Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
I was seven years old when Star Wars came to the Fox Multiplex in Great Falls Montana. It debuted there on a Friday, and that was our family movie night. The evening in question will always be transcendent in my memory, but not for the obvious reason. For the first time ever, my little brother and I were turned loose on our own to go see a movie. We got to see Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo all by ourselves while Mom and Dad went to see an R rated feature we had never heard anything about. It was some space movie called Star Wars and Dad, being a longtime Star Trek and Twilight Zone fan, wanted to check it out. Back in the day you didn't usually take your five and seven year olds to an R rated movie. It just wasn't done.
I can still remember the look on my parents faces as they shuffled out of the crowded movie theater. Years later while serving in the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm, I would become intimately familiar with the term "shock and awe." We used it to describe the affect an initial bomb strike has on the populace of the designated city. That was what I saw on the faces of my parents that evening as they walked out of Star Wars for the first time... shock and awe. They said three words to us that night, "We're going again!" and after a quick stop to get tickets and snacks, we were seated into the second half of an impromptu double feature.
We went the next day too, twice. And the next day. Then twice the following weekend. We saw Star Wars about eight times during its first release, and probably ten times the following year when it was re-released. We had never seen anything like it. Star Wars was unique in its presentation, and pure in its vision. It changed everything about how films are made, how they're distributed, and how they're marketed.
It changed me too. Star Wars altered the course of my life by opening me up to the possibilities that the future could bring. I became a futurist, and a science fiction fan as a direct result of my initial exposure to Star Wars. For the past twenty-eight years, Star Wars has been an everpresent force in my life.
With the successive release of each new movie, George Lucas has built his movie franchise into an international pop culture treasure. The relative merits of the individual movies have been hotly debated over the years. While it's true that I have my favorites, just like everyone else, as a whole I love them all. I have, ever since the day that seven year old kid first stumbled out of the darkened theater, eyes full of shock and awe, with only one phrase on his lips and heart, "Let's go see that again!"
Now, twenty-eight years later, the seven year old kid is faced with the prospect that there won't be any new Star Wars movies. I think I'm okay with that, but it's heartbreaking in a way. I think this finally hit home for me during the scene in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin finally makes that last heart-rending decision to fully commit to the dark side of the force. I had tears in my eyes during that scene because I knew deep down that the Star Wars Saga that I grew up with was going away forever. From now on it will be transmogrified from a larger than life communal experience, to a mere nostalgia trip that we get to watch whenever we want on T.V. While as an adult I understand completely that George Lucas wants to move on to other things, but the seven year old kid in me feels like he's lost his best friend, his puppy, and his favorite toy, all on the same day.
So, here's to George Lucas, who gave us a lifetime of light and magic. Here's to the cast of the entire Star Wars Saga, the large group of friends that have been with us most of our lives to entertain and comfort us. Here's to the future and the infinite possibilities that it brings.
And as far as our collective inner seven year olds go, they're young. They'll get over it I suspect... in time.