I'm probably gonna get my you-know-what's cut off with a light saber for writing this, but I guess I'll take the plunge.
I am excited for Star Wars, but I can't get myself to be as excited as I feel I should be.
Don't get me wrong. (Have you noticed that whenever anybody writes 'Don't get me wrong', what they really mean is 'please don't beat the crap out of me for what I'm about to say?')
So, as I was saying...don't get me wrong.
I love Star Wars. I love Hans Solo and Chewy and that crazy chess game (I think it's called Dejarik) and Darth Vader's seeming emphysema and Luke's innocence and Obi-Wan's wisdom and the bickering-like-an-old-couple ramblings of C-3PO and R2D2.
I love that Yoda talks like most of the old men I met at the synagogue when I was growing up.
But c'mon, people. Can we just admit that Star Wars is mostly a pretty good Western? And again, don't get me wrong...I love a pretty good Western.
But you know what I really love?
A great Western.
And that would be any Western that taunts us with nuance.
Is Walter Huston in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre good, bad, or indifferent? Is he driven by the same greed as he compatriots or is he driven by a kind of voyeuristic and perhaps even addictive desire to watch the folly of men? Is Gary Cooper in High Noon 100% correct in going back? After all, he's sworn off violence. He's just married a Quaker. And still, what's he say? What's that great line?
"I have to go," he tells his wife. "That's the whole thing."
The "whole thing" could mean about a zillion different things, and that's the fun and anxiety that a great Western engenders. (And it isn't lost on me that the trailer in High Noon has words going by on the screen just like at the beginning of Star Wars...)
So, go enjoy Star Wars. Enjoy the good guys and the bad guys. Groan like Chewy. Swing your light saber with abandon. Revel in The Force.
I'm gonna do all that, and I'll probably see this new movie more than once.
But be careful not read too much into the story. Star Wars is fun precisely because it lacks subtlety. That' not a problem, of course, unless you think what you're watching is profound when it's not.
I know, I know. It is pretty cool when Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." But that's not a particularly intense or mystical revelation. That's what you say to yourself when you have to finish exercising.
It doesn't hold a candle to Gary Cooper referring to "the whole thing."
Look. I'm all for non-profound fun. I just can't imagine making more of Star Wars than it already is. It's more than enough to talk about good guys and bad guys. That's an age-old story line and we should just kick back and enjoy.
May the force be with all of you. There will be time for subtlety in other films.
Steve Schlozman is the author of The Zombie Autopsies, Smoke Above Treeline, and a number of short stories. He practices child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
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