It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
To see "Star Wars'' again after 20 years is to revisit a place in the mind. George Lucas' space epic has colonized our imaginations, and it is hard to stand back and see it simply as a motion picture, because it has so completely become part of our memories. It's as goofy as a children's tale, as shallow as an old Saturday afternoon serial, as corny as Kansas in August--and a masterpiece. Those who analyze its philosophy do so, I imagine, with a smile in their minds. May the Force be with them.
Like "The Birth of a Nation'' and "Citizen Kane,'' "Star Wars'' was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after. These films have little in common, except for the way they came along at a crucial moment in cinema history, when new methods were ripe for synthesis. "Birth of a Nation'' brought together the developing language of shots and editing. "Citizen Kane'' married special effects, advanced sound, a new photographic style and a freedom from linear storytelling. "Star Wars'' melded a new generation of special effects with the high-energy action picture; it linked space opera and soap opera, fairy tales and legend, and packaged them as a wild visual ride.
"Star Wars'' effectively brought to an end the golden era of early-1970s personal filmmaking and focused the industry on big-budget special-effects blockbusters, blasting off a trend we are still living through. But you can't blame it for what it did, you can only observe how well it did it. In one way or another all the big studios have been trying to make another "Star Wars'' ever since (pictures like "Raiders of the Lost Ark,'' "Jurassic Park'' and "Independence Day'' are its heirs). It located Hollywood's center of gravity at the intellectual and emotional level of a bright teenager.
It's possible, however, that as we grow older we retain within the tastes of our earlier selves. How else to explain how much fun "Star Wars'' is, even for those who think they don't care for science fiction? It's a good-hearted film in every single frame, and shining through is the gift of a man who knew how to link state of the art technology with a deceptively simple, really very powerful, story. It was not by accident that George Lucas worked with Joseph Campbell, an expert on the world's basic myths, in fashioning a screenplay that owes much to man's oldest stories.