What I Love About The Prequels: Grant Elliot

This is a long one but worth reading beneath the cut:

What I Love About The Star Wars Prequels: Grant T. Elliott

I have been a die-hard Star Wars fanatic ever since the premiere of the very first Star Wars movie ever released, later re-titled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. I was born in 1970, and as a young child I become a huge fan of the genre science fiction, fantasy, and horror as my father took me to plenty of sci-fi and comic book conventions. Throughout the 1970’s I watched all the British Hammer Dracula movies with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing playing the infamous and famous roles of Dracula and Van-Helsing. Also as well I used to watch the old science fiction serials that my father used to watch himself when he was growing up as a child, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers (both character roles played by the late Buster Crabbe.) My father also used to be a fan of the original Star Trek series, with Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Dr. Leonard H. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. I used to watch all classic Star Trek episodes with him back in the 1970’s, when they were playing the re-runs in syndication.

In the summer of 1977, when I had just turned seven-years old, my father and my grandfather together took me out to the movie theater to see this new science fiction movie that just came out. Earlier that summer I saw a trailer for this new science fiction movie on TV that immediately caught my interest, and that movie was the first Star Wars movie that originated a science fiction “space opera,” that not only became the most beloved science fiction saga in movie history for many science fiction fans, but has also become my own personal favorite and most beloved science fiction saga ever. In my home for the following decade after the release of the first Star Wars movie in 1977 my parents used to refer to every Christmas in our home (in the context of me) as a Star Wars Christmas, because every year at Christmas time I used to only ask for and always receive Star Wars toys and memorabilia. The Star Wars saga has served to create my intense passion and love for the genre of science fiction, has caused me to be fully devoted to the study of the intricate details of the Star Wars mythology (as well as other science fiction and fantasy mythologies), has served to develop my own philosophy for the epic battle between good and evil, has given me wisdom and convictions to live by that has been a major cause for the man that I am today, and has given me an epistemological worldview that I have used to exegete and interpret the world that I live in.

After the premiere of the third Star Wars movie from the original trilogy, titled Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, in the summer of 1983, all Star Wars fans around the world would enter into, unknown at that time, a sixteen-year hiatus of their beloved science fiction “space opera” saga. At that time I had moved on with my life from growing up as a teen-ager to an adult, but never forgetting my heritage of being a die-hard Star Wars fan. I have always remained a fan of the genre of science fiction and fantasy, and during that sixteen-year hiatus I had become a huge fan of such television shows as the British science fiction series Doctor Who, as well as all the new Star Trek series such as The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Then in the mid-1990’s I heard the official news that George Lucas was resurrecting his Star Wars franchise and was going to create a new Star Wars trilogy that was a prequel to his original trilogy, that would tell the story of Anakin Skywalker. Needless to say that hearing this news I was immediately excited beyond compare, as well as all other fellow Star Wars fans that I came into contact with who felt the same way as I did.
I remember it felt like an eternity counting down the years, months, weeks, and days waiting until the summer of 1999 for the release of the first Star Wars movie of this new prequel trilogy, which was titled Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. When May 19th 1999 came I felt like it was a an impossible dream come true as Star Wars had officially come back, and now that it was here I was excited beyond measure anticipating getting a seat in the theater and finally seeing the most anticipated movie event of my life. At that time I was a little nervous about the potential quality of the movie, worrying that it might not measure up to the three films of the original Star Wars trilogy, especially after seeing many science fiction movies of that decade that were of low quality (in my opinion.) But to my delightful surprise, coming out of the theater on May 19th after seeing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, I felt like I had a magical experience. I felt that I had reentered the Star Wars Universe, that not only was this new Star Wars movie up to the quality of the original Star Wars trilogy, but that it had surpassed it in many ways with its visual story-telling and expanding on its mythology, which was already complex, in very interesting and unexpected ways.

In spite of my very pleasant experience with The Phantom Menace it was not long before I started to experience the negative effects of the general media’s critique of this new Star Wars trilogy. I was not only flabbergasted to find out that many thought that The Phantom Menace was a low quality science fiction film, but I was also appalled to experience all the vitriolic hatred towards The Phantom Menace and the rest of the prequel Star Wars trilogy, even by many of those who call themselves loyal Star Wars fans. When Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones premiered in May of 2002, I expected all the film critics to bash the second installment of this Star Wars prequel trilogy, for that is what their egotistical nature requires, but I was crushed to find that many of those same infamous “loyal Star Wars fans” also expressed the same vitriolic hatred towards this film as they did with The Phantom Menace. It was not until May of 2005, with the premiere of the third and last of the Star Wars prequels, titled Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, that the media (and to my surprise the film critics) had anything good to say about about the prequel Star Wars trilogy. But in spite of that Revenge of this Sith did not escape the bashing by many of those so called “loyal Star Wars fans.”

