|It didn't look like much from the outside, but the Forum Cinema was gorgeous on the inside.|
There’s was just nothing like it.
I want to talk a little about actually physically going to see the trilogy, but first, how it manifested itself through my life. I know many of you my age will nod and hopefully smile at some of the references.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember much about Star Wars before actually going to it. I don’t remember the hype. However, I do remember the day I went, as clear as if it was yesterday. Well, two weeks ago, maybe. I also remember various little moments through my youth that all came from the Star Wars experience.
The vociferous argument with my parents around my communion name. I wanted Luke. For obvious enough reasons. I was vetoed. I remember where I was standing as I moaned ‘You never let me do anything!’.
|''Mum, Dad, I'm going to school''|
I remember coming down the stairs at home, dressed up as a Rebel soldier on Hoth for a school Halloween party. The outfit was lovingly put together using anything and everything I could get my hands on, but as I stood in front of the mirror in my room, about to go down stairs, I steeled myself for the inevitable ribbing from my family, or, worse, apathy. To this day I remember which step of the stairs I was on when my Dad looked at me, shrugged, and said, ‘’You know what, I actually know what look you’re going for, and that’s not bad.’’
The action figures. Who my age hasn’t thought to themselves ‘Why didn’t I leave just one or two of them in their box?! Why?!’ If you had the foresight to keep a few of those figures in their original packaging, I salute you. You are most likely either very rich, or about to be very rich. Those things go for thousands, each!
|Why?! Why didn't I buy ten of them and leave them unwrapped?!|
I got one pound pocket money, and I saved basically only for Star Wars figures. I can picture myself as clear as day standing in front of the packages in one of the few stores that sold them in Dun Laoghaire, 2-3 weeks’ pocket money saved in my clammy hand, trying to figure out what figure to get this time. Princess Lea on Hoth? Chewie? Han Solo, in any number of cool outfits (if you don’t think Han Solo is cool, you may as well stop reading now, in fact I am astonished you got this far).
I remember one day after school standing beside my poor mother as she made dinner, giving her a long, detailed explanation of why X-Wings, and all the other craft in the Star Wars galaxy, look so old, worn and beaten up. Realism. Yes, I was evangelizing the merits of realism in the craft design of Star Wars, to my mother, as she made dinner. She gave me some money to go buy something she didn’t need, but I bounded down the street happy that I had clearly recruited another believer.
Have I ever tried to move something using The Force? Yes, I have, and no doubt a few of you have also. Pencils, rulers, that kind of thing, while day dreaming in class Yes, I did that. Sure.
Star Wars formed a background to much of what my friends and I did way back when. Aaron Wilson (I wonder where he is now…) had pretty much all the toys, including a majestic, enormous AT-AT, and if you were invited to his house you got there early to make sure you got in on the action early. The figures, any other merchandise, they were all high value currency. We occasionally traded figures and other bits but generally you just horded what you had and treasured it as if it were solid gold.
The Star Wars universe found its way into everything else, for us, back then. I remember when we first started playing Dungeons and Dragons, my first few characters were all based on someone you might hear about in the Star Wars world. Jed Jorfu was one of my favourite creations. Used that one a few times.
Star Wars was always there, hovering over us, binding my friends and I together. We were not what you would class as super obsessed, we didn’t join any of the uniform groups (at least not that I know of), there were no Rebel Alliance tattoos (yet) and none of us successfully had our names changed to Luke, Han or Lando (kudos to my friend Paul for naming one of his sons Luke). However, Star Wars was an incredibly profound constant in our lives.
In our minds we were always on Tatooine, staring up at the moons (yes, plural), dreaming of fighting the evil Empire, and falling in love with Princess Lea. Apart from Barry Colleary, he wanted to fight for the Empire. I guess the uniforms got to him.
It all started and ended though, with those first viewings. The first time we snuck off to the cinema and saw the original three movies. In my case it was literally snuck, as my parents barred me from seeing it, fearing it was violent escapism. I remember the walk to the cinema, with Barry, who was about to be sucked into the glory of the Empire and their fancy outfits, and Roghan Kinlay, a free spirit about as close to a real life Luke Skywalker as I would ever meet. We walked down from Barry’s house, with Barry clutching a 5 pound note that his Dad had given him to buy our snacks with. This 5 pounds ensured we could buy anything we wanted. I had two sodas, a bag of popcorn and a big red box of malteesers. The guys got similar, and we still got change. Maybe it is a statement of how bad other movies were at the time, but when the big red velvet curtains pulled back and the music blared and that opening, shining, golden text rolled down the screen, we sat with our jaws dropped down to our knees, having never seen or heard anything like this before.
The movie itself was a rolling, pounding, thrilling and indeed romantic ride. We were hooked and we wanted more. The wait for Empire was painful, but I remember sitting back in the seat in the same cinema, a couple of years later, thinking, ‘’Well, here we go again, God I hope Luke and Lea get together properly, enough with this messing around!’’
You can imagine my face after that was over.
Empire led to Return, at which point I was finally growing up and building a pretty strong sense of skepticism. Return still resonated, and the ending, although a little clumsy, let’s face it, still felt like closure. I even excused Return for those stupid Ewoks. Who cares, Speeder Bikes!
Is there any point in mentioning the second batch of movies? Let’s just forget those, other than, I enjoyed the second two, and saw the third one a couple of times, including one time after a morning Irish World cup match where I’d had a couple of drinks, and went to a 2 pm showing. I fell asleep in the cinema and was woken by an attendant, cycled home, found out I was locked out, and fell asleep in the front garden, until my roommate came home, woke me up and brought me inside. That’s probably my strongest memory of that batch.
And with that, here we go again.
Look, I know, it’s probably best not to get too attached to a Science Fiction movie. I get that. And, I do draw the line. Like I said, I haven’t enlisted in a fake Rebel Alliance costume group (although I did research them, a few years ago). That said, going to see the Force Awakens is a pretty damn big deal for my peers and I.
Having read the above, it should be pretty clear why.
May the Force be with you.