There is an Awakening… And I Can Feel It


Mr. Egan

So there’s yet another sequel that will open in movie theaters just before Christmas.  It’s obviously not new, but it’s important to an obscenely large amount of people.  I’m not going to pretend and fake anyone out by saying the sequel is Alvin and the Chipmunks.

It’s Star Wars, and the Force is awakening, and it matters.

For the people in the entertainment business, it’s important because the opening weekend is more than likely to be the most profitable December opening for any movie in history, and there’s a really good chance that this movie will bring in the highest box office receipts of any movie up to this point in time.  Careers will be made, or they will be destroyed. Holiday retail sales are inextricably linked to this enterprise, and the merchandising related to the movie is more prevalent than any other product this year.  (Probably next year, too.) Disney will have new theme parks, and Toys R Us has dedicated whole segments of their stores to the phenomenon.  Honey Nut Cheerios has a new spokesman, and it’s C3PO.

For the fans, it’s important as a continuation of a saga that they probably never thought would ever be completed.  The original Star Wars stood alone, a one-off that the industry didn’t think would ever be more than a one summer drive-in affair.  Then it exploded beyond anyone’s expectations and spawned a trilogy.  Then George Lucas told fans that this trilogy was just the middle of a nine-part story.  Then there was nothing for two decades until the prequel trilogy emerged to spread happiness and excitement, disappointment and frustration – a mixed legacy from a director whose fans embraced his original stories as their own cultural touchstone, only to have them mishandled, tampered with and adulterated by the same source that brought such personal meaning.  (Case in point – the landmark cantina scene in Mos Eisley.  I shouldn’t even have to say Han shot first.) Now, another decade along the way, J.J. Abrams is bringing back optimism and hope for the promised conclusion to a mythology that generations of moviegoers have desperately wanted.

I’m no different.  I have wanted the full nine-part saga for as long as I can remember.  The movie theater is getting my money, and probably not just once or twice.  Santa will put Star Wars merchandise under my Christmas tree.  There will be cereal boxes in my pantry with droids and stormtroopers and Wookiees on them.

None of that stuff is really the reason why The Force Awakens is so important to me.

Star Wars is the first movie I remember seeing in a movie theater, and I remember every detail. I was four years old, and my dad took my brother and me to the Halls Ferry Six (which is now either a parking lot or just a great big nothing behind White Castle).  We met my dad’s Air Force buddy Charlie and his son Clint, lifelong family friends of ours, and we had our world changed forever a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  The single opening note of John Williams’ score blasting through after the 20th Century Fox fanfare forced a whole new reality upon me.  There’s a hero who comes of age.  There’s a wise teacher with a lightsaber. Starships.  A damsel in distress who turns out to be tougher than the men who come to rescue her.  Lasers.  A super-evil villain with James Earl Jones’ voice. Special effects.  Mythology.  A Wookiee co-pilot and an Astromech droid who become the guys to get an arrogant, bounty-hunter-shooting smuggler, a whiny, wannabe Jedi farmboy, and a dramatically homeless Rebel princess out of every jam they can get themselves into. The Force… Who wouldn’t love the power of movies after that?

38 years later, I will get to give my son what my dad gave to me:  the beginning of a new Star Wars trilogy on the big screen.  We’re going with my old McCluer buddy Andy and his two boys, my sons’ lifelong friends, and we’re going back a long time ago to a galaxy far, far away.

The only difference is I am buying popcorn, pretzel bites and a big soda.  Dad wouldn’t spring for that in the summer of 1977.