What an awakening

I made a solemn oath. Never again.

Never again would I read anything spoilery about a movie, especially one taking place a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

It was 1999. The Phantom Menace was a week or so away from blasting its way onto movie screens. Cough it up to luck or the will of the Force, I was an intern at The Gainesville Sun during this time, so they let me write a story or three about the movie. I did my best not to see too much about the plot, but, in all places, a Dave Barry column tripped me up.

At first I thought it was a joke, but in parentheses, he had said that Qui-Gon Jinn was going to die. I couldn’t believe it.

Sitting in the theater for that first viewing, I tried not to think about those few words, but sure enough, during the duel between Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Maul, it happened. Even though I kinda knew it was coming, I still felt a pain when Maul killed Qui-Gon.

Still, from that point forward, I wanted to experience any subsequent movies as “clean” as possible.

Enter Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

via StarWars.com

First off, I was beyond flabbergasted when the folks at Disney and Lucasfilm announced they were making more Star Wars movies. I was filled with more glee when they were carrying on past the events of Return of the Jedi.

Speaking of Return of the Jedi, when I was a kid back in 1983, I couldn’t wait for that movie to arrive. I read the storybook. I read the comics. I read a behind-the-scenes magazine. But I never saw the movie in the theaters. (I haven’t been able to get a clear answer from my parents) When the movie eventually hit VHS Land, I probably watched it constantly. Apparently I had no problems with movie spoilers.

Anywho. I told myself I would only watch the trailers for TFA, and try not to peruse Star Wars’ website.

So in Thanksgiving 2014, I sat down in front of the computer and watched this:

Holy smokes. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to this see this movie RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Unfortunately, I had to wait a few more months. In the meantime, I trained myself to avert my eyes to anything related to The Force Awakens. If a Facebook post showed some obscure fan site asking some clickbaity question, I immediately hit “hide everything from this site.” When the toys arrived in stores in September, I could look at the wall of action figures, zeroing in on those that just said “Star Wars.” If it had “The Force Awakens,” I immediately jumped to look at Transformers.

The days grew closer. More trailers arrived. I was thankful the trailers were completely vague about what they were showing, instead of explaining the whole plot in two minutes.

It’s now the week of the movie’s release. At first my wife and I originally planned to see it on Saturday, but she ended up working that day. BUT! Thanks to a convoluted plan Han Solo would love, we were able to get a babysitter so we could see the movie that Friday night.

The lights dimmed. Fifteen minutes of previews went by. Soon the Lucasflim logo emerged and dissipated. Those famous blue words appeared and faded.

Then, the fanfare.

Star Wars was back.

From the appearance of the opening crawl to the closing credits, I was drawn back into the world of Luke Skywalker and company, along with a new batch of characters from Rey to Finn to Poe Dameron to Kylo Ren.

For the most part, I was mainly in “OH MY GOD I’M WATCHING STAR WARS ON THE BIG SCREEN” mode for this showing. Two scenes in particular really got me in the feels, as it were (AND IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET PLEASE STOP READING): the death of Han Solo and Rey using the Force to take the lightsaber into her hands. Part of me hoped that Han would be able to convince his son to come back with him, but then my stomach somersaulted when Kylo killed him. I don’t think I recovered from that.

Yes, I could see some similarities to A New Hope, and I smiled goofily when various callbacks appeared, but I let it slide.

Now that the Blu-ray of The Force Awakens has made its way to my collection, I’m able to catch things I missed that first go-around. Especially in the beginning, when Lor San Tekka was talking to Kylo Ren on Jakku. It’s so cool when writers drop clues at the beginning like that. I tried looking for glimpses of Han when he heads to Starkiller base, perhaps never to come back. And yes, I still bawled when Han fell into that chasm. (sniff)

It’s been fun watching the behind-the-scenes featurettes, seeing how this movie came to life. Oh, to have been on the set when Han and Chewie entered the Millennium Falcon.

To think that in a few months, ANOTHER Star Wars movie is coming out, this time all about how the Rebels acquired the Death Star plans.

And then next year, hopefully we get to find out what happened with Luke and Rey on that island.

What a glorious time to be a Star Wars fan.


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