Of Star Wars and the Eiffel Tower

The last couple of weeks have been very busy for me.  Trying to keep pace with three grandsons isn’t easy – where do they get that much energy?  My work has been extra busy and stressful and just the normal details of life seem to be ganging up on me.

It would be easy for me to slip into a depression and just sit on the couch and watch old WWII movies until dawn but I am going to resist that urge.  I’ve decided to do something else (okay, I’ll admit to watching, “Enemy Below” once this weekend).  Yesterday I spent a good part of the day in the workshop cutting the parts for Christmas presents.  Got three well under way and the next step will be sanding and painting.  I am working on a couple of designs but am a little stuck on the creative front and rather than fight it I’ve put them design work aside for the moment.

I now have a couple of hours of video on my computer from Paris and from the grandsons current visit that I am still hoping to edit but I did get the car’s smog check done yesterday.  Oh and while I am on random thoughts, here is a picture of the Eiffel Tower:

Eiffel Tower

And a cannon from the Army museum in Paris:

Small ceremonial cannon.

That’s a bit like my life this last week – just as I’ve started to get going on something – wham – priorities change or a giving attention to a kid is just way more interesting than my bank statements and updating the budget.

Take the other night when I was getting depressed about something (who knows what, I can get depressed about being depressed – Call me, Eeyore) and I came apron our ten-year old grandson “B” talking to his uncle about Star Wars. Uncle came down to visit for a few days and provide us older folks with a little relief from kid duty.  Uncle and B were trying to figure out which characters were alive in all six movies and since I am a recognized expert on everything, I was naturally consulted.  Well it was quite the conversation.  First was the needed definition of terms – for example should we consider C3-PO and R2-D2 as “living” and did we mean living or appeared or were mentioned in the movies.

As I recall uncle and I soon hijacked the conversation and started in directions that I am sure B hadn’t intended the conversation to go.  We did come to some conclusions but bed time came (my bed time that is) and I left uncle and B to carry on with the analysis.

Driving to work the next day I wondered what B must have thought of the whole conversation.  Well, he clearly enjoyed whatever it was we talked about because the next night when his younger brothers were packed off to bed, B announced, “let’s talk about Star Wars.”

I thought, “What the heck,” as it was either talk about Star Wars or start on that budget so I sat down.  The question was, “Who are your five favorite characters.”  So naturally uncle and I lead the conversation in to the nature of good and evil as expressed in the film. Uncle told us a better order in which to watch the films with what I thought was a very well thought out argument. We suggested that a better first movie would have been the story of Yoda as a young Jedi and how the character of Anakin was the real pivotal character and the over all arc of the six movies was really about Anakin’s struggle with good and evil.  I even recall a long bit where I talked about how George Lucas was influenced by the writings of Joseph Campbell (forget why I bought that up).

I don’t think we ever answered B’s question but he didn’t seem to mind.  During the conversation I realized that B’s experience with Star Wars was much different from mine and an interesting example of that literary theory called reader-response. The theory focuses on how the experiences of the reader shape their experience of a text (or movie in this case).  In theory each reader of a text will draw different meanings based on their life experiences including education, work, and what other texts they have experienced.

For example, I’ve always found that Luke was the central character to the story and that the later movies (chapters 1 to 3) were just filling in the details that made Luke’s world and were the reasons for Luke’s fight (or quest if you view it from a Campbell perspective).

However, B just thought that Luke was a ‘lame’ secondary character and that the whole Star Wars cycle was really about the ‘cool’ character of Anakin.  In B’s view Luke was just Anakin’s son and the real story was about how Anakin fell into darkness but in the end was able to fight the evil and redeem himself by killing the emperor.

The difference in views can be explained in part by the different order in which we viewed the movies.  I was 17 when the first movie, chapter 4, came out and in that film there was no Anakin, just the evil Darth Vader.  It wasn’t until later films that it was reviled that Anakin was Darth Vader and was Luke’s father.  It was more than two decades later before movies for chapters 1-3 were made and we learned of Anakin’s history and fall into evil.

B’s experience with the story is different.  He has always had all six movies to watch and started watching with chapter 1 – the childhood of Anakin.  In B’s watching of the films, Luke doesn’t appear until chapter 4 and looks more like a character being molded and equipped by Obi-Wan and Yoda to fight the evil emperor and Darth Vader.  To B the story is all about the fight between good and evil as represented by Yoda and the emperor.

Before I could explain all this to B gran came out and announced bed time.  Sadly B was deprived of my grand insight.

And now I realize that I’ve written far more than I intended on a subject that hadn’t even been in my plan when I started writing and it is way past my bed time.  May the force be with you.

Good night.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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3 Responses to Of Star Wars and the Eiffel Tower

  1. YAPCaB says:

    Never thought about Star Wars this much! Some interesting perspectives here.


    • Andrew says:

      Our grandson is seriously obsessed with Star Wars – he rarely discusses anything else so I’ve had a log of chances this month to explore the finer points of Star Wars theory…


  2. deb reilly says:

    Thank you for sharing this snippet of your life with us. How lucky you, B, Uncle and Gran are.


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