WARNING! This story contains a re-telling of my original encounter with Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope at the youthful age of 5. In keeping with the theme of my naivety at the time, as well as the theme set forth in the previous two articles, I will once again be using examples of how I misinterpreted the names of weapons, planets, characters, etc. (Example, lightsabers are "lightsavers", Darth Vader is no "Dark Vader", and so on and so forth.)
If this offends any FanBoy perfectionists, please do not read on and instead roll on to another article. Now, with that out of the way...
A Long Time Ago...Okay, actually more like five minutes ago, I decided to finish this retrospective look back on the origin of my long lasting relationship with the Star Wars films. Having explained a lot in the previous articles, I'll just briefly get everyone up to speed:
I saw the trilogy when I was five years old, starting with Return of the Jedi (Jabba was scary, Luke had an awesome green lightsaver, and Dark Vader was my second favorite character) which was then followed by The Empire Strikes Back (I was a little confused on the chronological order, and I thought Empire was a sequel to Jedi, I missed Luke's green lightsaver and had an unhealthy hatred with the blue one, and Obi-Wan was a lying ghost who got on my nerves.) and lastly concluded with Star Wars: A New Hope.
Now, my babysitter, Cindy, had informed me that she could not find the other Star Wars movie. I bugged her for weeks to go digging around house and even offered to help and make it out to be a crude sort of scavenger hunt. Weeks went by, until finally she surprised me with
a blank sleeved vhs tape. Unfortunately I didn't get to see
Instead, it looked more like this-
Not very epic in the least, but alas I was just happy to finally have my hands on what Cindy had said was the only Star Wars movie I HAD NOT seen. I got home, and was ready to throw the flick in my VCR and take in the awesomeness that was the Jedi and Princesses and Space Pirates, and 8' tall whatever I used to think Chewbacca was, but there was a bit of a snag. My Grandparents were in town, and my Mom was forcing me to go to their beach home for dinner. As much as I loved my Grandparents, they were ruining something that had me anticipating and nearly foaming at the mouth for weeks now, and I was angry about it! During dinner, I got in trouble for having a bad attitude, and I was told to go to bed. No TV, No Rootbeer Floats, No Videogames, and no Star Wars! I begged and pleaded, but my pesky Mother had spoken, and off to bed I went. That night I dreamed about being the pilot of the Millenium Falcon, and flying to different worlds and making friends with scary aliens.The next day I woke up, washed my face, and sat next to my Poppa. He asked me what movie I was making such a fuss over, and I told him all about the amazing things I'd seen in Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back. All my Poppa really cared for was Western movies, so I had to work my magic to let him give it a chance. It didn't hurt that I was his youngest Grandchild, and I knew exactly how to tug at his
heart strings and make him cave. Some called it manipulation, but I always called it talent, and it was a science I had perfected over the very few years I had on the planet up until that point. My Poppa and I had a special bond; He was my real life hero, even though he never wielded a lightsaber, or saved a Princess...he was the most interesting character I ever knew.
Wasn't his mustache epic? Anyway, I put the video in the vcr and waited for the movie to come up. Instead of the familiar "A Long Time Ago...In a Galaxy Far Far Away." (Which were probably the first words I ever learned how to spell) I was introduced to the plight of a young man named Alex Rogan, as he passed the time of living in a trailer park by playing a videogame called The Last Starfighter.
Apparently Cindy had forgotten she'd also recorded this classic piece of 1984 Sci-Fi Awesomeness. Now, as I reminiscence back to those days, expecting Star Wars and getting The Last Starfighter is pretty funny, but back then I was furious! My Poppa used to be a Pac-Maniac. He never met a Pac-Man machine he didn't dominate, so the whole videogame plot of The Last Starfighter had him interested. Slowly but surely I too got sucked in, but I'm afraid that will have to wait for another article somewhere down the line.I found out that if you fast forwarded The Last Starfighter, Star Wars was right after it, so Cindy's life was spared.
FINALLY! What a sight for agitated eyes! The opening crawl slide down the screen as I forced my Poppa to grab his glasses and read it to me. Things were kind of coming together now that I had the chronology down. Cindy had told me that this movie is when Luke is just a kid, and it explains how he came to wield a lightsaver and eventually save the day. The film started with the famous droid duo of R2-D2 and C-3PO scurrying about Princess Leia's starship as it got pounded by lasers from the pursuing Star Destroyer
Leia gets captured by Dark Vader, but the droids escape to the planet Tat Toon. R2 and 3PO end up taking separate paths and poor R2 gets attacked by what I thought were robed Ewoks. At this point, the movie was close to 20 minutes in, and no Luke Skywalker. 20 minutes is nothing, but to a 5 year-old with a 5 year-old's attention span? It was a lifetime! The desert Ewoks loaded R2 onto their land ship, and low and behold! They'd also captured 3PO! The droid duo reunited! Those pesky desert Ewoks attempted to sell
our robotic heroes to a gruff old man. He only wanted 3P0, but 3P0 would not be separated from R2 again that easily, so Ol' Goldbot convinced Uncle Owen to go for the double deal. The Gruff Uncle Owen yelled for Luke, and there he was!
