Tuesday, May 4, 2010

International STAR WARS Status Day

In honor of this "really ought to be" Holiday, I represent a blog post from way back in the MySpace days. (It's also over on my Flixter page.)

The impact this movie had on me is impossible to really explain. I was five years old, at the time living in a tiny town in Nebraska. The word about this movie had been trickling to us, heck my mother and my aunt even saw it on a trip to Kansas City.

The waiting was killing me.

Finally, it arrived in our one-screen local theatre. Nothing more than an old vaudeville house, with a screen and projector installed. My father agreed to take me, and away we went. The line was enormous for the town, literally around two blocks, unheard of for a movie. I was in full five-year-old with too much candy mode.

Honestly, I had no idea what I was going to see. My mother had described a few things, and thought I would like it. I knew it had something to do with outer space. I'm always amused by the experience, frankly, because the things that would've occupied my mind now, (Would we get in? Would the seats be good?) I had zero frame of reference on. In fact, I couldn't tell you if I'd seen a movie before that day.

When we got inside, the only word for it is "madhouse." People were literally sitting in the aisles, in the front under the screen. There was little room to move, one you were in your seat, you were in your seat. I doubt I'll ever see anything like that again.

Then the movie started. From the opening crawl, the star destroyer roaring over our heads (in a mono theatre to boot!) the lightsaber duel, to the battle over the Death Star, I was no longer in that room. I was inside the screen, soaring along with Luke, Han and Leia. The images flashed past, some burning their way into my brain. (From the moment I walked out of the theatre, the shot of the alien called "hammerhead" by the toy line was pristine and clearly imprinted on my imagination. To this day, when I see the film, that shot gives me a little jolt, how clearly I know what it's going to look like.)

I just sat there, stunned. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, how cool it was, how amazing and exciting. I just had one thought in my head for weeks afterward...that is what I wanted to do. I didn't know what that was, or how you would do it, but I saw my future. First, I thought I'd need to become an astronaut, (my early desire to be a fireman was flushed away quickly) then, as I read more and grew older, I realized that what was really exciting was filmmaking.

I went through the next twelve years of my life convinced I would be a film director. It was the most certain thing I knew about myself.

...Alas, it didn't work out that way.

I regret it, from time to time, and I still think there's a film in the back of my head that's waiting to spring forth...

But enough about that.

Star Wars started me down the path I'm on. Led me into the entertainment business, and more than anything else, that's what I thank George Lucas for. If I hadn't seen Star Wars at that moment, in those conditions, the spark of curiosity that led me to explore film, theatre, writing, directing, etc, would never have been lit. I'd be a stockbroker or banker somewhere, and I'd probably be happy, but the joys I've had in my life wouldn't have come about.

The movies, all six, have flaws, but it never fails that when I sit in a mighty Dolby Digital theatre and that 20th Century Fox fanfare rolls over us, the Lucasfilm logo sparkles on the screen, then those now-immortal words;

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

The chills start creeping up my back, the screen is dark, the room is silent. Then BAM! The Star Wars logo, falling back into the starfield with the blast of John Williams wonderful score. It's a Pavlovian response for me, I feel waves of joy, a feeling a well-being...

In short, I'm a five-year-old kid again.

How could it not be my favorite movie(s)?

PS - I even love the prequels, so sue me.

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