My son loves Star Wars.
I have to admit I loved Star Wars back in the days when there was just one film, then two and three, but I’ve always been more of a Trekkie (even if I enjoy Babylon 5 and a handful others as well, including the stuffy Space 1999). It follows that I never felt any enthusiasm over the ‘prequel’ films – even the names have evaded me – so I’m virtually clueless when it comes to how Darth Vader came to be. What I know of it mostly comes from playing Lego Star Wars with my son.
This past spring I caved in and let my son watch the very first Star Wars film. I thought him too young but he and his friend loved playing Lego Star Wars and he begged and begged and begged to see at least the first film. I gave in.
Maybe not a surprise, given my love for science fiction, even if I truthfully think of Star Wars as more in the high fantasy genre.
As he can’t read yet it means I have to read all the lines for him, reading off the subtitles (but sometimes I improvise, because the subtitles are too far from the original intent and tone).
Anyway, he was a bit scared, that first time, because he felt it too real. A couple of months later he encountered the animated Clone Wars series, watching with his older second cousin. He explained to me it wasn’t as scary as the figures clearly wasn’t real. Then last week he started to nag me about watching the two other films, and a couple of days ago we started with Empire Strikes Back. Yesterday evening we watched the last part of Return of the Jedi.
Afterwards it was one thing that stayed with him – why Luke had to fight his father. In his world no son should have to do this, and I agree with him. BUT. I never thought of it that way. To me Darth Vader was truly evil, some one to be scared of.
The difference is my son knows a) Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, so no surprise effect in the films, and b) he likes Anakin, he’s a good guy, and the Evil Emperor (as my son labels him) has perverted him, by force.
It follows that my son never ever thinks Darth Vader scary, taking away a lot of the tension from the films. But it also means that to him the very last scene – when the the ghost of Anakin joins the ghosts of Yoda and Obi-Wan – is crucial, because it means Anakin gets redress, is exonerated, which is a relief to anyone used to thinking of him as ‘good’.
While to me that last scene is just a general feel-good moment and not terribly important.
What a difference a couple of decades and more knowledge of the back story can do.
Amazing. And perhaps a lesson in itself.