Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reel Facts & Opinions: STAR WARS in December


With the STAR WARS franchise making headlines again and the holiday season bearing down on us, now seems like a fine time to explore an issue fans of that far away galaxy have been concerned with; a STAR WARS film being released in December.

STAR WARS EPISODE VII (subtitled THE FORCE AWAKENS) was originally scheduled for a May 2015 release. This date was true to the tradition of a STAR WARS film always being released in May; a tradition begun in 1977 with the first film and continued with the next five. One thing led to another, and THE FORCE AWAKENS was eventually shifted to December. Why is this a big deal? For many fans, these movies belong in May. The nature of STAR WARS, with its science-fiction/fantasy roots, spectacular visuals, and action scenes screams Summer blockbuster; and May tends to serve as the kickoff to the fun and furious Summer movie season. Genre fans, especially those invested in STAR WARS, can be easily irked, and taking STAR WARS out of May to them can bea deadly sin, and it simply does not belong in December.

Or does it?

As many of you loyal readers know, this Blogger has been a first-generation STAR WARS fan his whole life, having been introduced to that galaxy in the spring of 1977. And in that year, December and Christmastime always meant receiving new STAR WARS toys. 

 The franchise was one of the first, if not the first to market itself on the toy market. With a universe filled with likeable heroes and spaceships, it practically sold itself and it changed the toy industry forever. From action figures to playsets to books to read-along records, Christmas meant STAR WARS every year. Even during years when there was no new film in theatres, there was still that hope of finding a new planet, hero, or spaceship under the tree. Christmas means toys to wee-lads, and no other toy in the galaxy came close to the fascination that a STAR WARS toy would bring. For millions of Padawans out there, Christmastime meant STAR WARS-time, and to this day this Blogger’s family still manages to sneak in at least one STAR WARS-themed gift every year. 

But the firm foothold the franchise has in the holiday season isn’t limited to just marketing and selling toys. Cable stations began running marathons of the first three movies over 20 years ago during the holidays, and would eventually add the second trilogy to their programming. STAR WARS-themed decorations and greeting cards are easy to find, and John Williams’ magnificent music has a whimsical, holiday feel to it. Even the very early days of the franchise knew it had a holiday connection; the well-intentioned, yet ill-fated STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL aired on TV in 1978.

So in a way, STAR WARS is truly coming home when THE FORCE AWAKENS lands in December. For the first generation of fans, there will certainly be an asteroid-field’s worth of childhood memories to fly through; memories of new toys on a Christmas morning which would inspire their imaginations to revisit their favorite scenes or to create new ones. The term, “let’s play Star Wars” became a battle-cry for youth, and the young are what STAR WARS is all about. After all, on the original production notes for STAR WARS (1977), series creator George Lucas quoted from the preface Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote for his non-Holmes novel, THE LOST WORLD:

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who’s half a man
Or the man who’s half a boy.


STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS arrives to our planet on December 17th with evening showings, and in full on the 18th.  It is directed by JJ Abrams and stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels,  Domnhall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, Max von Sydow, Kenny Baker, and Lupita Nyong’o. 


No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.