Over the past decade I could not wrap my mind around the mental rationality behind the vitriolic bashing of the prequel Star Wars trilogy by the media and fans alike. I became extremely frustrated, because not only did I absolutely love all three movies of the prequel Star Wars trilogy, but I felt all alone for many years defending the prequel trilogy against what I felt were bombastic, nitpicking, and extremely irrational arguments against the prequel trilogy. It was not until I came to Celebration V down in Orlando Florida during August of 2010, and attended the panel session of What We Love About The Prequels that I learned that I was not alone on how I felt, and was finally able to meet other fellow kindred Star Wars fans who shared my particular views on the prequels. Needless to say it felt very liberating, and in light of that, and being that it is officially Star Wars prequel appreciation day this May 19th 2011, I wanted to share my thoughts and worldview on why I love the prequel Star Wars trilogy. I will do so by six major themes that I list and expand on below.

I. Renewal Of Star Wars Fandom

Like I had previously mentioned that during the sixteen-year hiatus between the original Star Wars trilogy and the prequel Star Wars trilogy I had moved on with my life, and in spite that the original Star Wars trilogy would forever be in my heart it did not hold the same importance over my life. I imagined other fans moved on as well, and we can see that in the market place as majority of Star Wars memorabilia production and sales came to a halt. That all changed with the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy and the premiere of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. That started a whole new era of Star Wars fandom, and we can see this in the market place with the production and sales of Star Wars memorabilia exceeding that of the original trilogy era. I definitely say that it renewed my fandom of the Star Wars franchise, and I dare say that it renewed the fandom of many other Star Wars fans who grew up with the original trilogy as I did. Not to mention it gave this younger Gen. Y generation, who never saw a Star Wars movie, to experience the magic of Star Wars, that all of us older fans had when we were growing up with the original trilogy.

I remember after seeing The Phantom Menace back in May of 1999 it excited me and reinvigorated in me a whole new renewal of fandom in me. I immediately found myself frequenting Barns & Noble buying novels from the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and collecting all the Star Wars technical manuals that were being published at that time. I found myself reading everything Star Wars, and studying the intricate details of the Star Wars mythology as if I was taking a college course in it. I also found myself
collecting all the new Star Wars toys, which was unusual for I have not collected toys since the original trilogy sixteen-years prior. This is all due to all three Star Wars movies of the prequel trilogy. As a matter of fact the prequel Star Wars trilogy inspired me so much that in the spring of 2005, right before the premiere of Revenge of the Sith, I wrote my thesis on the Star Wars mythology for my Master program in Grad school.

II. The Vision Of George Lucas

The one thing I wanted to express is whether you love or hate the prequel Star Wars trilogy there is one outstanding fact that George Lucas made all three Star Wars films of the prequel trilogy exactly according to his original unadulterated vision. Reflecting on that fact alone one has to give credit to Lucas for having his vision and persevering to the end to create it. Reason why this is so important is due to many of the critiques leveled at Lucas for the finished product of his prequel trilogy, especially the accusation that he created this new prequel trilogy to cash out on his original trilogy as a greedy capitalist. Nothing could be further than the truth, and those who make those accusations are ignoramus morons. Any half-educated Star Wars fan who has followed the franchise knows that Lucas had this prequel trilogy in mind even before he started to create his original Star Wars trilogy. He has expressed over and over again that his Star Wars saga was about the redemption of Anakin Skywalker, and he was planning to tell the back story of Anakin Skywalker to come full circle with the original trilogy. He was waiting for computer technology to catch up so he can complete this prequel trilogy exactly according to his vision, and not have to edit or be limited by the lack of technology.
One important piece of information to reflect on is when you examine a lot of movies, especially movies based on sci-fi and fantasy franchises, which are produced by Hollywood theses days many of them are adulterated from its original vision due to compromises made by Hollywood studios who dictate the use of their funds in production of the movie, or eccentric directors who have their own vision of a particular franchise that is very distinct from its original creation. But this is not so with Lucas, for I believe that God has blessed him with the money he needs to create his Star Wars saga according to his vision without being forced to compromise due to the machinations of the Hollywood elites. Like I said, love it or hate it, the quality of the prequel Star Wars trilogy rest solely on George Lucas and his vision, and not on an adulterated version of Hollywood. And for that reason alone Lucas should be praised.
One more issue that I want to point out due to all the criticism raised with Lucas’s use of CGI in the prequel trilogy, and the acting and love story between Anakin and Padme in Attack of the Clones. Lucas has always proclaimed to be a visual story-teller, and that is what he does best. No one can rightfully critique the cinematography of his story-telling, for the visual cinematography in the three Star Wars movies of the prequel trilogy, in my opinion, are the best in movie history. He has never claimed to be a Shakespearian actor or a love-story novelist. The critics of the prequel Star Wars trilogy accuse Lucas of something he never claimed to be, which makes them unfair criticisms. If one wants superb dialogue and acting go see a Shakespearian play at live theater, and if you want a heart-throbbing love story read Danielle Steel. But if you want a superb science fiction mythology told through a fantastic visual story then watch the Star Wars saga.