LUKE SKYWALKER! I have to admit, I was expecting Luke to be a child in this one, as Cindy had told me he was young, and to me back then teenagers were ancient! We were introduced to Luke's adoptive family, but I was so over the space battles and dialog. I wanted lightsaver swingin action! R2-D2 escaped Skywalker's garage, forcing Luke and C-3PO to chase after him in a hovering car. After finally finding R2, Luke is attacked by a Sand Person.
My reaction to the Sand People wasn't fear. I was surprisingly not scared by this creep in a mask, oh no I wasn't. Instead, for whatever reason, I burst into laughter at the sounds he made. I could not stop laughing...Luke went down like a wuss. I was expecting him to burst up with his lightsaver ablazin', but alas, Old Ben Kenobi came to the rescue.
Back at Old Ben's house, R2 plays a message recorded by Leia at the very beginning with the intentions of having it be delivered to an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ben Kenobi reveals himself to be Obi-Wan Kenobi, and tells Luke he needs help rescuing the Princess. Luke was a tad reluctant; as much as he wanted adventure, he was also afraid of actually going after it. Obi-Wan tells Luke that his Father was not a navigator of a spice freighter, like his Uncle had told him, but instead Luke's Father was a Jedi Knight who fought alongside Obi-Wan in the Clone Wars, a pupil of his named Darth Vader killed Luke's dad, blah blah blah, Obi-Wan's a liar. Obi-Wan gives Luke a box and tells him it's a gift his Father would have wanted him to have.
YES! Finally Luke had his laser sword, and we'd see some non-stop hacking action, right? Unfortunately for young me, the movie only had four pivotal moments for the lightsaver to shine. Luke was on his way to drop Obi-Wan off at Anchorhead, but they came upon a destroyed desert Ewok land ship. Luke got worried about his Aunt and Uncle and rushed home. When I first saw this scene, I didn't notice the charred remains of Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. I merely thought that the bad guys burnt down their house, and now Luke didn't know where Beru and Owen went to hide. Their death didn't really register to me until years later.
Meanwhile, there were some pretty boring (to a 5 year-old at least) scenes involving Dark Vader and some old scary guy who I thought was The Emperor. They blew up a planet right in front of Princess Leia with their super mechanical moon, The Dead Star. When we next see Luke, he tells Obi-Wan Kenobi "I want to learn the ways of the force and become a Jedi like my father." and the two were on their adventure.
They arrived at a city with creatures that scared the bejeezus out of me! The Cantina song also freaked me out as well. Luke was hassled by an alien and his deformed friend, but Obi-Wan shows him what's up by slicing his arm off.
Maybe Obi-Wan wasn't as bad as I previously thought him to be? Soon Obi-Wan and Luke were introduced to my third favorite character, Han Solo! Han and Chewbacca boasted about their fast ship, and eventually agreed to transport them all to give the good guys the plans to stop Dark Vader from blowing up anymore plans. Han gets cornered by a bounty hunter, and HAN SHOT FIRST! I don't care if it was in cold blood, you threaten his ship and your dead!
Anyway, Han and the gang escape into space. Obi-Wan begins training Luke by using a droid that shoots lasers. As if Luke's training wasn't hard enough, Obi-Wan put a helmet on him that impaired his vision. Despite the unfair stipulation, Luke pulled it off like a trooper, and he had effectively taken his first step into a much larger world.
Obi-Wan sensed a disturbance in the force, and they soon found out the planet they were looking for was the one Dark Vader blew up earlier! A tractor bean forced them to land on the Dead Star. They hid under compartments and stole imperial stormtrooper armor. Obi-Wan went to go stop the tractor bean so they could escape, so Luke, Han,and Chewie were on their own. After some close calls, Luke finally finds the Princess. He was Luke Skywalker, and he was there to rescue her! They swung across a bridge, almost got smashed in the giant trash can, and Luke almost got strangled by a creature with tentacles.
Obi-Wan came face to face with Dark Vader himself. The two battled what is by far the most boring and weak saber duel throughout the entire saga. Obi-Wan gives us, and Vader strikes him down. Obi-Wan died, but left no body, just like Yoda had done in Return of the Jedi. Luke, Leia, Chewie, Han, and the droids escaped the Dead Star, but were chased by the bad spaceships.
