Archive for romance

The Character You’d Be Most Makey-Outey With

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , on 6 June 2013 by Megan

Yeah, I censored the challenge. What are you gonna do about it? I thought so. “Makey-outey,” as coined by Strong Bad of the Homestar Runner universe, is primarily an adjective in function. “You’re looking so makey-outey tonight,” for example. And while the original question on the challenge was mostly focused on casual hook-ups, that just doesn’t appeal to me.

There used to be this, “You may be obsessed with Star Wars if . . .” list, and one of the things it said was, “You’ve referred to yourself as Mrs. Wedge Antilles or Mrs. Fett.” And boy, ain’t that the truth — I’ve done both, although mostly with Wedge. Wedge would be a great guy to marry for a lot of reasons; he’s attractive, steadfast, dependable, courageous, a war hero without a troubled past, etc. etc.

He looks good in orange, and, oh, my, those cheekbones.

He looks good in orange, and, oh, my, those cheekbones.

So I do think that after all these years, I could still sign off on having a casual dating-type fling with Mr. Antilles. Although, as I think about it, he’d probably have deep and serious issues with my actually being kind of on the Empire’s side of all this. Can’t you hear the goofy rom-com trailer now? “What they don’t know is he’s the Rebel Alliance’s top pilot, but she’s an Imperial Loyalist! Uh oh!”

Okay, so while my choice for casual make-out sessions is still Wedge — surprise ending, I didn’t see that one coming — if I was going to settle down and get serious, you know and I know that I could never choose anyone but Luke. (Even though I think Luke cannot and should not be romantically entangled with anyone, that him getting married goes against the idea of his character, and omg does everyone freaking have to get married in everything? Of course, I believe those things about myself, too, so . . .) I know the question wasn’t about not-casual, and I had some trepidation about just going back to Luke for everything,  but that’s when my stream-of-consciousness produced Wedge for my dating pal. Heck, I can sign off on that. But I just love Luke. And with those biceps, well, preeow is all I have to say.

The guy who can wear your sister's tank top and hipster suspenders and still look so good.

The guy who can wear your sister’s tank top and hipster suspenders and still look so good.

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Who Do You Ship?

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 9 May 2013 by Megan

I know this question is not in the original lineup, but I couldn’t answer questions on least favorite romances, unbearable shipping, least favorite couples, without showing you that I can appreciate romance, and without demonstrating that there is one couple in the Star Wars franchise that I ship with all my heart, to the point of inventing not-strictly-canonical conspiracy theories to make it possible. Sometimes I do believe in romance, true love, and soulmates.

Oh, girl, you KNOW I had to be talking Shmi-Gon!!

Oh, girl, you KNOW I had to be talking Shmi-Gon!!

Qui-Gon on Tatooine

45 minutes into the film, he says his name for the first time — to her

He’s a Jedi Master with a long, wearying career behind him: he’s trained three apprentices with varying degrees of success, fought creatures and monsters, gotten disrespect from his peers, seen and heard horrible things, suffered deaths, betrayals, and tortures. On a routine negotiation mission, he and his apprentice are cast into an overwhelming and disturbing chain of events, and he moves from negotiator to bodyguard to the Queen of Naboo. He winds up on Tatooine due to engine trouble, and heads into the hostile alien town in search of parts.

Shmi Skywalker

Her name is never even spoken in Episode I

She’s a simple woman invested in the survival, first, of her son, and then of herself. While Anakin’s origin — and what was done to her to result in that — remains mysterious, she fell into slavery as an adolescent, kidnapped by pirates when the rest of her family was killed. She is used to a hard life, has learned to be cynical of a Republic that can’t afford to enforce its laws on the Outer Rim, and she takes the unwanted, uninvited presence of her son into stride. Although a Tatooine resident for only six years, she knows there’s no hope for stranded Republicans here.

