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They Said: May the 4th be With You!

05/05/2012

I had never seen Star Wars before, but it is pretty difficult to go for 20 years without having at least some small idea of what the movie is about. However, you can’t dodge the pop culture bullet forever, so what better time to catch up on this integral piece of cinematic history than on May the fourth (be with you). I have seen multiple parodies and even a musical version, but somehow managed to avoid seeing the actual film. My perception of the movie before watching is that Star Wars is essentially a meme that thoroughly incorporated itself into our society. I didn’t view it as good, and I didn’t view it as bad; I simply viewed it as an integral part of popular culture.

Prior to watching, I had it in my mind that Star Wars was very neutral territory as far as films go. Having watched the film I can say that my overall impression of it is that it’s cute! I was already very familiar with the plot. It was like I’d seen the whole thing before in a dream and then I experienced it in real life. I basically had seen the whole thing except for some of the less culturally popular filler bits. My conclusion is that you don’t even have to see the movie to understand it because it is so culturally prevalent; it’s not just a nerd thing. Before seeing Star Wars I knew that (spoilers) Darth Vader is Luke’s father, I knew that Chewbacca talks funny, and I knew what a storm trooper looks like. However, I suggest that you watch the films at least once so that you don’t have to give weak excuses to your friends when they ask why you haven’t seen one of the most well-known movies of all time.

Thanks for reading guys, see you Vader! ~Sonnet

I grew up with a lot of popular media, but throughout my childhood there were lots of really big cultural milestones that managed to completely slip past my radar. I didn’t read Harry Potter until last year, I hadn’t seen any of the Lord of the Rings films until a few months ago, and, possibly most surprising, I managed to live nineteen years of my life without having seen Star Wars. I just never got around to it. It never happened. But the films are so deeply ingrained into popular culture that even before I watched the first film for the first time, I practically already knew it scene for scene. I’ve seen so many parodies, watched so many clips, in all kinds of contexts, for all kinds of different reasons. I knew the characters well, I knew their backgrounds and how they fit into their universe and what parts they play in the story, which actors played them, I knew which parts of the film were going to be exciting and which parts weren’t. I knew all the big moments, all the big reveals, all the famous lines. It really was an interesting experience to watch a film for the first time with such a massive prior knowledge of it, and really, I think it might’ve negatively affected my experience of it.

It’s definitely a good film. It’s funny, well-paced, well-acted, and the special effects are impressive for its time. It felt really underwhelming for me, though, and I think that may have been because it’s so deeply permeated popular culture that none of it is surprising or engaging. I experienced the film not as one big cohesive story but as thousands of little bits, little pop-culture nuggets that kept me thinking “oh, that’s where that came from!” or “oh, huh, now I understand the context of that line!” instead of actually being able to fully immerse myself in the story being told. I just felt sort of like I was watching a Star Wars parody, but without the parody. I don’t blame the film for that though, I definitely see why it has such a large fanbase. I enjoyed it. Now I’m gonna watch the rest of them! Wish me luck, and May the Fourth be with you! ~Vondell

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