The release of TFA has provided my wife and I a unique experience. After being together for 11 years and married for 4, I have finally gotten her to watch the Star Wars saga before going to see TFA. As a huge fan who has seen the saga quite literally dozens and dozens of times, I can't tell you how fun it was seeing the saga through the eyes of a newbie.
I was born after the release of the CT and was in middle school when TPM was released. I grew up with the CT and it was part of my knowledge and worldview from as far back as I could remember. For that reason alone I decided to start at Episode 1 and move in order. I wanted to feel that experience through her. Before I get to that, let me say that I used to be a PT hater. With the exception of ROTS, I spent the better part of the last decade hating on the PT.
But then something odd happened. After seeing ROTS in theaters about 5 times...I didn't watch a Star Wars movie for almost ten years. Unbelievable really. Until last year. I purchased the saga on blu-ray and started making my way through them and that's when the odd feeling began. I actually fell head over heels in love with the PT. At first I resisted it. At first I told myself I was being nostalgic and foolish. But I couldn't help it. Then it began to sink in that the movies hadn't gotten better, I had gotten better. I understood the visual storytelling and the mirrored imagery. I understood the moral ambiguity of the Jedi and their code, the uncertainty of Anakin's true parentage and the dubious nature of the prophecy, the intentional awkwardness of Anakin and Padme's love, Obi Wan's clear imperfections, and above all else, I finally felt the tragedy of Anakin.
So my wife watched the saga with me....and it was awesome. She had NO knowledge of what was coming. She had paid absolutely zero attention to Star Wars stuff since her birth. She knew the names Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, but she knew nothing about the story. She was also unbiased by any other opinions. I very intentionally told her nothing and said I wanted her to see them "with her own eyes" as a "virgince." Lol.
Here were some of her thoughts that really surprised me:
- she really liked Jake Lloyd. She thought he was a cute little boy and truly felt for him. Now, she also thought the final space battle with him was stupid and cheesy. So in her unblemished and unbiased mind the kid was good, the story finished dumb.
- she loved Obi Wan (of course) but more importantly, she really liked Anakin and was extremely bothered by his fall. She could not believe he was Darth Vader. Totally stunned. She did say on numerous occasions she thought he was whiny, but also thought it made sense. His life was "shit" she thought. I'm quoting her now..."of course he is whiny. He's a slave taken by Jedi and basically thrust into a difficult life. Everyone is afraid of him and hard on him, even his best friend Obi Wan. The only people that are nice to him are a hot girl who he is understandably awkward with since he's clearly a guy who has no experience with women, and the other is Palpatine. All of the Jedi treat him like shit. Makes sense he's whiny."
- she really liked Padme. Nothing more to say.
- she also loved the CT and thought "it was more fun, but less intricate."
- she actually cried when Vader saved Luke and loved seeing Anakin's force ghost.
Anyway, it was a blast seeing the films through the eyes of someone who had never seen them before. She also enjoyed TFA and especially enjoyed Rey.
Watching ALL of the films again reinforced just how much I love every bit of this saga.
One last note... The use of the Starkiller base has been derided as Death Star 3 and a rehash. I disagree.
In ANH the Death Star was a completed mechanical terror like Vader. The two of them, Vader and the Death Star, are the embodiment of inhuman evil and the destructive power of mans creations. Luke destroys the Death Star just like he destroys Vader bringing Anakin back in the fold. In a similar vein, the second Death Star is under construction but is not yet complete. This is a reflection of Luke whose hand is mechanical but has not yet fully converted to the darkness. Like Luke who puts his faith in his friends and overcomes darkness to remain a Jedi, Luke's friends destroy the Death Star.
Starkiller Base is. Similar motif for Kylo Ren. It doesn't generate its own power, but takes it from a burning hot star just as Kylo draws of his grandfather Anakin's strength. Also like Kylo, Starkiller Base has life in it and on it. There are trees and signs of good. It's just frozen cold and in hiding.
Each Death Star / Starkiller mega weapon is nothing more than a motif of the Skywalker lineage. For that, I applaud TFA.