Earlier today, I watched Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back with one of my good friends and collaborators. We sat down to do a critical examination of what works and what doesn't work in the film, as well as discuss what things we really like or dislike about it and why.
Well, needless to say, within about ten minutes we were going off into tangents filled with near-endless praise about the movie and were only able to reign ourselves in with a good deal of difficulty.
Wow, such a good movie.
I mean, seriously, from that opening shot on the star destroyer, filled with an aura of mystery as it shoots out probe droids to find the rebel base, to the closing scene with Luke having his hand repaired and the distinct sense of loss that pervades the moment... it's just fantastic. This movie is why I like movies.
Now, of course, there are faults -- no movie is perfect. But even the film's weaknesses shine in the right context. And, as with any film, it really depends on your expectations.
Do you expect an inspiring character drama from a Star Wars film? No. But this movie is dripping with character.
Are you expecting the flashiest action sequences from a movie that's over thirty years old? No. But the ones in this film are still top-notch.
See, it's not about the biggest, or the fastest, or the most impressive explosions, laughs, or fight scenes. It's about the emotional connection to the audience. It's about making things feel real. And Star Wars, this Star Wars, feels more real to me than dozens of other films. Even films that really get me, in the gut and everything.
They provoke emotion, sometimes. They impress me with their plot twists, the first time. They entertain me with their spectacle, on most days. But they don't feel real.
It's hard to explain or define. And you certainly can't produce it intentionally. It's a magic blend of factors in cinema and writing and even in games. It doesn't happen often. Even when it does, it doesn't happen for everyone. But for those that it does happen to, no matter what the film, novel, or other experience is... well, that means something.
And in my creations, that's what I'm trying to achieve. Even if it's just for one person... it'd be worth it.
"You never understood why we did this? The audience knows the truth. The world is miserable, solid, solid all the way through. But if you could fool them, even for a second, and you could make them wonder? Then you got to see something very special. You really don't know? It was the look on their faces."
-The Prestige (2006)