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Several lovely people have emailed over the weekend asking, did I see it? Did I like it?


Yes I did see it, 3 times, in 3 different formats, and yes, I liked it very much. Over on Club Jade, there’s a feeling of a need to “process” this film and I think that’s very true for those of us who lived with Star Wars for 38 years, and who were deeply enmeshed in the EU. Some of it is very jarring. I enjoyed the second viewing more than the first and I sobbed through most of the 3rd.

Slyvermont, [personal profile] cyndisuesue  and Lexsara all came into town and joined me, knitress and econopodder. This is important. Knitress and I have been seeing Star Wars together since we met in 1979. She skivved class at NU  to go to ESB, I didn’t, something I’ve always regretted. I met Slyvermont and CyndiSueSue through Club Jade around the time I was writing Stuff in 1995 or shortly thereafter. My spawn joined us for the Thursday show and he was born in 1999, the year of TPM.

It was really interesting hearing the spawn discussing his favorite Star Wars with his friend on the way to the movie. They both are gamers and really loved Lego Star Wars, The Force Unleashed, and the Clone Wars cartoon. My spawn loved the Clone Wars movie, too, though he may deny it now. Friday nights were filled with Clone Wars, pizza, and Star Wars gaming afterward. The point is, they had a very different experience than I did coming into Force Awakens.  Their experience is not movie based at all.

Yet, they loved the film, too, as much as I did and maybe more.

This was an important realization for me as I processed my own views. TFA is derivative, even highly derivative, with its reliance on (another) planet-destroying superweapon (combo Death Star-Suncrusher), the destruction of the shields, the trench run, the life in the desert, a next gen named Ben, ever so many McGuffins and coincidences, and so many other things. But I didn’t assume that everyone came into the film as I did. Like showing the trailer during Monday Night Football, and as the marketing has (tried) to show, Star Wars is for everyone and not everyone has lived it and the EU for the last 38 years.

We hit on a key phrase going to the third viewing – this is a conservative film and strategically the right choice for the first entrant in a franchise Disney paid $4 billion for. I felt TFA would have been better if it had been less referential and more original but I loved what I saw and I understood why it was the way it was and did not resent the film for those choices.  If anything, I felt that the nods, especially to the EU were welcoming, see, we haven't forgotten you, either.***

I’m not sure what else I can add to the commentary. I was mostly unspoiled and stopped trying to figure out who Luke had referred to in the trailer as “you have that power too.” I couldn’t reconcile who Rey might be, I did not assume she was Force-sensitive until her extraordinary mental duel with Kylo, I bought completely that Finn was the Jedi to be, and I’d never thought Rey would steal the Falcon. I didn’t know if Kylo Ren was a Skywalker or Solo. I was continually surprised and so happy to have been thoroughly misled.

I was incredibly moved by Han’s statement “I knew Luke,” spoken with genuine love and not blaming him at all for his son’s’ fall. I loved how the Falcon reappeared. We had joked on Twitter at the last trailer that maybe Maz was an ancient Force sensitive lady space pirate who was the Obi-Wan to Rey's Luke "Who are you?  I'm no one.".  She was and I loved that character and the portrayal so much. The whole sequence when Rey and Finn meet Han is unbelievable – the writing is terrific – Han Solo the Rebellion General? No! Han Solo the smuggler! This is the Millennium Falcon that did the Kessel Run in 14 parsecs? 12! So much was encompassed in that sequence.

I thought the chemistry between the characters was all amazing. John Boyega was wonderful. Poe Dameron is my new space husband.  (My real life spouse is now signing correspondence "your terrestrial husband.  My spawn said, "I approve of your new space husband, mom.") 

I really, really liked Adam Driver and his interactions with Oscar Isaac and especially with Daisy Ridley. Ridley is just amazingly expressive in her face and I loved her and that we have her as the focus of the journey. I’ve heard some criticism of Adam Driver (constipated is a word I’ve seen) but I loved his performance, appearance, and everything. There are no words in the most intensive parts of those two scenes between Ren and Kylo and I LOVED them.

