I know a few of you out there have yet to see the new movie, so I will reveal none of the supposedly surprising plot details. Nor will I judge The Force Awakens according to the standards of contemporary comic-book movies; I have no expertise there. The group of experts with whom I saw the movie last night all agreed afterwards that it is awesome.
Also, I freely acknowledge that I teared-up at the beginning, as the new installment opened just as the original had. I thought of how much I love the people I first saw Star Wars with, shortly before my seventh birthday–some living, some dead.
As I see it, the fundamental difference between the movie of 1977 and the movie of 2015 is this: In 1977, people sat down and talked to each other sometimes. Not so much in 2015. At least not in The Force Awakens.
In 1977, Luke sat and talked with Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen over breakfast. He sat and talked with Obi Wan in the aging Jedi’s Tatoonine hermitage. Luke even sat and chillaxed with C3P0 and R2D2.
The bad guys sat and talked in 1977. Admiral Tarkin presided over a sit-down meeting on the Death Star, at which Darth Vader distinguished himself as particularly evil by not sitting down. (By the bye, Peter Cushing managed a level of sinister in 1977 that makes Domhall Gleeson’s 2015 General Hux look like Bart Simpson by comparison. But, to my point…)
In 1977, Wookie, droid, and human sat around on the Millennium Falcon and talked theology.
The only sit-down in the new movie occurs in the barroom scene. But the strange, female ET character can’t manage to stay in her seat. She insists on crawling across the table.
Meanwhile, in 1977, they sat in the barroom, and the immortal line about making the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs entered the patrimony of our English tongue.
It makes me weep a little now to think about how, in 1977, we sat and talked. We did it all the time. I became who I am sitting and talking, at the seat closest to the refrigerator, at the kitchen table, conversing with the fascinating people who lived in, and who visited, 3741 McKinley St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
The Force Awakens is fun enough. Kylo Ren actually makes a respectable, gaunt successor to Darth Vader–no mean achievement. And having the ruins of old Imperial military equipment as the furniture of life on the planet Jakko–really brilliant.
But sitting and talking beats Star Wars 2015 by many orders of magnitude, when it comes to interesting ways to spend 2 1/2 hours. After all, the real “Force” is divine love. And divine love moves people to sit and talk to each other.