The Story Geeks blogger Anthony Holdier responds with an additional perspective to the same topic discussed in this week’s podcast – which era of Star Wars is better. Want to share your own take? Join the conversation in The Story Geeks Facebook group!
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Which Star Wars era is better — the Lucas era or the Disney era?
There’s a Greek myth about Eris, the goddess of chaos and discord, that begins with a wedding banquet. Because of her penchant for causing trouble, Zeus chose not to invite Eris to the party (which, as anyone who reads fairy tales or myths can tell you, was a bad move); she shows up anyway carrying a golden apple on which she had carefully inscribed the words “For the Most Beautiful.” Like a crusty Skywalker with an old lightsaber, Eris casually tosses the apple into the crowd at the party, starting a fight between three of the most powerful goddesses over who properly owns the trinket (that is, over who is “the Most Beautiful”). Yadda yadda yadda, skipping over a few parts; next thing we know, Troy fights a bloody war with the Greeks for a decade.
Anyone who asks this question to Star Wars fans is basically a modern-day Eris (I’m looking at you, Jay and/or Daryl!).
All three goddesses were undeniably beautiful – that is, both the Lucas era and the Disney era have serious reasons why intelligent people can come to their defense in this sort of fight. The Original Trilogy built a family, a galaxy, and a mythos out of which have spun countless stories; the New Series is, in many ways, reforming the legendarium into new shapes, sculpting bold new versions of old ideas into stories that resonate in the 21st century (which is to say: performing mythopoeia in the best sense of the word). How do we choose?
Irrationally, I suppose: that’s why, in such an artificial scenario as this, I am on “Team Original Trilogy,” without question. I love where the movies began because every time I see them I remember my life.
I love A New Hope because I grew up watching it with my father and brother; I could (and still can, sometimes) boast that “My Dad saw this movie seventeen times when it was in theaters in the 70s!” I have a strangely vivid memory of walking out of a theater in Colorado Springs (which is now a motorcycle dealership) in 1997 after seeing the Special Edition. We watched it in science class in eighth grade (for reasons I still don’t understand) and I screened it for my own high school students just a few years ago (for reasons I can certainly defend). My heart aches when I think of Ben’s sacrifice, but it soars every time I hear Han’s triumphant battle cry (“You’re all clear, kid!”). My daughters now love princesses and I love (with them) that Princess Leia is such a strong role model.
I love The Empire Strikes Back because it blew my mind as a kid when I realized Darth Vader’s true identity. The Siege of Hoth remains one of my favorite sequences in any Star Wars film, Yoda remains one of my favorite characters, and I find myself quoting this film more than most in the franchise (“NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS!”). My anxious discomfort at Luke’s dangling below Cloud City is matched only by my elation at the realization that Leia is force-sensitive too (and can come back to rescue her brother). To an unhealthy degree, Han’s interactions with Leia shaped my foolish sensibilities about romance when I was younger; his response to seeing Vader in the dining room inspires my thoughts on protecting my loved ones today.
I love Return of the Jedi because my elementary school friends and I used to pretend we were riding on speeder bikes as we ran around the park behind Todd’s house. The reveal of Luke’s surprise rescue plan is equally satisfying every time I see it, as is Luke’s resistance of the Emperor’s temptations. I loved the Ewoks as a kid, the costumes as a teenager, and C3PO’s constant consternation as an adult. The redemption of Darth Vader is, to me, one of the most beautiful moments in cinema. Oddly enough, my father owned a vinyl record of the soundtrack and I still remember bouncing around the living room to it when I was six years old.
I love the brilliance of John Williams’ scores (and how excited I was when my friend burned me a copy of his CD version). I love the Expanded Universe (aka “Legends”), read many a book series (Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy remains a favorite) – and can anyone else still recall random cheat codes for Dark Forces II? Because I can (“red5” gets you the goods!). I loved the feeling of discovering new friends who shared this niche interest and, although it’s been a while, I could still probably argue long into the night over whether Kyle Katarn or Han Solo would win in a fight (if Kyle didn’t have his lightsaber and Han didn’t have Chewie, obviously).
So, for all my love of what Disney is doing now, nostalgia is wrapped too tightly around my soul to permit any space in its deepest recesses for a Star Wars movie made after 1983. “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing,” said Pascal; “Let go! Trust me,” said Obi-Wan – either way, I go back to my roots: the Original Trilogy.
And none of this is to say that I disapprove of what the Disney crew has done to this point – quite the opposite, in fact. I appreciated (and will still defend) the many homages in The Force Awakens, I will never fail to go to bat for The Last Jedi, and I routinely rank Rogue One – the closest the franchise has come to achieving a true Greek tragedy – in my top-three Star Wars films. Even with a relative miss like Solo, I’m a committed fan. As I said already: it’s an emotional, irrational, inextricably visceral course of reasoning that leads me to this conclusion.
So, calm down, ya scruffy-looking nerf herders! Just because Paris’ choice of Aphrodite led to the kidnapping of Helen (and, therefore, the start of the Trojan War) does not mean that our choices over this sort of thing need to result in similar brutality. The sooner that the Star Wars fandom can purge itself of its toxic bickering and anger, the better (Master Yoda did have some pointed things to say about that, didn’t he?).
I mean, at the very least, we can all agree that it’s the defenders of the Prequels who are the real enemy, right? 😉 (It’s a joke – don’t @ me!)
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