A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
After the opening lines, how far can you get? Can you quote, without looking, the scrolling text? Do you know the first spoken lines of the film? How far could you quote into A New Hope?
I bet I could do nearly the whole movie.
But I haven’t seen the film for half a year at least. And, really, I haven’t watched it an inordinate amount of times, really. So why can I quote it? And why can I not even think of the opening scene of The Phantom Menace?
Because The Phantom Menace is a movie. A New Hope, that’s a film, baby. The Phantom Menace, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is just a movie. It’s what you see when there’s nothing else to do or when you want nothing more than a little entertainment. You get pleasure while you watch it, but when it’s over you walk away unchanged by it.
A New Hope, along with the rest of the trilogy, is not like that. There is depth in the story of Luke and the redemption of Anakin. When you watch it, you don’t care about the early-80s graphics and funny clothes. The story is alive and it imparts something to you.
C.S. Lewis once suggested that an artistic piece, in order to be legitimate, needed to either be for pure entertainment alone, or a guardian of true. The Phantom Menace fills one of those conditions. The original trilogy fills both. Dan Brown fills one. Stephen King often fills both.
I wonder how many movies made in the last ten years will be proved to be classics. Can you think of any that will endure and spawn a generation that can quote them from beginning to end like Star Wars and Fiddler On The Roof have?
Funny, none are coming to mind, right now.
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