There used to be a time when Star Wars fans only had the original trilogy. Then in the early 1990s there came a time when the expanded universe began to expand. Timothy Zahn came onto the novel scene and we also got Shadows of the Empire, which was an ambitious multimedia project that had a video game, a novel, a soundtrack and a small line of action figures. As a Star Wars fan, you already know of the fans that grew up with only the original trilogy. These were people who grew up in the mid to late 1970s and 80s, and I am proud to be a part of that group.
Lately, there has been a lot of growing support for the prequel trilogy, which is great because those films have such a backlash from people in my age group who don’t like them and yet, I am happy there has been a turnaround for them. While I saw them several times when they came out theatrically, there’s still something that doesn’t work for me but I think maybe it’s because they could have been so much better.
Now don’t get me wrong-o, I have great emotional and nostalgic appreciation for the prequels. As I’ve said before, these films aren’t all bad – there are a lot of good things about them, not to mention the fact that they expand the Star Wars universe; however, they end up expanding it negatively as well. Those good things I mentioned are literally sprinkled throughout all three films. I could defend the prequels all day while still pointing out what is wrong with them, but that could take all day. I’m here to defend the original trilogy, as it almost seems like the current support for the prequels have created a small backlash against them.
Apparently, there are people who think that the original trilogy is boring or slow, but films in the 70s didn’t have the pacing of a Michael Bay CGI fest because people had a longer attention span and could focus more on the nuances of people and things within the film’s frame. In fact, in comparison to other films of the time, the original Star Wars was considered a film that was fast-paced and exciting. Even though film and times have changed, I still find that all three original films have a great pace and never get boring.
Granted, the original films felt small and self-contained as George Lucas was limited by money and the technology of the time, but part of why he wanted to go back to the early life and times of Anakin Skywalker was because he had the money and technology to do whatever he wanted.
In regards to the original trilogy, I think that those limitations helped Lucas along with Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand make films that were more to to-the-point, with no focus on expanding the universe at that time.
The originals gave us so much more character development across a couple of scenes and it seemed as if the prequels could barely pull that off in one film. The prequels seemed to be all style and not much substance, while the opposite seemed true for the originals. We all know that Irvin Kershner was brought in to direct The Empire Strikes Back because Lucas knew him to be a filmmaker who was more focused on character development. If our characters don’t anchor us to the story and what’s happening to them, we don’t care and that’s why I think so many people have a problem with the prequels is that there’s such a disconnect that nobody cares what happens (either that or because we already know what happens to most of those characters).
Now that the prequels have been out for over a decade, we are seeing new legions of fans that grew up with the prequels, as I and so many others grew up with the originals.
“It’s like poetry, they rhyme.”
While that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the folks over at Lucasfilm are now just starting to connect the prequels and the originals in a big way because there’s such a demand for prequel content, not to mention they are anxious to expand the universe even more. I was elated to see that Battlefront II would include prequel content, as it was sorely missing from the previous game and while many other fans agreed with me, I’m sure there are some people out there who are upset at this inclusion. It’s Star Wars – Someone’s always going to be upset.
If the prequels expanded the Star Wars universe and exposed it to a new generation, we must still give credit to the original trilogy that kicked off the phenomenon.
Let’s face it: Star Wars wouldn’t be where it is today without the overnight breakout success that came in 1977. Prequel fans may appreciate what those films did for pop culture but they just prefer the prequels more and that’s okay. Over the last 40 years, Star Wars has expanded so much that there are so many different things one could geek out about, whether you’re into the animated shows like Clone Wars or Rebels, or the novels, comics and video games, it’s all Star Wars. With Disney at the helm and the critical and financial success of The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I think most fans can agree on one thing: The future looks bright.
May the Force be with you.