I hate the opening text crawls in the Star Wars movies

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The opening of every Star Wars movie is iconic. The 20th Century Fox fanfare (for most of the episodes). The steely Lucasfilm logo. The cyan text over a black, silent background: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

And then, like a wave, the giant, yellow-outlined words “Star Wars” crash onto the screen, quickly shrinking back into the starry background as a flurry of brass, woodwinds, and string instruments fill the emptiness of outer space with wonder. It’s exciting on a visceral level.

But then words start crawling up from the bottom of the screen. I hate these opening text crawls.

I understand setting the stage for a visual story. I have watched movies that have a short paragraph at the beginning to give a little context to what’s about to unfold, and I often appreciate it.

The opening text for the very first movie, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, is helpful to establish the universe of Star Wars, I’ll admit that. We’re coming into this story in the middle of a conflict and knowing just a little bit about what’s going on helps clear up any potential confusion for new viewers. It doesn’t give you just a little bit of information, though. It’s 88 words long and over-explains the setup. It doesn’t need to be that long.

And after that first movie, why does every subsequent movie need opening text? Almost all of them just explain what happened in the last movie or what we are about to see and therefore are completely useless. If there was no text crawl at all in front of the Star Wars movies, we’d all figure out what was going on with them. Luke Skywalker is already an analog to the viewer, having almost no idea about what’s going on in the galaxy and so much is explained to him clearly.

In Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, do we really need to be told that the rebels have set up a base on Hoth? No. We see it immediately.

Even if we pretend that we need these opening monologues of text, like they’re somehow key to our enjoyment of these movies, we can’t ignore the way that it’s presented, the way it moves, crawling up the screen.

It just keeps going, inching upward at a speed that’s too slow for even a slow reader like me. But if you look away for a second or two, you’ll immediately lose your place. It’s disheartening and stressful. 

I recently watched the entire series of movies over the course of about a week and a half, including Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, and there wasn’t a single movie where I was able to stay focused for the entire duration of the introductory text crawl. 

They aren’t exciting. They aren’t memorable. They aren’t necessary.

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