Star Wars MMXII: A New Hope

Geek Culture GeekMom TV and Movies

For New Year’s this year we rented a house in the Catskills with our good friends and their son. He and my daughter have been best friends since birth, and they’re now six years old. Our plans for the weekend were simple: eat delicious food, drink delicious drinks, and introduce our children to Star Wars.

As every good parent knows, Episode IV comes first.

I was a little nervous. The first time we introduced our kids to a classic was a couple months ago with The Goonies. Boy, that has a lot more swearing than you might remember. But it went OK. My daughter thought that Chunk and Sloth were awesome just as I did as a kid. But Star Wars is bigger. There’s a real pressure to introduce it at the right time. Her best friend is well primed with Star Wars books and card games and a general sense of who Chewbacca is. My daughter prepared herself last week with something she found streaming on Netflix – an episode of Hello Kitty’s Furry Tale Theater entitled “Cat Wars”. Yes, that’s what it sounds like.

Screen capture of Hello Kitty on Leia duty in “Cat Wars”

The moment arrives. We pick a quiet, chilly afternoon while our toddler is napping. Our friend does a dramatic reading of the opening text, trying to convey the importance of this moment. The kids settle in and start watching. I think it’s going well. My daughter moves to the floor, and I can sense her being drawn in by The Force.

The two 6-year-olds settle into watch Star Wars. Photo: Amy Kraft

20 minutes later…

The long stretch of Luke whining puts my daughter to sleep. Photo: Amy Kraft

Well, maybe the timing wasn’t perfect. I don’t blame Star Wars for this rare nap. She was sharing a room with her early bird friend, and I think they were up before 5 a.m. That evening she asked to watch it again and she and her friend cozied up into an armchair and spread the iPad across their laps. They made it about 75% of the way through, enough for this reenactment the next day:

Catskill light saber battle. (Thanks to Hasbro for sending my the light sabers on last year’s May the 4th. Knew they’d come in handy.) Photo: Amy Kraft

Tonight we’re back home and she asked to watch it again, watching it all the way through. I told her my favorite part is when they go into the bar to meet Han Solo, to which she replied, “Mom! I like that part, too! It’s just like in Cat Wars when they go into the ice cream bar and the one guy doesn’t like how the penguin guy is eating his ice cream and they all throw ice cream at each other.” Yeah, like that. I wonder if penguin guy shot first.

Overall I’d rate the introduction a success. The coming winter weekends will surely bring The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Then comes the even bigger question of when to introduce Harry Potter.

How old were your kids when they watched Star Wars? How did it go? Did they react like this kid?

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28 thoughts on “Star Wars MMXII: A New Hope

  1. It’s amazing how important the introduction of Star Wars to your children is. I used last year’s anniversary as the opportunity to indoctrinate my six-year-old. I was so nervous! It’s like, if this kid doesn’t like Star Wars, I’ll be forced to put her up for adoption.

    Luckily, things went well. When I was openning my Star Wars boxed set just before Christmas, she even asked me, “Did you get all six movies, or just the three good ones?”

    Kids say the darndest things.

  2. One idea which I really like (depending on how genre aware your kids are) is to watch the SW movies in this order:

    4, 1, 2, 5, 3, 6

    This preserves the surprise in Empire for as long as possible.

    ANH – great introduction
    TPM and AotC – see what Ben was talking to Luke about his father and the Clone War
    TESB – Hints of the Empire/Emperor/Vader and the big surprise
    RotS – Flashback to reveal how it happened
    RotJ – Redemption and end of the arc

  3. My son (now 6 years old) was introduced almost at birth. When I started to work on my 501st costume, he got even more acquainted with the movies. I prefer IV, V, and VI while my husband prefers the prequels. In turn, my son has learned the major songs and the characters they are associated with and when they happen. He even hums them while playing with his toys or just randomly in the car. One of his favorite things to do is watch the animated series with daddy every week.

  4. My kids and I waited in line for the first show of the Star Wars that came out in the late 1990’s (Phantom Menace) at the very same movie theater that I stood in line for to watch episode IV in 1977. My youngest (8yo) made up his face to look like Darth Maul but kept his regular everyday Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor version) haircut with the long braid behind the ear. Others in line commented out loud that he was the coolest kid ever.

