There’s not much to say in introduction to this except two things:
- I’ve watched all six Star Wars movies in a row
- I probably won’t do that again.
But I did it, I was blogging on the original kessel korner at the time, and here’s that recollection. Now preserved in two places on the Interwebs, for your pleasure.
As a side note, I wonder what Robin — the friend to whom I refer in the blog — is up to right now. She went off to California or something. Hope that worked out well for her.
13 Hours + 3 Friends + 1 Wife = 6 Movies
Originally Published Dec 16, 2005 at the original kessel korner
I have crossed the finish line in 2005 twice. Once, in the Marine Corps Marathon and the second time when the credits rolled on Return of the Jedi. I still don’t know which was more exhausting.
We started at 11:30 a.m. with Episode I. This was the one which was least appreciated by the fans in the theatres, and for all the crap that it has taken over the last six years, I love it more every time I watch it. It’s emotionally charged, understated and complex – everything a good movie should be. I mean, really, it has everything. However, with it being the least favored among the six, even within my circle of friends, my friend Mike and I decided to face off over a game of Star Wars: Risk: Clone Wars Edition (No one else wanted to play). I had whupped up on him previously, so this was a grudge match. Mike hates to lose, and it was only natural he wanted revenge. He got it, in spades, crushing me even more quickly than I crushed him.
We wrapped up in time for the end of Phantom Menace, and I pointed out my favorite subtle cue in the film, that the celebration music at the end is actually the Emperor’s Theme. It took some in attendance by surprise (I’ve pointed it out to Stacey more than once), and I hope it adds a little to their estimation of the film – basically, that there are a lot of ties in to what’s coming if you know where and how to look for them. MY favorite exchange of the day was actually when my cousin once again said he hates Jar Jar, to which I simply asked if he laughed at his pranks. “Most of them,” was the reply. Well, then how is he a bad character?
We rolled right into Episode II, and Stacey stepped away to do some online Christmas shopping. By the midway point of the film, we had delved into a mocking discussion about how Padme, dressed as she was, should not have been surprised that a 19-year-old boy would try to make a move. And that rolling around in the grass thing? Come on; how could someone smart enough to be a Galactic Senator not know that would cause certain hormones to fire off? If anything, I admire Anakin for not getting more confused when she dressed in an S&M outfit and then said she wasn’t attracted to him. Of course, the discussion started to turn more serious than advisable (Robin essentially being called upon to defend all of the women of the world who dress provocatively) and using my freaky Force powers to see how well that would turn out, I kinda put a stop to it.
Episode II is a great film, but there are a few trims on the opening chase scene I would make in order to include time with Padme’s family. It just feels right. The beginning chase with Zam has a few moments that drag a bit too long; I would gladly sacrifice them to meet the Naberries. But, I still love the film, so far be it from me to be a “Cut Scene Crybaby”. And as usual, I was a defender of the “Tusken Event”. While Anakin’s actions are not to be applauded, they are eminently understandable. It’s tough still to watch the scene where Shmi dies; and I don’t see how anyone can fault Anakin for losing control when he hurts so badly.
By the time Episode III started, the sky was growing darker and energy levels were plummeting. Robin nodded off partway through, and Stacey took a little catnap as well. The group as a whole grew less talkative. This was okay by me, because Sith is, without a doubt, one of the best movies I have seen in my life – Star Wars movie or not. The true life-giver to this film is the interplay between Anakin and Palpatine; Ian McDiarmid is freakin’ brilliant, and that’s that. He don’t need no stinkin’ Oscar – he stands as one of the most gifted actors I have ever seen on film. I believe him so completely that I giggle every time he starts the Darth Plagueis “legend”. The fact that he will likely not even be nominated by the Academy will just further prove how irrelevant the Academy Awards have become; it’s a big circle-jerk for a bunch of elitists who like to think they’re in touch with us commoners.*
*Note: If he gets a nomination, I have no intention of taking that comment back. They’re still a bunch of elitist jerks, even when they make the occasional correct call. I’ll just be more likely to watch that four-hour TV torture telethon.
I cooked burgers (my signature dish, “Turkey Burgers Jar Jar”) and we chowed down while Anakin got cooked in turn. God, that final confrontation between Anakin and Obi-Wan is supremely powerful. The showdown between Yoda and the Emperor is a real treat, too.
