If your family was anything like mine when I was a kid, your mother probably made you watch The Wizard of Oz. And if you were anything like me, you probably liked the movie well enough, but the “magic” of seeing the movie transform over to color was lost on you, because… color? Duh. That was nothing special.
I didn’t truly appreciate what my mom was showing me until I made my kids watch the original Star Wars. They enjoyed the story, the characters, the Ewoks (hey, they’re kids, after all)… but were less than impressed with the special effects. In these days of CGI, blue screens, and 3-D in eye candy such as Avatar, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, kids are nonplussed with the models and puppets that blew our minds just a few decades ago.
When your kids are old enough to appreciate the creativity that went into crafting those now “old-fashioned” scenes, explain how the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han pushed the envelope for special effects and laid the foundation for a golden age in science fiction and fantasy movies. Without Star Wars, it’s doubtful we’d have the movies that set the new standard for today. In fact, the very technology that blended real photography and digital graphics in Star Wars was used by James Cameron to bring to life the world of Pandora in Avatar.
And outdated special effects or not, Star Wars is required viewing for your kids. If for no other reason, there are so many pop culture references that missing out on this rite of passage will leave them with a social handicap. More importantly, it’s a timeless plot that encompasses the foundational elements which American mythologies are based on. There’s the battle of good and evil, a journey of a hero, a wise mentor who is lost, and a boon that results in the saving of a civilization. Show your kids this story with themes of struggle and transcendence now, and watch how they will appreciate reading The Odyssey and The Lord of the Rings later.
You can also share with them the article below which appeared in Cobblestone, our American history themed magazine for kids ages 9 to 14. This article is all about the transition from old-school special effects to the more modern computer-generated imagery (CGI) used today and how it was CGI and not puppetry that brought Yoda to life in Return of the Jedi.
Cricket Media Mama to Star Wars: “I love you.”
Star Wars to Cricket Media Mama: “I know.”