People are losing their minds over Star Wars. They can’t wait to see the latest installment in the Star Wars saga up on the big screen. They’ve been lining up at theaters all across the country, even camping out on sidewalks. I guess this happens every time a new sequel, or prequel, comes out. Every other post on my Facebook feed is about Star Wars light saber tattoos, Chewbacca shoes, Star Wars-branded bags of apples. Of course … branded apple bags. Because that makes sense.
The Force Awakens. Well, it’s definitely awakened. Maybe it’s because the big guns are back. Maybe it’s because we all know the effects will be even more awesome than before. Maybe it’s just because it’s Star Wars.
Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that I was losing my mind over Star Wars. The original Star Wars. The one called just “Star Wars.” Well, it was officially Star Wars: A New Hope, but everyone just called it “Star Wars.” But it actually wasn’t until after I saw Star Wars that I lost my mind. I don’t think anybody back in 1977 expected the phenomenon we were going to experience. It just sounded like a cool sci-fi flick to go see on the weekend.
I was 13 when the original Star Wars came out. It was playing at the Uptown Theater in Napa, and me and my BFF, Teresa, went to see it. We had no idea what we were in for. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with that dreamy, blue-eyed space farmboy who would soon be plastered all over the pages of my Tiger Beat magazines. Teresa fell in love with Han Solo. Good … more Luke Skywalker for me. But it wasn’t just a cute Jedi-wannabe that was exciting. It was the whole thing. That film had everything: adventure, romance, mystery, action, comedy, and of course, sci-fi. Not to mention the best music score. We couldn’t get enough of it. It was like crack. I don’t remember how many times I went back to the theater – with hard-earned babysitting money – to experience it all over again. One time I went to see it with my cousin, Shelly, and her mom had to come into the theater (after waiting who knows how long to pick us up outside), find us in the dark, and drag us out after we tried to stay through a second showing. Luckily movie tickets weren’t 500 dollars back then, so we just kept going back.
Star Wars was the shizit in the late ’70s. I remember my 8th grade yearbook had Star Wars art all over the cover. And this is an actual old-school trading card from one of my own fancy junior high scrapbooks:
Star Wars stuff ended up on t-shirts, lunch boxes, posters and everything else you could imagine. And Luke Skywalker and Han Solo were cooler than the Fonz. Of course, all the guys were gaga over Princess Leia, but not as much as when she showed up in that fancy gold bikini six years later in Return of the Jedi.
I never thought I’d someday work for Industrial Light + Magic (thank you Lori!) and witness first-hand how the artists created the special effects for all the Star Wars films, including those in production when I worked there: the Re-Release films and The Phantom Menace. Walking through the halls of ILM was insane. Every once in awhile, one of the model shop guys would cruise around with R2D2. There was a life-size Darth Vader in the lobby, and I have to admit, I always held my breath when I passed him. When I first started working there, part of my job was to review all the resumes that came in. Which were a LOT. If I had a dime for every cover letter that began with, “When I saw Star Wars as a kid, it changed my life,” I’d be richer than George.
Okay, so I’m curious about The Force Awakens, and a tiny bit excited to go see it. I’m sure a lot of you are going to go check out the premiere tonight. Maybe some of you had the chance to see it last night. My sweet friend, Liz, and her awesome hubby, Doug, attended the World Premiere on Monday in Hollywood, since he’s Lucasfilm’s Head of Art Design. I can only imagine how many people were bugging them for details after they saw it. But no one can leak that precious info. Otherwise, this happens:
May the force be with you.