Friday, March 16, 2012

Star Wars Saga: past, present, future

Giant spaceships invade the big screen, bringing with them new species, cultures, planets, and even something very close to a religion. Viewers of the very first Star Wars movie had this experience—the galaxy far far away felt intimate: viewers were given a universe, in many ways as complex as our own, to explore. Such an explosive release of content was quite a unique event in the world of science fiction. Nevertheless, most successful sci-fi classics share this commonality of enormous, complex worlds: from Star Trek to Tron, this trait has often allowed viewers to imagine the many facets that such invented worlds might have. This grandiosity, however, has been lost in the latest installments of the Star Wars saga. In addition to the tremendous amount of negative feedback received by the prequel trilogy, the most recent attempts at games and cartoon series have been widely unsuccessful at appealing to the Star Wars fan base.

Personally, I have enjoyed the most of the recent Star Wars releases, but I have never been able to shrug off the feeling that there was something missing. The spaceships were all there, as well as the characters, the lightsabers, and, most importantly, C3-PO. However, the grandiosity from the sequel trilogy was not present. The universe of smugglers, exotic worlds and Jedi mind tricks was replaced by… well, by politics! While Luke Skywalker followed his gut and traveled to the Cloud City in order to help his friends, Obi-Wan sought refuge in Senator Palatine in the safety of Coruscant. In this process, the Star Wars saga not only lost sight of its more action-filled moments, but it brought the saga closer to reality. This is perhaps the worse decision one can make when dealing with science fiction: viewer imagination is limited by this new take on a universe that was once full of life. Instead, a political universe was created, controlled by means similar to the ones that would be used in an average country on Earth. The freedom of exploration, which is what the series is really about, was lost in the process.

All science fiction represents a door into a new world, which we would not have access too otherwise—Star Wars was able to do this better than any of its predecessors. The novelty, however, only lasted for so long, and was quickly taken away when the saga was made more mundane with the prequel movies. Thankfully, however, a few of the more recent attempts at reviving the Star Wars saga—such as the old republic series of books and comics—seem to have been successful at returning to the roots of freedom and exploration that were once so prevalent in the series, so that a whole new generation might enjoy the thrill of Star Wars, one last time.

-Andre Menck

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