Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Star Wars vs. Backstory

So there's 3 year-old me, wearing footie pyjamas in the back of my dad's station wagon and gaping wide eyed as Han Solo runs away from those stormtroopers on the Death Star. Over the years I've lost count of how many times Han's chased those troopers down that hallway only to come running back the other direction. But today he's doing it again on HBO and the digital cable program description made me stop and watch.

"Robots and other allies help a youth and a space jockey rescue a rebel princess and battle dark forces bent on intergalactic rule."

You're damn right they do.

Unfortunately, after all the years of related toys, comics, books and prequels there's no way I can just watch Star Wars and enjoy it for what it is. This isn't a dig at the prequels, which had their moments, or the all the good, bad and terrible (I'm looking at you, K.W. Jeter) Expanded Universe novels. I'm just lamenting that my selective continuity midiclorians aren't strong enough where I can just enjoy a braless Princess Leia in the garbage smasher with a bowl of popcorn without being reminded of Jacen, Jaina and whatever the name of that floating nursemaid-bot at the end of "Sith" was called.

I don't need to know the name of the guy who taught Han to hot wire a speeder bike. No one does. All we need to know is that he's an arrogant pilot who's loyal to his friends, loves his hunk of junk spaceship and is willing to gun down Greedo in cold blood.

Star Wars is a prime example of the too-much-of-a-good-thing corollary. The movie works best on its own or supplemented with just the two sequels and maybe just a couple of the books and comics, no more. The stories that matter lose their importance and get bogged down by minutiae if you, at some point, don't stop lumping backstory on them.

It's impossible to unsee Yoda with a lightsabre or armies of cartoon Gungans.

Unrelated to the point: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no excuse for a good blaster at your side, kid." Thanks, Han. I'll try to keep that in mind.

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