Thirty-two years ago, Star Wars appeared in the movie theaters. What a wonderful movie!
However, it occurred to me this morning that George Lucas incurs a similar blame as that of Martin Luther. For Lucas took something that was beautiful and marred it significantly. The difference is that Lucas tarnished his own creation, while Luther messed with God’s. Uncle George has less guilt, then, than my friend Andrew’s ggggggggggggggreat-grandpappy Marty.
You may find it sacrilegious, or sacrilicious, that I compare Star Wars to Christianity, but I admit that Star Wars had a rather profound influence on my childhood. Luke Skywalker was my hero, I dreamt of flying an X-Wing, and, naturally, I wanted to be a Jedi Knight when I grew up. I pretended that our vacuum cleaner was my R2-D2. I bugged my parents to buy me the consumerist goods that made Lucas rich; I had sheets with our beloved droid odd couple, I owned many toys, and I used Star Wars shampoo. (Do you remember the bottles in the shape of the characters?) I even read most of the books.
George Lucas thus shaped my young imagination as I endeavored to live in his fantasy. To this day, I have retained a certain disgust for fire arms, and my soul aches when old Ben delivers his explanation to the young farm boy from Tatooine:
Your father’s lightsaber. This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized time. For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times, before the Empire.
Light summer action fare for teens, maybe, but the original movies have so many moments of pure movie delight. “Before the dark times, before the Empire.” It’s perfect!
So, back in the 1990’s, I looked forward to the second and glorious coming of my favorite Hollywood franchise. I celebrated the original movies’ rerelease in the late 1990’s. I sat through an awful movie that I cannot even remember to see the trailer for The Phatom Menace on the trailer’s opening day. I camped out to buy tickets for the first showing of The Phatom Menace. I did my part—and Lucas failed. Like so many fans, I feel somewhat betrayed by the new Star Wars trilogy of prequels. Of course, I watched all of them at midnight on the opening day, and I obviously saw them several times at the cinema. Still, the experience was like attending a sterile Congregationalist Sunday service after having lived the joy of traditional Christian worship. George Lucas Luther kept the name but threw out the spirit.
Now, it is true that Protestants occasionally muster up some beauty in their religiosity. I have always found the hymn “How Great Thou Art” wonderful, and I appreciate the dynamism of many “evangelical” bodies. Similarly, the prequels have their moments of movie magic. The architecture of Theed on Naboo was lovely, Natalie Portman was gorgeous, and the final prequel, Revenge of the Sith, helped to redeem the other new films. As Luther, Lucas could not utterly efface the glory of that which he corrupted. Yoda, like Paul, manages to call to us through the mire.
Nonetheless, Lucas scandalized me with his folly. What is his excuse? Dort steht er, er kann nicht anders?