Somewhere, deep down in a locked and staunchly protected room in my heart, lay my sincerest hopes for how Star Wars: The Force Awakens would make me feel. I grew up on the original films. In many ways they substituted for religion in my household. My Dad and older brother showed me the first two (on Betamax). My sister and I were old enough to go to the theater for Jedi, and we spent many childhood hours playing Luke and Leia with our white lab Obi-wan in the yard.
I never got into the “expanded universe.” In film school I learned about Joseph Campbell, lending the old films of my youth new credibility and significance. But by the time the prequels came out, I was watching Fellini and Bergman and The Sopranos. And The Lord of the Rings outshone the dottering old empire.
That’s not to say I didn’t still love Star Wars. Far from it. I bought all of the successively worse “Special Editions”. And I still watched the original trilogy whenever it was on TV. And, like all fans, I quote the films regularly.
My reinvestment in Star Wars really began with the cathartic Red Letter Media reviews of the prequels. And, soon after, the news of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilms was announced.
As a grown-up, managing expectations became a priority in all areas of my life. I certainly loved JJ Abrams. I devoured every episode of Lost. His second Star Trek was disappointing. But, given my knowledge of Lost and his 2009 Trek, he felt right at the helm of the new generation of Star Wars.
Yet, still, beneath my growing anticipation for the new film, I buried my secret hope for it. I didn’t much care about an expanded universe, or what new Star Warsy things I’d learn. I just wanted to feel that joy. I wanted to know if it were possible. I wanted to feel like a kid again.
Secretly, I pinned Fox Mulder’s poster up in my heart: “I want to believe.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivered and more. It was better than I allowed for even in my most hidden hopes. And laughing and crying and cheering with that audience was the best I’ve felt in a long time. I feel connected to my fellow human beings in a ring of pure, undiluted bliss.
I’m not going to nit-pick the plot. Everything I wanted, and needed, was there: the wonderful characters, the banter, the thrills, the family drama and friendships, the Force…but most importantly…the fun.
Isn’t that why we all loved Star Wars to begin with? It’s not because they’re the best films ever made, or the greatest works of art, or the deepest explorations of the human heart and psyche. Star Wars began as George Lucas’ homage to the serials and movies that made up his childhood. His creations made up my childhood. Star Wars is about wonder, the wonder of seeing the world as a child. Star Wars isn’t about reserved, measured grown-up sensibilities. Star Wars is for children of all ages.
So I have to thank Disney, Abrams, the cast, Kasdan, the gaffer, the caterers, the sanitation troopers (hey Finn!)…you all gave me a gift that was better than this weary soul had allowed itself to hope for. I feel just like a kid again. I can’t wait to see it a bazillion times…and buy the toys!
And, without reservation, it is my pure pleasure to wish:
May the Force be with you…always
I know you were watching too Dad. 🙂
February 5th, 2016 at 3:59 am
It’s an understatement when I say that I wanted/needed to have this Star Wars movie remind me of the joy that was as a kid when we watched the original movies and played made-up scenes together with our sister.
There were a few things in the movie’s plot, minor things, that could have been tweaked but overall, I enjoyed the movie. I also found it reassuring to see our old ‘friends’ again while they go on more journeys, together, defying the darker forces in the Universe.
Insightful comments in your blog Jessica, a great read.
December 21st, 2015 at 8:43 pm
I love the way you presented this Star Wars review you really have talent my only problem with star wars is it is fiction in someone else s head historical fiction is more my cup of tea where facts are mixed with the authors experience and imagination
march On in your career you are truly gifted
December 21st, 2015 at 8:49 pm
I’m a fan of historical fiction and history myself. But I also enjoy fiction and speculative fiction. Thanks again for the support, George.
December 21st, 2015 at 8:56 pm
Well I have one -my wife’s birthday card when i opened it played the theme from Indiana Jones-some day it will be written but I am no writer :-))
December 22nd, 2015 at 12:49 am
What’s this now?