Sibling Revivalry: Watching ‘Star Wars’ for the First Time
After forcing my movie-avoiding little sister to watch ‘Titanic’ for the first time recently, it seemed only natural to continue leading her down the path of enlightenment. Which is why I’ll be holding her captive regularly to watch classic films for the first time; the start of a new column titled "Sibling Revivalry."
In this first installment, we tackle ‘Star Wars: A New Hope.’ I have no idea how Lindsay grew up with me and never saw this movie – I was obsessed with it as a kid. One hint is that she’s vehemently opposed to just about everything of the sci-fi persuasion. Case in point: when I emailed her our assignment to watch George Lucas’ famed 1977 space opera, she replied, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I am so upset!”
But she made it through all 121 minutes, despite her misgivings. Turns out, she knew more about the ‘Star Wars’ universe than she thought – thanks, apparently, to Mel Brooks and ‘Friends.’ I had to throw out a few modern explanations for some of the plot points (describing Mos Eisley as the Port Authority of Tatooine, for example, or using yoga terminology when talking about The Force), but – for the most part – she followed along.
And here’s what she had to say about watching 'Star Wars' for the first time, 34 years after it hit theaters.
So you finally saw Star Wars. Did you like it?
I didn't like it at all.
I didn't expect to like it, and it didn't change my expectations. I knew about it...It reminds me of 'Star Trek' or something. I have no interest in sci-fi movies. There was a lot going on, it was really busy. There was stuff that you needed to want to understand. I didn't feel like investing.
So was there anything that interested you? A scene, a character, the way it looked?
I liked Leia, obviously. Because she's a princess! [laughs] She had a bit of a 'tude, too. She was saving the guys at one point. Spunky.
I caught you getting into the movie at some spots, though - don't play.
There was one scene. Towards the end. After Obi-Wan died. It didn't upset me, but I guess that's where it caught my interest. But, it's the culmination and you knew what was happening and you knew what was going to happen. "Everyone will die off one by one and then Luke will save the day!"
So you bought Luke's arc from farm boy to hero?
I didn't buy it, but I saw it coming.
Well, the characters in this movie are pretty archetypal.
Leia wasn't an archetype. I don't think she was. Usually the princess shuts up and waits for somebody to save her.
You brought up a really good point in the beginning when you were attempting to understand the characters. Because there are so many humans and aliens and droids, you asked me if the Stormtroopers are humans or droids. And really, how would someone know at first that they're just humans wearing armor?
A lot of it was confusing and challenging to try to understand. The universe is something you have to pay attention to - you have to somehow want to understand what's going on, the backstories. This is complex, you have to use your imagination.
You picked up on the different colored lightsabers.
On a general level, I didn't like the movie. It's just not my thing. But on a more macro scale - the colors of the lightsabers, and also The Force - the underlying messages of the movie, I actually did like. I just really didn't like what was carrying out those messages. The packaging. But I think The Force is fascinating.
You laughed during the first lightsaber unveil, when Obi-Wan handed it to Luke.
Because it had a funny noise! I get the feeling it's supposed to be serious but it was cheesy.
You really liked Obi-Wan, didn't you?
Yeah! When he died was when I became more invested.
What about Luke and Han? Who would you have gone for if you were Leia?
I don't know. It's not exactly cut and dry.
Prequels notwithstanding, there are two more of these movies. Is there any subplot, any character, anything you're curious to know more about that would make you want to see the other two movies?
No. [laughs] But, I would say that I anticipate that the spirit of Obi-Wan somehow lives on. Kind of like he did already here in this movie. So if you're pressing me, that's the only one I'd be curious about. Because I think it's a cool message. Like, you just have to listen to The Force. Which could be the Universe or yourself - the energy form. [starts laughing] I'm sorry, when I said "energy form" it made me think of "tractor beam." [laughs hysterically]
You really had a problem with the Millennium Falcon being caught in the Death Star's tractor beam. What's your deal with that?
It's so serious. [sarcastically] There's a tractor beam! [laughs] No wonder somebody made ‘Spaceballs,’ my God! It's hilarious!
You liked R2-D2's noises. You said you could tell what he was saying.
Yeah, I did. I basically wanted to claw my eyes out when it came to the movie, following all these silly things. I mean, how much did you need to pack into this movie? I'm exhausted! So again, if you go back to that macro messaging - the colors, the energy force - R2-D2's…is that what he's called? [laughs] His noises - you can hear the emotion in them. I like the psychological underpinning of that.
Admit it, though - you loved all the weird, quirky sound effects in this movie. The Wookie noises, R2-D2's voice, the lightsabers, the TIE fighters. Which one was your favorite?
[Makes Chewbacca noise] My favorite is those little hooded things [Jawa traders] in the beginning. They're the cutest. They're like little puppies! But I have a feeling you and I are going to get into a Chewbacca noise dual later. [laughs] I can Chewbacca better than you can!
We totally are. I'm still pretty taken aback that you know about ‘Spaceballs’ but had never seen the film that inspired it. Or that - when we pressed play on this DVD - you yelled, "Luke - I am your father!"
And I still don't understand how that connects! I know Darth Vader says it. I mean, didn't Obi-Wan tell Luke that Vader killed his father? Clearly Vader is his father but I'm just like - I don't really care how that plot point works itself out.
Can we talk about Princess Leia and her hair? I don't like the hairdo but everyone knows about it. I think she looked prettier at the end when she had it pulled back. Didn't Rachel and Ross on ‘Friends’ dress as ‘Star Wars’ characters? In fact, I think one year for Halloween I wanted to be Leia because she's sexy.
You haven't even seen Slave Leia yet. You have no idea. You also know about Jabba the Hut. Well, correction - you asked me before we watched this if we'd see Pizza the Hut. Bringing it back to ‘Spaceballs!’
Yes! I remember he was like a slimy pizza glob. With pepperoni falling off. I have no idea what he looks like in the real ‘Star Wars’ movies.
Do you know who Yoda is?
Isn't he like the king of the force or something?
He's a green guy. With big ears.
Oh. He's green? I thought he was like pink! [laughs] Is he like Shrek? Does he have a green lightsaber or something? Wait. Is it "lifesaver" or '"lightsaber"?
It's lightsaber. And he's nothing like Shrek. Let's talk about the chemistry between Han and Leia. Pretty great huh?
I saw no chemistry! I was looking for, like, compassion and love. There was friction.
Friction can count as chemistry. Did you see any chemistry with her and Luke?
Yeah. I see more chemistry with her and Luke. So right at the end was a good example - she winked at Luke but kinda smirked and was only somewhat approving of Han. There's definitely more of a schoolgirl crush on Luke in certain scenes. All super subtle.
Well, it gets decidedly less subtle in the next two movies. I'm dying to spoil a major plot point for you now. The next one, ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ is my favorite of the trilogy.
Well you have fun watching that alone!