III. Expanding The Star Wars Mythology

One of the greatest blessing we get with the prequel Star Wars trilogy is a vast expanse on the Star Wars mythology. With the original Star Wars trilogy we already get a complex mythology of a galaxy far, far away. During that sixteen-year hiatus between the the two trilogies we got a taste of the ever growing Expanded Universe, which gave us awesome additions to the Star Wars mythology. Although as awesome as it was it never-the-less could not explain the intricacies and complexities of the Star Wars mythology as a whole like the prequel Star Wars trilogy did. The prequel trilogy brought the Star Wars mythology full circle as it not only explained the original trilogy but it also incorporated the Expanded Universe, to nit the entire Star Wars saga together as an entire coherent science fiction mythology. Much as J.R.R. Tolkien did with the Silmarillion for his Lord of the Rings universe, the original trilogy is Star Wars concealed and the prequel trilogy is Star Wars revealed.

What the prequel trilogy gave us for the overall Star Wars mythology is it revealed to us the nature and history of the Jedi Order, which is only hinted at in the original trilogy, but not fully understood until the prequel trilogy. The prequel trilogy also gave us a full explanation of the nature, mythology, and conflict between the Jedi Order and the Sith Order. It expanded on the nature and mythology of the Force, and it gave a more than adequate explanation on the relationship between living beings and the Force. And although some criticized the concept of the midi-chlorian, I felt it perfectly fit in the gaps of introducing into the mythology living sentient creatures who make it possible for living beings to relate to the Force, and also predestined individuals to be Force sensitive. Ultimately what the prequel trilogy did was what Lucas wanted to do with Anakin Skywalker, which was to tell his story as a prophesied Jedi “messiah” who rose to become a Jedi Knight and fell to the dark-side as a lord of the Sith known as Darth Vader. This gave us a fuller understanding of the conflict between good and evil in the Star Wars mythology, and nature of predestination that good will win in an unexpected way through the redemption of Anakin Skywalker.

IV. Definitive History Of The Clone Wars

One of the fantastic story-arcs that we get with the prequel Star Wars trilogy is the revelation of the history of the infamous Clone Wars. Alluded to in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Star Wars fans have been fascinated by the Clone Wars, which preceded the Galactic Civil War, which was the war fought in the original trilogy. Speculations on the nature and history of the Clone Wars went wide and eccentric in the fandom world of Star Wars fans. Fans have speculated that the Clone Wars was a war fought between the Jedi and mythic Mandalorian empire, while others have speculated that the Clone Wars were similar to the Kryptonian tales of their Clone Wars in the DC Comics mythology of a planetary civil war fought for the rights and dignity of clones.

Even though the authors of the Star Wars novels of the Expanded Universe would often make references to the Clone Wars, George Lucas refused to let them write stories about the Clone Wars prior to the prequel trilogy. He was right in doing so because his vision of the Clone Wars was very different than what most fans speculated on. As a matter of fact Lucas vision for the Clone Wars was not only a coherent story and history of that war, but it did many things to enhance the Star Wars mythology. First it relates to the real life historical scenario of our own American civil war, where (states) or (planetary systems) separated over political ideology, and were a war ensued to keep the (country) or (galaxy) together as one. Lucas story-telling of the Clone Wars expressed the complex nature of war, the grey-matters of choosing sides, and how evil can use war to manipulate good into falling into its will. Most of all Lucas did a superb job at showing how the Clone Wars was solely used by the Sith Lord Darth Sidious (aka. Palpatine) to manipulate the entire civilized galaxy into absolute totalitarian control over them. Lucas created the ultimate villain in Palpatine, and Ian McDiarmid did such an awesome job at playing that role, especially in Revenge of the Sith, that it was a crime that he did not win best supporting actor at the Oscars. While watching Revenge of the Sith Palpatine sent chills up my spine.

