Tell me about your childhood.
Nick says this to me over and over. So I do. The ground I cover is nearly always before my dad died, rarely after. Like how he took me to a silent movie once, because he’d grown up watching silent movies.
But what should I tell Nick about childhood after my dad was gone? How I spent myself trying to fill that void? Fed myself with fantasies that somewhere, my dad still lived, and was heroic?
Nick has his own void, of course. He knows he’s adopted. Somewhere he has a biological father whom he doesn’t know. What does he imagine about this man? I don’t know. Though I wish to know, I never ask Nick about it. Nor does he ever speak of it.
I loved the first Star Wars movie, Luke growing up without a father, finding a mentor, becoming a warrior. I could identify. Then the above scene in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s unquestionably great filmmaking, the lynchpin of the whole shebang. Six movies come down to this one reversal: the Prince of Darkness didn’t kill your dad. Turns out he is your dad.
I’m glad I was grown when I first saw it. It would have devastated me as a child, a shot in the heart. As an adult I could shrug it off. More or less. Not my myth, I said. Give me the real thing, I said. Give me Oedipus, not this dumb, left-handed pirouette away from it. I’ll go with Oedipus. I’d rather spend the night in the Bates Motel anyway.
I like the above video mash-up probably because it distances me from the original. Sheer genius, I think, to take the melodrama into the medium of melodrama, where the dialogue is made to seem trite, overblown, ridiculous–so naked.
It’s irresistible to me how the white light glows against the backdrop dark, the way you can imagine a dream emerge from the unconscious. I love the whole electro-luminescent, retro-future thing, playing games with my expectations. And the X-Ray look, turning everything inside out. How cool is that?
Although maybe, for me, it’s only that my dad grew up in a world of silent movies, and took me to one once.