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My son watched Star Wars!
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Whill
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 3:24 am    Post subject: My son watched Star Wars! Reply with quote

Happy Independence Day! Beyond the holiday, today was a very special day for me personally. My son watched Star Wars for the first time, and here I mean the original Star Wars (what SW4:ANH was called when I first watched it in 1977 with my brother and father). I was five when I first saw ANH, and my son will turn six next month.

However this wasn't my son's first SW film. As discussed here, we started with TPM. We actually watched that back in April (and a couple more times since), but I waited to post about it until today since a lot of you despise TPM and feel it shouldn't be watched at all.

As a brief recap, the two viewing orders that were most influential on the one I instituted for my son were the machete order (4 5 2 3 6) and the one I read in a blog which detailed the experiences of his children for each film (4 5 1 2 3 6). Both of those orders end with 2 3 6, and so does my son's. His order is the blog one but moving 1 to the front, or 1 then machete order:

1 4 5 2 3 6

But unlike the influential viewing orders, my son will not watch them consecutively in the space of a few weeks or less. This is a longer term plan due to required maturity levels of 2 and 3 being a huge factor in the order.

Leaving any film out is silly. My son will see them all and judge the merit of each film for himself. 1 then 4 hits home the generational aspect of the saga right off the bat and makes the later filling in the blanks easier. 1 was first because it doesn't spoil any of the other films, and it is more kid-friendly than 4. My son gets the drama of Anakin leaving his mother. He is appropriately saddened by Qui-Gon's death (the most mature aspect of the film), but didn't cry. He loves the movie, especially the four sequential climaxes.

Today watching 4, my son realized that for whatever reason Luke grew up without his father or mother, and didn't seem too surprised to hear Obi-Wan say that Darth Vader had killed Luke's father (but then again one of my action figure displays has Vader dueling with Anakin, which my son thinks happens in 3). He even picked up on the fact that Owen and Beru knew more about his father than they let on. I asked if seeing the charred and bloody skeletal remains of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru bothered him, and he actually asked me to rewind it to see it again to be sure. It really is a brief shot, and it didn't seem to bother him at all. My son was a bit disgusted by the alien's bloody arm on the floor of the cantina, but then again I find it to be gratuitous gore myself. All other lightsaber maimings and decapitations in the entire saga don't show any blood splatter, and the only reason this first one does is because there actually isn't any shot showing the lightsaber severing the arm or any clear shot of the alien missing arm. Yet another missed opportunity for Lucas to fix but never did (along with the alien's fin-cups changing to hands). But you purists reading this should be happy to know that my son did not see Greedo shooting Han first. Before the Greedo scene, I explained to my son that I was going to read Greedo's subtitles live so he could know what he was saying to Han. During, he noticed that Han drew his blaster without Greedo noticing. Afterwards, he understood that Greedo was about to blast Han so Han had to shoot Greedo before Greedo could shot Han. It's called parental guidance, Mr. Lucas! I also read Jabba's subtitles aloud (to maximize the drama of Han later leaving with his reward before the final battle and coming back to save Luke in the climax). My son was puzzled by Obi-Wan's body disappearing when Vader struck him down, but relieved when he heard Obi-Wan's voice. He really enjoyed this movie too, especially from the point Han and Luke put on the stormtrooper armor through the end of the film.

In 1977 after my dad drove us home, my brother and I were running around the house like we were Luke and Han running around the Death Star shooting at stormtroopers. My mom told us it was late and we needed to go to bed, but my dad told her that we had to run around for a while to get all the excitement out of our system. The absolutely best thing for me watching my first and still favorite SW film with my son today was that, because we were at home and not in a theater, he didn't have to wait until after the movie was over. Hardly taking his eyes of the TV screen, he went over to get a football helmet on and grab a water gun so he could run around the living room shooting at stormtroopers ("pew-pew-pew-pew") while watching the heroes do it on the screen. Very Happy

After rewatching 4 a couple times, we will watch 5 next month before my son's new school year starts to minimize spoilers from school friends. I can't wait to find out if my son will even suspect that Vader is Anakin, or if he will just continue believing they are separate characters and view Vader's revelation as introducing a question of paternity (which one is Luke's real father) like we did between '80 and '83 when I was a kid. It will be interesting to see if he thinks Obi-Wan or Vader lied. Along the way, I will not spoil my son's first-time experiences of the films by exposing him to radio dramas, comic adaptations or any other source that reveals the plot of the films.

