by Bruce Gibson
I’ve always been terrified that Star Wars would die off and become a joke to future generations. Star Wars has been the pinnacle of all movies to me, and I could never imagine it being looked upon as a cheesy relic. However, this fear has plagued me since the early 80s which started with my father stating that my kids will one day laugh at Star Wars as being cheesy and dated. In other words, Star Wars would die!
It was the early 80s and my brother and I couldn’t find anything good to watch on TV. We landed upon an old, black & white sci-if serial, which usually aired Sunday afternoons on low-rated TV stations during NFL football.
These low-budget serial films were produced in the 40s and 50s and shown on Saturday mornings to children in neighborhood movie theaters. Each serial ended with a cliffhanger, and the kids during that time would come back to the theater the next week to see the next chapter. The serials continued to gain in popularity with kids during the 50s when they were being replayed on TV. They inspired the imaginations of boys like my father and George Lucas. Hence, their influence on Lucas is evident with the Star Wars opening crawl similar to what is found in so many of these old serials. These films also inspired Indiana Jones.
So when my brother and I saw an old serial on TV decades later, we giggled at the cheap special effects and bad dialogue. Spaceships were flying on strings with firecracker sparks shooting out of the back. The planets were made of cardboard while the monsters were cheap customs with zippers visible on their backs.
That day, our dad walked into the family room and remarked that he remembered enjoying these serials as a kid. My brother and I started laughing at him saying, “How could you think this was cool? The special effects are so cheap and cheesy that it’s funny. It doesn’t look real at all!”
Sadly, there was a slight look of hurt on my dad’s face. We were making fun of something he enjoyed as a kid. We didn’t mean to hurt his feelings, but come on! These movies were bad, so we couldn’t imagine how tame his childhood must of been like in those old days to think these were exciting movies.
He eventually looked down at us sitting on the floor and stated, “Well, you just wait until you have kids. You think Star Wars is cool now? You just wait. Your kids will think it’s cheesy and start laughing at you too for liking Star Wars movies.”
I quickly shot up and said, “No, they won’t. The special effects in Star Wars look real!”
Then my dad pointed out that special effects in movies will continue to improve over time and will eventually make Star Wars looked dated and cheap, just like the old serials.
As he left the room, I was speechless because I knew he was right. My future kids will eventually see Star Wars and feel that they’re old timey movies with cheap special effects. They will become relics. They will become jokes that future generations will laugh at. They will be buried on a low-rated TV station on a Sunday afternoon. Star Wars will die and be forgotten.
I was devastated.
After Return of the Jedi left theaters in 1983, there were no signs of furthering the Star Wars adventures on movie screens. Lucas had previously stated that he would make nine (or twelve) Star Wars movies, but he seemed to have apparently changed his mind. The Marvel comic series eventually ended and the Ewoks and Droids cartoons bit the dust. Star Wars died in the mid-80s and my future children would one day laugh at me for liking these outdated, cheesy movies.
I was devastated once again. But things started to change…
Star Wars was slowly resurrected with Timothy Zahn’s Heir of the Empire novel in 1991. A new crop of a successful run of novels, comics, and games created a synergy in a subculture of fans of these “old” Star Wars movies. Then a trailer for the original Star Wars movie hit theater screens stating enhanced visual effects coming in 1997! Could it be? New life is being pumped into Star Wars? The special effects and sound will be updated and the current generation of kids will possibly see Star Wars as being cool and new. Is that possible? And later, a new trilogy of films is on the horizon!
Fast forward to 2015. I have two daughters who are the same ages that my brother and I were when we laughed at my father’s childhood movies. At one time, they were watching some old 80s movie that looked dated in terms of its special effects. I overheard them laughing at how fake everything looked. It brought back memories of my brother and I laughing at my dad’s childhood serials. But then to my delight, I overheard my youngest daughter say, ”The special effects in these old movies are so bad. Not like Star Wars. Those special effects still look good.” My other daughter stated, “Yeah, Star Wars special effects look REALLY good! They’re so real!”
I’m proud to say that they love Star Wars as much as I did as a kid! They don’t laugh at it as cheesy and old. It’s a testament to how well the team at Lucasfilm did at developing the technology to make superior special effects of its time. It still holds up today, in addition to the remastering of the visuals and sounds. Along with great storytelling, it’s still as relevant today to my kids’ generation as it was with us first generation of Star Wars kids.
That’s why it’s so important to me personally to see the different generations of fans getting into Star Wars. It doesn’t matter if they fall in love through the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, or the upcoming Sequel Trilogy. The Star Wars galaxy is alive and well blasting into an expanding future of new films. I no longer fear that Star Wars will die.
I’m sorry that I laughed at your movies, Dad. But you were wrong. My kids think Star Wars is really cool.