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Strong is the force in these discs

Thirty three years after the first film, Indrajit Hazra discovers that the best way to experience Star Wars is on DVD.

india Updated: May 10, 2010 15:27 IST
Indrajit Hazra

Let me tell you how the Jedi mind works. It’ll be 33 years since a film called Star Wars by George Lucas was premiered in May 25, 1977. That was how old Christ was when he was crucified. So two Tuesdays from today, people mostly in their 30s, will mark a special day in their otherwise ordinary lives.

Nostalgic value
While costumed fans observed yet another Star Wars Day on May 4 — ‘May the fourth be with you!’ — the debate as to whether the world’s most famous ‘space opera’ that launched a generation of dorks, a franchise and the CGI revolution is only about nostalgia and remembering where you were when Lucas announced he would do three prequels to the original trinity rages on.

Well, now there’s a way of gauging what the whole phenomenon is really worth — minus the guys in Storm Trooper costume, minus the giant rubber sticks pretending to be deadly light sabres and minus the giant advantage of Star Wars being the only truly cool special effects travelling inter-galactic circus in town. All you have to do is watch all the six episodes back-to-back on DVD, even as hardcore fans mutter that the experience is pointless on a television.

I have watched all the Star Wars pretty much along the time-path of their releases. While my post-teenage years pretty much consisted of defending the supremacy of The Empire Strikes Back (perhaps due to the scene of Princess Leia taking off her spartan white cloak and showing some skin), by the time I watched the final episode (or rather the third, in the somewhat confusing roster of Star Wars films), The Revenge of the Sith, I became acutely aware of the unintended cheesiness of the early movies (The Phantom Menace exaggerating this cheesiness without the luxury of being anachronistic with the David Dhawan-type creation of Jar Jar Binks).

The trick to watching Lucas’ hexalogic masterpiece if you’re not one of those heavy-breathing, black rexin- wearing bobbins pretending to be Darth Vader is to start with Episode I, that is The Phantom Menace (the Ben Hur-style pod racing sequence is the stand-out), change your discs to The Attack of the Clones (the finest special effects battle sequences in the whole saga), and then The Revenge of the Sith, where Lucifer, the brightest angel, is forced to turn into Satan... oops, I mean Jedi apprentice Anakin Skywalker is forced to turn to the Dark Side, ultimately to become Darth Vader — all because of, you guessed it, the love of a woman.

The three episodes after that — A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi — will all then fit into place like Han Solo’s pirate ship, the Millennium Falcon making a hyperjump while his woolly, homo-Wookie-erotic first mate blares on.

Not only do the digitally mastered DVDs of the old films enhance the viewing and listening pleasure (sound production is truly revolutionary even on a dinky TV set), but the bonus features that include making of the films and Lucas’ commentaries put us, Star Wars-on-DVD viewers in an advantage over the guys still storing their Master Yoda-embossed lunch boxes.

Interesting mix
In the end, the Star Wars story is part-Greek tragedy (Luke Skywalker in love with Princess Leia without either of them knowing till two movies that they are both Anakin Skywalker’s/Darth Vader’s offsprings), part-Gone with the Wind (the swash-buckling Han Solo played by a unwrinkled Harrison Ford exemplifying a transgalactic Clark Gable), and part-Christian mythology.

The Force in this double box-set is strong.