1, 4 and 5 will be the only three SW films we watch this year, and those three movies will be plenty of Star Wars to hold him over. Early next Summer we'll watch 2 with its death of Anakin's mother in his arms, but in my son's first viewing I will edit out Anakin's decapitations of Sand People in rage, Anakin's confession to Padme of killing the entire tribe, and Mace Windu's non-rage decapitation of Jango Fett with his son watching. A week or so after that I will give my son the Clone Wars (first/2D series) on DVD to watch that summer. Then likely months later, in his next viewing of 2, I will put Jango's death back in. Then a while later in the next viewing after that, I'll put the Sand People decapitations back in. And then in the next viewing after that, I'll put Anakin's disturbing confession of massacring all the women and children back in. This way my son will get the overall plot the first time and know everything he needs to know for the CW animated series. He'll see 2 get sequentially darker aspects of it added in to soften the blow and get him ready for 3.

I will certainly not show TCW (second/3D animation series) to him with its film-defying continuity until after he is completely caught up on all the films.

Then the year after first introducing 2, we will watch the entire saga in chronological order within a couple months, thus newly introducing 3 and 6 (only two years after watching 5). In 3 he'll see the true story behind what Obi-Wan and Vader had told Luke and find out at that Leia is Luke's brother from seeing the twins' birth instead instead of getting it in RotJ dialogue. Hopefully my son be ready for Anakin's betrayal and mass Jedicide, the battle of heroes, Anakin being maimed and immolated screaming I hate you, Anakin being painfully rebuilt into the classic visage of Vader and Padme's death after giving birth to the twins. And I've already told my son that Darth Sidious is the Emperor, but have been careful to suggest no connection with Palpatine, so he should get the surprise of the 'Who is Darth Sidious?' mystery.

I doubt Rogue One will require more maturity than 3, so we should be able to watch that afterwards.

Then after re-watching 4 and 5, going into 6 my son will still not know how Lucas' saga ends. Watching 3 for the first time a short time before 6 will maximize the experience of all the delightful parallels between those films, and intensify the drama of whether Luke will follow in his father's path and choose the Dark Side. And the six-film saga will end as it should on a happy note with the actual ending to the original trilogy story, instead of ending with dark and depressing backstory to an ending already known.

I also doubt 7 will require more maturity than 3, so we will likely be able to go into 7 right after 6. Then my son will be caught up!

Starting with 8 that will come out later that year, my son will be eight years old and will start seeing SW in the theater with me, even if I see it first myself before taking him.

Anyway, I'll post an update about how 5 goes next month... "...I am your father."
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Pel
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congrats, Whill! Your son has taken his first step into a larger world.
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cynanbloodbane
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool Whill!
You have said for a while how much you were looking forward to this. I'm glad its finally starting!
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Whill
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:05 am    Post subject: Re: 1, 4, 5, 2, 3, 6, 7 Reply with quote

Well, the best laid plans...

My son's friends at preschool have seen all the movies and blabbed spoilers because their parents let them watch all the films, and they are only 5 year-olds. Bless my son who actually tries to protect himself from spoilers and has told his friends to not talk about movies he hasn't seen yet. My son has total faith in my judgement as to when he is ready for each film, but I have accelerated my plans. It all started this summer when my son said someone told him that Vader is Luke's father. However since his friends are 5 year-olds and may not have always paid attention or are misremembered them, they have also told him false and conflicting things. One of them told him Luke kills Vader in VI, and another said Grievous does not die in III.

So we watched TESB. My son was not at all bothered by Luke getting his hand cut off or Vader's' revelation, but he was disturbed by Luke's reaction. Hamill does lay it on thick with his Noooooooooo. That and Luke's face looking beat-up is why my son says he doesn't want to watch that one, as much as he loved most of the rest of the movie. So we haven't watched TESB again since July, but he has watched TPM and ANH a couple more times each.

I told my son that either Obi-Wan lied to Luke in ANH or Vader lied to Luke in TESB, and that he won't get confirmation until he watches RotS. My son said he thinks Vader was lying and that Vader kills Anakin in RotS, so I expect that I will have a 'Why didn't you tell me moment?' with my son!

