Happy Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Day!
Will you see Episode VII? If so, how? Are you a longtime Star Wars fan? Or like me, a casual fan who wishes he had been introduced to the Star Wars universe far earlier?
Last week for Christ and Pop Culture Magazine, I shared my story about getting into Star Wars later in life.
That piece released for free viewing yesterday as “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Fan.” Here’s how it starts:
The first time I watched Star Wars—that is, Episode IV: A New Hope—I got in big trouble.
Actually, I only saw half the film with my brother. He got in half the trouble. After all, he was first to confess that we had found the VHS copy of A New Hope in the closet and watched it without permission. It was one of the Mystery Videos inherited from a late grandparent—not official releases but TDK tapes recorded from network TV. We watched it only from Death Star infiltration to the end credits, and it bugged my brother’s conscience first.
I don’t even recall our ages then. I do recall that was a long and difficult two solid weeks with “no electronics,” that is, TV or Computer Time.
But I also recall that feeling of seeing not just something forbidden, but something new and amazing. I had never seen a motion picture like it. (Perhaps you haven’t either. After all, this version was years before the first Special Edition of Star Wars.) Action! Grown-ups, stylized realism, comical robots, bantering humans, chases, effects, spaceships! And Darth Vader, right there onscreen, after all we had heard about him. Wow!
Naturally the “cover-up” made me spend the next several years curious about Star Wars, prequels and all. But I did not actually see the complete film or the full original trilogy until 2008. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) insisted on my education.
But I did not really become a fan until 2013, when my wife and I re-viewed the films twice.
I finally became not just a Star Wars “appreciator” but a fandom convert. This time, I can even join the rest of the fandom getting hyped for Episode VII.
At the same time, I retain an outsider’s perspective on Star Wars. I can’t help but see and analyze the film differently than fans who have seen the story more than three times.
I wonder how much this outsider’s perspective comes through in the below study-group-style questions for the (chronologically) very last Star Wars episode?1
- Higher evil. Once again we see the story turn toward showing that Darth Vader, as bad as he is, is only a servant of the more-wicked Emperor. What can be true about showing a greater evil behind the evil? And what can also be false about showing this in a story?
- Den of squalor. As with the Mos Eisley cantina in Star Wars, what do you think about Jabba the Hutt’s nasty dwellings? How does the story show the bloated alien gangster’s treatment of others, slaves and especially women? Does it approve this behavior?
- Liberated Leia. When Jabba enslaves her, she’s shown in this (in)famous skimpy outfit. Some have even called this costume “liberating” for women. What do you think of that response? Can all or some Biblical Christians see such visuals and not personally sin?
- Fight for freedom. For the first time since Star Wars, Luke, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the droids all fight together. How do their interactions now compare with before?
- “From a certain point of view.” Ghost-Kenobi says this explains how he could say that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father, instead of being his father. “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view,” he goes on. Discerning based on Scripture, what may be true about this? What may be false?
- “Bury your feelings deep down, Luke.” What do you think about this Jedi philosophy?
- “Use your divine influence …” In the Ewoks’ home, C-3PO says they believe he’s a god. Ah, so there are gods in the Star Wars universe? What do you think of this development?
- “Use your magic.” Then Luke uses his own. So The Force is Or is it? Thoughts?
- “There is good in him. … I can turn him back to the good side.” Is Luke right? Later he surrenders himself to his enemies. Why? What’s changed since Empire Strikes Back?
- The Emperor claims to have set this trap all along. How does this make the story better?
- “Strike me down with all your hatred.” What is the Emperor trying to do to Luke? Later Luke does defend himself against Darth Vader’s assault. Is there any difference?
- Feelings for a girl spur Luke to fight more, but not a love interest. How is this unique?
- Why does Luke finally refuse to give in to the Dark Side? And though we don’t see Darth Vader’s face (or until the Blu-Ray version, hear him speak), why does he at last decide to save his son and instead turn on the Emperor? By the story’s end, is Vader a villain, a hero, an “antihero,” or another kind of character entirely? How do we finally see him?
- The questions were originally written for a small group of friends at my local church, who viewed and discussed the original Star Wars trilogy over the summer of 2013. ↩