The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, February 07, 2011

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

The other day, whilst in a video store, Tiarnan, five, insisted on buying "Star Wars". He had a choice between a package that contained the first film I had seen in 1976 (the one with Princess Leia and her bun hair style!), which was now labelled no. 4 in the series, or a package containing The Phantom Menace, now labelled no.1. He took the Phantom Menace, despite some misgivings from me about the quality of this film.

It was very interesting to see my sons' reactions to the Phantom Menace. As it began and the titles came up, Fintan exclaimed, in some surprise: "So old-fashioned!". I had to smile. The mystery of it, for me, was that he had enough cultural references to think of that style of writing as "old-fashioned".

Then, the scrolling writing came up, to set the scene - a ludicrous plot out of a bureaucrat's mind, about taxation of planetary trade.

"Is this film just about reading?", asked Fintan a little piqued.

"No, that is just the introduction."

He settled down to watch and, with him, Tiarnan.

Now, you should know that Tiarnan is five, Fintan is seven and Ainan has just turned eleven. The Phantom Menace should be an ideal film for children, however, my sons' views of it were rather telling. As the film progressed, instead of them becoming more absorbed in it, they became more and more fidgety. Even I found it dull. This was, supposedly, a science fiction film - but its subject of politics, bureaucracy and taxation, could not have been less interesting. George Lucas had, it seemed, become a very dull man in his later years. Shakespeare had known how to write of Kings, interestingly, but George Lucas has not mastered the modern equivalent.

About half way through the film, my sons made a decision:

Fintan let out an exasperated: "I am SO bored!", and got up and left.

Tiarnan joined him. Then Ainan, too.

George Lucas' supposed masterpiece was left alone to itself.

What a crappy film.

At this point, I should let you know that this has never happened with any other film that we have brought into the house. Thus, in all their lives, my sons have never been so bored by a movie as they were, by George Lucas' Phantom Menace. A film with so much potential appeal for children, that actually manages to bore my sons, can only be described as a total failure.

They returned about half an hour later, after having played and, rather steadfastly, watched the second half. To be fair, there were some more active parts of the later stages that they enjoyed. Overall, however, they didn't think much of The Phantom Menace.

This now presents a problem: will my children ever see part four, the original Star Wars film - which was, actually, worth seeing, in my childhood remembrance, anyway? It is altogether possible that they won't suffer through the first three, not very good, films, to see the second much better trilogy.

We shall see. However, it was good to see that the hype and marketing surrounding George Lucas' Star Wars oeuvre didn't prevent my sons from seeing the absolute boredom of The Phantom Menace. At least their inner sight, is clear...

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:53 AM 


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