My son turned 6 in August. A couple weeks ago Barnes & Nobles had a Star Wars Reads Day with a handful of activities including an employee reading two Lego film adaptations, one based on TPM and one based on RotJ. After TPM I pulled from him from the story time and we went and looked at some SW books (there are tons of new kid SW books out). But it began to bother me because the kids remaining were younger than my son.

So last week we watched AotC with 3 parts edited out, (1) Anakin's getting enraged at his mother's death and decapitating a few sand people, (2) Anakin's emotional breakdown and dark revelation to Padme that he massacred the entire village of sand people, children and all, and (3) Mace Windu's decapitation of Jango Fett with little Boba's reaction shot. There were some tears over Shmi's death, but it was a normal and appropriate reaction, and not overly heartbreaking to him. My son correctly surmised that Padme will be Luke's mother. Except for Shmi dying, he loved AotC. My son is a huge fan of clone/stormtroopers, and he is going to be Captain Rex for Halloween this year. The next day I gave him the original Clone Wars animated series which he loves.

For 'step therapy' to ease into the darkness of RotS, we will watch AotC three more times before moving onto RotS, each time me reinserting one of the things I edited out from his first viewing. Next time we will add Jango's death, and then the time after that we will add Anakin's rage in the sand people village. Then for his viewing of RotS and RotJ for the first times, we will watch all of the films in order (spread out, not marathon) - I, then II with nothing edited out, then III for the first time, then IV, then V for his second time, then VI for the first time.

My son already knows most of the Jedi die in RotS, and by the time we watch the completely unedited version of AotC, he should begin to suspect that Anakin really does become Vader. The worst part of RotS is the immolation scene, so we won't be watching that before bed! I know some of you may not understand why I want my son to see RotS before RotJ, but even though I have accelerated the plan, I'm sticking to that. Seeing RotS before RotJ enhances the drama of RotJ (will Luke follow Anakin's path), maintains the maximum level of surprise for both, and ends Lucas' saga properly. Seeing RotJ first is still great but makes it a little weaker film dramatically, and it almost ruins RotS dramatically. My wife first saw all the films in strait chronological order in late 2005, and she was really worried that Luke would kill Vader and take his place. Then when Luke threw his lightsaber away she yelled "No, Luke!" at the TV because she knew the Sith lightning was coming next and he would have no way to defend himself. She never imagined that Vader would turn good, and if any of my son's friends have told him that he hasn't told me. Maybe if we're lucky that will remain a surprise.

And the other reason for acceleration is that I've realized that my son's friends are all going to see TFA when it comes out, and this is the Star Wars film series of my son's generation. Of course I haven't seen it yet either, but I feel strongly that he see Lucas' saga in full before moving on to Disney's saga. So TFA will be my son's first theatrical Star Wars experience, like the original SW was mine with my father before me (except my wife and I will be seeing the movie first before my son does). When my son is older I want my son to be able to look back and fondly remember being a part of the Star Wars phenomena of his own lifetime. I pray the new movies will be worthy of that!

Some have reported TFA's rating to be PG-13, but this isn't yet official - Star Wars .com still says this film has not yet been rating. My advance tickets say PG-13 but that may be because it will be PG or PG-13 and theaters want to assume the most mature rating as the responsible choice (better for it to end up less mature than expected than having angry parents later). Even if it is PG-13, I have to assume it will not have anything as bad as a hero-turned-villain getting triple-maimed, catching on fire and yelling "I hate you!" to his best friend and mentor.
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Barrataria
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whill, thanks for posting. It's interesting to read how you chose to show these to a young kid. My nieces/nephews are well past but... glad you are able to share this with your son as you have. And experience new films together.

How did you "edit" these things? Did you just skip on the DVD, or find edited versions somewhere or something? Just curious.

Finally, I would be unsurprised if they end up with PG-13 for TFA and might do so for commercial purposes. It sounds like you might think that some of the other films deserved that rating too! I definitely thought RotS should have been R for the immolation. Padme kept her top on through the film though... so I guess the incredibly grueling violence was no big deal to our friends at the MPAA!
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Whill
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barrataria wrote:
Whill, thanks for posting. It's interesting to read how you chose to show these to a young kid. My nieces/nephews are well past but... glad you are able to share this with your son as you have. And experience new films together.

