ESB with a Five Year Old

My daughter, who is currently five, began watching Star Wars when she was three and a half. We watched ANH on Thanksgiving and that is all I’ve let her watch since. It’s the easiest introduction to the world and is the easiest, for the most part, to understand.

It was finally time to move onto the Empire Strikes Back after many protests of, “But Mama, I’m brave! I’m braver than all the other kids!”

My reasons for not showing ESB earlier were:

  1. The Wampa
  2. Luke’s arm gets cut off

The Wampa is kind of terrifying. It’s big, has fangs, and is eating the remains of a tauntaun. Ick. It’s not in the movie for very long, but if I was younger, I think I’d be afraid of it. I showed her a photo of the wampa on my phone to make sure she was okay with it, but of course, she’s “very brave”.

Luke’s arm getting cut off needs no explanation, but I was inadvertently a step ahead on this. When I work out in our basement I will occasionally put on a documentary or TV show, something benign that if my daughter is hanging out with me, she can watch it too. Last year I was watching Empire of Dreams on D+ and – lo and behold! – they show the scene were Luke’s arm is cut off. Oops. She was a little disturbed last year, but has since adjusted and knew it was coming.

It was a big moment to watch ESB, my favorite of the Star Wars movies, with my daughter. It felt like it should be some kind of initiation. Here are the fun notes I took:

  • Best quote: “Mama, does Han Solo ever smile?”
  • The AT-ATs vs. X-wings had her on the edge of her seat.
  • Wanted to know what asteroids were. Umm, hmmm…
  • Poor Artoo getting eaten by the dragonsnake. That seemed to pull at her heart strings.
  • Yoda was funny in the beginning, but then he got boring.
  • Was NOT scared of Luke and the cave scene. I told her my brother was frightened of it when he was younger so she determinedly told me she was definitely not scared at all.
  • A space slug? And they were inside it’s belly? Eew!
  • Loved Cloud City and wants to go there. It is beautiful; sometimes I think I’m desensitized since I’ve seen it so many times.
    • We watched the D+ version, which though the purist in me rebelled against it, I also did it for convenience and ease. I bring this up because there are way more windows and nice, warm reddish lighting in this version, giving it a very cool and beautiful sci-fi feel.
  • Thought the carbonite freezing was a little weird, but two weeks later when we were viewing some sculpture art, she said it looked like Han Solo and I got very happy about that.
  • Totally not shocked by Darth Vader being Luke’s father. The downside of having lots of Star Wars books and discussions prior to this viewing.

I was planning on showing her ROTJ next, just to keep some semblance of order in the trilogy. The only potentially scary part of ROTJ that I remember is the emperor (his face is creepy) and the removal of Darth Vader’s mask. She has seen the removal in a book she has which has a picture of it so I know she is ready for that. I’m pretty sure she knows what the emperor looks like because, well, she lives with me, but now I’m doubting myself a bit. The D+ version of ESB that we just watched had his face clearly in a hologram, which was surprising to me since I never watch this version (and the dialogue was changed!), so it did give some reference to him. Was anyone scared of something else in ROTJ?

I’m definitely not showing her any of the newer movies or ROTS. But TPM and AOTC are options as we continue this journey. Solo and Rogue One are out, unless it’s during a Star Wars party so there are enough distractions that she’s not completely entranced. I think Dryden Vos can be scary and Rogue One is just a lot of violence.

Since entering Kindergarten, my daughter has come back and said, “Mama, all my friends have seen the Mandalorian and I haven’t and I’m way braver than them!”

First of all, not sure if that’s true. She’s probably asking these kids if they know what it is and they just say yes because they’re five. If they DO know what it is, would they have seen every episode? And on that note, is the Mandalorian scary? Other than the episode with the creepy spiders in season two (Krykna), could I show it to a five year old? I know it can be violent, but I don’t think it’s any more or less violent than the Star Wars movies. Or should I stick with the movies? Or move onto TCW?

If any of you have suggestions, please share! I always thought that I would be very strict about what order I allowed her to view Star Wars, but I’ve realized that as long as the Original Trilogy comes first, I don’t care as much what comes next. It’s also been interesting to see that there are not many shocks or surprises since she knows so much through me by asking me questions and general knowledge I have bestowed upon her over the years.

