As of this moment, I have not yet seen "Star Wars:The Phantom Menace", and I won't for another week or so. Hardly matters. Between the trailers, the magazines, and the Internet, I already know most of the plot, including many of the major revelations, despite my trying (albeit not too hard) to avoid spoilers.
And even though I waited THREE GOD DAMNED PULING HOURS on line (as opposed to online, which is how I *prefer* to do things) for tickets for opening day, I have some trepidations. Reviews and 'buzz' can charitably be described as 'mixed'. 'Better than 'Return Of The Jedi'' is damning with faint praise indeed.
But as I read the reviews, especially those from disappointed hard-core fans, I am reminded of a lesson I learned from Mr. Spock, a long time ago, in a living room far, far, way:"It is often the case that having is not so fine a thing as wanting. It may seem illogical, but it is true."
Quite simply, the uncollapsed quantum waveform of desire cannot be matched by any reality. When the cat is suspended between life and death, both and neither, it is much more interesting and wonderous than a feline which is either dead or alive, but not both and neither. Likewise, a movie which is simply an ideaof a movie, unformed, existing in the minds of each individual as abstract longing, is going to be superior to any reality. The very fact that 'The Phantom Menace' is here and is real is deflating, and I think this is what people are reacting to. They are comparing something real to something which existed only as desire. Reality can never compete with dreams;this is one of the many reasons Communism fails. People would rather dream of banquets than have bread -- and, indeed, without those dreams, mankind would never advance. We must keep chasing the unobtainable -- because sometimes, we attain it. Our reach must exceed our grasp -- or we are not human.
But back to the movie for now. There are some things people have to be aware of going in. First of all, to my generation -- the 30 somethings and 20 somethings who walked into a theatre in 1977 and came out transformed -- our time has passed. Our lives are shaped, the road we walk has long since been determined. You can only become more you, chip away the dross and detritus and sharpen the edges a bit. We're shaped. If you want the same kind of life-changing experience you got back in 1977, start taking drugs -- it won't happen again. This is just a movie for us -- a cool movie, a movie we want to see, a movie we've waited a long time to see -- but it's not transcendental. Not for us. It can't be. If Obi-Wan Kenobi appeared before us and said, "I need your help! I have to stop Vader, but I can't do it alone!", we'd whine like Luke:"I've got a mortgage! What would my wife/husband say? Who'll feed my cats? I've got this big project to do at work tomorrow!". And no Stormtroopers would conveniently kill our spouses, bankers, cats, and bosses for us. We'd just shuffle back to the grind.
But the 10 year olds in the audience would be off like a shot. And they'll leave the theatre with their jaws dragging on the ground, and then they'll drag their parents back on line. And every moderately long tube of cardboard will become a lightsabre, and every empty box a starfighter or pod racer, just like they did for us. Sure, the kids today have much cooler toys than we had, but ultimately, a toy is just an icon for the imagination, and whether it's made by Kenner or Westinghouse is irrelevant. The play's the thing.
And out of that mass of pod-racer-driving, lightsabre-wielding (and lamp-breaking) 10 year olds, something will emerge. In a tiny number of them, a sickeningly small percentage, something will be kindled. Some of them will look at their faux-lightsabres and think "I will make this real." -- and go on to smash the boundaries of knowledge, to learn how to bend light to our will and build skyscrapers an atom at a time. Some others will take Anakin and Qui-Gon and, Ghu help us, Jar-Jar on adventures in their own minds, moving them through worlds Lucas could never imagine -- and they'll realize stories can be TOLD, not just heard. They'll take up keyboard and camera -- or maybe thought-helmet and holoprojector, who knows -- and make their dreams public, put their visions into the minds of a billion others -- and it will all begin again.
Back To Main Page