  5. My daughter is 3 and we have yet to show her Star Wars, though we do plan to. (Our grand scheme got thwarted over the holidays since we weren’t able to get the Blu-Ray DVD set like we wanted to!) We did show her Clone Wars which she seemed to enjoy (she loves robots) but hasn’t asked for it since.

  6. …”Then comes the even bigger question of when to introduce Harry Potter.”

    …even BIGGER question? Harry Potter?

    ಠ_ಠ

    I’m all for Harry and all, but that is not the bigger question. The bigger question is whether or not to taint their love with the prequels, and if so, when.

    1. We have introduced Harry Potter when my 8 year old was ready to read Harry Potter. He won’t see the movies till he finishes each book. So far he has finished Sorcer’s Stone and is reading Chamber. He was allowed to see the 1st movie. Good motivation to read the books.

      1. Bruce, I totally agree about books first. We tried Sorcerer’s Stone a few months ago and it wasn’t taking, so I stuck it back on the shelf to try another time. No rush. I want it to be PERFECT.

      2. That’s what we did – he had to read the books first. My oldest was a reluctant reader but was drawn into Harry Potter. He started the first book at the end of first grade. Now in 3rd grade, he’s in the 7th book. However, he has two younger siblings who get to watch HP when the oldest finishes the book. My toddler runs around singing the HP theme song and hitting himself in the head saying “bad Dobby, bad Dobby.”

  7. Hilarious post, Amy! Love the pic of your daughter, zonked on the floor. Oh, the best laid plans…!

    Have fun going through the rest of them!

    Judy

  8. I am gearing up to introduce SW iv to my oldest on his 7th birthday this month and it terrifies me. What if he doesn’t LOVE it???? What if (worse, worse, worse) he makes fun of it??????? And seriously, as an adult, as a parent, why am I making such a big deal about it? *sigh* BECAUSE IT’S STAR WARS!!! This will affect the relationship I have with my son for the rest of our lives. Okay, not really. Okay, maybe.

  9. I read the start of this cross post on my rss feed of Geek Dad and had too see how it ended.

    Congrats to Amy on it being a success and their desire to finish off New Hope after a couple of attempts.

    I really liked the order Jerry suggested. My wife and and I are expecting our first in April (it’s a boy) and if I can remember by the time he’s old enough, I’ll suggest that order as well.

  10. Excellent! I was six when I first saw Star Wars, too, and I think I also zoned out at the same point she fell asleep– to this day the wandering-around-the-deserts-of-Tatooine part makes me zone out– but I didn’t fall asleep, because a later scene stuck with me and became very important to me.

    My son is 4, and he’s seen A New Hope a few times, but I’m not sure when he started– my husband put it on sometime last year and I don’t think Sam seemed all that impressed at first, but since then he’s asked to watch it, and has talked about it, of his own volition since. Maybe it grows on some people?

  11. My kids and my friend’s kids are already Star Wars fans and had seen all the movies at various points but we had never watched in chronological order. We spent two days of Christmas break watching straight through and I have to tell you, I enjoyed the prequels much more that way. Watching Anakin’s descent into Darth Vader made the much loved story more powerful and my married daughter was quick to point out and tease me about the tears in my eyes when Vader dies. We watched with kids ages 6-20 and an epic time was had by all. Whatever it takes to indoctrinate our kids into the ways of the geek. 😉

  12. We bought Lego Star Wars (all 6 episodes) in about 2006. My oldest was then 3/4 and was able to figure out the controls. Working through the story via child-friendly legos was really helpful. I can’t remember what age we let them watch the movies, but I know it was earlier than it otherwise would have been because they’d had the “safe” introduction already. Recently they’ve (we’re up to 3 kids now, with another due in Feb) been on a Star Wars kick and wanting to watch the movies all the time (even the 2 yr old who adores the LEGO Wookie that came in the LEGO advent calendar). We only own episodes IV, V, and VI so that’s all that gets watched, though they know of the existence of the first three and the characters therein.

