Today, we all know that the original Star Wars trilogy are considered classics of the genre. But back when they were first released, there were some dissenting voices who argued that these films were devoid of any human emotion. Notable among them was New York film critic John Simon, who felt that the movies were dumbing down children. But coming to the trilogy’s defense were none other than Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, who appeared on ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel with Simon to talk about Return of the Jedi in 1983. Here’s an excerpt from Nightline.
This was pretty brutal. So who’s right and who’s wrong? John Simon is a very respectable film critic, but his arguments don’t have any real weight behind them. He mostly comes off as dismissive and reductive about the original Star Wars trilogy. Luckily, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were there to argue in defense for the trilogy. They embraced the fantasy elements of the film and were quite taken by its imagination.
It’s worth noting that John Simon’s view of the original Star Wars trilogy is very similar to many modern film critics’ view of the prequel films. You can easily say the prequel trilogy movies are very cartoon-like, with little to no genuine, human emotion behind them. Hopefully the new trilogy will be appreciated right out the gate.