A few years late weighing in here, but sometimes it takes a while for things to click. Anyway, yeah, everybody hates Star Wars 1-3. Maybe not because of what or how they are, but as compared to 4-6. And of course a lot of that’s just how nostalgia’s about the worst beer goggles out there. Not to say anything bad about 4-6, though. Far from it. I think they just have the big advantage in that they do what Vonnegut and Gaimain and about every good writer says to do, when making a story: start as close to the end as possible. Another way to say that is that all the set-up’s just really boring, in any story. We don’t need the senate minutes. And yeah, it’s cool to see all the core cast when they were young, but, too, that’s just another form of nostalgia, I think.
What Star Wars 1-3 needed, instead — it’s like I was saying in that Terminator re-do I did whenever ago: you find what worked the first time around, then you do it again, and again. But with variation. That’s what rhythm is, repetition with variation. And stories have to be rhytmic. It’s what allows the narrative reversals and transformations &etc — the good and necessary stuff.
Anyway, with 1-3, I’m not doing that Terminator (3) thing to it, and saying that if only they’d done it this way, then it could have worked. The early Star Wars do work, more or less.
But what were they missing, that 4-6 had? Lucas almost hit on it in The Phantom Menace, I think, with Darth Maul’s bo-stick of a lightsaber: cool weapons, in keeping with the Jedi code. I mean, me, long before I had any clear understanding of the whole Star Wars mythology, or was checking out books like Finding the Force of Star Wars, I was out in the yard playing lightsabers. Then when I got old enough I was filling notebooks with designs for real-world lightsabers. And yeah, of course with them there’s merchandising hooks, and that sure didn’t hurt the Star Wars franchise, but, really, even if they’d never become a toy, lightsabres were still far and away the best thing about 4-6. Just these throwback, updated weapons.*
Weapons which, come 1-3, were no longer so cool, as we’d seen them for three movies already.
But what could there have been? I think it’s obvious to anybody who used to watch that Saturday morning Dungeons & Dragons: a bow with a glowing string and endless arrows, like Hank’s (who already looks like an animated Luke). I mean, in this far-away galaxy, it wouldn’t be magic, of course, it’d be pulse-arrows or some Iron Man technology, I don’t know — whatever drives the lightsabre, it would drive this bow. And what’s really cool about it, I think, is that the bow would be in keeping with the katana, which I think the lightsabre just about has to be a variation of, in spite of its name, and it’d be in keeping with these Jedi, who are just an intergalactic order of Zen monks, pretty much (well, Zen monks + Knights Templar). And of course, too, who knows, maybe it could even be just some weapon Anakin tinkered together on Tattoine one afternoon, while not working on CP30. And the string — just like Luke had to learn to wield his lightsabre, so do you have to really let the Force flow through you in order to snatch your fingers onto that bowstring, and not get burned. Or, if Anakin didn’t invent it, who knows, maybe it’s a banned weapon, as it’s unethical for a Jedi to kill from a distance. But then what’s more fun than a weapon you’re not supposed to use.
The flipside of using bows, however, is that it might impersonalize the battles some — you can’t hear the characters breathe and grunt, can’t hear the sparks cascade all around. Too, though, where lightsabres can always neutralize blasters, maybe bows could get through a lightsabre’s whirly defense. But what you get in trade, I think, or would get, or would have gotten, is the simple and undeniable coolness of somebody shooting arrows of light,** which, even counting Eric’s antics and Uni’s cuteness, were always the absolute coolest part of my Saturday mornings.
As for how Star Wars 0 would look, the prequel-prequel, yeah, the emporer’s already given us that script, talking about that/his big betrayal. All that needs to be done now is to have that betrayed and dying master ‘seed’ the future by creating these ‘Skywalkers’ from pure, unadulturated midichlorian. Then, yeah, have him lean back against the sky, against the whole galaxy, and loft an arrow of light up there, which’ll burn in place for a while, Bible-style, lighting
all these coming episodes my childhood.
* for me, this is also what made that Hitchiker’s Guide adaptation work: the lightsabre-knife for making toast
** isnâ€™t Chewieâ€™s crossbow already halfway to this, too? except of course that everybody knows that crossbows are cheating, are far too mechanical for any Jedi to even consider using . . .