Star Wars was ruined by, “I am your father!”

Well, not ruined per se, but it was something the Prequels and the Sequels haven’t been able to live up to. Or perhaps they forgot about it — a key dramatic element of the Original Trilogy.

Everyone remembers the time they first saw that dramatic scene in Empire Strikes Back where Darth Vader tells the young hero Luke Skywalker that he is in fact his father. The shock would plague some of us for nearly 3 years waiting for the release of Return of the Jedi. Yes, I was a kid, 8 years old, back then and saw it in the theater. I’m not sure I even believed it. I figured Vader was lying to Luke just to get him to turn to the Dark Side.

See, I was naive and believed Obi-wan Kenobi when he told Luke that Vader betrayed and murdered Luke’s father. Yet, once I saw ROTJ and the audience got its confirmation that Ben Kenobi lied, I learned a very important dramatic element of story telling. Some call it the “big reveal” or some might say “the redirect”. The goal is to surprise your audience with some information they weren’t expecting. This information is meant to change the dynamic of the characters relationship with one another. Not only providing melodrama but layers of complexity to the story.

Now, when the Prequels debuted in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, we knew this was going to be a story about a young Anakin Skywalker — Luke’s father. But what we didn’t know was how and what drove Anakin to the Dark Side. So millions of Star Wars fans waited and then we were disappointed. Okay, fine, we saw how he fell to the Dark Side, yet George Lucas made it a very long turn. Instead of something dramatic, we were told that Anakin was troubled and manipulated by Palpatine — spending over a decade slowly mind controlling him.

We all have the version of new Star Wars we wanted in our heads. My imagination over 20 years allowed me to think of a few different versions of the prequels. Yet, I know that is the definition of exaggerated anticipation — and there’s no way to be completely satisfied with the result. This is a common affliction in a Star Wars fan. We put too much of our own desires into future stories that we hopelessly know will never become reality. This is why a Star Wars fan can hate and love a movie at the same time.

In my Star Wars, Anakin fell to the dark side in one tragic and dramatic moment. Something very similar to what we saw in his final moment of his fall in Revenge of the Sith. But something much more powerful. I saw him using the Dark Side only to save someone he loved — i.e. the “young queen” (mother of Luke and Leia) but because it truly was the only way to save them. Almost to say, he sacrificed himself to save them. But this isn’t my point. Yet, I mention it as this could have been the “I am your father” moment. And maybe it should have been.

In all aspects of the Prequels, we never got this “reveal” moment. We were never shocked or surprised by the story. It really felt like the three movies were telegraphed to us in a very long exposition of images. I blame George Lucas for not giving us our surprise. Where was “I am your father” in the Prequels? We didn’t get it! Maybe Palpatine should have told Anakin that he was Anakin’s father? Or that Qui-Got was? Something. This is the same thing that happened in the Sequels. We almost had it with the tease on Rey’s parents but then we didn’t get anything. I believe if we had gotten this moment in Attack of the Clones or in The Last Jedi, those trilogies would be inherently better. But then, what do I know….

I failed….

On January first, I wanted to write on this blog every day for an entire year. As anyone paying attention (not sure there’s many) but that’s not happened.

Several factors have influenced this: internal conflicts of do I share opinions or touch on uncomfortable subjects, or simply share memories and reminisce about things I love; battling writers block on a couple projects that have diminished my desire to write; and, working through my fixation of my obsessive need for refinement (an oxymoronic statement I’m sure) and my never ending worry with having order in my process of work.

If the last reason doesn’t make sense, it’s probably because I don’t know how to make sense of my mind sometimes. There’s definitely something not right when I worry about every word. I immediately want to take it back. I should have said that differently or the anxiety of judgment due in part to the manner in which I talk or think.

So I failed but I still want to move forward. Confronting weakness or mistakes is the first step, right? Then again maybe artists don’t fire on all thrusters and I need to accept that. I’ll work on it. But realistically, I just want to tell stories….

Time is limited….

So, more and more nowadays, I know my time on this planet is limited. I’m not getting younger….only older!

Optimistically, I most likely have at least another 20-30 years of life in me. Yet, family health history and current health issues could shorten that. Now, I’m not trying to cause a panic and say I’m looking at Death’s door. I feel great and have plans for many many years to come. I got some things to do before then.

Yet, hearing reports of a celebrity dying at only 52 opens up those concerns. Especially, when I know the celebrity isn’t much older than me and I remember growing up with the actor. This was the actor Luke Perry.

I was in high school as 90210 premiered. I graduated a year later but continued to watch it in early days of college. I will say I was fixated on the story and the young characters. As a young man, I grew my sideburns. I just happened to get a eyebrow scar in 1989 from a hunting accident. And, my one (or few claims of fame) is I did have a few girls think I looked like Jason Priestly and a 90210 guy! Heck, if I’m not sporting a beard, I still keep the Luke Perry sideburns.

The show influenced me so much that I immediately cast the actors into my own stories. I saw these guys and gals as part of my early visions of favorite IPs and my own creations. Nerd Alert: I cast Luke Perry to play Maximillian Sterling in a big live action screenplay I wrote in 1992 for the ROBOTECH franchise (disclaimer: it was a fan script as I was only 19 at the time.) My limited casting creativity also cast Jason Priestly as Rick Hunter and Jennie Garth was Lisa Hayes. When I look back on that, it just sounds ridiculous! (sidebar: I cast Brett Michaels to play Lancer aka Yellow Dancer in a Robotech Next Generation script I was writing back then too).

So, hearing about Luke’s death kinda hits home. I never met him. But I felt I knew him in some weird way. I’ll be sad for a while. I wish his family well. And remember: Time is limited…. take every day to enjoy it!!