I remember the drive home alone from the cinema after experiencing Revenge of the Sith for the first time. Despite it being more than 16 years ago, the memory remains vivid, as if it happened just yesterday.
It was a very gloomy, grey feeling and the overcast skies were not helping. I had no idea a movie could affect me this much. While I had previously encountered emotional films and poignant moments in cinema, this was unlike any other. There I was still experiencing the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan’s broken heart and Padme’s unwillingness to live, and it lingered with me throughout the remainder of the day.
It made me so sombre, so melancholy, even reflective. As unbelievable as it may seem, it felt as though I just witnessed the lives of real people. I actually thought of Luke and Leia and what was yet to come and as strange as it sounds; I felt deeply sorry for them!
Was this a life-changing moment? Was I actually depressed because of a movie? What on earth is going on?!
I had always loved Star Wars growing up, the franchise’s rich storytelling, memorable characters, and epic battles, but this sealed the deal for me that Star Wars was a major part of my life now.
Where I’m from, back then we had always had this subconscious notion that movies were simply a means of entertainment, not to be taken too seriously. This was the moment I realised movies weren’t just two-dimensional images flickering on screens to sell popcorn; they held a much greater significance, possibly even life-changing in some ways.
I didn’t watch Revenge of the Sith again until a year later I believe. I couldn’t.
When I realised I loved the Prequels
Although I was deeply moved by Revenge of the Sith, I did not realise at the time how much it meant to me. My older mindset on movies couldn’t yet comprehend the depth of its meaning to me I think.
Fast forward a few years later and a once good friend I considered like a brother, tried really hard to convince me the prequels were a complete failure and a huge disappointment. Ironically, it was our shared love for Star Wars that initially brought us together.
George Lucas just “isn’t a good Director”, according to him, before he went on to blabber about all the shortcomings of the prequels as if they were blasphemous. I regretted ever asking why those films were so widely disliked during that period.
I honestly at that time didn’t think the fans could hate these wonderful movies.
He had me this close to doubting my loyalty to these movies, which were such a significant part of my life during those days. We are no longer in each other’s lives for obvious reasons. Did he pull an Anakin on me? Maybe one day I’ll tell that story.
However, even then, it wasn’t the moment when I truly discovered my love for the Prequels.
I always knew Revenge of the Sith was my favourite of the Saga back then, but it wasn’t till the release of The Force Awakens and my lack of enthusiasm after watching it several times that it dawned on me what Lucas did in the late 90s-2000s. Despite some flaws, it was near genius and terribly underappreciated.
That’s when it dawned on me how much I loved the Prequels.
The Force is still Asleep
The Force Awakens awoke nothing in me. It wasn’t bad, however it wasn’t great! Star Wars to me, should be great! Not just good, or acceptable, it had to be great! All “The Force Awakens” really did was confirm just how great the prequels were.
It became evident that Lucas was indeed a true artist, unafraid to experiment with the Empire he had built. He wasn’t merely a run-of-the-mill storyteller. He had what no Disney-employed director had, the ability to execute his vision uninhibited.
The prequels expanded the Star Wars universe and gave way to so many possibilities. The Force Awakens (and subsequent sequels) really just played it safe and recycled many old ideas. Except really for The Last Jedi, but we’ll get into that another time.
The Sequels showed that the minds behind it weren’t daring, bold, adventurous, and willing to take risks. While I understand Disney’s approach to business and the need to sustain intellectual properties, Star Wars inherently embodies all the qualities that the creative team of the Sequels failed to fully embrace.
The Prequels reminds me there was a time when Star Wars was bold, creative, invoking, and imaginative. Did they diverge from the beloved Original Trilogy? Certainly, but in much the same way, the Original Trilogy itself departed from the conventions of sci-fi films during its era.
It almost broke my heart to learn that people openly and vivaciously hated the prequels and if given a chance would’ve nailed George Lucas to a cross for daring to bring his vision to life, especially considering that it was something he had personally built.
In those days I had no idea Star Wars fans could be toxic. I didn’t perceive it as such; I simply assumed that everyone had strong opinions. Until I witnessed the deluge of outright hatred, for something they didn’t create.
As a creative myself I can understand why Lucas just left the franchise to dwindle and eventually left it in the hands of Disney to carry on the legacy. I’m fairly certain that just by expressing my admiration for The Prequels, I might encounter a similar, though on a much smaller scale, level of negativity from the toxic fans.
To this day, I still have the urge to rewatch the Prequels (as well as the Originals), but the same enthusiasm doesn’t extend to the Sequels. I’ve only seen “Rise of Skywalker” once, and that was during its theatrical release, in IMAX.
The live-action series are undeniably well-executed; I genuinely appreciate and enjoy them. However, they do give off a vibe akin to a high-production alternate universe Star Trek series, somewhat resembling “Picard”. While the Obi-Wan series trailer did manage to tug at my heartstrings, the others didn’t really. Nonetheless, they are must-watch entertainment for me.
In other words, they are good, but they don’t quite reach the level of greatness that Star Wars should achieve!
Star Wars without Lucas feels somewhat like Apple without Jobs. While it remains a cash cow that excels in pushing the limits of their respective fields and stands as the best of the best, it’s undeniable that something substantial is missing, like the very soul of the franchise.
The likelihood of Lucas reclaiming his creation to make subsequent films is exceedingly slim, which leaves the Prequels as his final foray into the Star Wars universe at the helm.
That is why I Love the Prequels, at least in part.