At what age is it acceptable to introduce your child to Star Wars? I am sure the answer to this question varies radically depending on who you ask and whether they like or have even seen Star Wars [yes, shocking as it sounds some people haven’t seen Star Wars]. If you were to ask me then the answer would be “at the earliest opportunity!” and that is exactly what I did this weekend.
At time of writing my son is two and half years of age. Yes he is young but I guessed that now he can just about sit through a feature length film that he would be ready for his first Star Wars encounter. I had put a lot of thought into when we would watch it and whether we started with Episode I – The Phantom Menace or Episode IV – A New Hope. After much deliberation I finally made a decision and opted for a Sunday morning and put my own preferences aside to select Episode I as a starting point. The idea of a morning viewing was fueled by the fact that he is normally quite lethargic during the first 30 minutes after waking, which I hoped would buy me some time to get into the more exciting parts of the film before interest levels wore off.
What happened during the viewing wasn’t what I hoped for…
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far way….”
Son: “What’s this?”
Me: “Star Wars!! You are going to really enjoy this! Are you excited?!”
Me: “Because it’s an intergalactic space opera with action, excitement, adventure, drama, comedy…”
The conversation continued down this line throughout the entire Star Wars opening crawl, but to be fair to him the opening titles were never going to grab his attention. When the action started he seemed engrossed, my son didn’t say a word, I was close to welling up as we sat cuddled close on the sofa watching a film franchise that had influenced so much of my life.
8 and half minutes into the film all was going so well.
At 9 and half minutes I turned around to notice not only had my son wandered off but he was in fact squeezing a bottle of red poster paint onto the kitchen floor. He was no longer playing ball and my loyalties were torn as to whether I put a stop to his dramatic artistic expression of what apparently was a train or carried on watching Star Wars. After a quick intervention we were back on track and I never thought I would say this, and I probably never will again, but thank goodness for Jar Jar Binks! Who knew that Jar Jar was purely put into the franchise to capture the hearts and minds of toddlers worldwide, a shrewd move to ensure the movies live on for generations.
Good old Jar Jar got us to the ‘There is always a bigger fish’ scene. At this point my boy’s excitement levels were at their peak and everything I had imagined about sharing the joy of Star Wars with my son were becoming a reality.
But… it didn’t last, two minutes later he was “fixing” his unbroken beanbag by thumping the stuffing out of it with several thunderous strikes of his plastic toy hammer. Whilst we are on the topic plastic hammers for under 3’s are not a good idea.
At this point my enthusiasm had faded but I decided to see it out till the pod racing scene. If there was ever a scene in any film to gain the interest of a young boy surely it had to be the excitement of the pod race?
The exhilarating sound of the frantically energetic pod race was drained out by the cries of…
“Daddy, this is boring…… boring Daddy. This is boring”
This prompted an instinctive reaction to slap the stop button. I couldn’t risk ruining his Star Wars experience any more. I decided to cut short and confront the possibility that I pushed too soon. I couldn’t let Star Wars become Star Bores.
If only I had gone with my gut feeling and started him off with Episode IV – A New Hope after all I am sure he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last to shout “this is boring” during a screening of The Phantom Menace.