Luke and Han took care of the threat in an exciting and iconic scene. Han and Leia share a tense moment discussing Han's reward. Han asks Luke if he thinks there's a chance for a guy like him to end up with a girl like her, and Luke shoots him down. He's pretty territorial of Leia considering he'll find out she's his Sister in a few years. Han and the gang finally land at the good guy base. Han didn't want to stick around and fight, instead opting to head on out with his reward that was promised to him. Luke joined the squadron of spaceships that was trying to kill the Dead Star before it blew up the planet they were hiding at.
Vader decided he'd grab himself a ship, and defend his mechanical moon. Many pilots died, including Jek Porkins.
The good guys were all dead except for Luke and R2, but their future looked bleak. Vader was closing in fast, but with a "YAHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"
Han Solo flies in, and clears Luke's path by knocking Vader our of control. Luke can now take Ghost Obi-Wan's advice and trust the force. The Dead Star goes BOOM!
and Obi-Wan reminds us all to "Remember, the force will be with you..Always."
Leia rushes to Luke and Han, and they celebrate. Everyone gets a medal...except Chewie and the droids. I'm not really sure why Chewie didn't get a medal. Perhaps he only feels comfortable wearing the bandolier? Perhaps it's something to do with Wookie tradition where medals and decor are disgraceful? Maybe it has something to do with Han Solo's life debt, and he doesn't think he should be rewarded for standing besides Han? I really don't know the hard facts, just speculation. Chewie eventually got his own medal at the 1997 MTV Movie Awards, presented to him by Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher.
I have to admit I was disappointed after my first time watching it. It didn't wow me on the aesthetic level like Jedi and Empire did. The effects were crude, even to my simple 5 year-old mind, and like I mentioned before, the duel between Vader and Obi-Wan was just ho-hum. Luke favored a blaster to his lightsaver, and he didn't even face off against Dark Vader. If Return of the Jedi absolutely made me go crazy over Star Wars, and Empire scared me with the fact that sometimes the good guys lose, A New Hope just kind of bored me. By watching the trilogy backwards, I had been spoiled with lightning fast lightsaver duels, and more life-like puppets. I'm sure had I see Star Wars: A New Hope first, I would have been blown away, and the film would have impacted me much more than it did when I was young.
After the movie was over, I'd realized my Poppa had fallen asleep and was now snoring rather loudly. Star Wars really wasn't his thing, but I'm thankful that my Star Wars experience involved him even in such a minor way. Even though the movie went completely over his head, I still think he understood why it appealed to me. These movies were MY westerns! Instead of heroes battling it out on horses and deserts, they were battling it out in space ports and in speeders. The art of great storytelling had evolved. My Family was always great in keeping my Star Wars obsession fed with comic books, novels, action figures, plastic lightsabers, etc. By doing this, it helped me develop a talent and a passion for writing. I learned to read because without knowing how I couldn't follow the further adventures of Leia, Han, Lando Luke, Chewie, and the rest of the classic characters.
By completing the saga, I was no understanding more about how things tied together. Although I rented the trilogy many times, I didn't not actually own any of the films until they re-released them with THX enhancements.
For my birthdays, I'd get countless Star Wars Toys. My room was decked out in "Star Wars Crap" as my Mom called it. I would read all the books I could get my hands on, and I knew the Official Guide to Star Wars Characters almost by heart. First time I ever got dumped by a girl was because I was too into Star Wars. When Episode 1 came out, I spent the night in line. When Episode 2 came out, I was the first in line, and I got interviewed by the local newspaper. I went to the midnight showing of Episode 3 with a group of fellow Star Wars nerds, and just enjoyed the movie as a movie, and not as a parking lot camping trip like I had previously done. Anybody who knows me knows Star Wars is a huge part of my life. I implement in my vocabulary, my music, my humor, and so on.
I'm not as devoted to knowing all about Star Wars as I once was (I can still play a mean game of SW trivial pursuit, however) but I still love these movies, as they represent pieces of the things that made my childhood great. Star Wars opened the proverbial floodgates to my imagination and inspired me to find my own ways to tell my own stories. It almost felt like Star Wars and I grew up together. Shortly after I saw the movies, Kenner released a new line of action figures and I was at the right age to collect them all. It was almost as if it was fate.
It was fun looking back on how my life with Star Wars began, and how it's evolved over the years. Watching the original trilogy today makes me feel like a kid all over again. It's movies with a virtually timeless appeal, and an almost infinite impact on life as it is.
So to conclude this article, Forgive me for being a bit cliche', but ...
May the Force Be With You!
Epilogue; For now I'm done writing about Star Wars, and I'll be moving on to other things...but don't be surprised if I eventually write something about the prequels : )