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Heart of Dorkness: Star Wars Celebration IV, Day 6

29 May 2007 by Chad 6 Comments

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So I didn’t go to Celebration today.

I’m tired. I’m broke. And most importantly, there was nothing really going on today I wanted to see. So my CIV experience is over. It was a lot of fun.

There are a few things that I regret missing:

1) Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels, Ray Park, Peter Mayhew, and the Fetts. I just didn’t have the patience to sit and wait for hours and hours for the Q&A sessions with these Star Wars actors. The geeks just lined up for them so fucking early. Plus, I’ve worked with Fisher and met Mayhew, Daniels, and Jeremy Bulloch (OT Boba Fett) before.

2) Fanboys and 5.25.77. Two films that I intend on seeing once they’re released. The Fanboys trailer is hysterical. It’s basically a teen sex road comedy with a Star Wars theme. They had a full showing of 5.25.77 on Friday, but I missed it. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, it looks good. It’s available online.

3) The Seths. I am a fan of “Robot Chicken” and I occasionally find “Family Guy” funny. Not very often, but occasionally. I skipped discussions with both Seth Green and Seth McFarlane mainly because they conflicted with more Star-Warsy panels. I’d rather see Irvin Kershner than Seth Green any day. Really looking forward to the “Robot Chicken” Star Wars special.

I have three complaints about the ‘con itself, although I enjoyed it immensely.

1) For the gigantic 30th anniversary celebration, the guests were kind of lacking. Hayden Christensen is doing the Toronto Comics Expo this year, but not CIV? Where was Mark Hamill? Where was Warwick Davis? And really, honestly, where was George? We were told he was in Europe working on Indy 4, but I happen to know that’s not true. They’re not shooting in Europe. Don’t ask me how I know. I’ll be killed.

2) If you’re going to have a Fan Club lounge, make the food selection more affordable. It was THREE bucks for a can of Pepsi in the Hyperspace lounge. FUCK YOU.

3) While the panels I saw were great, I think there needs to be a little more variety and a few more repeats. I had really wanted to see some of the Star Wars authors, but they only did one panel with Troy Denning, Aaron Allston, and Karen Traviss. I didn’t make it. So I got no author love whatsoever.

Thus ends my coverage. As usual, here are more pictures, then my final word on Star Wars ever.

At least this week.

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Thoughts and Reflections: Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

RTJ

First Time Seen By me: A Theater in Columbus, OH. Sometime in the first month it opened in 1983. Saw it again a little later. First time I saw a movie twice in the theater.

Known Aliases: The First Last One, The One with the Fucking Ewoks, The One Where Incest Rears its Ugly Head, The One with Jabba.

Favorite Image: Luke’s final assault on Vader, after being driven to rage at the idea of the Sith Lord coming after Leia.

Best Obscure Character: The Rancor Keeper. What a pussy. Oh, and I like Logray. And Nien Nunb. And Ackbar. And Sy Snootles. Man, Jedi has a bunch of ‘em, huh?

Favorite Line: “So be it. Jedi.”

Biggest Sins: 1983 Version, Boba Fett going out like a punk. 1997 Version, “Jedi Rocks.” 2004 Version, “Jedi Rocks” still does not rock. And Boba Fett still goes out like a punk.

The O’Williams Factor: The male choir that Williams uses for the Emperor’s theme. And those same voices moaning their glorious dirge as Luke makes his final assault on Vader in the throne room.

* * * * * * * * * * *

If George Harrison taught us anything, it’s that all things must pass. And with that, we get to Return of the Jedi.

I’m going to avoid spending too much time on the well-worn territory when it comes to discussing Jedi. I don’t have any real opinions about Ewoks. I liked them as a kid, like them less as an adult, but they don’t bother me. Seeing Jabba for the first time (which is now like the last time, after all 6 movies are done) was awesome. The Emperor was no letdown either, way back in ’83. Oh, and the speeder bike chase was the coolest thing I had ever seen when I was seven. It still makes the top ten.

I do wish George hadn’t recycled the Death Star. Maybe come up with another Big Thing to Blow Up. I do wish that Lando and the Falcon had not made it out of the Death Star, like in early drafts of the script, so there would have been some sense of attrition on the side of the Alliance. I do wish that instead Han killing him by accident, that Chewie would have picked Boba Fett up over his head and, with a mighty Wookiee roar, tossed him into the fucking Sarlaac.

