52 Movies: Week 1 - The Great Escape
"Discussion is pointless and dialogue is dead."

Does anybody here care about Star Wars?

If you do, here are a couple of reviews that I thought were interesting:

Christopher Orr in The Atlantic

Carl Eric Scott in National Review

Really, the main thing I found interesting in Orr's review was this:

And so with The Force Awakens, Abrams has begun one of the most important reclamation projects of our time: the complete erasure from cultural memory of The Phantom Menace and its sequels.


And what I liked about Scott's piece is that he dares to suggest not only that the "prequels"--the second series of three movies--should not have been made, but perhaps even that there should have been only one Star Wars movie, the very first one. I sympathize. I thought the whole thing began to take itself too seriously with the second movie, The Empire Strikes Back, though all in all I can enjoy it and Return of the Jedi. I don't think I've ever seriously considered seeing The Phantom Menace et.al. again, though it might be fun to ignore the plot and just enjoy the spectacle.

The piece to which Scott is responding is also interesting--see the link in his piece.


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I like that quote. I hated the second trilogy, and I really enjoyed the new one. It was just good fun and had some really funny lines.

I heard an interview with Abrams on NPR this afternoon and he said he's through doing sequels. He was glad he did this one, but he's ready for something else, so who knows what the second movie in this batch will be like.


I enjoyed it. I don't know if I can go quite as far as *really* enjoyed it. :-) But it was definitely fun, which was what made the very first one so good.

Whatever Abrams' plans are, I read that Disney is going to release one *every year*. I'd think it would be hard to maintain the quality.

The very first Star Wars movie (you know, Star Wars IV) had a low budget, which may have contributed to the idea of not taking itself too seriously!

I thought it was pretty spectacular at the time, but it may show its age now.

I thought it was fun. I've thought that of all the Star Wars films I've seen except the first prequel. I've never understood those who make a massive deal about them though.

Me either.

Yeah, I watched the original trilogy on DVD around 10 or so years ago, and its fun. I thought all the movies were enjoyable. But I don't get how it becomes a parallel religion for many folks.

One of the things I do in my 'foundations of theology' class is I require the students to write out a Gospel by hand and to illustrate it.

The first time I did this, one student had Starwar illustrations all the way through. Each character in Starwars corresponded to a character in the Gospels - eg, Jesus was the young chap who wears the Judo costume and so on.

It was really BRILLIANT. One of my colleagues said that some people need a mythology in order to understand a mythology.

If you walk around Moissac, a Romanesque pilgrim church on the camino to Santiago, there are gryphons and unicorns and all kinds of weird mythological animals. I once walked around there with some really trying very hard to be open minded Calvinists, and it was difficult to keep up the pretence that this had anything to do with Christianity! It just seemed to be unapologetically pagan. It was only after my colleague's remark that 'some people need a mythology in order to engage with a mythology' that I even began to understand why so many of my conservative presbyterian students of the 90s and noughties were Star Wars addicts.

The following time I taught 'Foundations of Theology' they wanted examples of how to do the Gospels. So I showed them the Star Wars one and another, which we keep downstairs in the office, to indicate the kinds of things kids do in 'Foundations' (they don't usually but). So then, because the students are always trying to meet one's expectations, I got a dozen versions of Mark all illustrated from LOTR and other Superhero comic type scenarios. None of them came near the original. The thing about the original was that he was really deeply in love with the starwars material.

So I think the thing about Star wars is that it gave a culture which had no mythology, a mythology.

And we don't get it, because we have a mythology and the mythologies we use to engage with it are invisible to us.

Star Wars is just escapist fun. I don't really understand how it all became such a big deal, but it did. I think part of the reason the original series is so much more interesting is the cast. The best part of the new movie was Han Solo!

I know I've seen the first Star Wars movie, and I've seen at least part of one of the others, but that's it. I missed seeing them when I was a kid, first encountering them as an undergraduate. I thought they were corny. I'll not go out of my way to see the new film, I don't think.

That new Macbeth, though, is another story! (I think it was grumpy commented on it on another thread.)

Very perceptive remarks about SW, Grumpy. I have noticed that the enthusiasts I've come across all saw A New Hope, the first movie, and some or all of the next two, when they were children. So I've attributed their great interest to the impression made then. But the point about needing a mythology to understand a mythology is intriguing.

I plead guilty to finding Christian "myth" more moving in Tolkien and Lewis than in the gospels themselves. So maybe also at work there is the thing Lewis mentions in Surprised By Joy (I think), about not being touched by the things he was supposed to be touched by.

"Escapist fun" is a pretty good two-word summary of my view of SW, too. And I agree that the cast, and the characters they play, are the best part of the original. Alec Guinness stands out to me.

Yes, and Lewis talks about how it was the image of the image of the toy garden which sparked his joy

I would never have had that perception without the student who used Starwars to illustrate Mark. For years, students TOLD me to watch it because it mattered so much to their whole generation.

