Last night, my wife and I sat down and watched a riff on Phantom Menace and it got me thinking about something I’ve talked about before in passing, that I think Star Wars ended in 1983 with the release of Return of the Jedi. Sure, many movies have been released since that bore the name Star Wars, but those aren’t Star Wars in the same sense that the original trilogy was.
See, movies, and it isn’t just Star Wars but all “classic” movies, are a product of their time. They are the perfect synthesis of a particular kind of writing and a particular kind of direction to produce a memorable movie. Even something like the Universal Monster Movies couldn’t have been done at a different time in history because movies weren’t the same outside of a very small window when they were made. I mean, try to picture the classic 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi. Now try imagining them making the same movie, with the same cast, the same director and the same script, in 1951. Or 1981. Or 2001. It simply wouldn’t be the same. Whether or not it’s a good movie, it still wouldn’t be that movie. And in the case of Star Wars or the original Star Trek series, all of the magic, at least in my opinion, is a combination of a particular script or set of scripts, a particular set of actors and directors, and a certain feeling that only came from the era in which it was made. It’s virtually impossible to recreate that feeling unless you exist within that specific era. You couldn’t remake Citizen Kane and have it be the same movie. You couldn’t remake 2001: A Space Odyssey and have it be the same movie. It just can’t be done.
Mel Brooks says that you simply couldn’t make Blazing Saddles today because the culture has changed (for the worse IMO). You couldn’t make a lot of films from the 70s and 80s today for the same reason. They wouldn’t have the same look, they wouldn’t have the same feel and they certainly wouldn’t be written or acted or directed the same because all of those things are a product of their time as well. I don’t want a Star Wars movie, I want Star Wars. I want that particular moment in cinematic history that will never come again. I’m not attracted to the general Star Wars universe, I’m attracted to the original three movies and that’s it. I’m not a fan of the overall Star Trek universe, I am a fan of the original series and that’s it. Nothing that comes later will ever recapture the look and feel of the original. Flashy ships and huge explosions don’t replace the feeling of the original. It can’t. People should stop trying to do it because they will always fail.
I figure no one will ever agree with me and that’s fine, but when people ask me what I mean when I say Star Wars ceased to be in 1983 or Star Trek stopped in 1969, that’s what I mean. That show, those movies, complete with the look and feel and all of the details that went along with them, those stopped being made and could not be made in any time period outside of the ones that they were. And that’s what I am a fan of. You’re welcome to be a fan of anything you like. I just don’t have to agree with you.