I’m excited that this journey is FINALLY here. I’ve waited so long to share Star Wars with her and though she seems to minimally care, at least she is enjoying it so far. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have kids that grow up with a parent who is obsessed with Star Wars. For now, she enjoys her Disney princess movies more but she is by no means averse to Star Wars so I guess that’s a win!

8 thoughts on “ESB with a Five Year Old

  1. Yay! The passing on of “Knowledge of the Force” that is awesome – if a bit daunting having to consider the appropriate exposure to certain scenes/aspects. It sounds as if your early training of your daughter has been good and she does indeed sound brave and has a certain grasp of the movies. Watching TCW might not be too bad as a lot of the violent action was “inferred” or very briefly flashed on screen (though maybe some of the later season episodes like the prison break scenes or the Luminara Unduli trap might be a bit raw).
    But I have to say, ” I’m pretty sure she knows what the emperor looks like because, well, she lives with me, but now I’m doubting myself a bit.”….Kiri you look nothing like the Emperor! If I may say you are much prettier😁

    1. Hahaha that’s so funny you interpreted it like that! I meant that she probably knew what the emperor looks like because I have books and stuff lying about. But your interpretation is hilarious! I kinda like that!

      TCW I think might be okay but I remember the first episodes were creepy as there were a bunch of ships flying around with dead people and ahsoka and Anakin were trying to find people who were alive. I think that was it if I remember correctly. The other thing about TCW is that there are SO many episodes. Not sure I want to re-watch them at this point.

      1. Hi there, I just re-watched the first episode of TCW but I forgot about the following episodes as it has been a while since I watched them. I just meant on the whole TCW might be ok.
        And I knew what you meant, it was just the way your sentence flowed made it sound like your daughter was living with the ol’ Emperor so knew about him. Glad you had a laugh.

  2. Wow, I haven’t been able to get my 7-year-old twins interested in Star Wars yet. If I recall, ROTJ can be scary at the beginning with Luke falling into that pit at Jabba’s and having to kill that poor beast.

    Also, Princess Leia chained to Jabba and in a gold bikini might not be scary but it could raise some questions.

    lastly, did they change the movie? Luke loses his hand, not his entire arm as I recall.

    1. Yeah it’s just his hand but since I was a kid, I’ve said his arm lol! So that’s my own childhood way of talking.

      Good call on the Rancor pit! I didn’t think of that. I’ll have to approach that as its similar to the Wampa.

      Why aren’t the twins interested in star wars?

      1. Why aren’t the twins interested in star wars?

        I might have missed the window….right now they are mostly on their tablets playing MindCraft. They have very little interest in shows they use to watch on the boob tube.

        When we get settled, I’ll make another attempt. Oh, by the way, we moved from Chicago to Olive Branch MS!

        1. Oh wow! That’s quite the move! Moving in general is tough, so I feel for you.

          I hope you get them into star wars. Even though my daughter isn’t super into it, she does enjoy it.

  3. This makes me so happy to read :). My heart is so full right now! Awww, I love it.

    The only other scary thing I can think of in ROTJ would be (maybe?) the Rancor. But it’s not much different, tonally, than the Wampa but it is in there longer. But I bet she’ll be fine. She *is* braver than all the other kids afterall.

    On a related note…is anyone surprised that Darth Vader is Luke’s father anymore? I feel like with how prevalent the movies are in our culture everyone knows. Even if they’ve never seen it they’ve heard the misquote, “Luke [heavy breathing] I am your father.” So I think anyone sitting down to watch the movies would put that together. I ask from a partially selfish place as my friend Hannah and I always fight about whether or not that’s a spoiler with our newbies in the Star Wars class so I’m fishing for validation/agreement XD.

    But, back to the main point, I love that you had this experience! Yay! Also, minor potentially scary moments or not, I don’t think you can deny your daughter the awesomeness of Ewoks any longer. Bring on ROTJ! That has always been my favorite Star Wars movie, too.

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