Even though this column is primarily dedicated to I-III advocacy, some of you may notice I’ve made little or no mention of the goings on with the developing Episode VII and beyond. As I’ve been hinting, there’s a reason for that, and this article will finally tell you.
The truth is, not only have I not been following Episode VII news, I’ve been actively avoiding as much as I can. I want absolutely nothing getting in my way of judging the film on its own merits.
With the internet has come a culture of finding every single detail of a film well before its release, to the point where people have already read every draft of every screenplay a thousand times and already pre-judged every single filmmaking decision before the finished film arrives at the theatres. I’ve always tried to avoid that with mixed success.
With Star Wars, especially THIS Star Wars, it’s all the more important.
You see, spending the last several years as a full-on champion for the Republic-era films has left me battered, bruised, and jaded by the level of hatred and bullying that exists. Even though I know, empirically, these folks are a minority, they are an extremely vocal minority with mainstream media as its megaphone. I’ve gotten to a point where it’s difficult for me to just sit down and enjoy the movies – any of the six – without thinking of how unfair the so-called “fandom” is towards them. This in turn has fostered a Dark Side cycle that the mere mention of my beloved Wars causes me to knee-jerk.
It starts with the overarching fear that George Lucas is no longer in control of his own creation and now others can come in and rewrite history if they choose. This feeds an anger at the haters and bullies over the years that have lead us to this point, which then feeds a hatred of the entire situation and now I suffer.
And I know that the Star Wars Story Team has, thankfully, made it very clear that George’s vision of the original six films is untouchable, but there has already been news of people being involved in the process of moving Star Wars forward who do not have the level of respect the Saga deserves.
How does this ramble relate to why I feel it’s so important for me to avoid Episode VII news?
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once penned an observation that has been quoted and misquoted for years. Aside from being oddly relevant to both Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s character arcs, it perfectly describes exactly what I want to evade here:
“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”
The last thing I want to become is the kind of person who would dismiss Episodes VII-IX on sheer principle before enough of it is ready to show the public. That would be tantamount to me being sealed in the black armor and standing by the evil I once fought against.
I don’t know if Episodes VII-IX will be good films. I don’t know if they will be faithful to the Star Wars Saga or just some people’s inaccurate memories of IV-VI. But for the sake of my soul and sanity I want to give it every chance in the world. I want to like it. I want it to be worthy.
I already know that the chances of me having the same feelings with these films as I did seeing the rest from 1997-2005 are slim to nil. I’m in a very different place in my life, there’s too much bad blood all around, and I can accept that. I also know that no matter how this turns out, the movies will further fracture the Star Wars fanbase. It’s unavoidable. But I want to stay as far above it as possible. Even if I end up not liking it, I want to be able to be fair, and see all sides of the thing. I probably won’t even write a review until I’ve seen it a few times.
As I do with IV-VI on occasion, once VII-IX are released I will periodically discuss them in this space as they relate to the Saga as a whole. But not until I’ve seen them, or at least until the official merchandise starts to come out (if it follows Star Wars tradition, and it should, this is probably the only place we’ll learn some of the main characters’ names).
Now, sadly, I haven’t been kept completely in the dark. With our culture the way it is, one picks things up whether one wants to or not. So, as my final word on Episode VII until the film is near release, I’ll let you know what I know and ask you not to tell me anything else.
1. The general cast. Yes, I did look at the cast announcement, and it’s the first thing in this whole process that I actually really love. It’s a bunch of mostly unknown up-and-comers with a few established veterans, just like New Hope and Phantom Menace before them. Add to that the veterans in question being Max Von Sydow and Andy Serkis, both of whom I’m fond of, and I know there’s something I can look forward to.
2. Lucasfilm’s “practical effects” showoff and implicit denouncement of the digital technology they themselves pioneered. I addressed in my last article the hypocrisy and deceptiveness of this, so I won’t bore you by repeating it.
3. Harrison’s accident with the Millennium Falcon door. Get well soon, Harrison.