Craig I figured I had missed Macbeth. But then my sister told me about the Lincoln Plaza Cinema - THAT is the art cinema in Manhattan I didn't know about! I've been looking at my old haunts down in the Village for art movies, and they have mainstream movies there. So I didn't know where to look, and Fandango was not helping. My sister was showing me another film on the Lincoln Plaza website and I realized that Macbeth was still on. The cinema was pretty full, and it was a good version, I thought. Its getting 7.4 on INDB but I would give it an 8 out 10.

The student wasn't Ryan, was it? ;-)


I was a junior in high school when the first one came out in 1977. I liked it well enough, and saw it twice if memory serves, but I never really got caught up in the hoopla. I think that it really is a generational thing -- the age you were when you first encountered it makes a difference. But Grumpy's point about myth makes sense as well. Recall that Lucas aimed the first film at 12 year olds -- what today we'd call the Y.A. market. That age group would be quite susceptible to what we could call the "age-appropriate" mythological pull of the thing, much more so, I'd say, than someone like me who saw it when he was sixteen.

And its a real shame that no theologian cottoned on to that fast, and flipped the gnosticism - the way Origen would have done

I was just the target age when Star Wars came out. I had seen the trailers and thought it looked stupid, but was too shy to say so when my grandmother wanted to take my sisters and me to see it. It turned out to be much more fun than I'd expected, but no more than that. Then again, I already had a mythology.

I think Rob G is right about the age - I was 17 in 1977, and it would have seemed like a clunky sci-fi film, not at all the kind of movie I liked in those days.

Maclin, please put me on the schedule for the last week in Feb.

I can't imagine that it would have seemed clunky. It was so much better than anything else that had been done--SFX-wise.


Deuteronomy 33:17 from the 1599 Geneva Bible: "His beauty shall be like his firstborn bullock, and his horns as the horns of an unicorn"

I'm surprised your Presbyterians weren't more text-fast, Grumpy!

Well, not quite: I don't think it was any better than 2001 in that respect. But they're such very different things that it's not really a good comparison. I say that because 2001 hit me at the time (1969) as, and still seems, the first time sci-fi film-making really did justice to one's imagination. But at any rate SW definitely did not seem clunky to me.

One didn't have to be a kid to be very taken with it in 1977. I was almost 30, and I loved it, although I didn't take it very seriously. I do remember half-defending it to a cinephile friend. I'm embarrassed to say that I did think that "force" business was pretty intriguing.

I've related this half a dozen times recently, but am not sure I've done so here, so apologies if I'm repeating myself, but I distinctly remember sitting in a theater with my wife when the preview (as trailers were called then) for SW came on. We looked at each other and said "We have to see this." No idea what the movie we were watching was. A week or so later we were back, and very surprised to find a long line of people waiting to get in. Didn't have any idea that it was becoming a phenomenon.

Cross-posted with Paul--I was replying to Janet.

Ok, Louise, I have you down for the 24th.

Oh, I wasn't even remembering 2001. Well, as you say, they are such different things.

Your story about the SW trailer reminds me of the first time I found out there was going to be a LotR movie. I had gone to a movie with my daughter and a preview began with men climbing a mountain. The tall people were in front--the hobbits weren't in view. I was wondering what it was, and then the ring appeared in the middle of the screen with the burning runes and I distinctly remember sucking in my breath. I was very excited because everyone looked right. Of course, in the end I was pretty sorry I'd seen it, but that one moment was wonderful.


Have I been given any dates for movie reviews yet?

You aren't on the schedule so far:


But you can pick any dates you want other than the ones already taken. You can have Feb 17 if you want--I only put myself in there to fill out the month, I'm sure there will be no lack of other dates I can use. I couldn't remember whether you had definitely picked specific movies or not, so I looked back in the discussion a couple of weeks ago, and hears what you said--almost definite but not quite:

"I am doing one for Janet in January, in August and in September.

So I will do one for Maclin in any of the other months - for instance, February, June, July, October, November, December.

I think my plan is for
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Man of Marble / Man of Iron
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Les Enfants du Paradis
Au Revoir les Enfants

But I have not completely made up my mind yet!"

I don't remember how I found out about the LOTR movie, but I'm sure I had read or heard about it well in advance of any visual evidence. I can imagine that was a memorable moment, even if it ended in disappointment (as memorable moments so often do ;-/).

Happy to confirm your view of the world.


I love Star Wars, really. We all watch them here regularly, but I certainly don't take it seriously.

I can't say I loved Star Wars. I loved the toys when I was a kid. And when I bought them for my son when the prequels came out. The first two movies (episodes IV and V) were pretty good. The prequels were dismal (except for the duel at the end of episode I). I was dragged to see the new one. Better than the prequels, but not good.

As for LOTR - I remember being excited when I first heard about the movies. But the first time I saw a clip (from Moria) I noticed that Sting was glowing because of the proximity of the orcs but Glamdring wasn't. At that point I realized I was not going to be able to enjoy the movies. I saw the first one anyway and was proven right. I never saw the others.

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