If there was ever a movie that didn’t need to be advertised, it’s this one. In the ludicrous fear we’re not going to see Star Wars Ep.7, we’ve been subjected to a blitz of advertising to mobilize us into cinemas.
I’m one of the children of the original Star Wars, those aged between 7-12 who went to see it in a movie theater, cinema, or in my case, the South African bioscope. That’s apartheid, not very well boycotted South Africa. We had the toys.
My brother went. I had to wait. No 1977 viewing for me.
In June 1978 my parents took me, and on the way home lasers shot from every streetlight in the sky. Naturally from the rear window I shot back in my Tom and Jerry sweater.
What do I remember?
Honestly? Not very much that hasn’t been distorted from repeat viewings since December 1982, when it first aired on British television. The Christmas TV schedule in Britain was a wonderland of movies, even if recent Hollywood blockbusters of the time didn’t air.
We had to make do with Battle of the Bulge every Christmas Eve, but there were also captivating gems like Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death, which aired in 1979 and seemingly never again — I scoured the Xmas schedules for the next decade.
Star Wars on a big 24” CRT in 1982 was as magical as ever, even with commercials.
Still, there are fragments that remain from 78. The opening text scroll allied with feeling pleased (and excited) I could keep up, followed by the first laser gunfight and Darth Vader’s entrance. Oh, that breathing. There were the holographs, the battle upon escaping the Death Star and… and…
… and now I have to search my feelings.
There were two standout moments.
The death of Obi-Wan still haunts, the hollowness of loss, the confusion forever imprinted, but Obi-Wan also delivered the single, most important line a child could ever hear about The Force: All living beings are bound together. It resonates today as humanity lurches from one crisis to another.
Hailing from a moderately irreligious Jewish family (we didn’t keep Kosher but didn’t eat pig) it struck my nine-year old self as truth. It may be the most important spiritual teaching I’ve ever received. Seriously, what better way to be guided in life than knowing we’re all connected? It dovetailed nicely with an art class in school when we were asked to draw/paint God. I have no recollection of what I did. Put me through hypnotherapy and I’ll come up a blank. The class remains in memory, because while I’m certain we all created some kind of Human figure, one girl painted a sky (with clouds). The teacher recognized the perception of this child and so did I.
Oddly, Joseph Campbell in his dialogue with Bill Moyers said he didn’t understand the one God of Judaism (why there was only one God). Star Wars and an eight year’s old painting representing the oneness of existence was explanation enough for me. Even if as an adult I don’t believe in God (watching Season 9 of The Voice makes feel like I’m living in a Theocracy), the message of interconnectedness remains.
When the trailers for Star Wars Ep.7 play across various platforms, I wonder if there will be anything enlightening for a new generation. The trailers look good, slick, playing on fan sentiment, but will it have soul, will it have anything to say?
Or will it be, “these aren’t the films we’re looking for” as can be applied to episodes 1-3.
We should remain hopeful. This is a new era of Star Wars, an opportunity for redemption. We can be certain the story will work, as we can be certain of it milking every revenue source.
We had small action figures back in the day. They were roughly split between my brother and I along the lines of personality — and more importantly, he being the elder. He was Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and C3PO to my Obi-Wan, R2D2 and Han Solo. Who didn’t want to be Han Solo.
In truth we didn’t have Han Solo, and I’m uncertain about Luke and 3PO. Pretty sure we had a Storm Trooper though. I could ask my brother, but that would take the fun out of trolling through memory. They were well-used — the lightsabers of Vader and Kenobi the first to go, or be chewed by the dog.
My younger sister might have felt left out at age five, but she did have a growing Barbapapa collection and a Pink Panther in the pinkest room on planet earth.
There was a comic. We had one. It was irreconcilable to the film. Scenes with Luke and Biggs shooting it up on Tatooine (or just off planet) were eliminated from the film. I was confused and disappointed there wasn’t a literal adaptation of what I had read months earlier — the comic not lasting, pages falling apart into the oneness of a landfill.
It’s weird but I’m Star Warz’d out. I’m pleased we played and destroyed our toys and didn’t keep them in a fucking box. It’s occupied a good chunk of 37 years in our cultural landscape, and mine. I have them on Blu-ray. They’re stunning. Amazingly George Lucas didn’t change the ending.
I want to be excited. I want more from film than a distracting bag of popcorn, my own work included. I want this from Star Wars ep. 7. And I’m prepared to wait as I did as an 8-9 year old. I don’t need commercials to build anticipation, I can do this on my own.
Trust me Disney, I will watch, but on Friday my preference will be Trumbo.