How did you "edit" these things? Did you just skip on the DVD, or find edited versions somewhere or something? Just curious.

Finally, I would be unsurprised if they end up with PG-13 for TFA and might do so for commercial purposes. It sounds like you might think that some of the other films deserved that rating too! I definitely thought RotS should have been R for the immolation. Padme kept her top on through the film though... so I guess the incredibly grueling violence was no big deal to our friends at the MPAA!

I don't think RotS should have been R. As far as the violence, PG-13 still requires parental guidance and I feel PG-13 is appropriate. The immolation is gruesome and that alone warrants the PG-13 rating. I think what makes it worse is that it's Anakin, a traitor to the Jedi, a hero that turns bad. If it had been Dooku who had been immolated, it would have still been gruesome but not quite as disturbing as it being Anakin. (Personally, I feel the immolation scene is Hayden Christiansen's best performance in Star Wars, but of course that isn't saying much.)

I feel that AotC is borderline PG-13, and definitely the second most mature of the 6 films so far. We watched the Blu-Ray on our living room TV, so it was a simple 'live edit' of me pausing at the right moments, asking my son to look away, then mute and play or fast view until I tell my son it is ok to turn back around and resume watching. It works just fine.

My wife and I will both be seeing TFA on opening night, and I will be seeing it a second time the next day, so my wife and I can be sure it is ok for my son, and then if so, prep him in advance for anything needed, and even perform a 'live edit' of putting my hand in front of his eyes if absolutely necessary at any point for his first viewing.

I personally hope TFA is PG-13 for intense action, but I am torn by not wanting it to be too much for my son. I also hope it is PG-13 to help with the perception of it not being too kiddie, since most die hard Star Wars fans are adult men between the age of 18-49 with a significant portion of them being so vocal in their criticism of TPM for being too kiddie due to Ani and Jar Jar. Star Wars may seem on the surface like it is for the young and young at heart, but a lot of the prequel bashers are fans who have lost touch with their inner child and see the classic films through the hazy mist of nostalgia, so Ewoks and all the muppets hypocritically get a pass where Ani and Jar Jar don't. TFA may have intense action but like I said, I just doubt it will be quite as disturbing as RotS.

And I suspect they consciously steered TFA away from the heavily fan-criticized aspects of the prequels, something I would very happy about because hearing the same bashing from fans over and over again for over 10 years has just gotten very old. Regardless of how much I do or don't like it, I pray that TFA is lauded by the fans as the best SW film since 1980 so the franchise can get back closer to a state of universal love instead of all this divisiveness we have now.
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Cap'nCodskale
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 3:14 pm    Post subject: Thank you Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
... a lot of the prequel bashers are fans who have lost touch with their inner child and see the classic films through the hazy mist of nostalgia, so Ewoks and all the muppets hypocritically get a pass where Ani and Jar Jar don't.

Bless you, Whill. I'm not a big fan of the prequels, but this is my conclusion, too.

Also, thanks for taking the time to outline your plan and then report on how it's unfolded. My older son is a preschooler and he loves STAR WARS but has not seen any of the films. I imagine we'll limit ourselves to storybooks (MAVERICK MOON, MYSTERY OF THE REBELLIOUS ROBOT and daddy-abridged readings of the EP IV tale) for a while yet but your comments are very helpful when I consider my son's future exposure to this beloved franchise.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Thank you Reply with quote

Cap'nCodskale wrote:
Whill wrote:
... a lot of the prequel bashers are fans who have lost touch with their inner child and see the classic films through the hazy mist of nostalgia, so Ewoks and all the muppets hypocritically get a pass where Ani and Jar Jar don't.

Bless you, Whill. I'm not a big fan of the prequels, but this is my conclusion, too.

Bless you for realizing that while not being a big fan of the prequels. All I'm saying is that the classic films have their fill of flaws too, but a lot of older fans are blind to them because they first saw the films and fell in love with them as children. And that's great - Ignorance truly is bliss. I'm not blind to the issues of the prequels, but I have developed a rare superpower among first generation Star Wars fans to forward-apply the classic film nostalgia haze to the prequels to a large extent. Anyway, I'm hopeful that Disney Star Wars will be universally loved by all fans old and new, superseding the anti-Lucas animosity so prevalent in Star Wars fandom since 1997.