They meet when her nine-year-old son Anakin brings in this cluster of strangers right off the street. They could be a man and his daughter (or even, given Tatooine’s culture, a man with his young wife), nonhuman manager, and an astromech droid. Although the girl is smooth-faced and her flowing locks betray unfamiliarity with the desert, and they are obviously outlanders trying not to raise attention, Shmi doesn’t feel the need to distrust them and welcomes them to wait the storm out in their humble hovel. Qui-Gon greets her courteously, explains their presence as Anakin is too distracted to, and offers food to help pay their way at the modest table.

While Padmé and Anakin “play” — he shows off all his boring crap — Qui-Gon and Jar Jar help with dinner. There’s no way of knowing what they talk about, though Qui-Gon does step aside to answer a comm call from Obi-Wan and you can see Shmi there in the background. Dinner conversation is mostly neutral and polite, with the exception of Padmé’s bringing up the slavery issue (you’d think a future senator would show more tact). Anakin brings up his obsession with podracing, and for a moment, anyway, Qui-Gon is distracted by the glimmer of a way out of this mess. And yet, is it Anakin’s mewling, “Mom, you say the biggest problem in this universe is no one helps each other” that convinces her to let her son do this enormously dangerous thing? Or is it Padmé’s gentle reference to Qui-Gon, and the Jedi’s kind eyes as he asks after some friendly person who might help them?

shmiagain

Sparks fly when our worlds collide, and I am falling at your feet

However it was, Qui-Gon tries to resist his feelings for her at the same time the draw of the Force surrounding her son makes it impossible. (On the other hand, they say show kindness to the child and you will attract the mother.) And note how cool he tries to play it as he’s all, “Soooo . . . who was his father?” It’s so easy for Qui-Gon’s dismissive attitude at the end of the Tatooine segment to distract from his feelings for her — first he puts her son in danger, brushes off her concerns, and makes a wager for her son to get free and not her. But, come on, what would Shmi do with freedom if Anakin didn’t have it? Use your gray matter!

Anakin of course wins the Podrace — the Force could hardly allow anything otherwise to happen. Anakin gets his freedom. Qui-Gon knows he can take the boy — whom he consistently refers to as “the boy” — to Coruscant and get him enrolled in Jedi training. Remember he has no intention of training him himself until the Council crosses him! As he sends Anakin off to collect his things and get ready to leave, Qui-Gon steps to Shmi and asks if she’ll be all right. He puts his hand on her shoulder.

The tender farewell

The tender farewell

Lucas didn’t script this, and, naturally, tried to cut it, but Liam held his ground. It’s a good thing, too, because in many respects Lucas’ Qui-Gon is almost inhumanly callous throughout the last half of the movie. You can attribute it to general incompetence from the director, sure, but I also think — and Liam Neeson must’ve felt it because he put that tender gesture in — that Qui-Gon’s distracted in more ways than one. He’s a man in love.

While the camera is pandering to Anakin’s farewell-droid speech, what is Qui-Gon telling Shmi? “I’ll watch out for him, you have my word,” he says just before the camera cuts, as she opens her mouth as if to speak. What else does Qui-Gon tell her? Does he promise to come back? His harsh, “I didn’t come here to free slaves” from a day or so earlier (Lucas’ timelining, again unclear) was a weak attempt to break his feelings for her. Instead, he has decided he’d rather break his vows.

He flies in the face of the Council more then usual. Is it because he’s so invested in Anakin’s identity as the Chosen One? Or is it because he has no plan B for how to get the mother if the Jedi won’t take her kid?

Qui-Gon has been fighting the Jedi Council for closing in on half a century by now, probably. He’s worn out. If you believe that he loved the Jedi Knight Tahl, then he has a background of one love lost due to the Council’s madness and insane celibacy requirements. (Fun side note — Ki-Adi-Mundi, due to underpopulatino of his homeworld, was granted permission to marry not one, but five women. Celibacy is clearly not demanded by the Force.) He and Obi-Wan are bickering the entire way to Naboo, but is it just because Obi-Wan and the Council are at odds with Qui-Gon about Anakin’s potential? Or is it because his master confided in him that he was taking a giant step and leaving the Order? Obi-Wan has been his apprentice, as close as a son, for 12 years, and is more than ready to take the trials, as they both know. With the Council refusing to take on responsibility for Anakin, Qui-Gon needs his apprentice to step into the gap — and knows Obi-Wan is more than capable. Somehow in the battle for Naboo, he means to fake his death and dodge the Council.

