This was supposed to run on Monday, but for some reason the software never posted it. I hope it works this time.
If you haven’t seen the new Star Wars epic yet don’t worry, I’m not going to give away ay plot details today. Except for the part where Spock dies. Oh, wait, wrong science fiction franchise.
I’m writing this with the film fresh in my mind, having just walked in the door after seeing The Force Awakens. Episode VII in the Star Wars saga. Should I praise it or trash it?
Actually, I think I need to see it a second time to do either effectively. That’s not likely to happen. Offhand I can’t think of any film I have seen twice in theatres. I’m just too cheap.
Okay, quick review. Longer analysis will come with the release of the DVD next year. There were a few lines I would like to quote, but the people around me would probably not have been impressed if I had pulled out my phone and started jotting down notes. A more sober analysis will come with more time to reflect.
If you are a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy you will love this film. It doesn’t take itself seriously and exhibits the sense of humour that was perhaps missing in the three pre-quels. This is a film that doesn’t take itself seriously – and that’s a good thing.
It has the feel of the original series. The stars of 1977 are back, though Hans Solo’s freighter, the Millennium Falcon has the largest role and looks the least battered by the 30 year time gap since the sixth movie. (If you don’t know the series and feel hopelessly lost, episodes 1-3 were made after episodes 4-6.)
The introduction of the new characters is natural. And there’s no backstory to fill, no plot expectations. At the beginning of the first movie we already knew what would happen to the child Anakin – because we had already seen the fifth film. This time no-one knew what the plot would be. I still find the science questionable (as far as I know there is no theory to explain radio communication with a spaceship travelling faster than light, but maybe I’m quibbling), but it’s not about science, it is all about story.
One of the reasons I would like to see the film again is for a closer examination of the religious imagery. After all, if the Force is awakening, just what does that mean? After all, this film series has its own real-world religion. This may be a comedy, but people are going to be looking for a serious message also. Some people anyway.
I have always found the spiritual message of the Star Wars movies to be confused. I suspect the writers don’t have a particularly articulated belief system of their own, so created a mishmash of Christianity and Eastern religions. It sounds good on the big screen, but if you were to actually look at it, there are so many logical inconsistencies it couldn’t possibly work.
Not that anyone cares. We live in an age where many, perhaps most people, have abandoned their roots without even being aware that they have done so. They don’t consciously reject the religion of their parents or grandparents as much as ignore it as irrelevant. (And shame on that religion for losing its relevancy.)
But there is still that longing for something beyond the natural, beyond the normal. People today are classified by sociologists as SBNR – spiritual but not religious. Star Wars and its Jedi religion offers an ideal that appeals, a religion that requires no real sacrifice or commitment. Ultimately though it is kind of empty – like most of what Hollywood puts out as entertainment.
How did I get sidetracked like that? Despite the religious shortcomings, I enjoyed the film. You probably will too.