And of course, the lightsaber handle stuck in the snow. Right before we left, my spawn and I were watching ESB and I explained how, when Luke is hung up like a Christmas ham in the wampa cave, that when we saw him for the first time summon his lightsaber, stuck in the snow, with the Force, it was incredible. It was the first time we’d ever seen the Force used like that.  We didn’t know it could do that. (go watch it)

When Rey summons the same handle, stuck in the snow, with the Force theme welling was spectacular.  I wept and cheered.  This was the most referential moment of the film for me and the one I most appreciated.  Her expression when she follows Maz's wisdom and listens for the light side during the duel (thanks Maz!) was breathtaking.

Han and Leia. I completely understood how something so terrible would tear them apart – they feel they failed as parents and so go back to what each felt they were best at.

I’ll close with how wonderful it is to share Star Wars with friends and family again. I’ve been really moved by the many commercials showing parents sharing it with their children and fans of all ages, races and genders sharing with each other. The concept of a community of fans is so important – and was something I was concerned Disney would suppress. I love hearing about (and seeing) R2-KT, all the celebs clamoring for parts and dressing up for the premiers, the member of the 501st who was the voice of the female stormtrooper we hear, and the friends invited to premiers and red carpets. One reason that the 3rd viewing was so emotional for me personally was that I’d tried to explain to Slyvermont something about what has happened with me and certain elements of the Narnia fandom and the devastating comments I’d recently received on a new story. She asked why didn’t I just shut off comments? I burst into tears and said that it was because that was how I’d met her and so many others, through fic. To close down that line of communication meant closing myself to meeting amazing people and sharing and building community with them.

So yep, as we joked after the 3rd viewing that in another 30 years, we’ll all be in assisted living and the van will come to wheel us into a senior’s matinee.

*** I admit it.  When we came out after the first viewing, I said that there was Mara Jade sized plot hole. I know Mara's probably not the mother of Rey.  I know that Luke will never say, as someone who I thought was ta-dala said on Tumblr, "Her name was Mara."  I know that Dunc is mocking me for this.  (I even said that on Thursday night).  I DON'T CARE. I'll just hold on to that until Episode VIII.

This entry was originally posted at http://rthstewart.dreamwidth.org/129781.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 21st, 2015 06:53 pm (UTC)
First -- he's MY space husband! I have the battle scars to prove I'll fight for him. (BTW, the black eyes appeared yesterday. I look just lovely.)

I just read an article that commented on how different TFA ends compared to the original trilogy. The final shot in Episodes 4, 5, 6 have our heroes standing together. But this episode ends in a totally different way on a totally different note -- with that gorgeous tracking shot showing Rey, Luke, the lightsaber, the island, the water. Perhaps this signals that now these movies will go off in their own direction. The more I think about this, the more I like this idea and hope it's true. It's like JJ & Co. paid their respects to the God of Lucas, and that ending shows that now they can move on.

I was really torn by our conversation Saturday morning. Ripped by your despair. I do understand how vital the online virtual community is to you. I wish I could say something to make it better. The only thought I've had since seeing you -- instead of turning off the comments, is there any way you could have someone monitor the comments for you, and delete the really nasty ones, so you only see the positive or constructive ones? Curate the comments, so to speak. It doesn't seem like the nasty ones do any good to anyone, especially you.

I am so excited by the revival of this universe and how it has regenerated all of us. I can't wait for my 3rd showing, with my spawn and terrestrial husband.
Dec. 21st, 2015 11:57 pm (UTC)
:D Cheers for all those having a wonderful time in all the ways - not just watching, but talking and connecting and crossconnecting and all the ways! :)
Dec. 22nd, 2015 12:00 am (UTC)
Oh gosh an update
Yay an update and it's about star wars! I loved the movie and I'm so glad to hear your take on it, as an amazing fic writer and as someone who has lived within the universe for longer than I have. Does this update hearken towards more fic updates in the near(ish) future?
Dec. 22nd, 2015 04:49 pm (UTC)
Carl and I saw it yesterday afternoon, and haven't stopped talking about it since. I cried, oh I cried. I cried for the Falcon's first appearance (and spent that first chase scene silently yelping over the damage they were doing to it - though, as Carl said afterward, that's about the way Han flew it, too). I cried for Han and Chewie. And then for Han and Chewie again. And again. I cried for Leia, for her weariness and humor and kindness and sorrow and love and pragmatism. The only one I didn't cry for was Luke's appearance, and that only because I was still emotionally gutted and had no tears left by that point.

