I vividly remember the first film I saw in a theater. My parents discussed it before Dad and I went, though I’m not sure my parents realized I was within earshot.
“There’s a lot of shooting in that,” Mom said. “Are you sure it’s all right for him?”
Dad reassured her he had already seen the movie with Uncle Jimmy (the family photographer I’ve mentioned in prior columns), and that there was no blood. I’d be fine, he said. And, with that, we were off to see “Star Wars.”
Mom was right, there was a lot of shooting. But so was Dad. The way he tells the story, the movie ended and I was sitting there still glued to the screen. “You just said, ‘Wow,’” he recalled.
I think about that every time I see Star Wars, which is still my favorite movie series. I’ve seen them all in theaters, and I’ve enjoyed them. Yes, even “The Phantom Menace.” It was, objectively speaking, a weak film. But I didn’t expect it to make me feel the way I did when I first saw the original. I’m not that age anymore.
On Friday, that younger me came out for a while. The trailer for Episode IX was revealed, and the kid who saw Star Wars all those years ago was once again glued to the screen to watch it. Lando’s back! With Chewie! Was that Luke’s medal from after the Battle of Yavin IV?
And, at the end, that laugh. Palpatine’s laugh.
I’ve had a theory since “The Force Awakens” that Rey may well be a Palpatine. That movie inverted a lot of the tropes from the original trilogy, and having a niece or grandniece of the Emperor representing the light side against a Skywalker descendant would fit that nicely. It would also explain why she was being hidden on Jakku.
“The Last Jedi” seemed to throw that out the window. But we’ve seen Star Wars characters lie about people’s parents before. I’ll find out in December, I suppose.
Star Wars was a defining event for my generation. My own children appreciate it, but for them the series is something that has always been there. There was no time before the films.
While this won’t be the final Star Wars film (a separate trilogy has already been announced, along with at least two live-action streaming series), this is the final one to focus on the Skywalkers. It’s the last one to focus on characters I’ve known for 40 years, stories that have shaped my imagination.
I might have been curious about astronomy and science without Star Wars, but probably not in the same way. I might have studied Joseph Campbell’s theory on heroes, but it was the fact George Lucas used it to shape Star Wars that first caught my attention.
You never know when a seemingly minor event, a book you read on a whim or a movie you use to fill a lazy weekend afternoon, will alter your thinking in the long term. I guess the key is to keep looking, to remain open to having your world changed.
“The Rise of Skywalker” won’t be the last film I see in theaters. But it will have a unique tie to the first one I saw. For a couple hours, I suspect that kid who saw the original will be closer than he has been in years.
I wonder what Dad’s doing that weekend. Maybe this time I’ll take him to see a movie.