How do I explain Qui-Gon’s actual death scene? Well, let’s be frank. What kills him? He’s clearly caught off guard by a saber in the gut, but would this kill him? Why do people typically die of abdominal wounds? Because the bleeding is so difficult to stop — but that’s a non-issue with a saber because it instantly cauterizes the wound. Peritonitis, inflammation of the tissues lining and surrounding abdominal organs, also causes death in cases of gut injury. Again, not an issue with a lightsaber wound. If Qui-Gon actually dies, I say he suffocates due to a ruptured diaphragm; it’s the only thing that makes sense. What makes more sense is that Obi-Wan knows he isn’t dying. Qui-Gon asks for his promise to train Anakin again because of Obi-Wan’s reluctance, but Obi-Wan, knowing his master will never return to the Jedi, agrees, and knows he must give his master up.

Qui-Gon slips into a healing Force trance, and Obi-Wan cries not over his death but over his separation, knowing he cannot contact him again. He helps Qui-Gon escapes, provides a decoy or Force-illusion body for the funeral (why it’s appropriate to give a non-Nubian a Nubian funeral, I don’t know), and takes on the responsibility for Anakin. Qui-Gon, meantime, buys a ship with his 20,000 Republic dataries, returns to Tatooine, and sells the ship; with local currency, he enlists the support of a widowed trader, Cliegg Lars, and his son Owen. He gives them the money to buy a moisture farm — as Cliegg wants out of the spacelanes — if they agree to buy Shmi, free her, and circulate the story that he married her. The Larses are glad to accommodate, and Shmi finds herself reunited with Qui-Gon, who can court her properly.

Home, home on the Jundland Wastes, where the Jawas and Bantha cubs play . . .

I have such a mental image of Qui-Gon in a Tatooine style ranch home, out in the Jundland Wastes, living in peace at last with Shmi and their kids. Qui-Gon’s immense respect for all life forms quickly win over the local Sand People, who regard him almost as one of themselves, and they are frequently around the homestead and help him and his family survive in the harsh environment. In Episode II, Anakin’s inexplicable nightmares — possibly fueled by Palpatine’s influence — drives him back to Tatooine. Word gets around that Anakin’s trying to find his mother, so Cliegg and Owen quickly cook up a story about her death by Sand People. Cliegg’s suspiciously inconsistent story betrays this — he goes from “we’re still looking, I’m not giving up hope” to “she’s dead, son” in under 5 minutes as he tries to discourage Anakin. Some of Qui-Gon’s Tusken friends agree to fake her death, but the consequence of Anakin murdering them was unforeseen by them all. This is why Qui-Gon shouts, “Anakin! No!”

Later, Qui-Gon toys around with Master Yoda, contacting him telepathically through the Force and taunting him with visions of “the netherworld of the Force” and nonsense. In a vision, he encourages Yoda to send Obi-Wan and the boy “Anakin’s son” to Tatooine where  he will “train Obi-Wan” to contact him in the Force. In reality, once Obi-Wan is there, Qui-Gon reveals himself in the person, and they move in all neighborly. Obi-Wan’s ridiculous “call” in ANH that startles the Sand People off is really just Qui-Gon’s password to tell them he’s a friend. (He does seem to know an incredible lot about them!)

And so there you have it. I have a vision of Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon grilling out bantha flank steaks outside his lodge, Qui-Gon and Shmi’s black-headed kids romping around in Uli dress for sand protection, Shmi warning them not to spoil their appetite before the burgers are done, a beautiful day under the twin suns . . .