There was a slight resuscitation when Episode IV was put in the player, but I was starting to feel my age. I was spinning the OT discs just because two of the attendees (Robin and Ron) insisted on it. In hindsight, I am glad I did, but six hours was tough, and at the time I did not look forward to another six. I don’t like to sit still that long. (The inevitable PT v. OT debate started, too. “The OT is better,” people say. That’s fine, whatever. People are allowed to have different opinions, no matter how wrong they are. And they are wrong. The WHOLE SERIES is wonderful, and there is no need to differentiate IMHO; but if I have to pick, the PT wins.)
Mike left when the ‘droids crashed on Tatooine; he had marathoned the OT before, and so only felt the need to do the PT part of this one. I respected his choice – and buckled down to complete the journey with Stacey, Ron and Robin. I was actually pleased to have the opportunity to illuminate who Tagge, Motti and Bast were, and how they related to Tarkin (though I know only the roughest sketch, being an avowed EU avoider on the whole). I also stick to my theory about the “decreased skill” in the saber fight – Vader is toying with Obi-Wan, knowing he can smoke him, but really wanting to savor the moment. After all, Obi-Wan is the one that cooked him in the first place.
Supporting my theory was Episode V, when Vader really fought with chutzpah and schooled Luke like a bad child. The Chosen One still had some mad skills in Empire. Sadly, Stacey only made it to Han’s freezing and did not hear me blabber on about that for the millionth time. I give her credit for making it as far as she did, because by then it was 10 and that’s usually our bed time.
So by the end of Empire there were only three little Indians left standing. We popped in Jedi and Robin and I joked about how we had “beat the bridge” again (It’s a Marine Corps Marathon thing). Jedi has always been my favorite of the OT, and so I was truly looking forward to seeing it as the capper to a 13-hour journey. And as for that Leia thing – you accept lightsabers, hyperdrive and The Force, but you cannot accept that the daughter of what amounts to a demi-god has freaky memories of her mother from birth or in the womb? Consistency, please, class – and that’s all I have to say about that.
By the time we got to Leia and Wicket chatting on the log, I lost all ability to comprehend just about anything. The movie, my guests, my entire existence devolved into a disjointed Dada-ist experience, and words began to lose meaning as well. Curiously enough, though, I reawakened to reality whenever the Emperor spoke. Coolest. Dude. Ever.
Robin never had seen the newest version of the ending to Return of the Jedi, so I waited for her reaction to Anakin’s ghost appearing as Hayden Christensen. She wondered aloud why Qui-Gon didn’t appear, and reasoned it through the way I had – he had no connection to Luke, and so there was no reason for him to appear. The EU and novel explain it in more detail, but the simpler explanation works well.
After 13 hours, there you have it. I certainly know I went 26.2 miles quicker, and enjoyed doing both marathons. But which was more rewarding? Meditate on this, I will.
And so it is. Robin, Ron and I emerged from our sensory-deprivation experience physically and mentally exhausted. I had finally watched the entire saga from beginning to end, a dream that was born for every Star Wars fan as soon as we found out that there was to be a prequel trilogy. And I can report to you happily that I have seen the saga, and it works. The story flows effortlessly, and given the way it was put together over 30 years, flows better than the majority of films I have subjected myself to in recent times. And those films always get a lot more slack, which will always be a source of fascination to me.
I think that the key to the flow is the way there are obvious time gaps between films. It allows the viewer a lot more leeway in terms of making a leap on their own and personalizing the story in such a way that it relates to them and how they need to see it unfold to be satisfied. I think that those who focus on the minor “flaws” are the inevitable literalists who need everything spelled out for them; there will never be a way to construct the story well enough to please them, either.
So I’ve been on a “Star Wars fast” for a few weeks, to allow my reality to come back into focus. But the urge to watch a scene or play a game is coming back strong – another testament to the endless enjoyment this series provides. By the end of 13 hours I never wanted to see Darth Vader again, and now I want to examine the character anew, but a few weeks later. Mr. Lucas is a genius, and these films should be held up as an example of how a filmmaker can interact with his audience subtly, allowing them to construct the story with him. Like a great composer, he knows what notes are the important ones to hit.
So it’s one more thing to cross off the list of thing I need to do. Pretty cool. And thanks to Robin, Ron and Mike for joining me, as this journey – like any other – would have been nowhere near as much fun to take alone. A very special thanks to Stacey for letting me take over the house and her day, and for being a great hostess. I came up with the idea, and she executed everything else – including the food and drinks. And another special note to her for being willing to take part in it (as long as she could stay awake), as she has to listen to me babble on about this crap 24/7 anyway for the next lifetime.
May the Force Be with You!