Star Wars: The Death of CinemaMay 4, 2010
Ok, so, during the course of our budding relationship, Claude, who I must admit is a few years shy of a decade younger than me, tells me that Star Wars was, in effect, the “death of cinema.” Claude: “It theoretically and ephemerally signaled the death knell for the great cinematic experiences we had all (meaning him and his 2 friends) come to know and cherish up until that very moment.”
“Wait,” I protested as I spit out my glass of wine. “Star Wars?” I remember so clearly being 12 when that movie came out, the first summer I was really interested in boys, and could go to the mall and hang out for hours with friends unsupervised by scrutinizing eyes of parents. “Star Wars was the first movie I ever attended where I held hands with a boy!” I decried. “Well, I loved it too, THEN, and I held hands TOO…” (and then he mumbled…) “.but I was five and it was with my mother.” (volume increase) “ Then I got older, and saw it for what it was REALLY worth – a huge masturbatory opportunity for one George Lucas who is still in love with himself – hell, I bet he’s in the closet with R. Kelly right now.”
“Wait,” I protested again, and made some argument about how if George Lucas were in love with HIMSELF, he probably wouldn’t be in the closet with R. Kelly.
Claude: “Just think about it for a minute. All the great movies with their non-computerized special effects, GREAT films…”
Me: “Like Mouchette?” She’s in the damn river, boy…”
Claude glared at me. I took another sip of wine and batted my eyelashes. “NOOO,” he protested. “Like the whole 70’s oeuvre, you know, Bonnie and Clyde, all the Altman stuff, Shampoo, Don’t Look Now, the Peckinpah neo-westerns…”
I agreed that a lot of those were, in fact, good movies, but Star Wars was an EVENT for my generations, which I have recently learned is NOT the tail-end of the Baby Boomers, but rather “Generation Jones”, because we wanted to keep up with the Joneses. Well, my maiden name is Jones, so I guess people were keeping up with us. I’m not sure why. We had ugly green shag carpet and brown appliances and my mother found some crazy seamstress to make all our clothes and we often looked mildly retarded.
Star Wars was, for Generation Jones, what the arrival of the Beatles was for the Baby Boomers. It signaled something. It was likely your first date movie. The visuals were stunning, and fast-paced. There was a love triangle. And a big furry thing, who, if you were lucky, you could imitate to the delight of your friends. Everyone I knew had the soundtrack on vinyl (the cover was black, it had a gatefold, I’ll never forget it). And, crazily enough, I believe the movie holds up well even today. It’s not 2001: A Space Odyssey, which I know is a stretch for many, many people to watch,. But 2001 was truly groundbreaking in its use of special effects (hence the Oscar) but very hard to understand in the plot department.
Ok, back to Star Wars. I digress. Especially about 2001, which I reviewed in another post. How could this film be the “death of cinema”, as Claude suggested? What about all the other movies that came out after it that were good and not sci-fi and not directed by George Lucas (or Stephen Spielberg who is also on his shit list)? What about All That Jazz or A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy or Valley Girl or Apocalypse Now or The Shining or ICE CASTLES???…I mean, I just couldn’t imagine that Star Wars had made it so that we should have shuttered the theatres and burned all the celluloid a la Fahrenheit 451.
Finally, Claude, after several more glasses of merlot, came around and admitted that there were other good movies after Star Wars, but, by God, that didn’t mean that Lucas didn’t deserve the same punishment as Jim Caveziel in The Passion of the Christ for his misdeeds. And for the same 2 hour time-span.
Postscript: The above was written about two years ago. Over the weekend, I was going through some stuff and found a vintage 1977 official Star Wars C3P0 necklace. It wasn’t mine. Proof, as Claude said, that he loved Star Wars as a kid too. But he was five when the film came out, so it’s understandable. And after learning more about Lucas through an unnamed source, I’m going to have to break down and agree with Claude’s sentence of punishment for Lucas. What a wookie.
Postscript Postscript: Claude says, “George Lucas is a turd. So there.” ‘Nuff said.