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Thread: Watching SW with my kids

  1. #1

    Watching SW with my kids

    Before I had kids, I knew EXACTLY how I was going to show them Star Wars. I was going to start with A New Hope, because that sets up the world more elegantly than anything else, explaining what the Force is, and what Jedi are, and even what a lightsaber is. I was going to end with Jedi, because that is a satisfying conclusion. I certainly wasn't going to open with the prequels, which spoil both "I am your father" AND the identity of Yoda. No, I was going to treat the prequels like an extended flashback between ESB and ROTJ.

    Then I had my kids, and their unique personalities and preferences totally @#$@##$ed up my plan. And it was awesome.

    First of all, we're gonna have to wait on AOTC and ROTS. At three and five, they're way too young for the violence of ROTS, and frankly, even AOTC goes over the top for the little ones (for my taste, as always YMMV). My son and I have great times together, and I don't relish the thought of showing him the movie where the little boy and his dad have awesome adventures together, "Get 'im, dad!" right up until the point where the dad is decapitated by the good guys, credits. So those are out for now.

    Also, when I showed ANH to them, it didn't QUITE hold their attention. In a world with Pixar movies and where the pace of SW has become dominant, what was once considered a movie that rushed by FAR too fast is positively glacially paced today. ANH takes quite some time to show us Luke, and after the initial Tantive IV fight, there is a lot of talking before more action. Lots of exposition, lots of characters being introduced, lots of world-setting-up, which is a little much for them. They're used to a little more hand-holding.

    They enjoyed ANH, but it wasn't gripping them. ESB, however, they LOVED. My three year-old daughter was totally absorbed, giving a constant running commentary that was a hysterical (to this proud papa) mix of "wow, that's what it looks like to her" and "hm, she's right, I never noticed that." Luke goes in the bacta tank to wash off after being covered in snow. Then he jumps off an AT-AT and -- she sighs heavily -- gets himself all covered in snow again. Luke leaves the ice planet but how can he? His ship is all wrecked! And the big bear makes funny noises because he's stuck to the ladder (which is why he cries when they shut the base doors at night). And she also narrated the action scenes breathlessly. "Can he do it? Can he do it? Is he gonna do it? HE DID IT!"

    They were suitably sad when Han got frozen ("when you're a block you can't talk") and needed reassuring that he'd be okay. Spoilers are the rule in our house, because they can't handle the suspense if they don't know it will work out in the end. We DID preserve "I am your father," though, and I had to ask the kids to pay particular attention to the dialogue at that moment so they wouldn't miss it. Then they were very sad. "Why is his father a bad guy?"

    It's funny, after years of accepting the popular view that the prequels didn't NEED to be made, for artistic purposes anyway, my kids clearly thought they were the most important part. Defeating all the bad guys is important and all, but what they REALLY wanna know is -- why is Luke's dad a bad guy? How does a thing like that happen!?

    Then ROTJ completely redeemed itself for me (I've never been its biggest fan). I don't know that I've ever seen either of my kids enjoy a movie moment as much as they enjoyed seeing the ewoks attack. When 3PO (the guy that owns R2, Seeyagreepo) says "Were you looking for me?" and the Ewoks emerge from the bushes, my kids literally leapt up, jumped forward and started whooting and cheering. They were SHOCKED and delighted. It was awesome. Then they cheered just about everything the ewoks did. And then, of course, they were worried about Luke getting off the Death Star in time, and then they loved seeing fireworks and all the different places celebrating the end of the bad guys.

    It's funny and surprising seeing these movies from their perspective. The ewoks and the prequels, two features of SW that I (an OT die-hard) have always considered George selling out for merchandise and making lesser movies as a result, make a lot more sense to me now. They were exactly what my kids focused on.

    I've let them watch TPM because it has the pod race and a little boy who beats the bad guys (and I felt SOME satisfaction as a smug OT purist that the movie with the more up-to-date special effects and the little boy and the cool race didn't hold their attention as much as ROTJ, because what really kept them focused was wanting to see if the evil empire would be destroyed and what would happen with Luke's dad -- you know, the STORY). And eventually they'll see AOTC, though I may still have to "accidentally" hit "skip scene" on the remote when Anakin starts talking about killing "the women and the children" in the sandpeople camp. But I do think they'll have to be much older before they see ROTS, what with the whole "let's watch Anakin get his limbs chopped off and burned alive while he screams 'I hate you' at his friend" thing.

  2. #2
    Did you have a question?
    He's a winner. Billy Mitchell is absolutely a winner.

  3. #3
    That's awesome man! I love that they got into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by darthdwight View Post
    Did you have a question?
    Wow. Missed the whole point, huh?
    Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

  4. #4
    I liked it, you didn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by DagMarus View Post

    Wow. Missed the whole point, huh?
    PS Since you don't get my sense of humour and somehow manage to get up at the wrong side of the bed every single ****ing day anyway you can consider yourself ignored, partyboy.
    Last edited by darthdwight; 09-06-2013 at 06:02 AM.
    He's a winner. Billy Mitchell is absolutely a winner.

  5. #5
    LOL Partyboy. I've never heard that used as an insult. And since, I know you're probably going to read this anyway, I'm going to ask...what did you "Like" that I did not...
    Last edited by DagMarus; 09-06-2013 at 08:47 AM.
    Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

  6. #6
    That's great Law! I appreciate and can relate to your experience: I think whenever you're able to enjoy these films with kids, and see their reaction-- which is always so pure and visceral, and just magical, then that part of me that is cynical, overly-criticial and analytical, melts away and I enjoy the ride with them. Then after it's all over, I come to my senses and still think the Prequels are utter crap.