And I do wish that Lucas would get rid of “Jedi Rocks” and put back in “Lapti Nek”. Great God almighty do I.

Jedi ranks, to me, below ANH and above ROTS. Despite my love (okay, strong like) of the prequels, I still like all of the OT better. I’m not that nuts.

What I’d really like to get into with Jedi is I’d like to talk a little about Mark Hamill.

With the creation of the prequels, the entire Star Wars saga has become the story of Anakin Skywalker, fallen Jedi, great pilot, cunning warrior. It becomes easy to forget that pre-1999, he was not the hero of the series. Not the hero of my childhood.

My hero is a farm boy named Luke.

Star Wars does not work if Luke does not work. Luke is an archetypal, mythic hero. He is King Arthur. He is Frodo. He is Christ.

While I did grow up wanting to be Han Solo, it was the son of Skywalker who I would most want to come to my rescue. He was chivalrous, resourceful, willful, and, most of all, brave. He resisted his calling at first, as do all mythic heroes, but once he stepped onto his path he never looked back.

And the man who played Luke Skywalker is named Mark Hamill.

Say it with me.

Mark.

Richard.

Hamill.

(If you knew his middle name before I just told you, you get a nerd cookie. Please seek immediate medical attention.)

His name is usually spoken now like he is dead. Sometimes as a punchline, usually for a joke involving a washed-up acting career. I’m sure Mark would be the first to agree that his career hasn’t exactly turned out the way he planned. But Mr. Hamill’s performance in the Star Wars trilogy is the best of the series.

What makes him work as Luke, from the first shot of him on Tatooine to the lame family photo final shot of Jedi, is that he believes. He is that naïve farm boy in ANH. What do you think makes Dagobah work in Empire? Hamill was stuck on a sound stage for weeks with some snakes and a Muppet. It works because he’s not talking to Frank Oz. He’s talking to Yoda.

And when he rises up to take down Darth Vader for the last time, he believes it. We’ve come all this way with him. His entire life has been leading to this moment, and when he jumps out of the shadows, I still get all quivery. It’s my favorite moment in the final film. Maybe in all the films. The combination of the image and John Williams’ haunting score….Damn. Good stuff.

And just when we think he’s going to do it, that he’s going end this shit once and for all…he stops. He throws away his weapon. He would rather die than make the mistakes that his father did.

And the key theme in the Star Wars saga is fulfilled. Fathers and Sons. Over and over again. Fathers and Sons. Masters and Apprentices. Fathers, both domineering and supportive, and Sons, both loyal and ungrateful, and how that relationship can be contentious, destructive, or redemptive. Most likely all three.

You know how that guy in The Graduate says that life is all about plastics?

Star Wars is all about Fathers and Sons.

Don’t believe me? Read a little about George’s dad. It’s not a theme far from his heart.

And yet again, I have digressed. Sigh.

There’s no other point to this other than to give Mark Hamill some props. He is Luke Skywalker, for all time. His lack of success in other projects is probably to our benefit. We see him as nothing else. I’m sure he would rather have his name on 3 Oscars than have his face on a million lunch boxes (do kids even use lunch boxes these days?), and that sucks.

But nobody gets what Mark Hamill has. No matter how many bad video games he does, or funny cartoon voices he does, or how much of a joke he becomes to everyone else, he will always be my hero.

There are many criticisms leveled at Return of the Jedi. Some are valid. Some are not. But, at the very least, it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t complete its primary goals: The salvation of Han Solo. The defeat of the Empire. The redemption of Darth Vader.

And the ascension of Luke Skywalker.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Wrapping this up is going to be hard because, like I said, this series of posts will be the first and last time I’ll ever write about Star Wars in any sort of critical sense. So now I’m left with the task of summing up my thoughts about a story that has been part of my life as long as I can remember.

When it comes down to it, Star Wars is pretty much my religion. You have no idea how weird that is for me to write, but I promised myself I’d be honest writing this stuff, so there it is. It just came out. Let’s see where it goes.

