Star Wars is back and not a minute too soon. The Force Awakens, the seventh installment in the Star Wars franchise, will open in December. With it comes familiar faces, heart-stopping special effects, and a storyline that unfolds amidst a war almost biblical in its length and breadth.
My excitement doesn’t stem from a belief that the The Force Awakens will live up to the tremendous hype surrounding it. On the contrary. After a string of disappointing Star Wars movies, I expect very little from this latest iteration. Nonetheless on opening day or soon after, I’ll add this Star Wars saga to all of the others I’ve seen. You see, I am bound by a creed and it dictates that I must see the movie. Loosely translated, my creed states that “all sci-fi is good sci-fi” so I have little choice in the matter. Most recently, I actually saw the universally panned movie Jupiter Ascending and during my lifetime, I’ve willingly sat through a host of “sci-fi gems” along with other movies that were too awful to recount.
I hadn’t adopted my creed in 1977, the year A New Hope, the first Star Wars installment was released. Like most young women just stepping into adulthood, my sights were set on adventure, romance, and fortune. Without a guiding star or a map instructing me how to obtain my heart’s desires, I flitted from one experience to another; eyes open, forever hopeful. When A New Hope made its debut, sci-fi had yet to capture my attention. Whatever it was, I was pretty sure sci-fi with its ubiquitous hostile aliens was something weird and not worthy of serious attention. Star Wars changed all of that for me.
Much has been written about Star Wars as a game changer–how it transformed the movie industry and moviegoers forever but my Star Wars story occurred in a movie ticket line in a suburb far, far away (actually it was just outside of Chicago). My mother and I decided to see the movie on a whim. Naturally we knew about the movie and the hype surrounding it but on that particular day shopping topped our agenda. We were eating lunch at a trendy restaurant when Red and I decided to find out what all the hoopla was about. I can still remember briskly walking towards our destination, turning the corner of a building blocks away from the theater and running smack into a wall made of people all waiting their turn for a piece of cinematic magic.
Always game for an adventure, my shock soon dissipated and I quickly caught the excitement of the people around me. We were in for something spectacular and historic — and everyone in line on the opening day of Star Wars felt the magic permeating the air. Two hours later, the line had only moved about one block and a bit of the magic was wearing off. That’s when my mother declared there was no way that we were going to stand in line all day. “Follow me,” she commanded, and like the dutiful daughter I was, I followed knowing that no good would come of this.
Nicknamed Red, as much for her fiery personality as her auburn hair, my mother had a long and abiding distrust for laws and authority figures. Red never missed an opportunity to point out the injustices of the world to her four children or more appropriately, subjects. Whether it was the police, hypocritical preachers or teachers, no one in authority was to be trusted. Always a quick study, I soon learned that there were societal laws, the kind I learned in school, and Red’s laws and there was no doubt in my young mind that survival depended on how well I followed the later. So there I was, on that fateful afternoon, following my mother into a possible blood bath, certain humiliation, police arrest or worse.
Time stood still for me as I contemplated the circumstances that found us in the front of the line surrounded by an angry mob. The response from the crowd had been predictably swift and savage. “Who do you think you are? You can’t cut in line.” “Somebody get the police!” My mother, on the other hand, was in her element taking on each opponent one insult at a time. All I could do was maintain what I hoped was a steely composure, unreadable and therefore potentially dangerous.
These strangers were standing up to my mother and actually shouting at her, I thought. Was it possible that this defiant mob could accomplish what no one else had been able to do? Was the magic of Star Wars operating outside of the theater? This “force” the movie trailers talked about; could it make her concede her mistake, listen to reason, walk away to fight another day? A large, red-faced man was the self-appointed mob leader. He stood directly in front of Red pointing his finger in her face demanding that we leave now or else. Like a badger facing a much larger foe, his anger only fueled hers and Red leaned into his face making it clear that she would not budge other than to proceed towards the ticket booth. The situation was beginning to spiral out of control. Just then, the line miraculously started to move. Apparently, the theater employees sensed a riot was brewing and wisely decided to open more doors to accommodate ticket buyers.
The carnival atmosphere quickly returned as the mob’s attention switched from us to the beckoning lights of the theater lobby. I breathed a deep sigh of relief as we silently made our way inside of the theater, the magic slowing returning….
Video Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHfLyMAHrQE