The River

Monday, January 07, 2008

Star Wars memories

There are a million reasons I love "Star Wars," and to relate them all would take forever, so I'll just relate my first viewing of this movie on the date it opened to the world, May 25, 1977, and what the effect was in the theater on the audience seeing it for the first time (Hicksville, NY). I was very skeptical about the movie, I expected a silly sci-fi romp without anything to care or be excited about. The opening, with the space cruiser entering the frame from above, was stunning, and the music, sound effects, and visuals were all thrilling. As the movie continued, it was obvious there was a palpable feeling around me that we were seeing the movie of the year, and that it would be an enormous box office success. These were characters that were funny, lovable, heroic, and passionate, and the story was a mixture of all the archetypes and myths of legends and motion picture history and literature. The music was stirring, brilliant, exciting, mysterious, and instantly recognizable as a homage to the past masters of symphonic film music. The acting wasn't uniformly great, but seeing Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, and hearing James Earl Jones' voice, and enjoying Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill for the first time, and how well they were cast together, it all came together beautifully. By the time the movie had reached it's climax, and the attack on the Death Star was in full swing, well, I was in a state of pure movie euphoria, the type I haven't experienced since then. When the credits popped on the screen, the audience applauded wildly, and I left the theater feeling like I could jump the Moon on the way home. It was the best movie-going experience of my life.

-- JRs movies, Netflix post

I love this comment, not least because it's so true to my experience. But I suspect the writer's feeling that he or she was watching the "movie the of year" and a "box office success" is more industry-influenced hindsight than original experience. I hope so. Such thoughts couldn't have been further from my mind. However, "I left the theater feeling like I could jump the Moon on the way home" says it all.

It pains me that so many of my kids' friends (ages 6-8) have seen the original Star Wars. This is a "coming of age" movie, a first step into a larger world, as Obi Wan Kenobi says. These young kids can't possibly understand the movie except on the most superficial level. Empire? Man/machine conflicts? Struggle with evil? Whatever.

And, unlike my wife, they probably won't look back and say, "I can't believe I had a crush on Luke, with Harrison Ford right there!" And when they are old enough to appreciate it, it will just be another action movie, its magic stripped away through familiarity.

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