Monday, March 17, 2014
Shuffling Star Wars
The Phantom Menace
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
Return of the Jedi
The Phantom Menace just has "prologue" written all over it. It has a mostly sunny tone, so it makes a nice backdrop for Obi-Wan's nostalgia in New Hope. Phantom Menace also tells us a little bit about Luke's dad without any giveaways about where his career is going. Most of those tantalizing hints about the past in New Hope are still tantalizing, but we have a hint of familiarity that makes the story start coming together. We may wonder what the heck is up with the droids and how they got where they are, but that's okay. Memory-wiping is mentioned right there in the same movie for the worriers.
Why not put Phantom Menace with its fellow prequels? Well, besides the way it fits with New Hope, there's the fact that it really stands apart from the other prequels in a lot of ways. It has a lighter, more fairytale feel. The mini-Anakin in this movie is a very different person from the more capable Anakin in the next two. Finally, putting all three prequels together would make for a long and rambling flashback between Empire and the finale.
I realize that, when we meet Yoda in Empire Strikes Back, my plan offers no chance for the new viewer to be fooled along with Luke, but that doesn't bother me because I missed out on that experience too. Back in the day, I (and probably my entire generation) had seen enough ads for the toy and heard enough bemused TV chatter about muppetry to know exactly who the little green guy was before I got anywhere near the theater. Having seen him in The Phantom Menace and then skipped way ahead though, our hypothetical viewer might be inspired to ask another question - has Yoda's exile in the swamp driven him insane?
Once we have our big Darth Vader revelation in The Empire Strikes Back, we can descend through the storm clouds over Coruscant and flash back to a more grown-up Anakin and his fall to the dark side. The beginning of Return of the Jedi somehow just feels right after the end of Revenge of the Sith. I guess it's the fact that fully-trained Luke feels much more like the promised new hope than wistful farm boy Luke ever did. I like the way Anakin's despair in Revenge of the Sith is relatively fresh when the conflict arises in Return of the Jedi, too.
There you have it. Now, as a diligent scientist, it is my duty to test the replicability of my findings. Seeya later.