“Star Wars”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and “Return of the Jedi” were on t.v. the other night. Once I got over how dated the filming was I settled in and enjoyed the evening, not because I’m hugest “Star Wars” fanatic, but because I started remembering where I was in my life when I watched them for the first time. The vividness of my childhood thoughts and feelings at the time came back in one prepubescent, insecure, “crushin’ on Han Solo” rush.
I was in elementary school when “Star Wars” was released. All my friends were talking about it but I hadn’t seen it yet when the family went skiing in Jasper with family friends. One evening, all pink cheeked and bright-eyed from being out in the snow that day, my parents allowed my sisters and I to walk the couple of blocks from the hotel to the theater to watch the film. I remember the darkened street. The quietness of the traffic. Getting momentarily frightened by the herd of deer in the middle of the sidewalk. Having to dodge other wildlife that had found their way into the resort town after the setting of the sun.
I remember sitting in the theater, waiting in anticipation when finally the film started. The music was epic, the running text narration at the beginning, then the loud noise of the space ship making me jump in my seat. It was my first real appreciation for science fiction. My favorite characters? C-3PO and R2-D2 of course. I LOVED it. And part of the reason I loved it was because my parents allowed my sisters and I with our friends to walk to the theater and to view the film independent of parental supervision.
“The Empire Strikes Back”. Summer holidays of Jr. High. The first time I went was with my sister. I was totally devastated that Han Solo was frozen in “carbonite” at the end. Was Han going to survive the freezing process? Were he and Princess Leia going to be together? What was a “Jabba the Hutt” anyway? It was all so HORRIBLY unresolved. I was distraught enough afterwards to get all itchy and unsettled inside…wanting to be alone. .. not minding sweeping out granaries alone because I wanted to mourn Han Solo’s potential demise in solitude.
I went a second time with my friend Kim, thinking that if I just watched the film again I would be able to get some answers. I would be able to surmise whether or not Han would return. There was NO way I could wait the three years it took to make the next film. IT WOULD BE THREE YEARS OF PURGATORY!
Three years later, when I was in high school, “Return of the Jedi” arrived in the theaters. By then I was so wrapped up in the drama of my own reality I couldn’t escape to that wonderful level of enthrallment the first two movies provided. I went with friends, that much I remember, and we probably went out for pizza and talked about boys afterwards. Sadly Han Solo took a back seat to perceived romances with clueless, “half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder” high school boys.
The first Star Wars trilogy will always be close to my heart because of its capacity for “taking me back” to times when life was simple enough to actually devote my entire self to escaping… even for an hour or two. There are other films that do the same: “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” (the orignal cartoon version), “The Sound of Music”, “Footloose” and “The Clash of the Titans” (there’s a new version coming out!!!) just to name a few.
What film is there in your life that conjures up more personal memories than plot recollection? But more importantly, how often do you take the time to watch them in order to remind yourself of how simple life can be.