And yes, the lightsaber, the symbolism there! Rey's acceptance of the light side of the Force! REY. Rey has become Carl's favorite character ever, of all time, from all stories he's ever seen or read. He GUSHES over her. I've never seen my husband gush over anything before. And not in a patronizing way, in a "she is so freakin' awesome I can't get over it" way. (Maybe I should start calling myself his terrestrial wife?) She is so full of joy and hope and graciousness when she could be angry and bitter, and even when she is afraid she chooses to do the right thing, and gahhh, I love her almost as much as Carl does.

Your comment about Mara makes me think - I almost hope they don't ever identify her mother (providing she IS Luke's daughter, which at this point I can't imagine she isn't), and just leave her as someone Luke loved deeply, because that, that would be the best tribute to Mara. Nothing overt, nothing cheesy, just leaving us plenty of room to fill in the blanks, while those who never got into the EU can use their own imaginations.

All in all, I think it was a beautiful movie, and I'm so, so glad for it.
Dec. 22nd, 2015 06:56 pm (UTC)
Just back from seeing it. As you say, very very derivative - but so much fun! And Daisy Ridley was marvellous, every single second of her.

On a shallower note, I kept (okay, several times) mis-hearing "Snoke" as "Snork", and now I'm wondering how any of the Moomins could ever have turned to the dark side. I have a sad and twisted mind.

And I have been thinking for years that I would love to visit Skellig Michael, then thinking of the long, rough sea crossing and All The Steps, and thinking perhaps not. But oh my goodness it looked stunning.
Dec. 23rd, 2015 03:04 pm (UTC)
Part of what I'm enjoying so much about this magical moment of the new movie is getting to share in the reactions of all my friends. One of the real treasures of social media and instant access is paying off now.

Oh, the Wanton in me is cracking up over the new space husband scenarios. I love you ladies, each and every one. A part of me is also intrigued that I - the one who has been more or less a Wanton in spirit since she was 11 - hasn't had any 'space husband' reaction with this film.

In the meantime, I'll just be sitting over here with you in that magical space, also totally knowing that it will not end up that way but still holding on for that moment when it is(n't) Mara in Episode VIII ;)
Dec. 26th, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
Why can't it be Mara Jade?
Okay, the backstory would be different, but why can't she, Rey's mother, be a red-headed Force force wielder named Mara? Obviously she's deceased now, why can't she be someone loyal fans to the expanded universe love? (Refuse to use past tense here!)

Every time the SW Insider did a character popularity poll, Mara Jade was always the highest ranked non-movies character -always, even over Thrawn.

After reading HTTE, I went and bought the Icons Skywalker Lightsaber prop replica,#5041/10,000 in the early 90s. Because Luke gave it to Mara. Anakin/ Luke/ Mara- that meant something huge to me. Seeing Rey hold that Saber ... did things to me inside -Again!

I have a little "Shrine" area devoted to Mara. These are the items that remained with me through the years, tough times, and multiple moves. She is the reason I own the Thrawn trilogy in 5 languages- ones I can't even read, but I wanted them when I saw them. She is the reason I have the Audio Radio drama ROTJ and only that one! The only reason I own micro-machines! And comic packs, multiple sculpts and busts that are so overpriced it really is insane to buy them. Over twenty years of adoration, why do I have to let her go?

I have seen so much respect in the new Star Wars. Why would they disregard the most popular non-canon character? Why do panelists at big conventions gets stony-faced when Mara Jade is mentioned- and she always is mentioned! Things like this, give me hope that she existed in Luke's story. She may be the only one to not be left in "Legend-land". That's my view and I won't stop believing until I have to... and maybe not even then! (I can't go there again after 20 years- I can't and I won't.)
Jan. 24th, 2016 03:36 pm (UTC)
I hope you are managing to stay warm, dry and safe.
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