When my siblings and I were little, my dad read us the Hobbit, then the Lord of the Rings series. I remember being captivated by the story of the little fuzzy-footed people who fought dragon’s and orcs, and by the spiritual under-tones of the prose. It was an adventure we shared with our dad, and it would be years before another story captured my imagination like Tolkein’s masterpieces.
Some years later, I discovered that someone had put out an animated movie of The Lord of the Rings, and I excitedly asked my dad if we could rent it… and was surprised and dismayed when he not only refused, but forbid me to ever watch it. I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be allowed to watch the movie of the book he’d read us years ago. Did he not like it any more?
Fast forward about 20 years. I’m in the movie store, pawning through the Sci-Fi flicks when I spot the animated Lord of the Rings movie. I flipped it over and took a look at the screen shots on the back of the box, and suddenly I understood.
It wasn’t that my dad had developed a dislike for the Hobbit, or the Lord of the Rings. Rather, he loved it so much that he couldn’t allow it to be disrespected in such a way.
He knew that the pictures painted by Tolkein’s wonderful words in the imagination of a little boy were thousands of times more vibrant and alive then the shoddy work done on the movie. The animation was horrifically crude, the story line was hacked and slashed to fit in just over an hour… In short, having seen this movie as a child would have destroyed the gift he’d given us in reading the story to us at bed time.
It wasn’t until recently that the technology existed for a movie to do justice to the original book. And when Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings came out, we all went and watched it together… and saw reflected in it, what our young imaginations had pictured all those years ago when, cuddled up in our beds, our dad first read us the story.
And if that makes sense to you, maybe you’ll understand the tragedy of what I saw this past weekend.
On Friday, I took myself out to see Speed Racer. Being a temporary bachelor drives you to such desperation, you see. I needed something to do on a Friday night, so I decided I’d give the makers of the Matrix another try. The movie wasn’t awful, but if I hadn’t had a free movie ticket, I still would have felt robbed by the experience.
But what was really and truly awful, was the trailer that played just before the movie started. It seems George Lucas is not content with the betrayal of my childhood that was the new trilogy (Episodes 1-3) of Star Wars, and is determined to further milk his original work of art, for every treacherously wrought cent he can ring from it.
He’s become a corrupt, evil, fat little man, capitalizing on the imagination and awe of a generation of little boys who once day-dreamed about being one of the rag tag team of rebels that over-threw an evil empire and saved the galaxy. And instead of honouring the fans of the original series, he thinks its his right to butcher the story he once shared with us. And in that vein, he vomits up this regurgitated mess:
As if episodes 1-3 weren’t bad enough, he wants to beleaguer that poorly crafted story-line with even more poorly thought-out stories, animated horrifically in some momentarily trendy style that, unlike the original trilogy which even 30 years later still looks impressive, will look like a trashy Saturday-morning cartoon in just a couple short years.
The premise of this travesty is that Jabba the Hutt’s son has been kidnapped and the Jedi Knights have to rescue him…
Excuse me?! Why would the Jedi Knights bother with the son of a small time crime lord who lives in the armpit end of the galaxy? Is Lucas even familiar with his own characters any more?
He’s gone from telling an epic story of good vs. evil, to telling the story of how the defender’s of the galaxy run errands for the local drug dealer!
One day I will sit down with my kids, and I will show them the original Star Wars trilogy. Not the special edition. Not the “director’s cut.” The original movies, the way they were originally made.
And when we’re done, they’ll run around the house, swinging imaginary light sabers, and dodging imaginary blaster bolts as they save us all from evil… And then they’ll want more. I know, because I did when I was a kid.
So I will grudgingly allow them to watch the newer trilogy — but only after an explanation of how the later movies are a blight on the Star Wars universe. But I’m sure the holes in the plot, acting and character development will by filled in by their young imaginations, and they will forgive Mr. Lucas for his folly (and for Jar Jar Binks.) And they’ll still want more.
But there will be no more, because I will absolutely forbid them to ever watch the Clone Wars Animated Movie.
Why? Because no one should be allowed to devastate the imagination of a child. Not even the lazy, fat man who once, 3 decades ago, worked long and lovingly to create the original story that irrevocably captured the imagination of every little boy who watched those movies…
I’d boycott anything George Lucas does from now on, except I’m dying to see the new Indiana Jones movie. Here’s hoping he doesn’t crap all over that franchise too.