    It's like watching Dora or The Wiggles with little kids: They're so invested and it's through them you're able to bear these insipid messes. These kids shows are just a lot of sound and fury and bright colors-- but nothing more, unlike something like Sesame Street, which is sprinkled with such witty, clever and ingenious references and thoughtfulness. And that's the difference between the OT and the Prequels to me: The OT is like Sesame Street that both kids and us big kids can enjoy because there are layers to be understood and appreciate. The Prequels are like Dora-- just flashy bright colors to attract your attention for that moment, but ultimately soulless, just barren.

    I always feel a bit disappointed whenever kids don't prefer TPM to the other prequels, though. I always thought it was truest to George's old-fashion sensibilities as a simple fairy tale for all ages. It's the only Prequel that still retains a sense of restraint and sophistication, for me. Other than the rich and extremely referential designs, the story outline is a simple and classic fairy tale/ mythology that I would like kids today to have appreciated. I've always preferred the old Brothers Grimm fairy tales to their Disney counterparts (and the 90s ones are so unbearable to me with their mugging and OTT musical-styling), even as a little kid. And that is the difference to me between TPM and the remainder of the Prequels; they're actually worlds apart to me. The latter two are charmless, ugly and tacky messes that, besides completely lacking the thoughtfulness, passion, innovation and vision of the OT, utterly missed the simple old-fashion charm and (design) sophistication of TPM.
    Last edited by farmer; 09-06-2013 at 02:32 PM.

  7. #7
    My kids are also 3 and 5. The Ewok scenes in Return of the Jedi are also their favorite parts.

  8. #8
    Seeing ROTJ for the first time as a kid I too thought 3PO owned R2, forgot about that until now.
    He's a winner. Billy Mitchell is absolutely a winner.

  9. #9
    It's funny to get these windows into what the movies look like to kids. I had forgotten that when I was little, I thought the attack on Hoth was a total surprise -- as in, "The rebel forces heard big footsteps, and some ice fell onto R2's head, and then they looked through their binoculars, and these giant robots came out of nowhere and stepped on them!"

    It's amusing to me that I was able to piece together all the correct information the movie was giving out -- this was a surprise ambush, the rebels were aware of the advancing AT-AT's, and so on -- but still came to the slightly wrong conclusion.

    And I really was pleasantly surprised that the kids liked ROTJ more because of the story beats, even though TPM is faster paced and has more modern effects.

    Seeing the movies with them also reminded me, for the first time in ages, of how distinct each movie in the original trilogy really is.

    A New Hope is almost an art movie, with its relatively slow-paced opening, goofy comedy duo in the droids, and the slow reveal of the mythology of the universe -- we see the opening battle, and then we're introduced to these aliens and this desert world and it doesn't really become a "summer blockbuster" until the Death Star rescue.

    ESB is a classic comic book adventure -- no beginning, no ending, and everything we DO see is extremely episodic. As I was trying to explain to my kids what was happening, I realized how often we were just jumping all over the place. Luke has to escape the snow monster, and now there's a bad guy robot, and now there's a big battle, and now Luke is going to the swamp planet, and now Han and Leia are running from the bad guys, and now they're escaping from a space worm, and now . . . It is almost a series of "mini adventures" that come together to form a whole. Not only are the heroes separated, but a lot of the events themselves (like the Wampa bit, or the space worm) are somewhat isolated little mini-stories.

    And then ROTJ is a traditional early- to mid-eighties action picture. Lone hero must save friends from vile drug dealer. Elite squad of commandos has to blow up a bunker. Teddy bears provide comic relief. I think they enjoyed it the most, apart from the Ewoks, because of all three (all four, counting TPM) it had the most straightforward story. They weren't constantly feeling like "Well, now, wait, who the hell's THAT guy? And what happened to that other stuff? That part's over now, then? OK -- well, but, wait, then, who the hell's THAT guy?!"

  10. #10
    I really wouldn't know what would be the best order to watch these movies. I hope you did the right thing and that it works out well when they eventually see episodes 2 and 3. I remember I really wanted to see that movie where they were flying on these cool bikes through the woods and my brother explained to me it was a space movie because it was called Star Wars. I was just hoping the movie wouldn't take too long before they would show that scene, but then it began and I was COMPLETELY BLOWN AWAY with it. I was left intrigued with why they rescued that bad guy with the boney mask from the Sarlacc pit as well and I knew I didn't miss anything because I had paid real close attention. Then they sent Luke to dagobah because they came up with this design of a little green guy, and then he tells Luke these EXTREMELY IMPORTANT things... and then he dies because they also had this idea of a blue shiny guy and he tells Luke some more important things. That was just marvelous. By the end of the movie I was so absorbed that the emperor had not even registered in my memory and it wasn't until a few years later that he suddenly popped up in there. There was just too much to go over and over in my head. When I eventually saw SW I thought "O, they're gonna blow up another Death Star. A boring one this time." By the time I saw ESB I started to realize that they were just telling this exact story all along and to me only the Lando bit was interesting. But I'm fine with it.
    He's a winner. Billy Mitchell is absolutely a winner.

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