Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Menace of Nostalgia

When I talked about the impending 3D re-release of Star Wars: Episode I a few weeks ago, my dislike of the film couldn't help but color my "blah" reaction to the poster, and that dislike has colored my reaction to the reissue's trailer as well:


I was actually kind of surprised by my apathetic response to this vid considering how clearly the promo whizzes at Team Lucas are going for the same nostalgic jugular the Star Wars Special Edition trailer attacked when it first hit in fall of '96, right down to using some of the same iconography:

What's interesting to me though is that, while I still feel the chill of nostalgia when I watch the SE trailer, I don't feel anything for The Phantom Menace -- not even for the teaser trailer that had everyone so excited (including me) that people were buying tickets to movies they knew were showing it, only to leave once the trailers were done (not including me):

Of course, when watching the Menace trailer, I now have the benefit of knowing in painful detail everything that was just being hinted at then, so there is that. But while I'm still absolutely uninterested in checking out the re-issue, I also couldn't help but be struck by one of the comments on the new trailer's YouTube page
Saw it in Anakin's age as a 9 year old in theater and I can't wait to see it again in 3D !!!! Podracing, Gungan City, Droid army, Duel of the Fates ...... now that's some serious 3D material from a galaxy far, far away
There was just something that struck a chord with me about the sentiment there. If this guy was nine when Phantom Menace first dropped, that would make him about 21 now, which is a little older than I was then. Given that, who's to say that my nostalgia is implicitly "right," while his is "wrong"? At the end of it, all our senses of nostalgia, which Star Wars roots nearly all of its appeal in, let's be honest, are based on wanting to recapture and retain some measure of the things that comforted us as children.

And in that sense I'm reminded once again of my twelve-year old nephew, who watched the film as a wee one, without the weight of sixteen years of anticipation, and whose concept of Star Wars is firmly rooted in Episode I and its two successors. "What's wrong with Jar Jar?" said he. Well, nothing, I guess. We can go round and round about what God awful films the prequels are (and we have), but if we can't simply let go and allow this generation to define and enjoy things the way that works for them, then maybe the fault lies not in our Star Wars, but in ourselves.

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