We had been readying our preschooler for seeing The Force Awakens in the theater. We had shown them A New Hope about a year ago and had started The Empire Strikes Back but had to put it on hold after a bad reaction to the Special Edition’s extended Wampa scenes (screw you, George). But after success watching a special theatrical showing of The Neverending Story, we thought we were good to go. As it turned out, the sound and fury of the movie in full Dolby digital was too overwhelming. We left within the first hour.
So we’ve been stoking interest in milder mediums to build renewed readiness for the blu-ray release by bringing home Star Wars books. We got The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, which has been fantastic. Most popular at bedtime, though, have been the Little Golden Books adaptations of the movies.
We first got the original trilogy. The narrative is understandable even in such abridgement. So the great boon of the books is that they introduce the major characters, plots, and ideas. The more gruesome elements are cut, and even scary moments like the Wampa attack are softened. Extraneous characters disappear without losing fan favourites like Nien Nunb and our preschooler’s beloved Boba Fett. Many of the pages include a famous line. For instance, Leia’s “Would it help if I got out and pushed?” is featured in The Empire Strikes Back one. My preschooler requires me to do Yoda’s voice for his featured line: “Size not make one great.”
The art evokes character features and settings through a half-cartoon, half-water color style. In fact, they look sorta like the Playskool Galactic Heroes figures, which is one of our other ways of priming our preschooler and thus a happy coincidence.
But here’s the betrayal: The back of the books feature the covers for all six, so our child began asking about The Trilogy Which Will Not Be Named. They requested these specifically, and despite our initial desire to hide the existance of these films from our child, we allowed them in.
I’m sure no one will be surprised to find out that the much more convoluted plots of the prequels make for a mess in the extreme abridgement. There are lots of people in disguises with false identities or double natures. In The Phantom Menace, there’s the Padme/Queen Amidala guise. In Revenge of the Sith, there’s the Palpatine/Darth Sidious long con.
But the most unforgivable aspect is the highlighted lines in Revenge of the Sith. Padme gets: “You’re breaking my heart!” Even worse, Anakin gets, “I hate you!” My preschooler likes to help read the books after they hear the story a few times. This language will certainly stand out. But I don’t think any small child needs reinforcement for saying “I hate you.” Little Golden Books was smart enough to leave out the loss of limbs from that final fight, but put front and center the most violent of emotions.
And now my child is psyched to watch The Phantom Menace. Which we’ll also have to watch. I can only hope it will be worth it in the end.
Still, I’m excited to get The Force Awakens Little Golden Book when it releases in April. I suspect the children’s version will maintain much of the charm of the film at large.