Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#StarWars The Nerd Awakens…no, seriously!

At the age of five I fell in love with two things—Luke Skywalker and science fiction. In May of 1977, my mother took me to the little theater in North Hollywood to see a new film. I’d never been to the movies before and I felt like such a big girl being allowed to dress up and attend with my mother. She promised me a soda from the Woolworths Soda Fountain after if I behaved.  Needless to say, from the moment John Williams score launched the giant Star Wars onto the screen, the film enraptured me.

I remember leaving the theater bubbling over with excitement. The first question I asked was could we go see it again. My mother promised to take me again the next week. These are some of my most precious childhood memories. Little did I know how much Star Wars would come to mean to me and would still mean nearly 40 years later.

Not all of my memories were great, I desperately wanted Star Wars toys but my mother declined because those were boys toys. I wanted the sheets and she said no, for the same reason. In 1980, when the Empire Strikes Back released, I stood in line for hours to see the movie. When we came out of it, I’d been devastated by the reveal that Vader was Luke’s father.

There was a man dressed as Darth Vader outside the theater along with some storm troopers. I kicked him and cried out it wasn’t true. There was no way it was true. My mother was furious with me, but I was inconsolable. Not only had we lost Han to being frozen in carbonite, but the worst man in the galaxy was Luke’s father? It was terrible.

Remember, I was all of eight years old at the time. I had no idea how stories played out or that there was any guarantee that Han would be found or saved. Not to mention, how could Vader have killed Luke’s father and still be Luke’s father? Had Obi Wan lied to him? These questions plagued me.

In 1983, I stood in line for a total of 19 hours over night and into the next day to see Return of the Jedi when it opened. I camped out with a ton of other fans, my mother coming and going to make sure I was all right. When I finally got to sit down in the darkened theater with hundreds of others, I cheered when we saw our beloved Leia, Chewie, and Luke and wanted to dance when they saved Han.

I was so awed by Luke’s transformation from the farm kid to a Jedi, he had so much more confidence than in the earlier movies. When he returned to Dagobah, I held my breath as he asked Yoda the question that had haunted me for three years.

Is Darth Vader my father?

Your father he is.

Those words stunned me. I felt for Luke’s plight, how could he be expected to face and kill his father? This was a man he’d worshipped and idolized as much as his Aunt and Uncle hadn’t wanted him to and now…

See, I told you, my inner nerd awoke. I saw Return of the Jedi hundreds of times in the theater. I was both delighted and sad when it ended because the story was over. Then Timothy Zahn came along and wrote a little book called Heir to the Empire and a new passion for Star Wars began again as I devoured every book in their galaxy.

By the time Lucas re-released his updated versions and the prequels, I was in my twenties. I wanted to love the prequels as much as the original films and I confess, I didn’t. Not for the same reasons as many others have stated. I didn’t have a problem with the acting. I didn’t even hate Jar Jar Binks.

What bugged me were the novelizations contained important character scenes we were denied in the films. Important moments that made it clear why Padme made some of her choices and Anakin as well. In the end, when Padme died after giving birth to her children, I sincerely believed Palpatine had done it because of the power he’d told Anakin about…the power to manipulate life force.

How else could he have saved Anakin after his lava bath?

Still, it was with great trepidation when I heard Lucas sold Star Wars  to Disney and they would be continuing the saga. When JJ Abrams was announced as the director of Episode VII, I still couldn’t find comfort. I love so much of his work and he did a fine job on Star Trek, but this was Star Wars …I wanted to love it again. Love it as I had when I was five.

I refused to watch trailers. I shied away from spoilers or news articles. I didn’t know anything about the film and on opening day last month, I sat down to watch it. From the moment the Star Wars blared onto the screen accompanied by John Williams score, I was holding my breath.

Across from my Desk

When the first lines of the scroll told me Luke Skywalker was missing the quest to find him was on, I felt like I could breathe again. Then every moment of the film took me on a wild ride with Rey, Finn, Po, BB8, Han Solo, Chewie and more…seeing Leia again brought tears to my eyes and trying to understand the powerful darkness that was Kylo Ren…but it wasn’t until the final moments of the film that my tears began to fall in earnest.

I’d loved the movie. From start to finish, the magic was back. For forty years I’ve loved Star Wars  and for the first time in decades, I cannot wait to see what happens next.  This time if I want Star Wars  sheets, by God, I’ll get them.

Boys toys my ass.

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