How can I not comment on the upcoming release of the new Star Wars movie? I’m not a fanatic, nor do I plan to brave the crowds on opening night, assuming any tickets remain unclaimed. But from the years 1980–1983, a significant part of my heart and mind resided in the Star Wars universe. Why? Because I was obsessed with finding out what had happened to the love of my life, Han Solo.
The bulletin board in my room was covered with pictures of Harrison Ford and the rest of the Star Wars cast. I devoured Star Wars books, bought fan magazines, and stayed up past my bedtime to watch the stars appear on late-night shows. My slumber party trick was doing a live performance of the scene in the Millennium Falcon (shown above) in which Han insists that Leia cares for him. I played both parts. My friends would clap and beg me to do it again. I’m not kidding.
I was nine, almost ten, when Star Wars came out. My brother was seven. My mom broke her “no rated-PG movies” rule and let my Dad take us to see it. The line stretched out and around the theater. I watched that entire movie without blinking and, much of the time, holding my breath. After that, our house was full of Star Wars action figures and fake light sabers and all manner of Star Wars merchandise, owned mostly by my brother.
There was a theater near my home, and for months after the release of the first movie, back in 1977, every weekend night, the line extended down the block. Star Wars wasn’t a movie, it was a phenomena. It awakened the imagination of even the most incredulous old soul. Its energy was infectious. To sit in a darkened theater with people who were laughing, booing, and jumping in their seats made it all seem so real.
Now we, the most ardent Star Wars fans, are middle-aged, yet we are still posting on Facebook our excitement about the new film. And our children are doing the same. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again . . . art brings us together in ways nothing else can.
So do yourself a favor — if you ever loved these movies, don’t sit in your living room and watch this new one alone. See it in a theater, shoulder to shoulder with a total stranger who, like you, wants for just a couple of hours to believe again in magic.