Cap'nCodskale wrote:
Also, thanks for taking the time to outline your plan and then report on how it's unfolded. My older son is a preschooler and he loves STAR WARS but has not seen any of the films. I imagine we'll limit ourselves to storybooks (MAVERICK MOON, MYSTERY OF THE REBELLIOUS ROBOT and daddy-abridged readings of the EP IV tale) for a while yet but your comments are very helpful when I consider my son's future exposure to this beloved franchise.

Cool! I've never owned those old school story books, but I had a childhood friend who had then so I did get to read them in 1979 (they are very vague memories now). Earlier this year I did order a 1984 book called The Adventures of Teebo: A Tale of Magic and Suspense (written and illustrated by Joe Johnston) for my son and we've read it.

And you're welcome! Parental Guidance assumes that each parent knows what's best for their own children. I don't claim that my son's viewing order, etc. is appropriate for any other children than my own. I'm just blogging about my experiences as a Star Wars dad, and for any other dad's reading it's food for thought. Best wishes to you and all families' experiences with Star Wars, whatever they may be.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:37 am    Post subject: Re: Well, the best laid plans... Reply with quote

A couple weeks ago my son came home from school telling me that a classmate brought in a large figure that transformed from Anakin to Vader. I believe that was a RotS-based toy and I've seen that before, steering my son away from one in a bargain aisle in a store last year. I have concluded it is simply impossible to keep Star Wars unspoiled. Bless my son for trying by telling his friends to not talk about episodes he hasn't seen around him, but even that has backfired and made it worse. My son just told me today that a kid was following him around telling him stuff just to mess with him.

So anyway, after the Anakin/Vader figure thing, I skipped the second edit of AotC and started the "Countdown to TFA", in which my son will see RotS and RotJ for the first time. We watched TPM, and then last weekend we watched the unedited AotC. My son's reaction was recalling Yoda talking about anger and hate being the dark side, and saying "Anakin probably is Vader." So at least my son is probably not going to be too upset to get the confirmation in RotS. (As a recap my son's initial reaction to TESB was that Vader was lying to Luke about being his father).

Tomorrow afternoon is Revenge of the Sith and my son is so excited. I'm still a little nervous about the visuals of the Immolation Scene - I don't want my son to be scarred for life because of Star Wars. But it is my son's destiny to see Lucas' complete story before beginning his generation's Star Wars in the theater next month.

May the Force be with us.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 12:47 am    Post subject: Re: Well, the best laid plans... Reply with quote

Whill wrote:
My son just told me today that a kid was following him around telling him stuff just to mess with him.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Revenge of the Sith Reply with quote

So we did it and it seemed to go pretty well. My son was mentally prepared for the truth that Anakin crosses over to the Dark Side, but he was surprised at Palpatine being Sidious. He didn't cry when all the Jedi died ("That's sad."). He didn't even cry when Padme died. We had a 20 minute follow-up Star Wars discussion before I had to take him to his haircut appointment. My son said he didn't like seeing Anakin on fire and burned ("Gross."), but he did not turn his head and look away like he had in TESB when Luke (with his beat-up face with tortured expression) said, "Nooooooooooo!" in response to Vader's paternal revelation. My son is not prone to nightmares, and hopefully this won't give him any. We'll see if I blew it and rushed him through Star Wars!

Because of the dark nature and ending on a down note, RotS and TESB are his least favorites, but he said he was happy to see RotS (It is one less movie his friends at school can spoil him on). He's happy to watch ANH again next - He says it is still his favorite so far. He understands that after that he's got to watch TESB for the second time before moving on to the only remaining movie he hasn't seen, RotJ. He is already really excited to see how the story turns out. Mommy will watch RotJ with us and we'll have a little home SW party with popcorn and stuff to celebrate the completion of Lucas' saga. I told him that after he sees TFA in the theater, then whenever he watches Star Wars, he can watch any episode, out of order if he wants. Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is finished.

