Star Wars is in my blood. It accounts for my undying love for all things spaceships, science-fiction, technological and fantastical. It ignited the imagination of a 12 year old boy sitting in a dark theater and, in so many ways, it hasn't ever let go. While I certainly don't want to give it more credit than it deserves, it did open my mind to a greater world. There is an expensive statue of Darth Vader hovering mid-"I am your Father"- above my desk as I write this. On the wall to my left is an original Empire movie sheet in a frame. Star Wars is smeared all over my life.
My brother and I were late for the first showing of Empire. I was fourteen and he was nine. So we had to stand in line for the second show. As the previous crowd exited the theater a man said clearly, "I can't believe Vader is Luke's Father." I coughed very loudly when I saw where that sentence was going and distracted my brother. He missed the spoiler. I didn't.
I saw Phantom Menace a week or so before it was released. My own son was very little, but he came to the preview with me. He dressed up as Darth Vader and wacked people in line with his tiny lightsaber. He loved the movie. I did not. But when it came time to write my review for an online review site, I couldn't bring myself to trash it. I wrote a decent review instead. It felt like Star Wars had stayed young and I had grown away from it. Lucas even admitted later that Star Wars was for kids.
And so it remained thru the remaining prequel trilogy. And the animated series. And most of what we got for years. I was ok with that. The ideas and themes of Star Wars had fueled my young imagination and I hoped that it would continue to do so for other generations as well. A story from our childhood, something for parents to share with their children. Nothing wrong with that.
And then Force Awakens came along. And it certainly felt familiar. It was lightyears ahead in terms of quality, production value, special effects, and even in acting, but it felt familiar. It echoed a lot of the original. Which was understandable. I would have done the same thing to be honest. The original was almost 40 years old at the time. But Force Awakens was good, in some ways great, and in some ways familiar. It elicits complex feelings even today.
And then on Saturday I saw the very first new Star Wars film since Return of the Jedi. You could eliminate everything that happened in-between RotJ and Last Jedi and you really wouldn't be missing anything important. Oh sure Star Wars remains primarily a child's story, as it should, but this film (despite its obvious flaws) is the best thing to happen to Star Wars since that day Vader revealed that he was Luke's Dad. That fact is undeniable in my humble, lifelong, opinion.
Say what you want about the movie, but I feel like I have reclaimed Star Wars once again. I felt like a 12 year old watching it. A feeling I never thought it would give me again. I nearly lost it six or seven times during the movie. Luke Skywalker, who 40 years ago represented all of my own hopes and dreams for life - today represents the reality of those dreams for me. Me and Luke have grown up together you see. We each have our traumas, our disappointments, our failures. Life didn't go exactly as planned for either of us.
I didn't expect that from a Star Wars movie.
And for that, the unexpected, the surprising, the grown-up, the silly, the flawed, the moving, and ultimately for inspiring me once again - I have a new hope that Star Wars can be relevant again. And maybe I can too.
May The Force Be With Us All.