I keep hemming and hawing about typing up some kind of epic rambling essay bout my complex Star Wars feelings at this particular juncture, and actually got about 2,000 words into a long rant before I thought better of it. But, basically:
-Learning about George Lucas by way of Star Wars was basically my entry-point into thinking about cinema as something that was made by people as a job and not just as something that floated down into the vcr from heaven. George Lucas is from my home town and is probably the only example of someone from there going into hollywood (OK, now we have Jeremy Renner too, and, uh Timothy Olyphant?), but beyond that his connections to Spielberg and Coppola made it a pretty good way to understand hollywood in the 70’s-80’s.
-weirdly, even though I was in maximum nerd mode when Episode I came out, including waiting in line for hours to get tickets and waiting again patiently to be seated on opening night, I have absolutely no memory of what my actual first impressions of that film were. I don’t particularly like it now (it’s still my least favorite of the prequels, which are all of course inferior to the OT)
-In the intervening years, I’ve become far less interested in both star wars and movies in general, but have for some reason developed an intensely complicated defense of the prequels, albeit one that immediately concedes that they are horrible movies aesthetically and formally. I still like the way they complicate the world and the general background story.
-Now that there are new movies coming out that are supposedly very unrelated anything Lucas came up with, I’m a) 100% convinced that they will be better movies than the prequels but also b) a little bit concerned that they aren’t going to show the same pulp-Tolkien approach to big picture world building. As a person who loves the fact that Ep 1 opens with an intergalactic trade dispute, I’m kind of worried that the major goal of the new trilogy will be to recreate the look and feel of the OT, rather than present a new mutation of the SW universe. Basically, I think the ineffectiveness of the jedi council is perfectly paired with all of the baroque maximalism of the prequels, and even the strangely mannered courtship between anakin and padme sort of fits into all this. The prequel trilogy is set in a decadent period, but it is one that is still kind of bound by preposterous traditions and complex rituals. All of this to me really complements the way things look in the OT, in the middle of the revolution, all full of passion and adventure. The prequels are set in the last days of the space-Victorian era, and the OT is thoroughly modern.
The darkest aspect of this is the clear implication (whether intended or not) that in between eps III and IV the empire has basically conducted galaxy-wide genocide on all non-humanoid species. The prequels (being made with more advanced special effects) are full of weird shaped things, and in general every city is much more heavily populated. The OT by comparison is made up mostly of humans and humans in make up, and all the really weird looking aliens are confined to illicit, casablanca esque hideouts and desolate frontiers. This to me is really exciting, and I have no idea where you would go with that in a new trilogy, but from the looks of it they are just trying to make everything look like slightly different versions of OT things, but also with tons and tons of weird alien creatures everywhere like the prequels. It kind of breaks the flow. But I hope to be pleasantly surprised.