I am a prequel apologist. I throughly enjoyed both Episode I and II. While other Star Wars fans decried much of the dialogue, acting and the very presence of Jar Jar Binks, I was simply amazed by each one. This is because I view each of these movies as chapters in one big story - you don't put down "To Kill a Mockingbird" because there are a few slow chapters or you think one of the characters is annoying do you? Anyway, last night, it was finally time for Episode III.
I bought our tickets online for the midnight showing in Savannah. Allison and I, along with Brian and Deborah met up at 10PM, then drove to the theater. When we arrived, we were immediately surrounded by Stormtroppers and Wookies - I felt right at home! The atmosphere was electric - it's not every day that you are completely surrounded by people who are as passionate as you are about a shared interest. There were people of all ages and races (and species!) in attendance - quite a galactic melting pot. We were shown into one of the theaters playing the movie, and immediately became aware that the air conditioning was not working in that theater. However no one said a word about their discomfort. We were all there to see Star Wars and nothing else mattered. To their credit, the theater staff felt that we didn't deserve to sweat through the movie, so they asked us all to move to another theater. Of course, the other movie that was playing in that theater hadn't finished yet, so we all waited in the hallway outside for 30 minutes. Again, no one complained. Finally we entered the theater, and proceeded to patiently wait another half-hour for the movie to start. Everyone was excited - lightsabers were being waved around, people telling each other of their previous Star Wars experiences. At 11:55, someone in the front row yelled out "5 MINUTES!!" and everyone applauded. At the stroke of midnight, the lights went down....and 10 minutes worth of previews and commercials began! Again, no one had anything negative to say - we'd all been waiting nearly 3 decades to see how it turned out - another few minutes wouldn't kill us. After the last preview, when the "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away..." come on the screen, it seemed as though everyone held their breath. At last, we saw the famous opening crawl and heard the familiar Star Wars theme play - there was quick applause, then we all sat back to enjoy the show.
And enjoy it we did.
But now...it's over. I've seen the last Star Wars movie I will ever see. I knew this fact going in and yet nothing could have prepared me for how sad I feel at this fact. People who walk into my apartment and see all my toys and memorabilia always have the same question on the tip of their tongue that they are simply too polite to ask - how can a grown man be so consumed by this childish fantasy? The answer is simple - it's precisely because of it's childishness that I am consumed! Star Wars is a connection to my childhood, a time when I truly believed anything was possible. As adults, we know better - this world can truly be an awful place sometimes. Knowing this makes me hold onto the memories of having lightsaber fights with my friends or talking to each other in backwards sentences like Yoda that much harder.
Sometimes I envy all those young children that have never seen Star Wars - they will get to watch the entire story unfold in 12 hours, where as I had to wait 28 years. I envy the happiness they will feel the first time they fly their X-Wing fighter around their bedroom. I envy them for the sense of awe and wonder that they will have after watching these movies for the first time. Who knows - maybe one day they will envy me as well. After all, they'll never know the experience of a midnight showing, being surrounded by other Star Wars fans. They will never know the excitement of being at the music store the minute it opens just to get John Williams musical score, then popping it in the CD player in the car on the way to work (which by now you are late for!). Above all, they won't realize until they grow up how wonderful it is to lose yourself and all your problems for a few hours in that galaxy far, far away. Remember....the force will be with you...always.