I’m not a Bible guy. Don’t go to church. Could really care less about God or Moses or Jebus or Muhammad or Zeus or Odin or Vishnu or anything. It’s just never something I’ve had in, or wanted to introduce into, my life.

But that does not mean I’m not moral. It doesn’t mean I don’t have principles that I live by or stories that I look to for guidance. It’s just that most of those things, for me, fall into the realm of the Arts instead of religion.

Star Wars throughout my life has provided me with stories of heroism, sacrifice, love, betrayal, maturity, corruption, responsibility, wisdom, friendship, vengeance, family, and, probably most of all, redemption. It is the place I go when I’m feeling confused or lost in this all-too-real world of ours. Its characters are friends I can spend time with to brighten my mood. Its legends and myths are my legends and myths. I can easily say it has sculpted much of my thinking as an adult.

I’m not here to argue whether that is a good or bad thing.

It’s just a thing.

Just a thing.

But if that’s not a religion, I don’t know what is.

I sometimes joke that if you gave me 500 Imperial credits, a small blaster pistol, and maybe the keys to an XP-38 landspeeder, you could drop me off in Mos Eisley or Coruscant or even Cloud City and I’d probably be able to get by. That I’ve spent enough time in that Galaxy that I would be right at home. And, yes, I know those places are not real, but I bet you want to go to Heaven one day and that’s probably not real either. Let me dream too.

When Lucas made Star Wars, he set out to create a mythology for a new generation. I am a living product of that idea. I am not the only one. There are a bunch of us, and I just spent the weekend with thousands of them. And it’s been great.

I know how ridiculous this all sounds. So don’t bother shelling me with comments telling me what a loser I am. I assure you that I am not. You could not pick me out of a crowd as a Star Wars fan if you didn’t already know me. I am not that guy. After I post this, I’ll go back to my happy, fulfilled life. But I’ll tell you this. It is more fulfilled because of things like Star Wars.

So all I have left to say, predictably, I’ll admit, but with no sense of irony whatsoever, is:

May the Force Be With You. Always.

Chad Shonk

Los Angeles, CA

5/28/07

6 Comments »

  • Jeff, the Movie Curmudgeon said:

    Chad;

    I feel somewhat the same way you do about Star Wars….My father is a Methodist minister, and, when I was 12, I came to the (really uncomfortable) realization that the traditional Christian mores didn’t do it for me. “Star Wars” managed to fulfill that need for morals and lessons more than the bible or any sermon ever did. Christianity may be the shizzle for many, but not for me. “Star Wars” did more to teach me about right and wrong and the struggle to learn the difference than any other Sunday school class did. Thank you for your examination of the 6 movies and their meaning to you, as they echoed a great deal of what I felt while watching them myself.

    “Me too”

    Jeff

  • ChadShonk (author) said:

    “Star Wars” did more to teach me about right and wrong and the struggle to learn the difference than any other Sunday school class did”

    Very Nice.

    Thanks Jeff.

    You have made me feel a little less like a crazy person.

    c

  • bats said:

    This was an incredible review of CIV, and an even more incredible retrospect of the films. I can’t find myself disagreeing with anything you said, and I only wish you’d been “old enough” to see the OT in a theater during the original runs. (I’m old enough. The memories are still there.)

    Very good work.

  • ChadShonk (author) said:

    I appreciate it. I had been planning on writing a Star Wars Saga review thing like this for a while, but CIV kicked me in the ass. I am now very tired. I think Noel will be glad to get his site back for a while.

    I too wish I had been able to see all of the OT in the theater. But my memories of seeing it on TV as a little kid are so amazing, I’m not so sure I’d trade it.

    Thanks for reading,
    c

  • Noel said:

    “I think Noel will be glad to get his site back for a while”

    Are you kidding? This has made my life a whole lot easier the last week or so. I only wish CIV went longer so you could keep updating while I finish moving and all the other stuff that’s consuming my life for the next few weeks.

  • ChadShonk (author) said:

    Oh I see. In that case, I shall now work my way through the second greatest saga of all time: Police Academy. It may start off slow, but my thoughts on “Mission to Moscow” will move you to tears.

    And did you realize that “Citizens on Patrol” is “C.O.P.” Cop? Wow. That will take some work to understand it at its core, but I think I’m up for it.

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