This past Monday morning I took my son to school and one of his friends and his mother had gotten there right before us. The first thing the boy said was, "Did you find out what happens to Vader yet?" I answered for my son saying we watched Episode III, but still haven't seen Episode VI. His mom, who had previously expressed surprise to me that my son hadn't seen all the movies (including III) quickly said to her son, "Don't talk to him about Star Wars." So the telltale time bomb was ticking louder and louder. My son's friends had become thoroughly annoyed by him trying to avoid spoilers.

So we accelerated further. Monday night was our parent-teacher conference, so we re-watched ANH on Tuesday night. We re-watched TESB, splitting it up between Wednesday and Thursday night. And we watched RotJ last night.

My son's friends had spoiled that Vader gets demasked and dies, but they didn't mention that he turns good and saves Luke. I think most of these kids may not even understand what all's going on in Star Wars, so now my son will be able to explain it to them! Anyway, my son was pleased with the demise of Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett. He was a little sad at the death of Yoda, noting that he couldn't go with Luke and help him against the two Sith lords. He loved all of the action scenes including the antics of the Ewoks. He noticed some of the many parallels between RotS and RotJ, and Anakin's and Luke's journey. He understood immediately that in not killing Vader in anger, Luke had passed the test and wasn't joining the Dark Side. Just like my wife's first viewing, my son also knew that as soon as Luke through his lightsaber away, that the Sith lightning was coming, but this time Luke had no way to defend himself as Mace Windu had. My son was distraught over Luke being electrocuted, and was pleasantly surprised when Vader choose good and killed the Palpatine. "Qui-Gon was right, Daddy! Anakin is the Chosen One who destroyed the Sith!" My son cried when Luke's father died, and we paused the movie for a moment. And then for Anakin's funeral pyre, he cried again. But he was very happy to see Anakin's Force Ghost join Obi-Wan and Yoda in watching over Luke and Leia. My wife asked him how he felt about that and he said he was happy. He said he liked RotJ much more than RotS and TESB. I gave my son a couple action figures from the 90s that were still in the card, which of course he opened immediately. There wasn't very much follow-up discussion because everything has fallen into place and it all made sense now. I asked him who the title of the movie was referring to, and after thinking about it for a moment, he said, "Anakin is the Jedi who returned." That's my boy.

So for better or worse, it is done now. On Monday my son will finally talk to his friends about Star Wars. As I internally question other parents' handling of Star Wars with their kids, they seem ok. And this past Monday my son's teacher told us that in 22 years of teaching Kindergarten, my son is one of the brightest kids she has ever taught. She said he is academically gifted, but he is also very well-rounded. He listens and follows instructions well. He generally gets along well with others. He is is sensitive and compassionate, yet mature for his age. He is the "boy leader" of the class, and other kids try to emulate him. He has the coolest toys. (OK, I added that last part, but she actually said all those other things.) So maybe I worry too much.

My son has completed Lucas' Star Wars is as ready for the Disney films as I am. And we're several weeks behind on Rebels, so we'll start catching up on that next.
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cynanbloodbane
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations Whill. It is really one of the coolest experiences, seeing it throught their eyes.
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Whill
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cynanbloodbane wrote:
Congratulations Whill.

After my wife had seen TFA with me on opening night, she was reluctant to even let my son watch it at all. My wife is very sensitive to movies herself, and the film was very intense for her. My wife was totally surprised by Han's death by lightsaber, and was reacting to her own reaction. Not that she didn't have any valid points about a 6 year-old's possible reactions though. I knew all my son's friends' parents were taking them, so there just had to be a way my son was not going to miss out on this shared experience.

So we compromised by me telling my son a couple days before I took him that none of the three main characters would die - Even when they seemed dead, they weren't. I also told my son that Kylo Ren did kill one of the old trinity of classic heroes with a lightsaber through their chest (better to hear it from me in that way then getting total spoilers from his friends about the whole movie). That way he had time to process and prepare himself for it, and he wouldn't be devastated by the surprise and crying in the theater. My wife accepted that, and he did fine. My son still knew almost nothing about the plot and there were plenty of surprises. My son loves TFA.

At this moment, my son says his personal rankings of the seven films is as follows, from favorite to least favorite: 4, 1, 7, 2, 5, 6, 3. But he has only seen 3 and 7 once each so far. I am taking my son to see TFA again on Thursday, this time in IMAX 3D.
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