Star Wars in my Bones

Is it a bit silly to get misty-eyed over a 2.5 minute movie trailer? Maybe.

Do I give even a single, tiny whit? Not even remotely.

force-awakens

It’s only the barest of overstatements to say that “Star Wars” was my religion. I was 10 years old in 1977, an introverted kid leading a quiet, mundane life, with only the most superficial appreciation of true imagination┬áby way of a few comic books and TV shows. I had not yet had any profound experience of the sheer scope and awesome power of Myth, of Story, of that Other that we sometimes catch a rare glimpse of, what C.S. Lewis called “Northernness” — that realization that there is so, so much more to reality than the lifeless, pedestrian existences we eke out for ourselves.

I think (hope!) everyone eventually has this experience on the rocky path to adulthood, sometimes as a slowly dawning awareness over a span, sometimes as a single, pinpoint moment of exhilarating discovery. Mine was the latter, and it happened in a dark theater, sitting next to my dad and happily munching away on popcorn.

Ben Kenobi tells Luke at one point, “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world,” and he may as well have been speaking directly to me. I went into that theater with my dad as I had scores of others before — “happy,” but creatively lethargic, dull, with no real sense of grandeur, or spectacle, or the power of ideas.

When the lights came on, when my senses returned and we walked back into the sunlight, I was a different kid. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But the entire experience of those 121 minutes was completely mesmerizing, utterly transformative. It was like a drug. My mind was racing with a billion thoughts and a billion-and-one questions. I felt like I was shaking. I struggled to somehow contain everything I had just witnessed, make sense of it all. I blathered at my dad like a little madman, asking him things he could never know, telling him of things I wanted to create, entirely unaware of his own bemusement (for him, and for others, it was just another movie among thousands).

For the next few years, I breathed everything Star Wars. I played Star Wars with my friends for countless hours, with action figures and spaceships, with bikes speeding along trenches made of city streets, with lightsabers made of broomsticks and branches. I started reading even more, the novelization of the movies,┬á“Splinter of the Mind’s Eye,” the Han Solo trilogy, whatever I could get my hands on. I wrote stories, drew pictures, made scripts for sequels, recorded cassettes full of audio tales. My room was like a shrine, with no corner untouched, and I literally dreamed of Star Wars adventures while sleeping in Star Wars pajamas under Star Wars bed sheets surrounded by Star Wars toys and posters.

It was glorious.

Lucas’ vision had ignited my own. I had a passion, now, a driving need to create, to give birth to wild characters and exotic worlds, to explore every corner and crevice of “What if?” that had never really interested me before. (And a few years down the road, when I finally had my first encounter with Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games? I knew I had found the perfect medium to pour all of this energy and fervor into).

Today, I can still hear nearly every line of dialogue from the original trilogy in my mind before it is spoken on-screen, see the shot changes before they happen and hear the notes of the score before they’re played. When you live in another place for so many years, even if it’s a fictional one, those memories never die — they are etched right onto your soul.

All three of the original movies have a permanent place in my heart. When the prequel films were eventually released, I loved those trailers and thought the movies were pretty good, though they ultimately fell short of what I’d hoped for. All the pieces seemed to be there, but somehow… the magic was missing.

The two trailers we’ve seen for The Force Awakens — to me, they have that magic. They don’t just look like Star Wars, they feel like it. I want to know these characters, I want to see these places, I want to shoot through hyperspace to a galaxy far, far away and revisit all my old friends (and make some new ones).

I can’t tell, today, what the new Star Wars universe will look like. But after watching this latest trailer, I find myself full of hope and wonder.

Like a 10-year-old kid in a darkened movie theater.

 

1 Comment

  1. I had a very similar experience growing up. Two pivotal moments in my young life happened in 1977. The first was seeing Star Wars. The second was reading the Hobbit and later the Lord of the Rings. Both sparked my imagination and opened new worlds to me. I couldn’t get enough.

    While the prequels really never captured the same feeling for me, these new trailers have brought me “home” again. I wonder if I still have that broomstick lightsaber in my pop’s garage? Queue the John Williams music!

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