A Ship You Can’t Stand

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , on 2 May 2013 by Megan
Star Wars Romanceby ~katarnlunney

Star Wars Romanceby ~katarnlunney

I know, it’s weird. “Mara Jade” was my SW nickname. But I never “shipped” them. And, quite shockingly in the last three years, I’ve come to dislike Mara Jade with a surprising passion. I know some of it comes down to I just can’t abide popular media insisting that when a woman says “get bent,” she and the man are destined for happily ever after. No, “get bent” means “get bent,” and I urge you to go do so!

Sorry. I got mad. Anyway, even when I did like Mara Jade as a character, I didn’t ship them. I agreed with Lucas’ original conception of Luke as the solitary monk, like Obi-Wan, not destined for starting a family and settling down. And OMG getting married is not the apex of life! Why is it no one will consider a story finished to satisfaction without everyone in it being knotted in some relationship?? Sorry, I got mad again. It just irritates me.

In the last few years, I’ve stopped liking Mara Jade because I find her too “on-purpose.” I always resist when there’s no subtlety about the way a character is presented — I’m supposed to accept Mace Windu as a badass because, well, look at him? (I guess?) And Mara Jade is cool because — well, she’s cooool! It doesn’t work that way. I want evidence. And in reexamining the books, I’ve found there isn’t any. I didn’t mind Luke having a crush on her (much), but their “romance” was inexplicable and far too sudden. In many ways, her Force sensitivity, her foil to his steel, her stubbornness, intelligence, beauty, lethal cunning, all these things would recommend her to him. (Although I’d think her absolute unrepentant attitude to the people she formerly assassinated for a living could be kind of a red flag.) But there is nothing about him to change her mind about her hatred of him. And as cute as it is the way he pursues her, the whole thing falls flat. And after I learned it was manufactured from the beginning — she was created as a character specifically to marry Luke — I was done.

The end of Vision of the Future is charming — as is Luke’s UNANSWERED marriage proposal. As it should be.

A Song That Reminds You of Star Wars

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , on 28 March 2013 by Megan

I’m going to take this one a very different direction today. Star Wars is strongly associated with sound, in fact having more sounds per second of film (between dialogue, music, and sound effects) than any other film. That’s according to The Sounds of Star Wars, which I’ve been reading this week, which is awesome and which I will attempt to review Sunday. But because sound is so closely tied in with Star Wars, and the music in with the sound, it’s of course very easy to simply turn to the soundtrack. But that feels like cheating. And there is a non-Star Wars song that always makes me think of Star Wars. When I say “always,” I really am talking about something that goes back more than 12 years:

Capture1

From an AIM Instant Messenger conversation dated September 27, 2000.

In 2000, my AIM convos did little more than document everything going on on the radio at that second. Anyway, the song I’m talking about is by the Wallflowers, and although I called it “The Padiddle Song” most of my life, it’s actually called “One Headlight.” The book I’m referring to, The Uncertain Path, is the sixth book in the Jedi Apprentice series by Jude Watson.

I used to wait in agony for these to come out. Defenders of the Dead made me so mad, I threw my copy across the room.

I used to wait in agony for these to come out.

These juvenile-level books told the story of Obi-Wan’s training as a 14-year-old Padawan apprentice to Qui-Gon. Their relationship had a very rocky start; in the first two books, Qui-Gon didn’t want an apprentice at all. In the third book, Obi-Wan narrowly escaping a mind-wipe just after his 14th birthday makes them both realize how close they have become and how much they don’t want to lose each other. So book 4 was their first real adventure together as a reciprocal team. Then came Defenders of the Dead. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan go to a planet called Melida/Daan where all the middle-aged people have been utterly wiped out in a war and now there are only children and old people. Obi-Wan immediately is drawn in by the arguments of the other adolescents — sort of a Communist Youth in Space — and quickly grows fed up with Qui-Gon and the Council’s “pandering” to the other faction. At the end of the book, Obi-Wan gives his lightsaber to Qui-Gon and quits the Jedi.

