So here's something if you don't know about me, you should know: I freaking LOVE epic stories, especially epic trilogies. I think this began in childhood (which was, I admit, in the late 80's) when I saw an assorted number of movies indelibly etched upon my brain space, especially the original Star Wars. Star Wars has always been my hallmark for Awesome Trilogy Storytelling. Which, you know, comes in handy since I myself am writing a trilogy.
I thought of Star Wars as I was plotting out my trilogy, writing those outlines for books 2 and 3 that I attached when fabulous agent man and I were submitting to publishers. I wanted big. I wanted epic. I wanted One Girl Who Can Maybe Save The World Like Luke Skywalker Did kind of epic. Although, technically I suppose, he saved the galaxy, but I digress.
So I'm writing Book 3 now, and as I'm tossing around plot ideas in my head (because as all writers know, outlines were made to be broken), I come back to the original, to the penultimate. I come back to Star Wars. I had to go out and buy the BlueRay version because last time I watched it was on VHS and I no longer have a VCR. And because I'm more concerned about the middle and end of my trilogy, I started out of order and watched The Empire Strikes Back.
Which is my favorite of the trilogy. My heart goes all racy just thinking about it. This is great story-telling. This is great melodrama. Specific things I noted as I was watching this time through:
- There's lots of little mini-mysteries. Luke goes searching for Yoda, meets a funny little obnoxious creature who turns out to BE Yoda, and meanwhile, it highlights the very thing Luke needs to work on in his Jedi-training, his youth and impatience. Han and Leia drive IN to an asteroid field to hide, drive straight into a hole in the asteroid, only to find out later there's a secret we didn't know about this particular asteroid they've chosen.
- A lot of story-telling weight can hinge on something as simple as a mechanical malfunction. All of Han's story-arc in this movie depends on the fact that his dang hyper-drive keeps not working!! He would have been out at the beginning of the movie paying Jabba the Hut off if it had worked! They wouldn't have had to go in the asteroid field at all if it had yet again been working. And at the end, when you hear that now familiar: waa, waa, waaaaaa noise of the hyper-drive again, NOT working after they've all escaped Vader, you're like, noooooo!
- Big mysteries with Big Reveals. Then there are the bigger mysteries. We have a feeling we know why the Emperor and Vader are interested in Luke, but we don't know just how deep it goes. At first it seems ludicrous that Luke would be tempted by the dark side of the force, but then with the giant, emotional reveal that Vader IS his father, omg, I still get goosebumps thinking about it!!!!
- But back to Han Solo. Seriously, Han is what makes this movie work, thirty years later. He's got so much charm, he's the cowboy/pirate character among the bunch. Luke can be a little whiny at times, but you always love Han, even when he's being a scoundrel. As he so aptly points out: "you like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life."
- Chemistry between Han and Leia. Whether she's hurling insults: "You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder!" or he's trying to corner her in a hallway somewhere, it always sizzles between them.