Immediately after tens of millions of viewers saw the first trailer for new Star Wars-series Obi-Wan Kenobi had seen, a shot of it – in which the lead character, played by Ewan McGregor, watches a very young Luke Skywalker from afar through binoculars – was upgraded into an ironic social media meme with now dozens of variants. Including scenes from Bojack Horseman† Twin Peaks† Trainspotting and McGregor himself in The Graham Norton Show fall on Kenobi’s lens. Then you know that the public’s love is overwhelming.
the six-part Obi-Wan Kenobi, the first two episodes of which landed on Disney+ on Friday, begins ten years after the point where the space saga “prequel trilogy” ended 17 years ago: with Kenobi’s exile on the desert planet of Tatooine well-known among Star Wars fans. And the series also heralds, a second trailer hinted, the return of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, now turned villainous Darth Vader.
Had Star Warsproduction house Lucasfilm had only brought this same series on television ten years earlier, then the hype about it all would not have been half as great. When the creator George Lucas himself directed The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) came to the cinema, those films were almost immediately slammed by most critics and a large part of the public. They remained deeply in the shadows of the first three films in the cycle, which appeared between 1977 and 1983, as well as most of them Star Warsmovies made under the auspices of media conglomerate Disney since 2012 have received much more acclaim. The prequels, the general tenor had been for years, were childish, overly complex, and poorly directed.
However, Lucasfilm now has several new productions in the pipeline that are set in the era of the Star Warsmythology that highlights the prequel trilogy. Next Obi-Wan Kenobi is the French video game house Quantic Dream (known for video game drama heavy rain) working on the game Star Wars: Eclipsefull of visual references The Phantom Menaceand the new animation series has been running on Disney+ since last year The Bad Batch, which, like Obi-Wan, immediately follows the events of the prequels’ conclusion. The negative perception of those films seems to have softened over the years, to the extent that Disney has discovered an unserved audience in viewers that they could chew. “It’s really wonderful to have such a new relationship with those movies now,” Ewan McGregor also said last week during a red carpet event Disney hosted around the series in Los Angeles.
Difference in perception
“Those prequels weren’t that bad at all”, almost Tim Veekhoven, co-founder of Belgian Star WarsFanclub Teekay-421, to join. “The fact that they were so reviled when they came to the cinema at the time has mainly to do with the expectations that a large part of the cinema-goers had at the time. Those who had seen the original trilogy in the cinema were a bit older by now, and often returned to the cinema for nostalgic reasons. But the old movies told a simpler heroic story, and creator George Lucas wanted his prequels to change the world Star Wars consciously open up a bit more. The prequels had a more complex narrative, about a democracy falling into a dictatorship. That created a somewhat negative perception among those older viewers: they didn’t get the mythical story they were used to. In addition, the prequels had a hard time with the critics, who found their cinematic qualities much less. But that other part of the public, the children and young people of that time, collectively loved it. Only then did they not have the loud voice they have today, because social media was not yet widespread.”
The perception of the prequels largely crosses a generational fault line, Veekhoven thinks. There were sixteen years between Return of the Jedi (1983), the last film of the old series, and The Phantom Menace (1999), the first of the three prequels. So the ten-year-old who ever saw the former was already an advanced twenties at the time of the second. At the same time, the millennial generation was just growing up with the prequel trilogy. A pre-teen who at the time Revenge of the Sith (2005) in cinema today tends towards the thirties. And therefore gets more nostalgic feelings with it than with the old exploits of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. George Lucas himself also said at the time that he had not made the prequels for the old in the first place Star Warsaudience, but for the children and young people of that time, the PlayStation generation.
“We never heard of people of your age, your generation, at the time,” McGregor said on that red carpet. “Those people really love those movies, but it took us 15 years to figure that out.”