The impending release of a new Star Wars movie – and a new Star Wars trilogy – has me thinking about the last time a new trilogy launched, back in 1999. My brother Todd and I took opposite approaches to learning about the film in advance.
I remember, a few months before The Phantom Menace came out, I was in a bookstore and one of the sci-fi magazines supposedly had the leaked plot of the whole movie. I read it, and a few months later, it turned out they were right. I always regretted knowing the story in advance. Even though TPM turned out to be…well, you know…movies are more fun if you don’t know what’s going to happen next. That was the first time I ever felt like I had truly spoiled something for myself by overeager rumor-hunting.
Todd skewed as far in the other direction as I’ve ever heard of anyone doing. Whenever a trailer or TV spot for The Phantom Menace came on, he would close his eyes, stick his fingers in his ears, and hum the national anthem. It sounds like a joke, right? But he did it, for real, and the first time he saw anything substantial from The Phantom Menace was in the theater, watching the movie. Being surprised.
I don’t know how The Force Awakens is going to turn out. There are positive and negative signs in several directions. On the positive side, none of J.J. Abrams’ movies have been as clumsy and poorly executed as the prequels – but then, none of them have been as clever or memorable as the Original Trilogy. On the negative side, a ton of movie merchandise is coming out on September 4, “Force Friday”, and it’s almost inevitable that some of this stuff will include spoilery details. But on the plus side, Abrams and Lucasfilm have been holding their cards very close to the vest about the movie’s plot and the arcs of the characters, especially Han, Luke, and Leia. (And least in terms of mass-release information – I’m not worried about what might be lurking out there where I’d have to deliberately go hunting to find it.)
Anyway, however good the movie turns out to be, I know I’ll enjoy it more than I would otherwise if I know as little about it as possible. So I’d probably better cut myself off from any further spoilers starting now.
Whether I’ll actually have the willpower to keep that up for another four months is anyone’s guess.