Comics Ate My Brain

November 15, 2005

Take Your Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom Bondurant @ 1:25 am
If the Chronicles of Narnia all get adapted for film the way The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe has, at some point the producers will have to decide the order in which to film them. If memory serves, the fifth book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, is a prequel taking place a few decades before LW&W. My recent editions of the Narnia books have been re-ordered, apparently in line with C.S. Lewis’ wishes, so that Nephew is #1 and LW&W is #2.

Naturally this brings me to Star Wars, and the opportunity which exists now to watch all six movies in succession. The end of Revenge of the Sith is objectively a downer, but not really, because longtime fans are happy that at last it’s time for the originals. Thus, the reversed order of the movies’ releases makes it impossible for us today to gauge fully the intended emotional impact of Episode IV.

Of course I watched Episode IV not long after finishing ROTS, but I tried to see it through those hypothetical new eyes, which would be making connections from the point of view of the prequels. In that respect it does play out a little differently. At first everything is familiar: there are the droids, still on Bail Organa’s starship, and there’s Anakin/Vader, still in the suit; but hey! that must be Leia, all grown up! Spotting Jawas a few scenes later, the hypothetical viewer might then realize we’re back on Tatooine, and so not far from our first glimpse of Luke.

Thus, Star Wars (the original, that is) still holds some surprises, and some key scenes gain a little weight. Regardless, the tone of Episodes IV-VI is significantly different, and I wonder how much time one should let pass between the end of Episode III and the beginning of Episode IV. Fans of the original trilogy brought 16 years’ worth of expectations to their first viewing of The Phantom Menace. What sort of expectations will those hypothetical viewers of tomorrow bring to Episode IV, having been exposed first to the prequels?

Whatever those expectations are, it’s fairly certain that they won’t have twenty-some years to form — or even the three years us old-schoolers spent stewing over the end of The Empire Strikes Back. I do think a bit of down time — maybe a day, maybe a week — might be in order, just to get one’s imagination flowing about the next installment. It’s nice that the six movies can now be watched over the course of one (very long) day, but I know from personal experience that four in a row is pretty taxing.

Back in 1998 the Kentucky Theater showed each of the Special Editions as Saturday matinees over three weeks. That worked out well, and was eminently appropriate considering the films’ serial ancestry. Revenge of the Sith presents an extensive set of cliffhanger endings, with heroes in exile and twin suns setting on a galaxy in turmoil, but as convenient as it is to salve the hurt by popping the originals immediately into the DVD player, arguably that’s not how they were intended to be viewed.

Today the end of Sith plays on the audience’s memories of the originals. Future fans should allow themselves the time to imagine their own second trilogy, just as we imagined our own prequels.

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