Back in 1977, the target audience of the original Star Wars movie was, at least as far as George Lucas was concerned, kids. But for those who find those classic films not kid-friendly enough, there will now be official, abbreviated, new animated versions of the original Star Wars movies, aimed at the very young. On Friday, November 30, 2018, Lucasfilm will release six animated-shorts called Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures.
To be clear, these are 100 percent official real-deal Star Wars products, and not fan film versions of Star Wars (like the anime version that popped up earlier this year.) And, though these shorts will truncate moments from the existing Star Wars films — with decidedly 21st-century attention-grabbing animation techniques — the audio tracks for these shorts will be from the original films. That’s right, these are, in a sense, shortened special edition versions of real Star Wars, with totally new animation, but pulling the dialogue track from movies, meaning Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and everyone else are speaking the original dialogue. If these were the late ’90s, the very concept of this (like the controversial “special editions”) would be considered blasphemous. Aren’t the actual Star Wars movies (particularly the classic films?) kid-friendly enough?
The rationale it seems is that Disney/Lucasfilm wants to drum-up awareness of the original Star Wars story prior to the big release of Star Wars: Episode IX, late next year. According to James Waugh, VP of franchise content and strategy at Lucasfilm it’s all about letting kids catch-up before the movie comes out.
“With Episode IX coming in December , and being the conclusion of the Skywalker saga—the long journey over 40 years of storytelling comes to its end—Galaxy of Adventures walks through the great moments and themes of the stories that led us here and introduces a new generation to them, in time for many to see this finale.”
The key phrase here is “in time,” because it presupposes kids wouldn’t have a chance to watch seven movies (or ten depending on how you look at it) prior to December of next year. Apparently, “a new generation” of moviegoers only has enough patience to sit through short YouTube videos rather than entire films. While it’s clear Waugh and Lucasfilm are onto something with making a kids-only Star Wars YouTube channel, the implication that children need the movies dumbed-down or truncated for them is misguided at best and spurious at worst. Not to mention, there are already plenty of child-themed Star Wars books which gently massage some of the darker and trickier aspects of the franchise for the younglings. So, the issue isn’t the message of having kid-friendly Star Wars stuff, instead, it seems to be the medium.
As with all screen time you have with your kids, it’s all about making sure parents engage in quality screen time together, that also isn’t too long. And in fairness, it’s here where the Star Wars Galaxy of Adventure might actually fall on the light side of the Force. If you have a very young child, you probably don’t want to plop them down in front of a movie that lasts two hours (and probably features someone losing a limb.) So, if there’s a short YouTube video instead of something longer, from a parenting perspective, if your kid is really young, this could be the preferable version of Star Wars. (And hey, at least it’s the real voices? Right?)
And yet, YouTube has that notorious autoplay feature, which means children can get addicted to just getting sucked into wanting to watch the next video and the next, which means letting your younglings watch Star Wars on YouTube could create a whole nest of gundarks you didn’t even know you had before. Plus, these images are kinetic and exciting. If anything, this animation style is a bigger visual assault on the senses than actual Star Wars. Really!
For now, parents who are hardcore Star Wars fans are probably reserving judgment. On the one hand, it seems cool to have kid-friendly Star Wars cartoons featuring the original dialogue. On the other hand, maybe we could just all wait and show our kids real Star Wars when they’re ready. If Yoda was a parent, he’d probably remind us all to be a little more patient.
The first six Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures shorts will hit the new Star Wars Kids YouTube Channel on Friday, November 30. Fatherly will watch them all and tell you — with some expert opinion — what we really think.