I decided that my son at 4.5 years old was about old enough to see the original Star Wars trilogy.
We watched the movies over the last few weeks. This was really cool for me because although I loved the movies growing up, I probably haven’t watched episodes 4, 5, and 6 in at least 10-12 years. I definitely haven’t watched them since Lucas “updated” them.
So, I thought I’d post some thoughts on each of the movies both from myself and also from watching/listening to my son.
One little bit of background before I start firing off my thoughts is that my son knew who Darth Vader was prior to watching A New Hope since a friend of his has a toy Darth Vader that speaks. Other than that, he had little knowledge about the movies, characters, or universe.
A New Hope:
- It may have been a while, but the intro is still one of my favorites of all time. The John Williams score, the scrolling text, and the awesome shot of the space battle and subsequent boarding of Leia’s ship. My son liked this a lot.
- Thankfully, Darth Vader shows up early because in the first minutes before he makes his appearance, all my son did was ask when he would show up. By the way, if Vader wasn’t on screen, he wanted to know when he would return. He definitely has a penchant for the dark side.
- I was really surprised my son didn’t take an interest in the droids. They actually didn’t grab his attention until they were on the Death Star.
- The sand people kind of freaked him out. I guess they are pretty creepy. It was the only moment in the move that scared him a little.
- He thinks the various aliens are all pretty funny. Unfortunately, he expects me to know what each one is and each one's entire life story.
- He audibly gasped when Luke first turns on his father’s old lightsaber. He LOVES them. After that one scene, every moment was him waiting for another glimpse of a lightsaber in action.
- He cracked up laughing at the trash monster.
- Obi-Wan’s death really got to him. I wasn’t expecting that, I think in part because I knew the character was coming back as a ghost and he didn’t. Three things really made Obi-Wan’s death hard on him.
1. He thought Obi-Wan was Luke’s father and he didn’t understand why Darth Vader would kill Luke’s father (yes, I am well aware of the irony).
2. My mother in law (his grandmother) died earlier this year and Obi-Wan’s death brought up some of those emotions for him.
3. He really likes Darth Vader and it was hard for him to think of Vader as a bad guy. No matter how much I told him then and throughout all the movies, it wasn’t until the third act of Return of the Jedi that it sunk in for him that Vader was the bad guy.
- We watched this movie over two nights since I didn’t want him staying up too late. The first night all he did was talk and ask questions about EVERYTHING. Therefore, he missed most of what was said and what happened. Thankfully, he was pretty quiet the next night and I think he enjoyed the movie more because of it.
- Overall, he liked the movie a lot and was excited to watch Empire Strikes Back, especially after I told him about Yoda.
- For me, the movie was good, but also a little disappointing. It didn’t have quite the staying power I thought it would. For one, the dialogue and acting were worse than I remember. The editing wasn’t as clean as I remember and all of Lucas’s “improvements” only made that issue more glaring.
- My son started singing a song around the house about Darth Vader (Oh, I want a Vader toy for Christmas).
Empire Strikes Back:
- Unlike A New Hope, we watched this one all in one night.
- Unfortunately, the questions were pretty much nonstop throughout, especially in the beginning.
- My son liked the AT-ATs a lot.
- He seemed to be much more into the other main characters for this movie, especially the droids and Luke.
- Seeing the ghost of Obi-wan was a big relief for him.
- Yoda was a big hit. I think that might be his second favorite character after Darth Vader now.
- So, my son’s favorite part of the entire movie was the part I was most worried about how he would react and that was when Vader cut off Luke’s arm.
- My wife watched some of this one with us, in part because she couldn’t wait to see his reaction to the big reveal that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Oddly enough, he started laughing. No surprise, no gasp, he just thought it was funny.
o He might have still been distracted from Luke losing his arm though as he kept talking about it for the rest of the movie. “Daddy, did you see when Darth Vader cut off Luke’s arm? That was really cool, huh?” Like I said before, definitely a penchant for the dark side with this one.
Return of the Jedi:
- Due to timing, there was a several week gap between this movie and Empire so he was really anxious to see what happened next.
o As a funny side note, some friends of ours let him borrow the Star Wars Lego movie and The Lego Movie which feature the Star Wars characters. Because of this, he got confused several times. He didn’t realize the Lego versions were not in canon. I got a lot questions about Darth Maul not being in the film and even a “Daddy, when is Batman going to show up?” since that was in the recent Lego Movie. Funny stuff.
- The very talkative boy returns in full force!
- The Jabba stuff and breaking Han out is still pretty cool. My son liked the “dance number” as well.
- I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I do not understand the fascination with Boba Fett. Maybe he is awesome in the books (I’ve never read them), but he is an utter joke in the original movies. I just don’t get it.
- Halfway through the movie it finally sunk in that Darth Vader was a bad guy and that he was really Luke’s dad. When that happened, I got all the questions I thought I was going to get during Empire Strikes Back. “But if he’s his dad, why did he hurt Luke?” “Why would his daddy cut off his arm?” This line of questioning continued when they fought again and Luke cut off Vader’s arm.
- The Ewoks are not that bad. Are they my favorite part of the movie? No. But they are not anything close to being as bad as some say.
- The race sequences in the forest are still really awesome. My son liked them a lot.
- Taking out the defense shield of the Death Star sort of dragged for me.
- The lightsaber battle at the end with Vader and Luke still gives me chills. It might not have the flash and craziness of the fight scenes in the prequels, but it is still my favorite. My son loved it as well.
- The Emperor is still pretty freaky.
- My son was sad that Darth Vader died, but he was very happy that he became a good guy first. I think it made it easier for him to keep liking the character which he desperately wanted to do.
- I know everyone swears Empire Strikes Back is the best of the original trilogy, but I always preferred Return of the Jedi as a kid. After this re-watch, I think I still do.
In the end, he really enjoyed all three movies. In fact, he asked when we could watch them again. I plan to give him a second showing soon. I think he’ll like them more the second time around since he’ll be able to pay attention and not ask so many questions.
To further show how much he loves the movies, this is the shirt we got for him at his enthusiastic request.
And before anyone asks, I’ll show him the prequels eventually but it probably won’t be for a while.
This experience made me realize how much I can’t wait to watch some of my other favorite movies with him when he gets older.