If ever you cross paths with ardent Star Wars fans, Judge Dennis Prince urges you to offer up a hug; seems these folks really need it.
My other car is an Imperial Starcruiser.
"…and I'd just like to say 'get a life' will ya people. I mean look at you, look at the way you're dressed. You've turned an enjoyable little job that I did…into a colossal waste of time. I mean, how old are you people? What have you done with yourselves?"
So quipped "The Shat" and the shat really hit the fan when he did. Good ol' William Shatner, viewed perpetually as Capt. James T. Kirk to legions of Trekkies, let loose with a sucker punch to his faithful fans when he delivered the stingingly hilarious TrekCon sketch on Saturday Night Live, aired 12/20/86. Although the studio audience roared their approval, certainly some seated in the bleachers felt…what?…belittled, bereft, betrayed? Certainly the fan base had their rebuttal, chastising their once-beloved "skipper" for…again, what?…speaking his mind, calling out convention-goers for their eccentricities, wondering aloud how many still live in their parents' basements?
Of course, non-Trekkies enjoyed this humiliating turn, the verbal chastising of the Trek geeks by their own revered leader. I wonder if the Star Wars fans were laughing along when Shatner delivered the bitter pill, a suppositorily-delivered slapdown? I wonder, then, if the SW contingent might be due the same calibrating by one of their respected leaders. What if Sir Alec Guiness had similarly questioned the Star Wars legions? Maybe he, too, would be confounded by the same fervor on display by fans, they who likewise seem determined to forcibly insert themselves into fantasy worlds of science fiction. Perhaps the Trekkies' dilemma wouldn't seem so funny then, would it?
Perhaps as a premeditated move to head off such public ridicule, amateur
Truth be told, I've been wrestling with the stance I might take in this analysis, wanting to remain professional and respectful of the SW Legions; after all, their deeply-held interests don't affect me one way or another and, so long as they're not hurting anyone in their endeavors, what do I care? To that end, I've tried to convince myself to warm up to the message Macht wants to deliver here, to accept the fans as they are an not blithely dismiss or ridicule them for their passion. I've tried but, even after watching this documentary, I just don't understand the why that drives these fans in what they do. The Star Wars films are great fun and I will proclaim that the first two installments—excuse me, Episode IV and Episode V—are among my favorite modern day sci-fi outings, but to develop a personal lifestyle around some movies just doesn't register with me.
And if you claim I just don't get the genre itself or the element of fandom, you're wrong.
I grew up with my eyes glued to genre television and would attend every dollar matinee my mom would underwrite back in my day (we're talking the 1970s so don't assume I never lived during the SW phenomenon; hey, man, I was there as it was unveiled). And as much as I enjoyed Darth Vader at fourteen years old, I never wanted to be him or any of the other characters. I never dreamed of working the summer at Uncle Bill's place on Tatooine or cruising off to Alderaan on a whim (would've been a bad bet, right?). I enjoyed Luke's landspeeder but never taxed my brain trying to discover how to unlock the mystery of its operation. At the time, I failed to grasp the purported parallels to Christianity within the first film but Mom was on hand to enlighten me about the Christ-like Obi Wan who became more powerful and pervasive in death than he ever was in life. But, hey Mom, whatever because this is just a cool "space movie." And that's all it was and ever has ever been to me: a really cool space movie. I certainly developed a fascination for the film but that was firmly centered on its execution within our temporal world, not fantasizing I could become an intergalactic smuggler and evade incarceration thanks to my trusty Millennium Falcon. Through the pages of Cinefantastique, Famous Monsters of Filmland, and Starlog, I learned about the actors, the filmmakers, and the blue screen technology that gave us sights we had never enjoyed to this extent before. Naturally, I dutifully stood in line for thirty minutes to see The Empire Strikes Back during opening weekend, and I loved it. This was great film; that's all, just film. Understand that I appreciate the passion these folks have for Father Lucas' canon. I can also confidently assert that I, too, have many of my own interests that situate me firmly within the "geek" realm. Somehow, though, this just seems a bit too much.
But these people have a passion and who am I to raise a judgmental eyebrow to that? Frankly, my perspective shouldn't matter much to these people, they who have numerous off-site storage pods stuffed with collectibles, they who form self-governed organizations to ensure costuming is faithfully recreated and properly adorned (lest the non-fans ever think this is some sloppy legion), and they who happily display large tattoos depicting whomever or whatever it might be that struck their fancy within the scope of the six movies. These fans love all of this and I appreciate that, but never does Macht's documentary attempt objectivity. Macht has assembled a varied collection of interviewees yet they're all among the converted, nary a single opposing voice included to balance the discussion and drive a more compelling dialog or debate. And, isn't it curious that Macht never appears on screen? He doesn't even provide any narrative voiceover (save for the optional audio commentary) to the proceedings, seemingly abandoning his "kin" and leaving them to fend for themselves. Is that the Jedi creedo?
Well, if you're among the converted, you'll probably like this DVD, a reasonably well done disc by the amateur Macht. The content is a mixed bag of digital and analog video content so expect to see the image quality waver, never unwatchable by any means but not as polished as a pro job might be. It's framed at a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio yet, unfortunately, isn't anamorphically enhanced (the image will float within your flat panel display in windowbox fashion). The audio is offered in simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix that's suitable yet, again because of the varying qualities of the source elements, this will be inconsistent, too. Beyond the 86-minute feature content, there are plenty of additional interview segments including answers to the question, "what Star Wars items do you want to be buried with" along with extended interviews with the folks that sojourned to Finse, Norway (you know, the ice planet of Hoth). Several promo spots are also included along with photo galleries. Macht does surface, along with his wife, Cortney, on the alternate audio commentary track. Here, the couple discuss the making of the documentary and developing the DVD, along with additional explanation for why these fans are the way they are. By the end of all the material, I could only hear Shakespeare echoing in my head: "Methinks he doth protest too much."
If you want a copy of this DVD for yourself, you'll need to visit the official website since it presently doesn't have an Amazon ASIN number. Finding one for rent might be difficult although I can only expect someone within the fan base will rip it and distribute copies to fellow friends/fans. Although Macht rightly discourages such piracy, it's bound to happen. Hell, that's what Han Solo would do, wouldn't he?
Or maybe, at this point, you're just shaking your head at me and saying, 'how wude!"
Jar Jar Binks, right?
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