I don’t remember the first time I saw Star Wars… I would have been 7 when it came out, though funny enough I do remember seeing Battlestar Galactica a year later at the drive in, but this isn’t a BSG post. I do however remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back in glorious 70mm at the long demolished University Theatre and The Return of the Jedi (in 35mm) at The Runnymede. I remember everything about those two experiences.
Empire was with a friends brothers girlfriend, she thought it would be nice to take the kids to go see it and took us downtown, I was 10, pitched a fit because we were waiting in line so long and tried to run away, she came after me to get me back and a “gentlemen” of questionable motivations tried to intervene to tell her to I was old enough to make my own decisions and that he would “help me get home”. Luckily I was old enough to know that would turn out badly and went back to the line with her and was blown away by the movie we later saw.Return of the Jedi was the night of my 8th grade graduation and a friends parents took us as a graduation present. Again I was transported to a magical place that blew my mind.
It struck me this morning how odd it was, that off the (literally) hundreds of movies I’ve seen over the course of my life, those two I could still remember the details of decades later and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve listened to a several famous directors and actors who have recounted similar experiences about this series of movies and it being the catalyst for their careers. So needless to say I was really excited to see this movie today, but something excited me more, and that was the thought that this might be one of those experiences for my kids.
So how as the new Star Wars? It wasn’t that horrible prequel series George Lucas made, sorry I know that sounds like a back handed compliment and not a glowing review but let me elaborate. What George forgot when he made 1-3 was that at it’s heart the original series were kids movies that adults could enjoy. Good vs bad, keep it simple and JJ nailed that. The story was simple, and once it started, the action didn’t let up until the end. And no ewoks or Jar Jar Binks!!! The new characters are amazingly likeable (though Daisy Ridely reminds me so much of Keira Knightly and it was driving me crazy) and having the key characters back made it feel like home. But the bottom line is, it made me forget I was a 46 year old, I felt like that little kid again swept away to a magical place, and more importantly when I looked at my kids they were sitting on the edge of their seats completely absorbed in that universe as well. I know when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars a lot of fans were nervous, but in conjunction with JJ Abrahams they honoured the original franchises legacy and I can’t wait to see where they go with this. Now I gotta find me a Jedi cloak to wear