A long time ago, in a continent far, far away live a small boy whose father wasn’t an evil dictator ruling the universe. When I was young I was never caught up in hype over things, for the most part I’m still not, but in 1977 I was totally clueless to the world-wide phenomenon that was happening at every movie theater. One Saturday morning my Father got me ready and told me we were going to see a film, fantastic which film? My Father refused to tell me on the bus ride in to town. I think he was oblivious to the fact that I was oblivious to current fads and trends. “You’ll see,” he said with a smile. The walk from the bus stop to the cinema was not far, but for some reason my Father insisted we stood at the end of a very long line? “I thought we were going to see a film Dad?”
Eventually all became clear the line moved and we got some sweets (candy) and took our seats. The last movie I’d been to before that was a re-run of Bambi so I had been a little sheltered when it came to movie theater experiences. When the British Board of Film Certification flashed up on the screen that we were about to watch Star Wars the place erupted like a home town hero scoring a winning cup final goal. Much clapping, cheering and whistling. The eight year old me was confused and excited at the same time. Something special was about to happen. And it was.
This was the start of a rollercoaster ride that would last another twenty-eight years. It didn’t take much to have me hooked. I think all the kids of my age were hooked in the opening scene when the Rebels are trying to escape and the huge Imperial Star Destroyer just keeps on going and flowing over the screen. Woah, that is a big space ship! Bam! Big explosions! Scary villans! Cool heroes. The movie had it all. I knew little of George Lucas at the time, what I did know is that I wanted to be Luke Skywalker! That year if you hadn’t seen Star Wars you were a nobody. For the first time I was one of the cool kids!
Things change. They always do. By 1980 my sister had gotten married and lucky for her he turned out to be a Star Wars and Ipswich Town fan. So with my Father and my Brother-in-law we went off to see The Empire Strikes Back. The
Second Fifth movie? Apparently Star Wars was now called A New Hope and that was Episode Four. Empire was Episode Five? What happened to the first three? Questions that would not be answered for a few years at least. As it turns out Empire would be the best of the Movies it had everything, even a muppet! And as Irvin Kershner would say the second act is always the best, it’s when the good guys lose! And lose they did, lost their hidden base, lost one of the main heroes and lost one hand! (if found return to L.Skywalker)
One short year after Empire came out my world was thrown into chaos just as much as the Rebel Alliance. My Father died just before my twelfth birthday, it was unexpected and for me, I had lost my role model. 1983 saw the release of Return of the Jedi. But I didn’t go to see it when it hit the cinema. I was not one of the cool kids anymore. I was doing my own thing in the summer of 1984 I was 14 and thought it would be a good adventure to take the 40ish miles on the train to Colchester and ride my five speed racing bike to Lexden to stay with my Aunt and Uncle for a week. A big deal for a 14-year-old and if it was today I can’t see any parent letting a 14-year-old do that today. But back then things were more innocent! All the weirdos didn’t have the internet yet! I made the trip safely and after a day or two I was looking for things to do. I noticed in the paper that the movie theater was having a Star Wars Marathon. All three movies, and not having seen Return of the Jedi I thought it would be fun. I went on my own, and my popcorn had run out way before the end of A New Hope (no free refills in those days) and I needed to pee, but the dark steps up to the bathroom looked weird. By the end of Empire, the full blader overtook the weirdness factor and off I went, coming back just in time for the start of Jedi. As it turns out the Rebels win, Vader dies, Leia is Lukes’ what now? It was all over. Story done!
Untill 1999 when Mr Lucas made Phantom Menace. The thirty year old me was now working and trying to find my way in the world. I was still living in Bury St.Edmunds, but I wanted to be in America. I’d visited Detroit in 1998 and Michigan is where I wanted to be. But you can’t always get what you want. Like a satisfactory Episode One! For all the great special effects the story was slow to get going. And left way too many questions.
By 2002 not only had my life changed for the better, I was now married and living just outside Detroit, but it seemed the whole world had changed after 9/11. Attack of the Clones (or when Muppets attack) came out and was certainly better than Phantom Menace.
Then came Revenge of the Sith in 2005. didn’t have much to say about Episodes one and two, but three was something special. Seeing how Darth Vader got turned to the dark side was something as a kid at school we’d all talked about and all had our theories. Turns out that it was all because of a woman! who’d have thought it! I thought it was a great ending, Vader becomes the Emperors right hand man, The kids are split up only to find each other later, Yoda goes into hiding, Obi Wan changes from being Scottish to English. And as the credits rolled I cried. Not because it was a sad ending. But because the journey was over. From the 8-year-old boy riding the bus with his Father to the Father who was sitting with his 11-year-old daughter. As Vader said, “The Circle is now complete”
May the force be with you.