Over at the Snarkmarket blog, my Twitter buddy Tim Carmody asks two important questions that I really hadn’t thought much about. As a “Geekdad”-to-be, I really need to get moving on this, though — especially since my best attempts to introduce the Mrs. to the galaxy far far away were a complete failure.
We began, last year, with Episode IV and that was where we concluded; in other words, she has never seen Episodes I, II, III, V, or VI. I’m convinced that starting with Episode IV was the way to go; as Tim points out in his post, “It’s the best stand-alone movie in the series.” The problem, though, was that the Mrs. was too far outside the target demographic for these movies, which are pitched directly at children/young adults. My sense is that you need to start watching these movies at the right time or they simply don’t resonate in the same way. But what’s the right time?
I was six or seven years old when I saw Episode VI and George Lucas couldn’t have wished for a better reception. There’s no way that I understood half of what was going on, but I loved the spaceships and I loved the Ewoks. I wanted to own the toys so I could pretend to be one character or another. My grandmother took me to see E.T. when it first came out, but I was too young for it and I was too scared to watch the whole movie; with Episode VI, just a couple of years later, I wanted my parents to rent the earlier movies so that I could learn the whole story. Since that time, I can’t even count the number of hours spent watching, discussing, and re-imagining the characters who inhabit the Star Wars universe.
So, if I have one complaint with Tim’s post, it’s that he never really addresses the first question of when to introduce the movies. To my mind, that’s a very important question, as Tim’s post point outs that there are a number of acceptable ways to answer the question of sequence.
Incidentally, I think I’m going to start my son off with Episode I at age six and proceed through the story in the way that George Lucas alleges that he always envisioned it. I think Episode I shares with Episode VI many of the things that a young boy will like: laser swords, fast-moving vehicles, and funny-looking and -sounding creatures. My biggest concern is that it doesn’t have the thing I always loved the most: the hero. I’m not entirely convinced that someone watching Episode I cares enough about any of the characters to tune in for Episodes II and III. But, then again, I’m not sure that I cared about the characters when I first saw Episode VI because I can’t imagine that I understood what they were doing; instead, I really just liked the existence of a whole universe that differed from ours and onto which I could project my own dreams and imaginings.
Now, having written all of that, maybe I should start my son off with Episode VI. After all, what if my son gets really invested in Anakin — as a young boy very well might do — only to discover that things turn out really badly for him?
This is more difficult than I’d hoped it would be when I first read Tim’s post.
Read Tim’s full post here.