krpalmer: (europa)
[personal profile] krpalmer
I graduated from university in the spring of 1999, but kept heading back there one weekend a month or so for the rest of that year for the anime club showings (looking for any sort of work, I didn't contemplate starting a collection of my own) and to stay acquainted with my friends. One slow Sunday morning during one of those summer visits, though, I decided to head down to a movie theatre and see The Phantom Menace again. Going to a movie again while it was still in theatres seemed an unprecedented indulgence for me, but I suppose that, after having come out of the opening-night showing in my own home town with a pleased sense of relief I hadn't been offended the way too many others already seemed to have been, had even really liked the movie, I had a feeling of almost wanting to test that first experience. The theatre was almost empty, but I still had the somewhat vague sense that, not having to brace myself in anticipation of some unseen, uncontemplatable moment somehow too terrible to endure, I had liked it more the second time than the first.

After that, though, when the negative drive-by comments didn't stop during the fall and winter and might have even picked up into the spring of the next year and the VHS release, the sense of isolation and the crawling feeling all the "intelligent" responses were dismissive did pile up on me. Discovering [profile] fernwithy's stories helped (which I suppose adds to a current sense of resonant melancholy she didn't "make it into the promised land" herself), but I didn't quite think of making a real effort to move "further on" from them. By the time the movie was released on DVD, I was too miserable and fearful actually experiencing it again would make something crack this time to watch my brother's copy.

Right in some darkest hour after first enjoying Attack of the Clones but then getting weighed down again by the relentless counter-offensive on it, though, I did happen at last to move "further on" and discovered a handful of fans who articulated their positivity. Just in time for the DVD release of the old movies and the leadup to Revenge of the Sith, I was able to rewatch all the Star Wars movies again. Over time, too, I suppose my opinion shifted from "watching just about any sort of movie might make me realise just what's wrong with me" to "I suppose I made a conscious effort of will to view everything positively" to "if there was a distinction drawn between a simple visceral reaction and viewing everything negatively, maybe I'd have more patience with it" to "first you say something positive, and then I'll think of a criticism" to "staying so dyspeptic must be a lot of work"... which may, of course, be a little presumptuous on my part. Some of those previous states of mind, though, might have seemed the same at the time.

In the midst of that calm and resolved mood gained at last, though, came the news that The Phantom Menace would be getting a theatrical re-release as a "3D conversion." The quote about "taking an awful risk" did come to mind. Beyond "general reactions," though, I did wonder a bit about whether "3D conversions" could actually work. For some reason, I kept thinking of some old Viewmaster reels I had of The Black Hole (the period "Star Wars ripoff," I suppose, I was the most intrigued by) where the 3D effect was obvious, but a seeming matter of flat planes standing out in relation to each other. Through the countdown to release, I suppose the feeling built up that once more, I would have to see the movie as soon as I could to form my own opinions all over again...

Deciding on an afternoon showing right after work instead of the early-evening showing, I picked up my red-and-black 3D glasses in their special wrapper and headed into the theatre to at first see it not that full. That might have left me worrying a bit even as I noticed the parents and children with the "some of the people here hadn't even been born when the movie first came out" feeling I'd had in a more abstract way before. Things didn't seem that empty by the time all the previews and the animated short were past, though, and while the audience didn't make a lot of noise I did hear some chuckles at the right points. That seemed better in any case than someone spending the admission premium just to jeer. (Whether someone could somehow start with the thought of "a fresh try" only for that to not work out, though, might yet be a possibility.)

The 3D was there right from the start, of course, and yet I would agree with the comments of it not being "obtrusive." After a while, I was in an odd sort of state where I was thinking less of it than just of "seeing the movie on the big screen again," a state I'm happy to think of as a good one. One lone moment early on, as some fish swam "close by" just as our heroes were entering the underwater bubble city, did make me think of the stereotypical view of 3D movies as putting things right in people's faces, and for the rest of the movie I was wondering about one moment having been "added," just to freak out those obsessed with thoughts of things being "changed on them"... although that might well have been inspired by a recent, maybe even almost playful thought that "if I was in charge" I might indeed seek out old film prints to make Blu-Rays from... and package them with Blu-Rays made with equal care from film prints of the 1997 Special Editions and the "original theatrical releases" of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones and maybe even high-definition versions of the DVDs, stuck in a "Death Star sphere" or something similar and sold as the "Star Wars Evolutions" collection for some exorbitant price. Then, on getting home, I checked my Blu-Ray to see the fish were there, and then, wondering if they had somehow been "added like the new Yoda," I went and checked the DVD I've sort of acquired from my brother and saw they were still there, but also realised the DVD doesn't look as good on my computer screen as the Blu-Ray seems to on my HDTV.

Beyond the little visual details noticed, I even managed to form a fresh interpretation during the movie. While I grew to understand the symbolic significance of Padme identifying herself as Queen Amidala, putting aside her own "mask" and "integrating herself" (I've seen "duality" proposed as a theme of the movie), there had always been uncertain "surface-level" thoughts it was happening at an "arbitrary" time or, perhaps that much more ambiguous, it was "just for effect"... but this time, I was able to think she had concerns her decoy was going to hold herself and the handful of other Naboo too high compared to the Gungans. Whether that added a significant weight against the troubling mild headache I had developed by the start of the podrace (which I continue to find very compelling in its final moments), I don't know. Still, all in all the experience was just fine for me.

Date: 2012-02-14 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lazypadawan.livejournal.com
I think that was another one of Padmé's lightbulb moments. She realized just then what it was going to take to get Boss Nass as an ally.

Date: 2012-02-14 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] krpalmer.livejournal.com
In a sense, I'd always seen that as "what was needed"... the "difficulty" might have been the uncertain feeling it might amount to a pre-calculated performance. As I said, it's nice to have a new interpretation, but now I suppose I can imagine someone saying "George Lucas should have made it one hundred percent obvious!"

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