One of the big questions I like to think about in regards to the classical world is what it must’ve been like to have stories of myth so universally engrained in your daily life as Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey.
In the modern world, we don’t have much to compare that to. Back then, you’d walk down to the fountain to grab your day’s worth of water and there would be a scene from the Odyssey staring you in the face. You’d go to the market to buy your meat and see three or four scenes from the Illiad along the way.
In our time, nothing even comes close. Not even the Bible. About 1/3rd of the world is Christian, but we don’t see scenes from Christian myth plastered around HEB or Walmart. We don’t see Jesus and his disciples while we’re watching TV or learning in school.
There is, however, one tale of fantasy that comes close: Star Wars. See any Star Wars merchandise on your last trip to the grocery store? Did you see ads for it in magazines? What about references in pop culture? TV? Film? The story of Star Wars is one so deeply engrained in our culture that you can’t escape it. Even if you’ve never seen the films, even if you don’t know all the references, you still know Star Wars.
It’s for that reason I was so excited when my friend offered me a spare ticket to go see the new Star Wars film – The Last Jedi – on opening night. Yes, I admit, I might be a bigger Trekkie than I am a Star Wars fan, but there’s still a certain giddiness that I get when I think about a tale that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
That doesn’t mean I wasn’t hesitant, though. The first film in the new trilogy, The Force Awakens, really put a bad taste in my mouth. There was so much fluff and blatant disrespect for the audience that it made me sick. I mean, in all honesty, it was A New Hope, just with a bigger Death Star. We can all agree on that. The writers didn’t respect their audience enough to give them a new story or new ideas. All they wanted were cheap moments of “Hey! I remember that!”, and a few laughs along the way (thanks, Disney). It was disappointing to say the least.
The Last Jedi, however, was anything but. It was smart. It was witty. It was interesting and different. Even during the few moments of eye-rolling callbacks, I remained attentive and intrigued. The entire film captivated me and didn’t let go. All three hours of it…
Even though there were a few moments where I immediately drew parallels to previous films (no doubt you will, too), they were cut short by a quick curveball from the writers. A quick-witted piece of dialogue or an interesting twist of fate kept me constantly second guessing my expectations.
Those moments brought new life into the franchise. I’ll admit that after The Force Awakens, I had a pretty sour taste in my mouth for Star Wars, and I still don’t know how I feel about a new one coming out every year for the foreseeable future. Regardless, The Last Jedi made me realize that there’s hope for the franchise yet. If the writers keep up with this caliber of wit, humor, and storytelling, I’ll be captivated for years to come.
See Star Wars: The Last Jedi if:
You’re a human being born after 1890.
You’re a carbon-based life form.
You breathe a mixture of oxygen, nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide.