The Force Awakens. As I write this, Obi-Wan and Anakin have just entered the club on Coruscant in pursuit of the bounty hunter who attempted to assassinate Senator Amidala. I finished Episode I earlier this evening. Over the next few days, I’ll watch the remaining four movies, focusing on them as pieces of the larger story, creating the context in which I’ll watch The Force Awakens for the first time.
I’m already wondering what will be written about The Force Awakens and its place in the Saga.
Update 12.21.15: I’ve now seen The Force Awakens and posted my reaction.