We are now just two weeks away from the release of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens in the US.
I've been reflecting on this event for a while now.
I was eleven years old when the original Star Wars movie (now branded as Episode 4: A New Hope) was released and I saw it, that first, fateful summer of 1977.
Then in 1980, this was followed by Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back. A new decade, and a darker turn, with an unbelievable (at the time) reveal.
In 1983, I had just finished my Junior year of High School, and my best friend at the time and I were among the first in line to see the conclusion of what is now seen as the "Original Trilogy," Episode 6: The Return of the Jedi. There was no camping out at my little theater near Texarkana, Texas. In fact, when I pulled up, we were the first to arrive. But rather than starting the line, we went back and sat in the car. When others arrived, we got out of the car, and still ended up as the fourth or fifth people in line. My friend and I got our popcorn and cokes and sat down in the theater. While we waited for the opening, he took the lid off of his drink and flung it like a frisbee. It flew toward these two kids and as it approached it tilted on its edge and slipped neatly between them. They were so startled that they both stood up and stared after it, trying to see where it went. They never looked back to see where it might have come from.
My very first science fiction convention was in 1979; I was in eighth grade and a member of a sci-fi club. At the convention, I met Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and David Prowse (Darth Vader).
I collected trading cards from the original films (not really seriously, but I had a few). I had a vinyl record that summarized the film's story using audio from the soundtrack.
I watched the Holiday Special on TV when it aired, and was happy, even though it was weird and trippy, because it was more Star Wars, and it was on TV!
My wife took me to see Star Wars in Concert, a retelling of the entire saga (to that point) using John Williams' incomparable score and narrated by Anthony Daniels
22 years after the world changed with the premiere of Star Wars, the "prequel trilogy" was launched with the premiere of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. The film was meant to tell the story of the rise and fall of Luke Skywalker's father Anakin into the villain known as Darth Vader. This was followed by Episode 2: Attack of the Clones and Episode 3: The Revenge of the Sith. These films followed the release pattern of one film every three years established by the Original Trilogy. While visually stunning, the story told by the Prequel Trilogy did not engage my imagination like the story told in Episodes 4, 5, and 6. I'm not sure if it's because the story was lacking, George Lucas tried to do too much, or if I had become somewhat jaded in the two-decades-plus space between the two trilogies.
I read the first three Han Solo tie-in novels, and the first (post-episode 4) Marvel Comics. While I enjoyed the Han Solo novels, the comics really turned me off to the nascent "Expanded Universe" so much that I never really read anything else.
The other day, I caught a video of a capella group Pentatonix's tribute to the music of Star Wars. When the orchestral fanfare kicked in and we heard the main theme played, I nearly wept for joy.
These are mostly just ruminations as I am looking forward to the release of the new Star Wars film, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The last time I was this excited about a new film was when I heard that someone had finally made a live-action Lord of the Rings movie, and my mind was blown, as so much of what I saw on screen was what I visualized when I read the books. But this is Star Wars. This is the film franchise that forever altered the way I looked at the world. It presented a seismic shift in many of my choices, from entertainment to collections, to college major. I do not think it is a major stretch to say that I am the man I am today due to my God, my family and friends, and (for better or worse) for Star Wars.
I can hardly wait.