I threw the book across the room, I was so mad. Of course Obi-Wan did it because he’d fallen in love with this girl fighter Cerasi. It was outrageous though because Qui-Gon’s reluctance to take a Padawan had centered entirely around his abandonment issues since his previous apprentice had turned dark side and also quit the Jedi. Oh, I wanted to kill Obi-Wan for putting Qui-Gon through that. (Keeping in mind that at this age, I still considered Qui-Gon more awesome than any fictional character ever created in history before, and Obi-Wan was still kind of the boring old guy in the Original Trilogy, although his hotness was beginning to make an impression. In fact, although I was looking for times I quoted “One Headlight,” I found 15 convos containing both Wallflowers lyrics and the phrase “Obi-Wan is hot.”)

Anyway, in the next book, Cerasi dies a martyr to her cause, and her death inspires peace throughout Melida/Daan and ends the conflict. Obi-Wan goes back to the Jedi and in true Jedi fashion, never speaks of it again. But even though various sources have pinned him with Siri, I know the truth. His heart — before he gave it to Padmé to crush — belonged to a redheaded teenage freedom fighter whose death gave her planet peace and set him back on the right track. I have always found these lyrics ring eerily in sync with the events of these two books, and though I haven’t read them in over a decade, I always think of Obi-Wan when I hear this song.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you

One Headlight
by The Wallflowers

(with annotations, because I doubt you’ve read these books)

So long ago I don’t remember when,
That’s when they say I lost my only friend.
Well, they say she died easy of a  broken heart disease
As I listen to the cemetery trees.

[Obi-Wan, thinking back, recalls his days with Cerasi and the Melida/Daan youth]

I seen the sun coming up at the funeral at dawn,
The long broken arm of human law.
It always seemed such a waste,
She always had a pretty face.
I wonder why she hung around this place.

[Cerasi and the other fighters, whose parents and oftentimes older siblings had all been killed in the war, often lingered at the mausoleums and grave houses where their loved ones’ remains were. In fact, most of Melida/Daan was like a cemetery, bombed out shells of its former glory.]

Hey, —-
Come on try a little, nothing is forever!
There’s got to be something better than
In the middle.
Me and Cinderella put it all together
We can drive it home with one headlight.

[The youth of Melida/Daan were caught in the middle, the conflict between the Melida and the Daan, life and death, young and old, war and peace. Cinderella is Cerasi, a fairytale character with a grim side, and the one headlight is just enough light to be able to see a little bit ahead by, just enough light to know the right thing to do]

She said, “It’s cold. It feels like Independence Day,
And I can’t break away from this parade.”
But there’s got to be an opening somewhere here in front of me
Through this maze of ugliness and greed.
And I seen the sign up ahead at the county line bridge,
Saying all that’s good and nothingness is dead.
Run until she’s out of breath, she ran until there’s nothing left
She hit the end, it’s just her window ledge.

[Although they didn’t have an Independence Day, they did have highly military ritual. This reminds me of the scene in which Cerasi dies, imprinted in my imagination as the bright figure of the girl leaping out into the dazzling gray of the sky and shot in the circle of the two facing enemies.]

This place is old, it feels just like a beat up truck.
I turn the engine but the engine doesn’t turn.
It smells of cheap old wine, cigarettes,
This place is always such a mess.
Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it burn.
I’m so alone, I feel just like somebody else.
Man, I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same.
But somewhere here in between these city walls of dying dreams,
I think her death it must be killing me.

[The child warriors of Melida/Daan lived in the sewers and underground pipelines. There’s a scene where Obi-Wan sits around eating rations with a group of them that this reminds me of. Also, when it is all said and done, and he returns to the Jedi and moves on to the next adventure, he does not really change at all, and yet the place had an affect on him. It’s really such a sad, sad song, even in this context.]

