When Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was released, I wasn’t even born yet. In fact, I was so far away from being born that I may have watched it in my past life. I was in primary school when the prequel trilogy first came out, but for some reason it barely registered on my radar. And there goes: I had never watched a Star Wars movie in my life before.
Of course, not having watched the movies did not make me completely ignorant of the series. It’s hard to not know anything of the series since many popular lines from the movies have become mainstays of pop culture. Most of us would very well be aware that Darth Vader was Luke’s father, and that Princess Leia was Luke’s twin sister. Or that Yoda liked to put the verb at the end of a sentence. Then again, would my rudimentary knowledge of Star Wars provide sufficient context for me to watch Episode VII: The Force Awakens?
To be honest, I wasn’t so sure if I would catch the new movie after all. Only after the positive reviews started flowing in did I decide to not miss out on all the fun. So, I entered the theatre, not knowing what to expect.
The Opening Crawl
Episode VII begins with the same old opening crawl that graced the previous six movies. I haven’t seen the crawl in its entirety before watching VII, but boy, did the opening crawl add a touch of grandeur to the entire movie. The opening fanfare, courtesy of the legendary John Williams, served to accentuate this touch.
On this note, when watching movies distributed by 20th Century Fox, one thing I always look forward to is the playing of its opening fanfare. Universal Studios has a similarly epic fanfare, but unfortunately they don’t seem to play this hymn much anymore (in most of the recent movies I’ve watched, the Universal Studios animation is overlaid with either silence or a more sinister-sounding track). The Star Wars fanfare is equally grand. And an interesting piece of trivia: the fanfare in Star Wars was designed to seamlessly follow the 20th Century Fox fanfare, which is why the two sound somewhat similar to each other. Unfortunately, the Star Wars franchise is now owned by Disney, so that epic opening is no longer as epic as it once was.
As for the movie itself, it was surprisingly not that difficult to follow for a first-timer. I was a little confused at first as to who were the good and bad guys (protip: those in white aren’t necessary the good ones), but once the big, black Darth Vader-lookalike (aka Kylo Ren) made his appearance, all became clear.
Star Wars fans would surely appreciate the mid-movie appearance of Han Solo, Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2, but even for a newbie like me, I appreciate very much the appearance of these veterans (not to mention that Harrison Ford has become a very popular actor in his own right).
Even if you understand nothing about the plot, the action’s more than sufficient to keep you entertained. Those particularly poignant moments within the movie also do not require you to have any knowledge of Star Wars to induce tears in your eyes.
Overall, if you want to watch it, go ahead. There’s really no pressure on you to catch any of the prior movies before catching VII. After all, Episodes I to III came out after IV to VI, and people are still arguing till this day the ‘correct’ order in which to watch the entire Star Wars saga. For me, I started with VII. Who cares? In my opinion, it’s well worth the money all the same.
Some tidbits to get you started…
I decided to rent Episode IV on iTunes after watching Episode VII. After watching Episode IV, I realised there were some subtle details in Episode VII that may otherwise go unnoticed if you haven’t watched the original trilogy before. So, here are some things to get you started:
- The Force
Throughout the movie, there’s this talk about the ‘force’, and it is explained briefly within the film itself. What it doesn’t mention is that the Stormtroopers are weak, and can be influenced by a stronger force. In Epsiode IV, Obi-Wan uses the force to trick the Stormtroopers into letting him through, and in Episode VII Rey tries something similar.
In Star Wars, people don’t turn bad ‘just because’. Often, they start out with good intentions but are slowly seduced to the dark side. Not all hope is lost even if they have fallen to the dark side, though: Darth Vader redeemed himself at the very end of Episode VI, even if it led to his death.
- Ben is more than just any other name
Ben was also the name of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi master who trained both Anakin and Luke Skywalker.
Got anything else to add? Feel free to leave a comment below!