V. Perfect Correlation Between The Trilogies

Another great thing that the prequel Star Wars trilogy added to the franchise was its perfect correlation that it made linking it with the original trilogy. I have seen many science fiction and fantasy franchises fail on this important point. For many sci-fi and fantasy television series and movie serials have completed their saga with leaving a lot of loose ends open and unanswered questions. This is not so with the prequel Star Wars trilogy, for at the conclusion of Revenge of the Sith Lucas perfectly wrapped up all loose ends and answered the majority of the most important questions relating to his six-part “space opera” saga. We see how Palpatine rose to absolute tyrannical dictator, and how the Galactic Empire was created and rose to power over the entire galaxy. We see how the Empire’s battle-fleet of Star Destroyers, as well as the Death Star, was created. We see how Anakin Skywalker fell to the dark-side, and why he chose to become a Sith Lord, as well as seeing the tragic fate of Luke and Leia’s mother Padme. We see the separation of the twins, and how Leia came to be adopted by Bail Organa, and how Luke went to live with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. We see how and why Obi-Wan and Yoda went into hiding, and what was their plan in doing so. We even get to see Obi-Wan, after striking that fatal blow to Anakin, how he picked up Anakin’s lightsaber and kept it to give to Luke in A New Hope. Like I said by the end of Revenge of the Sith one can go back to look at the original trilogy without any loose ends, but they can now look at the original trilogy with a new enlightened perspective on the Star Wars mythology.

VI. The Future Of Star Wars

The final thing I want to point out about what the prequel Star Wars trilogy gave all of us Star Wars fans is what it has done for the future of the Star Wars franchise. Like I mentioned previously that after Return of the Jedi Star Wars fandom ran out of steam, and had the prequel trilogy never come about Star Wars fandom would never have resurrected as it did. Even in spite of those opinionated “fans” who want no prequel trilogy and only the unedited Star Wars movies of the original trilogy on DVD, Star Wars would never be the same as it was in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. At best the unedited additions of the original trilogy on DVD would have probably sold half a decent copies to those with nostalgia who grew up with the original trilogy, but Star Wars would not be as big today as it currently is. With the prequel trilogy having been made it not only reinvigorated Star Wars fandom for the fans from the original trilogy era, but it also inspired an entire new generation of Star Wars fans who grew up during the creation of the prequel trilogy.

From the prequel Star Wars trilogy we got an expanded franchise beyond what probably Lucas could not have imagined. Many more novels are written on the Expanded Universe, from many different eras of the Star Wars mythology, many of including the Clone Wars. From conventions to collecting memorabilia, to all the new Star Wars video games, and comics the Star Wars franchise keeps expanding. But ultimately we currently now have one of the first official Star Wars television series that airs on prime-time television, which is the CGI-animated The Clone Wars. Soon, we are told by Lucasfilm, that we will see a live-action television Star Wars series. In conclusion, in my opinion, thanks to George Lucas’s vision and the prequel Star Wars trilogy Star Wars is here to stay, and hopefully the franchise will only grow bigger with time.

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4 Responses to “What I Love About The Prequels: Grant Elliot”

  1. Paul F. McDonald Says:

    Well said, sir. Well said.

  2. DRush76 Says:

    This is a well written article. I really enjoyed it.

  3. Michael A. Greenberg Says:

    I too Love all things SW. I am a 42 year old Married Man. I Love the Originals, I really LOVE the Prequels and I Love the EU. Anyone that gives you flack about the Prequels, really doesn’t get it. I know a lot of fans that love them, and there are just as many people that don’t. We are of the group that really Loves them, just don’t let the haters spoil what we really enjoy.
    Peace.
    Michael G.

  4. Michael A. Greenberg Says:

    I really enjoyed the article. LIke you I am a fan of all things Star Wars. I am a 42 year old married man. I love the original trilogy, I really LOVE the prequel trilogy, and I love the EU. Star Wars is a love of mine, and I know a lot of people who love the Prequels, and unfortunatly I know of just as many people that don’t. Our enjoyment of the prequels shouldn’t matter what anyone says. People that love it, great. However don’t let the haters ruin a great thing that we enjoy.
    Peace.
    Michael G.

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