Friends, by by ~DarthZini on DeviantArt

Least Favorite Romance

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , on 14 February 2013 by Megan

You should know as I answer this question that I do not like romance. All romance is my least favorite romance. I don’t think I need to tell you that I don’t like the romance between Padmé and Anakin, because I already established that Padmé is my least favorite female character. And knowing how invested people are in this, when I answer today’s question the way I’m about to, you may feel tempted to ask if I have a soul. Well, as far as I know, I do, but it does not care about romance.

A Princess and her Smuggler

A Princess and her Smuggler

Long story dramatically short: Leia does not deserve Han. Their romance is blighted the entire time by the fact that she is a shrill, shrewish, shrieking royal with a silver spoon and an attitude problem. (The post about Padmé was making me feel really warm about her daughter, but I take it all back.)

So Leia is a 22-year-old senator when she meets Han. Like her unknown mother, she has to face the dichotomy of being a royal figure in a democratic universe — a vestigial person striving to prove herself still relevant, a fighter for freedom and the re-institution of a republic who is still universally referred to as “Princess,” even after the planet she was princess of is destroyed and furthermore even after it is revealed she was only ever adopted into that family to begin with. Her strength is mainly absolute bullheadedness, and frankly, she is not good with making decisions.

It’s obvious why she would go after Han (and I do like the adoring look in her eyes in the above picture) — his roguish good looks, mysterious and presumably checkered past, and gruff ways are like lady catnip. However, her pride, upbringing, recent traumas, and natural perverse streak cause her to resist this attraction with every fiber of her being and she insults, snaps at, and derides him the entire time. Luke, despite being her rescuer, is too agreeable. She’s used to people falling at her feet with obedience and agreement to her every thought. She is not used to being challenged. In a nutshell, this is why she falls in love with Han.

Yeah, she's mine, I know it.

Yeah, she’s mine, I know it.

But Han has absolutely no reason to fall in love with her. Days before meeting her shrieking ungrateful worshipfulness, he received the heartbreaking news that his first love, Bria, the first woman to ever gracelessly abandon him, was killed by the Empire. Again, Leia derides, disagrees with, and demeans him at every available opportunity; now, this doesn’t have an effect on Han because he’s heard it all. But there’s no reason for it to attract him, either. And while Leia has an uncanny ability to have utterly pristine makeup whether she’s being tortured by Imperial agents or grubbing about on a backwater planet, she’s not a great beauty. She’s neither a bimbo nor a genius; she is also neither his match, nor a challenge, nor his opposite. Leia has an all-consuming passion for politics, government, espionage, and warfare. In other words, Leia’s chief appeal seems to be availability.

Mmm, you're so . . . available.

Mmm, you’re so . . . available.

So apart from the fact that I can’t see why Han falls for her — and Han is the girl at the beginning of ESB, hurt because Leia (acting the part of the man) refuses to acknowledge his feelings for her or express any in return. He’s hurt, angry, and tries to provoke a confession of attraction, and he leaves in a fury when Leia hotly denies any interest in him whatsoever. But apart from not being able to see why Han falls for her, I have to say that frankly Leia doesn’t deserve him. This is not hugely apparent in the films, though traces of Leia’s selfishness, fitful changeability, and bad temper are seen throughout. It becomes undeniable in the EU.

Leia spends four years refusing to marry him and comes shockingly close to marrying a stranger for political benefits. Han actually kidnaps her in order to press her into marriage. Over and over again, Han is the girl in this relationship. Leia wears the trousers. He  begs for marriage and she demurs. She betrays him by accepting a stranger’s marriage proposal, doesn’t even tell Han about it, and then is bemused that he isn’t willing to accept the situation. In every case, the Republic comes before him, before her family, before anything. She tells Han to sit and he sits; she teases him, puts him off, puts him on, runs hot and cold, and in all other ways is a maddening example of a girlfriend from hell. Luke and Han may be as close as brothers, but Leia is an absolute bitch.

The little possessive snuggle he gives her at the end is cute though.

The little possessive snuggle he gives her at the end is cute though.

