Thursday, December 17, 2015

How I Learned to Avoid Star Wars Spoilers

One more day until I see new Star Wars, and I'm trying not to get too excited. I guess it's a combination of not wanting to get burned again after the prequel experience and wanting to recapture the impact of the first one. I haven't been rewatching the older movies. I haven't sought out the various trailers -- I saw the one that was before the James Bond movie and I've seen TV ads, but I'm not watching repeatedly to analyze. I didn't read the review in today's paper other than to see that the local critic gave it a B+.

I learned the hard way about this with The Empire Strikes Back. For kids of the late 70s-early 80s, this was the most anticipated movie ever. When Darth Vader escaped from the Death Star, it was pretty obvious that there would be a sequel, but for a while there was no news about it. Alan Dean Foster's novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye came out as a sequel, and we all pounced on it, then were surprised when it turned out that the sequel would be something else entirely (according to Alan, when he wrote it before the first movie came out, they were thinking that would be the sequel, but everything changed when it was a smash hit).

I was living in Germany when Empire was released, so although it came out in May, we didn't get it at the base theater until early November -- Veteran's Day weekend. That made it difficult to avoid spoilers, especially if you were so eager to find out what happened that you were seeking them out. Oddly enough, the novelization was condensed and excerpted in one of my mom's women's magazines, and I eagerly read that, though the editing job on it was bad enough that it just made me more confused. Once school started in the fall, one of my friends had an extra copy of the full novelization because both sets of grandparents had sent it to her. I'd read it several times before I saw the movie. I also got the soundtrack months before I saw the movie.

So by the time I saw the movie, I pretty much had everything but the visuals memorized. I was familiar with the dialogue, I knew the plot, and I knew every music cue. That made the movie an odd experience, to be new and familiar at the same time. When you already know the lines, it's hard not to be painfully aware that this is a script being spoken by actors. I wouldn't say I was disappointed. It just wasn't the experience I wanted it to be. It wasn't until years later when the Special Editions came out and I saw the movie again at the theater that I was able to really appreciate that movie. I did learn my lesson, and I avoided all information about Return of the Jedi and the prequels before seeing them.

That November viewing does make this movie's December release a little less odd for me. I've stood in line in the cold to see a Star Wars movie, even though these have always been summer things. Actually, though, the line turned out to be unnecessary -- my dad had learned that they'd added a previously unannounced morning show at the Vogelweh theater, so he dragged us out early on Saturday morning for the early show, and the theater was almost empty because so few people knew about it. I saw it again Monday night when I went with a group of friends, and we did have to wait in line to get seats for that one.

We already have tickets for tomorrow, so the line will be to get seats, and I don't know how early we'll wait. Some waiting is kind of mandatory, just for the experience of it. It's not a Star Wars movie if you don't have to line up.

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