Trying to explain to M-ito that episode IV is really the first Star Wars movie that was made has been challenging. “Which one is number one? Why didn’t that get made first? Which one should we see first?” are the questions that quickly rolled out. I decided to have him begin with episode IV as most of us did from back then because it just made sense to me. It was also the one with the least amount of epic violence in it, and the movie that is closest to my heart.
M-ito’s Lego love affair has taken him into the world of Obi-Wan Kanobi and Luke Skywalker. I think he’s too young for the futuristic western but he’s forging ahead, all six years of him. He’s built a good sized Lego Stormtrooper Walker and we’ve read five DK Star Wars level 1 and 2 reading books so he has some background on the world – the books being my idea on how to prep him for the movies.
So… over the last three nights, we sat down, M-ito half in my lap, curled up and frightened, one eye open one eye closed, a blanket covering us both in case we needed to hide from the movie’s images – and watched it from beginning to end. The only scene I skipped for him (and didn’t tell him) was the scene when Luke’s aunt and uncle are fried and their skeletons are shown toasting in front of their house. Powerful scene – but not for M-ito. It was bad enough that Obi-Wan disappears when Darth Vader cuts him in half. And that the ground is littered with dead Jawas. And that at least twelve rebel fighters get destroyed attacking the deathstar. And did I mention a whole planet? And the Death star. I’d better stop now. I can’t take the death toll.
Let me be clear. I love this movie. I still remember seeing it when was a teenager, first row and in awe of the dream I was watching appear across the screen. But when your son is 6 and he wants to watch the same movie because all of his boy friends have seen it – it’s a whole ‘nother story. I guess I buckled to pressure.
What I did was explain every plot point to M-ito before it happened. I told him what would happen to Obi-Wan – with the movie on pause. I told him what would happen at the end – right before the attack on the death star – with the movie on pause. And as long as he was prepared for the next plot point – movie on pause – he was okay. As we lay in bed afterwards, right before singing started, he told me that was the only way he could watch the film.
“It was too scary not to know,” he said.
I told him I wasn’t happy about all the violence in the movie and all the creatures, human and not human, that were killed.
“But not the important ones,” he told me. “As long as the important ones, like Han and Luke and Princess Leia, were okay it was all right.” I’m not sure if this is good or bad. It’s how I view violence on TV and in film also. It’s okay as long as it happens to a character that I don’t care about. How smart is my son?
“Do you think you’ll have nightmares tonight?” I asked.
“No,” he said, shaking his head. He went to bed that night in my arms, holding my hand next to his cheek, a big Star Wars smile on his face while I sang him Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
My father introduced me to The Mark of Zorro, The Seahawks, The Adventures of Don Juan, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Gunga Din, and Beau Geste. Errol Flynn was my hero. He was my father’s hero also. I watched each film with my father at my side – waiting for the next sword fight or battle scene – yawning my way through the love scenes. When we get the chance – very rare these days – we still watch Jackie Chan films or martial arts epics together – modern adventure stories. He gave me the Pirates of the Caribbean for a gift two christmas’ back.
I have mixed feelings about the violence in Star Wars. But I am so glad M-ito and I saw the film together.