Although I have no idea why Han would love her, it’s impossible to miss how genuine his affection is. He loves her and is so relieved to have her, despite how badly she treats him. I know they’re considered the poster children of scifi romance, but it’s just not there.

The Moment That Made You Fall in Love

Posted in Challenges with tags , , , , , , , on 10 January 2013 by Megan

I described last week how the first time I saw A New Hope, it was just another movie, albeit a good one. And albeit the fact that we watched it again the next day, around 10 AM on a Thursday during the school year — unheard of! — and that I was in to it enough before the next two films that Mom let me watch Oprah to see Artoo and Chewbacca with Billy Dee Williams. I’m probably the only person alive who heard Billy Dee interviewing about his experiences as Lando (driving his kids to school and being yelled at by schoolchildren because he betrayed Han) before I even got close to seeing the movie.

But Return of the Jedi made me fall in love. Unlike A New Hope — it took me years to see the 1977 theatrical cut of that — we didn’t own ESB and ROTJ. Mom rented them, actually going into the actual video rental place to get them. I remember this clearly, sitting in the car while she ran inside and came back with the cataract opaque box holding the VHS tape. Just one. See, she hid the fact that she got Jedi at the same time — after we watched ESB, I was freaking out over having to wait until next week’s trip to town to see ROTJ. Playing The Island of Dr. Brain that afternoon, I called Mom in to look at one of the Sierra company’s click-jokes — when you right-clicked on Dr. Brain’s hut on the island level, it popped up saying, “Don’t mess with Jabba the Hut!” And I said, “I never got that before!” And Mom got a downright mischievous look on her face and said, “You want to see what he looks like?” And she brought the ROTJ tape out of the closet where she’d hidden it! Eleven-year-old MIND BLOWN.

Return of the Jedi just somehow took over my heart in a way the others had not.

org_noj_19

Maybe it was this moment.

perso_skywalker_luke_19

No, no, I bet it was this moment.

perso_skywalker_luke_18

THIS. THIS MOMENT RIGHT HERE.

When it got to the final showdown, the Emperor’s form revealed, Luke’s unconditional love for his father and determination to save him despite Vader having done nothing to warrant the saving . . . I don’t know if I was on the edge of my seat, but my pulse was probably racing by the end. Maybe it’s because I’d never watched a trilogy before, or even a movie where everything didn’t get tied up by the credits. The resolution was so drawn out, and the happy ending so out of reach — and I knew all about Greek myths and probably unconsciously recognized the signs. Greek myths don’t end well. Did I really think Luke was going to die? I don’t think so, but I really thought Lando and the Falcon were.

ROTJ has everything, but the last 45 minutes are what really did it for me. Most specifically: there’s that part, right after Luke stops short of killing Vader, and he looks at his hand and realizes Vader’s hand was also mechanical. He sees the road he is on, and he stands up and throws away his saber. It makes the most incredible, final clunking sound. “No,” he says, with the weight of every world in the universe in the word. “You failed, your highness. I am a Jedi. Like my father before me.” And he indicates Vader as he says it. His father is a Jedi, he affirms, not the irredeemable machine-monster his teachers told him Vader was. Luke stands, defenseless, prepared, adrenaline filling his eyes with brightness, and the Emperor just looks at him with  enough cold hate to fill a black hole. “So be it, Jedi.” He spits each word as though it is a hot coal. The scene cuts back to Endor, the tension almost at a breaking point.

That — that was the moment. There was no escape from that point, from being a dedicated Star Warrior for life. After the credits started, I remember going to walk back upstairs and stopping to look at the moon, just coming up over the horizon at the end of our front acreage; I looked at it through the cut glass of the front door, and then — we had the telescope in the living room with the green filter on — I went and just stared at the moon for a long time, unable to stop thinking about the movie. It took me close to a year to love Luke (like every fanboy, I spent my early obsession on Han before realizing he was too unreachable), but even without my knowing or understanding, it was Luke in the last 45 minutes of Return of the Jedi that made me fall in love with Star Wars — not all that it is, but all it could be.