Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Darth Vader Lives!

It's not always easy remembering what it was like to be a kid. Having kids helps even if times and circumstances are vastly different from when your were a child.

I remember when Star Wars Episode IV came out originally; or just plain Star Wars as we called it back then (who knew why they said it was number 4? Who cared?). I don't really remember seeing commercials for it on TV but I do recall that both my Dad and I wanted to see it. We just knew this was going to be good. Good? Good doesn't even begin to describe it! This was monumental. Revolutionary. Never seen anything like it before kind of stuff. It was fun and exciting. It had a scary guy in a black suit. A rebellious cat and his dog-like companion teaming up with a young ambitious hero ready to take on the whole universe. Aliens. Laser swords. Blasters. The coolest space ships we'd ever seen. Daring rescues. Edge-of-your-seat suspense. Man! For a kid it was every cool thing you could imagine, right? Remember?

I recall that they played the audio track over the radio and my Dad taped it on reel-to-real audio tape (does anybody even remotely remember or know what that was)? I listened to it so many times I knew all of the lines and sound effects by heart (I still remember most of it from those tapes today).

Times have changed indeed. Kids are much more sophisticated. We were so naive. They could probably tell you what would happen before even seeing the movie. And, listening to just the audio? What-ev-er. Please, Star Wars IV? Yawn...

I am happy to say this is not the case everywhere. There's still some hope left. We have all five available DVD's. J & B eat them up. I think they could watch all of them every day all summer long and still have questions, still be in awe (granted, they are much younger [relatively speaking] then I was when I first saw it in the theater but still I think they've caught the bug).

The really interesting things to them are Darth Vader and light sabers. Vader is their hero, even though they realize he's not a nice guy. They don't quite get how he turned bad (since they have seen I & II but are much too young to see III-- it would scare them to death) and they really would rather he were a 'good Darth Vader'. But anyway, he's their man. They have pictures (hand-drawn & collages made from magazine photos) of him all over their room. Sure, they like Obi-Wan and Luke, Yoda is a particular favorite. Yet still, none can compare to the big D himself.

One of them has a Vader helmet that 'talks', the other has a half-face Vader mask (he doesn't like the full helmet). Everybody has a light saber (except Mom--the boys want to find a purple one for her but no luck yet). They constantly duel with each other and drag me into it too. It's a blast, and they're getting pretty good at it. I don't know how long the plastic sabers are going to hold up to the beating they are taking but it will be great while it lasts (and, I'm certain, tragic when one breaks. Oh the drama!)

Vader helmet image courtesy of Hasbro.com

B has the green Yoda saber. J has the red Vader saber, and they got me the blue one (I get to be the good guy most of the time in the duels). They inform me, "“Your powers are weak..." just before they strike. :-)

I find it somewhat bewildering that Vader is their hero, and I can see them struggling with the fact that he should be a good guy. In my day Luke and the gang were cool (although I always thought the Storm Troopers armor & blaster were awesome). They were the heros. I guess Lucas achieved his stated goal that these shows are about the fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. At least that's what he has these boys wondering about at some level. I guess some things really do change, and some remain the same...

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