When I was Nine
Thoughts about Star Wars - just before the opening of the final movie.
This is personal - my relationship to a work of fiction. There almost a whole generation of men out there right now like me (yes, mostly men) - who were between 6 and 10 years old in 1977, who were blown away by a brief visit to a world unlike anything we'd ever seen before. We lined up and dragged family and friends to see Star Wars in the theater that summer - six, seven, twenty times (I think I saw it at least 8 times). We are now between 35 and 40, looking at the world with entirely different eyes, critical, cynical, experienced eyes. But for many of us, the boyhood imprint of the first Star Wars movie is amazingly strong.
I owned "The Story of Star Wars" LP - the complete soundtrack, (sound effects and dialogue, everything), and listened until it wore down. Some of the earliest parts of my neural pathways are still shaped by this repeated exposure - amazingly tiny details still remain strong in my memory, like one of the X-Wing pilots saying "Negative..egative, It didn't go in, it just impacted on the surface"
I am not the biggest Star Wars fan in the world, not by a long shot. I have never dressed up like a stormtrooper, but I do own a couple of desk-toy Star Wars spaceships. I am not interested in railing against Lucas and what he's doing. These stories are his to tell. Yes, when Episode I and II came out, they had their drawbacks, but the drawbacks really meant very little to me - I was there again.
I got to go back and visit that place that meant so much to me when I was nine.
Lucas isn't God, his mythology isn't epic, his dialogue isn't inspired, and his writing can be hit and miss. The most important to me though (always has been) are the characters. The people, creatures, places and things that make up the Star Wars universe. These are characters that I care
about, that I've known most of my life. I didn't quite realize how much I still cared until witnessing the scene in Episode II where Yoda finally engages in light-saber battle. Out of nowhere, I got completely choked up, crying - feeling idiotic and exhilarated all at once.
When I was nine, this was exactly what I would have wanted to see.
Seeing these movies so many times, I found myself concentrating all my anticipation into a ball that seethed right before the new movie began. When the lights would go down, and the 20th Century Fox and LucasFilm logos would dance across the screen - in that moment, all of my hopes and anticipation for the next movie would just overflow, and I became a bit of a lunatic, just like I did when I was nine. Of course, after that, the movie would unfold, some delight, some disappointment, but I've always treasured that last moment of anticipation.
I've been able to experience that moment five times in my life now, at nine, twelve, fifteen, thirty-one, thirty-four, and tomorrow, I'll get my last taste of it at age thirty-seven.
I do not apologize for loving these characters as much as I do. I do not make apologies for creative decisions taken by others. I do not care to politicize the story nor analyze the marketing strategies of Lucasfilm.
And now, now I am just thrilled to get one last chance... to step into a dark cool theater, have the lights dim, let my excitement (that I usually keep bottled up) overflow and let the darkness hide my stupid grin from any snide onlookers. I'm glad for one last visit to a place that meant so much to me when I was nine, and still does today.
Writing this has brought me to tears about four times now. I know my experience isn't unique, and it's certainly open to criticism, but none of that matters.
Tomorrow I get to go see the new Star Wars movie. I remember this feeling so well, it's amazing.
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