Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary

So, I’ve been spending a lot of my time with Miles working on narratives, reading, and generally developing a sense of wonder, and I personally believe that are few better ways at this than sharing my own enthusiasm with the original Star Wars trilogy. We’ve recently watched all of the movies, and we’ve also been going through innumerable books from both the library and bookstore to work on reading and generally flesh out the narrative through all sorts of tributary narratives. It’s a lot of fun, what’s more is I’ve been spending time looking for Star Wars fan fiction, and there is always good stuff—like Tatooine (the song/paper art piece) as well as the Boba Fett invoice. And then there are the innumerable brick films like, for example, the Sand People framed as The Hills Have Eyes.

We recently got the Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary from the library and worked our way through it over the last few evenings. I’m try to be open-minded about the new trilogy, episodes 1-3, and this dictionary has Miles all excited about the new trilogy. I know we have to watch them, and I’ve learned to accept that fact. But working through the dictionary I began to get kinda pissed off. Here’s the problem, it breaks episodes 1-3 up into their own sections and spends an inordinate amount of the book talking about every detail of these first three films. In fact, the first three sections add up to over 200 pages, while the fourth section (which is only one section dedicated to films 4-6—OG Star Wars) is given only 79 pages. So let’s think about this for a second, each of the new trilogy films have their own section and just about as many pages as A New HopeThe Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi but together. How can this be? I mean what kind of Ph.D. shill, namely David West Reynolds, puts together a dictionary the short shrifts the classic trilogy so blatantly in the service of promoting Lucas’s vision of the new trilogy as the expansive, richer mythical universe—something any detached critic knows is not the case. I’ve been arguing with Miles vehemently about problems with how this book was constructed, the obvious bias of the conception and design, and the fact that the story is presented as a chronological dictionary compromises the brilliant and rich vision of the original trilogy. It’s a deeply problematic book, and Miles needs to know this—this is my first goal of unschooling. Free him from the propaganda and lies that somehow there are six Star Wars episodes rather than three.

Now, with all the negatives I have to share about this book, I do have to admit that the pull out of Sarlacc, the Tatooine desert monster that digests it’s catch over a thousand years, was fun to work through with Miles. One of his favorite scenes of the original trilogy is the scene on Jabba’s ship—which is for me the best and redeeming part of Jedi.

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11 Responses to Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary

  1. Jenny says:

    We’ve just introduced our girls to the original 3 episodes over the last month and they are fully addicted. I refused to let them watch the remixed/remastered versions (to Jeff’s chagrin). We are going to begin watching them again this weekend and we’re sticking with the originals in every way. Our oldest desperately wants to see episodes 1-3 – she is fascinated by how Anankin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader. But I refuse to get into those yet either. I told her we waited more than 20 years for those episodes she can wait a bit too.

  2. Reverend says:

    Jenny,

    Avoiding the remastered versions is essential if you can. What is insidious about Lucas is he is really trying to prevent from allowing the originals to remain an option. What I had to do to watch the originals of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back is bust out the laser discs, which was pretty awesome. But I don’t have an alternative for Return of the Jedi—because I really can;t stomach watching anything on VHS anymore. Actually, I really kinda hate watching anything on VHS since I tried to watch Ran on a VCR in the mid 90s. I kinda quit it all together.

    And funny enough, I’m not certain that the orginl, untainted versions of the one and only trilogy were released on DVD. Gardner and I were talking about that, and he thinks they were, I’m not so sure. But I guess that is why God invented Google (or Google invented God?).[Moments later.] Seems like the originals are now available as a special feature theatrical release:
    http://www.supershadow.com/starwars/dvd.html
    Though I’m still not sure if there was an early DVD release with the original theatrical releases, I need to look into this—cause I want those.

    I have to lock into those, I hope they are also available for Blue Ray, though i can wait a bit until I actually get a High definition TV. Man, the Star Wars mythology is one I never tire of. And that being Miles and Tessie’s curriculum for the year is pretty rad, id irresponsible 🙂

  3. Tim B says:

    I watched all 6 films with my kids a couple of years ago. They don’t seem to make the distinction between episodes IV-VI and I-III like us old people do. Since then we have watched the Clone Wars film and TV show – the kids enjoy all of it. I can live with the fact that they don’t value the first 3 episodes like we do. What gets me through it all is that my kids don’t like Jar Jar either and as long as this remains the case, I’m not going to preach to them about the classics of my youth.

  4. Andrea_R says:

    Emma’s been getting into Star Wars via lego and (oddly enough) the Star Wars lego bible stories on youtube. how’s THAT for a mix?

    I’ve seen most of them, Ron hasn’t. Since we had one buy & three girls, it didn’t figure much into their childhoods for some reason.

  5. Reverend says:

    @Tim,

    I approach The Phantom Menace with great trepidation for the Jar Jar Binks question alone. And I’m not so sure I can be so phlegmatic about the whole thing as you seem to be. I will continue to argue with them, fight them at every turn, and generally make their life hell until they recognize the how bad the new episodes are. 😉 But you having solved the Jar Jar Binks issue is a huge one, and I am envious.

    @Andrea,
    I haven’t seen the Star Wars Lego Bible Stories yet, thanks for the tip. And speaking of which, have you seen the Brick Testament? It is pretty wild, I could get over the Job image story, and the attention to detail is superb.

    I love Lego!

  6. Tim B says:

    The boy and I are also Lego fans. He has a few of the Star Wars Legos and is already asking for more (but have you seen the prices on some of the larger sets?). We have also spent quite a bit of time in front of the Wii playing Lego Star Wars – that doesn’t get old.

    He also dressed as Darth Vader for Halloween. What would the 10 year old me say if, emerging from the theater having just seen Star Wars, someone told me I’d have a kid 30 years later who dressed up as that evil Darth Vader? Crazy to think about.

  7. Reverend says:

    Tim,

    Awesome, my son was Boba Fett for Halloween (http://flic.kr/p/8PHU2V), and my youngest (10 mos. old) was Yoda (http://flic.kr/p/8PLYrQ). Rock on!

    And as sick as this sounds, I want to buy the Lego Death Star, all $400 of it 🙂

  8. Jenny says:

    We went to Best Buy and bought the original 3 on DVD. It has the original versions as well as the remastered versions of each one. Plus some other extra doo-dads. We used to own all 3 in both versions on VHS. I ditched them a few years back. I’m glad to have the same thing taking up about a sixth of the space.

  9. Grant says:

    For a barrel of lightsaber, force lightening, and blaster fun check out SaberFX:

    http://web.unbc.ca/~gpotter/?p=392

  10. Reverend says:

    @Jenny,

    I think I might pick up that new set, it is time for the young Jedis to learn.

    @Grant,
    I am on record with how awesome you are with all this stuff, right? Thanks dude.

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