Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why Star Wars Means So Much

Unless you've been living under a rock, you might be aware that Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens this weekend. Everyone had a collective freak out when the trailers started airing, especially this one featuring a craggy, gray-haired Han Solo (or more accurately, a craggy, gray-haired Harrison Ford playing Han Solo) and Chewbaca and three words "Chewie...we're home."

I admit, I felt a stirring of excitement and nostalgia myself. I loved the original 3 movies (which were actually 4, 5 and 6 in chronological order) and completely skipped the later ones (1, 2 and 3). I got sick of the hype months before they were released, and nothing I heard about the movies after they came out gave me a desire to see them. I didn't want my memories of the great original movies sullied by a stupid, teenaged angst-fest.

I was 7 (or nearly 7) when I saw the "original" Star Wars in 1977. I went with my family. I think we had heard about the movie, but we didn't really know anything about it. We got to the movie theater late. In fact, we missed the first 20-30 minutes. So yeah, we were lost, but it didn't really matter. We were sucked in immediately. After the movie was over, we stayed in our seats to watch it again, specifically to catch the beginning.  We had never seen anything like Star Wars. (Obviously, no one had.) The flying space ships that seemed so real, the crazy alien beings in that bar, the music, the air battles, the spunky princess, the cute boy, the mystical guru guy, the funny guy hired to take them into space, the big hairy creature that roared, the beeping, shiny robots. I was pretty young, but I had no trouble following everything. It was story magic. Movie magic on a scale no one could imagine. You cared about those characters, and as the other two movies came out (Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi) you scared even more. You were truly stunned to know big, bad Darth Vader was Luke's father, and that Luke & Leia were brother and sister. (Come on, a lot of us secretly wanted them together in the first movie.) It was one of those "before and after" moments. "Before" Star Wars movies were one way. "After" Star Wars we realized movies could be something else entirely.

So I WILL go see The Force Awakens...I will hope that it will live up to the expectations of the FIRST three movies.