krpalmer: (europa)
[personal profile] krpalmer
Fifteenth anniversaries seem the odd ones out, lost between tenth and twentieth and not as important as fifth or twenty-fifth. They may be around where things change from "this has lasted for a while now, hasn't it?" to "time's really started to pass." There's a particular fifteenth anniversary, though, that previous circumstances have made a bit more important just to me.

On May 19, 2004, I doubt I was thinking very much about how it had been five years since The Phantom Menace had opened. The opening-night high of "You know what--I liked it!" had wound up seeming small consolation in the face of an uninterrupted tide of every shade of displeasure, anger, and contempt building on the first rumblings that had tailed me into the theatre. The impression the frenzy had started off levelled against the primal sin of broad comedy relief but sloshed over from there to swallow every other element and instant of the film, and then of the movie that followed, didn't help much either. Something all but inarticulate inside me still held me back from just giving in and joining the throng, who didn't seem to be having much fun at it anyway, but as if to keep from facing the hard evidence I feared would get through to me this time I'd pulled back from Star Wars as a whole. That, though, didn't help when off-topic explosions of negativity would get tossed in to other discussions I was trying to follow, which pushed me away from certain other things as well.

Just a few months after that, though, I worked up the courage to follow a link from the personal page of someone I'd discovered serendipitously a while before who'd been positive and articulate about the new Star Wars movie as part of a whole, and found an additional handful of people with the same positivity and ability to articulate a compelling, satisfying interpretation of all the movies together, something a good many people hadn't quite seemed to bother with even before 1999. Things carried on from there, and on May 19, 2009 for all that there had been a few twists and turns along the way I'd no doubt have been ready to say something on the tenth anniversary... except for my being at sea on vacation, rationing out just enough online time to load some posts for offline reading but not quite able to compose responses to them.

Fifteen years may have been a long time to say something "retrospective" at "an appropriate moment," then. Reflecting on it reminds me how I'd just got out of university when the movie opened, and now those around the age the movie seemed to be aimed at, as some people more my age continue to be very worked up about, are in or getting out of university themselves. However, it also does seem to be a long time to cling to a sense of disappointment, the equivalent of someone in 1999 continuing to complain every chance they got about 2010: The Year We Make Contact (for a random example and inexact analogy)... although there I can imagine the rejoinder that this just proves how much the old Star Wars movies meant to them and how far the first new one had fallen from them. I have come to wonder, though, about just what people who say things like that seem to cling to in the old movies anyway, and whether optically composited special effects and strings of one-liners seem that important to have dwelt on for so long...

There's also the thought that maybe the condemnation got to seem over the top, even if that may run the risk of "blaming the victim." If it hadn't wound up seeming a matter of condemning everything, maybe I wouldn't have felt sorry for Jar Jar to the point of altogether dodging the tricky question of "comedy relief" by contemplating that he might not be a "mindless reactor," but in fact someone always all too aware of the unfortunate things happening to him without managing to do anything about it; if there had seemed to be gradations of criticism between the movies, I might even have tried supposing "things really picked up with Attack of the Clones." Instead, I wound up thinking I was "working" at being unoffended and positive, to the point where I can wonder if that's no less unnatural than clinging to a sense of offense for fifteen years with occasional not that funny "jokes" instead of getting over it with a few wry thoughts on reaches exceeding grasps and other human foibles; it may just be possible to wonder just how hard some are working at being negative, and if that may even start to hint things aren't so "obvious" as they insist. Of course, the recent premiere of a new "Hollywood" Godzilla movie does seem to have led at least a few people to drag out the previous attempt from 1998 at that for fresh condemnation, but even there they don't seem to have maintained uninterrupted misery about it.

After all the worries and suspicions from some of my fellow "prequel appreciators" that the new management is making every effort to push the old movies and ignore the new in the leadup to even newer movies that might not seem that "new" in the end (although I wonder if the recent announcement many Star Wars novels aren't going to be as "canonical" any more has alienated a certain slice of those who focused on spinoffs to the point of dissatisfaction with the whole of the original movies), news of an iPad application devoted to The Phantom Menace did get my attention. I suppose I ought to buy it, but penny wise and pound foolish I've been dwelling on big orders of video discs and old issues of computer magazines bought through online auctions to the point of steering away from spending money on new programs. Still, it's something.
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