WHAT A TICKET TO STAR WARS REALLY BUYS YOU…FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW

A_long_time_ago

By Adam Lovett

July 31st 1977: It was a Saturday, one week after my fifth Birthday. I was your average, precocious five year-old off to see a Saturday night movie with Dad. It was the advertizing campaign for the film that had bought us out that night. I saw the trailer on TV. I screamed from the living room, “STAR WARS! Can we go see STAR WARS for my birthday?”

This wasn’t my first visit to the cinema. I had seen a few films before now but the only one that had really resonated at all was Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK. We grabbed our popcorn, found our seat in the sold out screening and innocently prepared to see “just” another film. The lights went down. There was no advertizing. Straight to a few trailers for upcoming releases, “Chomp”, “chomp”, “chomp” on the popcorn. The already familiar 20th Century Fox fanfare explodes out of the newly minted Dolby speakers.

ONSCREEN TEXT: “A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy far, far away…” FADE TO BLACK: That John Williams music blasts and the opening crawl begins. In the next 121 minutes my entire DNA, my sense of being was altered forever. Han shot first. There was no Jabba. It only took a handful of X-Wing fighters to take on the all powerful Empire and destroy the Death Star. By the time Chewie’s cathartic roar echoed through the Rebel Throne Room I was weeping. It was magic, pure escapist magic and it had all overwhelmed me in a way nothing has since. I couldn’t stop crying at the trauma of being ripped from this fantasy back to reality. I could feel the epigenetic change within me though I couldn’t tell what it was at the time. I was seeing my entire life in a galaxy, far, far, away. I cried for about two hours as the addiction took hold becoming unhealthy obsession. I made my parents take me to see George Lucas’ gateway drug another 29 times that year. The action figures, the light sabers, the soundtrack, the endless day dreams. When dad bought home our first VHS player, it was the very first tape played. It was also the very first VHS tape that broke from over-use.

As each new installment was released, EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, EPISODE VI: THE RETURN OF THE JEDI the ritual was repeated except that now it was a family outing instead of just me and the old man. The popcorn was purchased. The seat was taken. The munching was now a quartet. The trailers played. The other difference was now as soon as that 20th Century Fox fanfare played we sat up straight and locked in as we prepared to engage the hyper-space drive to a full sensory experience in a limitless world. ONSCREEN TEXT: “A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy far, far away…” FADE TO BLACK: That John Williams music blasts and the opening crawl begins…

These films and the merchandise by now dominated my very existence. I was chasing the STAR WARS dragon. Manically watching every film that I could find at the local video store or on TV, I was transported into celluloid infused alternate realities but always Jonesing to get that STAR WARS buzz again…but of course nothing matches that first high.

Until 16 years later on May 19th 1999 when EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE was unleashed with the promise of that unrivaled endorphin avalanche. I was a believer. Again I arrived at the cinema. This time with my wife who is also a confessed STAR WARS junkie. We purchased popcorn. Took a seat in a sold-out screening and began to munch as the adverts bombarded us and then the trailers finished. The now Pavlovian response to the 20th Century Fox fanfare kicked in and the entire audience squirmed in their seat, adjusting themselves for comfort and total immersion. ONSCREEN TEXT: “A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy far, far away…” FADE TO BLACK: That John Williams music blasts and the opening crawl begins.

It’s now a matter of historical record that expectations for THE PHANTOM MENACE, reasonable or otherwise were not met. But that reaction was after the fact, after the journey had already been taken and it ignores the magic that had happened. Regardless of the end verdict it’s the same with EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES and EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH. What really happened was that for a moment in time all our hopes dreams and desires had come true. There was more than a split-second where our inner 12 year old immerses us, where all the nostalgic, cinephilic, escapist, soul-feeding expectations and desires that arguably border on a religious experience were unquestionably satisfied.

If you haven’t already figured it out that moment is; ONSCREEN TEXT: “A Long Time Ago In a Galaxy far, far away…” FADE TO BLACK: That John Williams music blasts and the opening crawl begins. That Text/FADE TO BLACK/score/crawl is the heartbeat of innocence, where imagination swallows us whole as we let the unblemished childhood wonder of infinite possibilities and regression therapy perfectly align like the duel moons of Tatooine. We don’t know if the latest installment will deliver by the final credits but as the words “A Long Time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” are projected we don’t care. In that blink of the eye all that we seek is rewarded. It’s for this beautiful, profound, life affirming flash of time that we purchased our tickets to STAR WARS: EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS. Good, bad, meh it doesn’t matter as you leave the darkened cinema. This priceless blip in the space time continuum is a feeling some Earthlings will never have the privilege of ever experiencing.

I write this post as a survival tip, a Star Wars hack and an introspective suggestion. Crushed expectations, deities poo-dooed on, potential irreparable damage to the conscious mind; these are all too real risks for those among us who have allowed ourselves to become hopelessly addicted to the smack of the Skywalker soap opera. Please take heed my friends and may the force be with you.

This is why!

3 comments to WHAT A TICKET TO STAR WARS REALLY BUYS YOU…FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW

  • Gav  says:

    “…where imagination swallows us whole…” Yes! I feel it even now. Friday… is MY Christmas!

    • FilmFrak  says:

      Christmas for many of us. Keeping expectations in check is like pulling the ears of a Gundark. Thursday night on the only IMAX in town projecting in the full aspect ratio.

  • JB Gary Busey  says:

    like the dual MOONS of Tatooine? What has this guy never seen Star Wars in his life?

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