  13. This mirrors very closely what we did last year in our house. When my oldest was 6 and her younger sister 4, we decided to introduce Star Wars (A New Hope of course). They sat enthralled through pretty much the whole movie. My toddler got to watch too, but he pretty much ignores the tv and didn’t watch much.

    Shortly thereafter we watched the parts 5 and 6. The scenes I thought would be scary (the Rancor, Jaba’s Palace in general, the Carbon Freezing, the Ewoks dying, etc.) didn’t elicit much response and certainly not fear.

    We only watched the “original” three. As far as my kids are concerned the prequals don’t exist. They can rent them when they are tweens if they want to watch them. 🙂

    They loved it and both asked to be Leia for Halloween. One was a white “ANH Leia” and the other a camo poncho clad “Endor Leia”. Incidentally, they wore the costumes to GeekGirlCon as well so at least one of the geekmom bloggers (Cathe Post I believe) got to see us there.

    The most important issue here though is what version to watch. We saw (and I recommend) the original version, otherwise you introduce all kinds of confusion about the changes, every time they watch a different one, something will seem wrong. We have the DVD set released a few years ago with the original theatrical versions on it, and they aren’t great copies, but they aren’t changed from what I saw as a kid either. My daughters loved it.

  14. My 6 yr old has already seen bits and pieces of all of the movies. She even insisted on watching the final duel in Ep3. I warned her it could be scary for her gore-wise but I reluctantly agreed and she seemed to handle it all really well. Now I realize not all kids are ready for that so YMMV in your household.

    That being said, both my girls ran over to the laptop when I squee’d about the Hello Kitty Leia screen cap. I have to see that now. 😀

  15. What a great post. I’m going to write it up on my blog.

    I’m of two minds about showing my children (3 1/2 and 15 months) Star Wars. In part I want them to enjoy it like I did. But in part I want them to ignore it and do their own thing. My Star Wars obsession was just that–obsessive. I would probably have been better off spending all that time and energy on other things! I have a blog post about this conflict of mine here, if you’re interested: http://thissortofthing.com/index/2011/10/17/retro-star-wars-decor-in-my-sons-bedroom.html

  16. I married a non-Geek. In fact, she is *gasp* anti-Star Wars. However, she did buy my son Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie for him when he asked for it. Although I am a IV, V, and VI fanboy, I would like to introduce my son to the movies when they are re-released into theaters in 3D starting this year with Episode I. Maybe even throw in some cosplay and dress up for the occasion.

  17. Ms. Kraft,
    In this posting, you said, “As every good parent knows, Episode IV comes first.” I resent the inference you make here that any parent choosing to teach or even imply to their children that the series starts with Episode 1 is a bad parent. I’m sure that’s not what you meant to say. GeekMom though I am, I’m sure you don’t really believe that good parenting begins with Star Wars.

    Sincerely,
    Cimmorene

  18. My 3 year old daughter prefers the original trilogy to Episodes 1-3. In her words, “those bots are real”. It’s funny that a toddler can already perceive the more authentic experience. What confuses me, though, is she liked Avatar, which is almost completely CGI.

  19. My son is almost four. He first saw the Original trilogy about a year ago. He loved the all the spaceships, the lightsabers, the droids, Vader, the Death Star, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, Chewbacca, and Yoda. And John Williams’ superb score. I don’t think he understood the whole story, but that’s for another time. When I showed him Episode I, he lost interest after fifteen minutes. I’m guessing it’s because of all the dialogue. The Original trilogy movies are all action and minimal dialogue, but there is just too much talking in the prequels.
    Well, maybe later, much later.
    Even today, my son still remembers, “There is no try. Do or do not!”

  20. I too am an avid geek (Internet Marketer) (and totally not the purpose of this comment), and too am enjoying introducing my kids to the classics. Your story is amazing, and I think that I may have waited too late, because mine isn’t. I have 2 step children 15, 13, and a 9 year old of my own. All but the nine year old went to hide and play video games 15 minutes into episode I. I thought starting the episodes with one that had CGI would help, but again I was doomed to be the lonely geek father/stepfather. Well, I have to get back to work, so I’ll stop complaining, lick my wounds later, and hopefully get some good advice. Thanks for the article by the way, it was pretty cute… and good job on Geek Gen 2.0!!!

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