Reflections on Star Wars

Tonight I’ll be seeing the final chapter of the Star Wars saga. I’ve been reading about it and writing about it for weeks and weeks and weeks, and then some more and more until we’re done.

Whew. My complaints about Episodes I & II have been heard before, though I still agree with people who say Mmm… Star Wars. As much as Lucas mucks it up with stuff like Jar Jar Binks and sappy love scenes, I still love Star Wars.

Obviously so much of it is tied up in childhood memories, and that’s fine by me. I talked to a friend the other day who went to see Revenge of the Sith on opening night with his 10-year-old son. He saw the original Star Wars in the theater when he was 10. That kind of generational loop is so cool.

I came a bit late for the originals, being born in 1979, but I still remember seeing the original Star Wars in the theater, watching Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi square off through my hands because I was so terrified. It must have been some re-release, probably around the time of Return of the Jedi.

My brother and I had all the toys and would play Star Wars all the time–both “with the guys” (the action figures) and “we be the guys” (with our Han Solo style blasters and wrapping paper tube light sabers). We colored in our Star Wars coloring books, using “little Luke orange,” a stubby orange crayon that was perfect for the orange in Luke’s flight suit. We’d crash on the living room floor listening to the Star Wars soundtrack on LP.

When Phantom Menace came out I talked my entire family into seeing it together. My brother and I were both in college and I was home for a rare weekend before a summer internship. It was the first time our entire family had been to the theater together in longer than I could remember. While the movie didn’t live up to everyone’s expectations, I just loved entering the Star Wars universe again with my family in tow.

Later that summer my parents would get separated and later divorced, which makes it all sound incredibly tragic and could be a metaphor for how you can’t go home again and how Lucas sucked up his masterpiece. But they got remarried and lived happily ever after, so there.

The Star Wars memories go on. And you can imagine I’m pretty excited to see the final chapter tonight. I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve read lots of good reviews (and a few spoilers) as well as a few bad reviews, but I’ve also learned that it just can’t live up to my expectations. And that’s OK. You’ve got to enjoy it for what it is, enjoy what works and not get too worked up over what doesn’t.

Part of the joy is just seeing that universe again, no matter how goofball it is. That’s why I like watching Star Wars fan films. That’s why even though I cringe at the marketing machine, I still like doing 20 Questions with Darth Vader and reading his blog and watching Chewbacca record ringtones. Yeah, it’s over the top. Yeah, Lucas is cashing in. But it’s still Darth Vader on the screen, and in some small way that’s OK.

A Yoda action figure sits above my desk, brandishing a light saber and looking as fiercesome as frog-inspired puppet can.

May the force be with you.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Star Wars”

  1. And also with you.

    For some reason, the “with the guys” and “we be the guys” phrases stand out in this entry to me. They’re so raw and so real. So incredibly true to the life phases and minds from which they came. I just couldn’t help but smile. Little details like that add such excellent color to any passage.

  2. Thanks, Josh. That’s just how my brother and I always referred to it. I never thought anything of it until I played with other kids and they looked at me like I was weird.

    For my brother and I, it was always just, “What do you want to play?” “Star Wars.” “OK. With the guys, or we be the guys?” “We be the guys, and I get to be Luke!”

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