Swords and Planets and May the 4th
When I first saw this still from John Carter I had a niggle in the back of my brain that I’d seen something like it before. I had a fun summer as a doorman at a big downtown theatre showing Return of the Jedi ( and only Return of the Jedi) in 1983. I ended up standing in the back row of the theatre the first time I saw the movie. It was a sneak preview and ( I’m not making this up ) a local movie makeup artist had done himself up as George Lucus and shown up with an entourage of FBI types claiming he was there to gauge audience reaction. I was kicked out of my front row balcony seat for ‘Mr. Lucas’ and crew. Years later I was a sculptor at a haunted house and my boss tells me how he conned his way into a special screen of Return of the Jedi…..
After that summer, there was still a healthy dose of genre movies but by 1987, they were getting scarce. I could rewatch things on VHS of course, but the fun that had come with the original Star Wars trilogy was gone. I would dive back into my John Carter books and sometimes read about a Princess of Mars movie in development that never happened.
I’d always been aware of the Burroughs connection in Star Wars, and that was a major draw for me. I saw the Tusken Raiders as budget Tharks. So ERB and Star Wars have been a favourite, perhaps even ‘comfort food’ for me for a long time. This morning I rewatched The Force Awakens, I’m up early and my life is insane. I’ve been dealing with my father passing away last August followed by my mother landing in the hospital, dealing with estates and all sorts of Adult Pants kind of things. It’s been an interesting time… So this morning I’m curled up with my coffee and The Force Awakens thundering on the big screen and I’m aware how deeply these stories have touched me. John Carter and The Force Awakens ( The Empire Strikes Back too ) are my favorite movies. And as someone on facebook said a while ago, “there is that recent Sword and Planet movie that seems to be doing well.’ Yea. As much really really really really want The Gods of Mars on the movie screen (I’ll never surrender on that) I have to give thanks for the other Sword and Planet epic, and most specifically The Force Awakens. For someone who’s riding the ups and downs of the rollercoaster life a little more intensely at the moment, I appreciate the emotional depth and resonance of The Force Awakens and cathartic light sabre battles. So happy May the 4th, and remember, Therns are a Myth 😉 – Jeff