I'm just old enough to have seen "Star Wars" on the
big screen when it first came out in 1977. We were living in New
Jersey at the time, deep in the heart of America. It was the
Memorial Day weekend, and someone drove my friend Tim and I over
to Mercer Valley Mall (or something like that) to see it. I have
no recollection of knowing what it was going to be. None.
Afterwards, I went a little crazy as I imagine most 11 year old
boys do. I couldn't get enough of it. The special effects, the
appeal of the Tunisian (Tatooine) desert. Flying through space,
attempting the impossible and succeeding anyway. The mysticism
surrounding of the Force, and the physical impossibility of light
"How do you think they work?"
"It must use some kind of force field."
"But how can you make a cylindrical force field with a
generator at only one end?"
"It just does."
"What's in it?"
"Plasma. Like what's in the sun."
Twenty-two years lost between that summer and now, and
hundreds of films between. Friday last, me watching a matinee
show in an almost deserted theatre. With plenty of time to think.
I don't remember thinking during the first movie. There just
wasn't time. I don't know what I was doing thinking in this one;
it's "Star Wars" after all. Computer-generated eye
candy. And yet -- why did they attempt to explain the Force in
physiological terms? Why are there no women on the Jedi council?
Why didn't Lucas let a single scene finish before cutting away
from it? It had all the rhythm of a television soap opera. What
use was Darth Maul? He comes, he goes. The end.
Ewan McGregor does a very good impersonation of Alec Guinness.
If I closed my eyes, I could almost believe. But you don't close
your eyes during a movie. Not this movie. It's "Star
Wars" after all. Blink and you'll miss it.
On the way out, I mentioned to the friends that I went with
that I was absolutely, completely smitten with -- (wait for it)
-- Pernilla August.
"Who was she?"
"Yes. She's lovely."
"Those eyes... She's Swedish."
|As if that
explained anything to anybody. (You may have seen her
before in "Private Confessions",
"Jerusalem", or "Best Intentions".)
My friends looked at me as if someone had handed them
concrete proof of my madness which previously had been
only hinted at. So she's eight years older than me. And
lives in another part of the world. In a beautiful house.
What draws me to her, especially
in this film so close to the mainstream, so far from
Norse angst? Could it be that hers was the one
performance that could not have been equally delivered by
telephone? Or that she's the only character who doesn't
try to punch or kill someone? Or is just the eyes?
Photo: MAGNUS TORLE
I saw "Star Wars" on video tape a couple of years
ago. It was the original version, before the new special effects
were added. You could almost smell the cheese across the room.
And everyone looks so young. You can't help thinking what each of
the actors has done since then. Harrison Ford has gone on to
become one of the most popular American leading men. Carrie
Fisher pursued a career in both acting and writing. Alec Guiness
appeared in "Mute Witness". (Because he can. His
standing in the pantheon of players was assured long ago.) And
Mark Hamill... Did the other "Star Wars" movies. I
guess the lesson here is, don't look back. That was long
time ago, far, far away.