A LONG TIME AGO…
…in a decade, far, far away I went to see a film called Star Wars IV: A New Hope. It was May, 1977 and I was five years old.
Even now I can still remember the exhilaration, the adventure and the feelings I had as I watched the film that would have so much influence on me, of the characters and the villains I would come to love and hate, of the escapism and, much to my father’s and uncle’s annoyance as I watched the film in Newbury cinema, my often annoying observation during a scene that I “Have that card” … “And that one” … “And that one”.
At primary school, it was all the rage to collect cards showing scenes from the films – I used to buy them from Cyril’s paper shop on the corner with my mum – you got about five cards in it and a stick of chewing gum. Swapsies anyone?
That very same day, after watching the film, we went back with my uncle to his home, as their cat Amber had just had kittens. My mum and dad had agreed that we could have one, so my brother and I chose, naturally, a jet black kitten and very decisively announced to our parents that we would call him “Darth Vader.” Unfortunately my mum decided that she did not want to have to go outside when he was older, calling in “Darth!” for his dinner, so a week later his name was changed to “Moo, moo!” *Sigh* Well you can’t have everything…. Luckily Darth, err, I mean Moo Moo had a healthy life, despite his ties to the Dark Side and lived to a ripe old age of 17.
Naturally, as with so many children, I became a Star Wars fanatic, buying as many Star Wars figures as my mum and birthdays could afford. Even at that age, I knew who my favourite character was, was drawn to the beguling charm of the character and the adventures and outlook on life that he and his co-pilot had… Han Solo.
By the end of he original trilogy and now elevn years old, I was still in love with the films, am still in love with them today. My wife and I watched the originals recently, and, once again, I was that five year old boy – the boy who collected the cards and is hoping that they are still in his mum’s loft.
I won’t mention the prequels, they are there for all time and love them or hate them, they are part of the saga, franchise, call them what you will. I had been excited in the build up to them, daring to hope that they would transport me back, give me the same feelings I had, though I had always hoped the story would continue forward, with the characters I had fallen in love with….
When it was announced that the Star Wars saga would continue, that J.J Abrams would be at the helm, I was again, filled with ‘A new hope’ and when it was revealed that members of old cast would return, I ‘felt’ that this could, finally, be the film that I had been hoping for, that the original trilogy would have a film to honur and do justice to the memories I and so many other millions of five, come forty-three year-olds cherish.
Not since Jurassic Park and the first of the Lord of the Rings trilogy had I experienced the anticpation and excitement in the build up to Episode VII’s release, nor the sense and weight of expectation.
On Thursday 17th of December in Cardiff Bay Odeon, at 17:40 (following 30mins of trailers) the famous, opening credits began to roll and this 43 year old, nervously clutching his wife’s hand, was finally transported back to his childhood.
I won’t give anything away, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for anyone who is dreaming, hoping that Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, is the film they have been waiting for.
All I will say is that, and my smile at this time would tell you, is that the cast, the crew, the director and all involved have lovingly created a proper Star Wars movie, full of wit, adventure, escapism, tears and laughter. The Force is most defintely strong in this one and I eagerly await a second viewing, one that will not be filled with such apprehension and tension.
There was a couple of children in the audience with their parents. One of the children, a boy probably around five years old, was captivated by what was happening. The cinema was shrouded in wonderment and tension and at certain moments the boy, who had obviously sat and watched the originals many times with his father, would pipe up with comments ans questions about characters and how they had aged, or what ship he was looking at.
There were no angry whispers or mutters, no annoyance of a distubance in the force as I think many people in the audience, were, like me, thinking back to their childhood and smiling. I hope the young lad remembers his first Star Wars film at the cinema, I am sure he will and I hope that, once this trilogy is done, he may not have to wait thirty-eight years to experience the next one.