The much anticipated premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens left me more excited to see a movie than I had been in a very long time. This excitement reminded me of my own history and experiences with the Star Wars movies. It didn’t start out well, but that soon changed.
My first experience with Star Wars was a frightening one. My dad took my brother and I to the River Oaks theater in Calumet City, Illinois see the original Star Wars in 1977. I was a sensitive three-year-old, and my brother was a very precocious five-year-old. I made it through the first five minutes.
I know it must have been traumatic for me as I remember many details with startling clarity, despite the fact that I was only three. As soon as the ignoble super star destroyer made it's thunderous appearance, and the din of stormtroopers firing blasters filled the air, I was scared out my wits. The movie had been shown with stereo sound (which was new back then), and the startlingly loud sound effects mixed with the deep tympani of the symphonic score frightened my hypersensitive three-year-old ears.
Consequently, my dad had to take me out to the lobby as I was bawling my head off. He went to the payphone and called my mom to come pick me up. As we waited, dad stood with his head poked in the door of the theatre so as not to miss a minute, while I continued my tempestuous crying. This embarrassing tale was my introduction to a life long love of the Star Wars movies. Not long after, I began to see the magic of Star Wars. The magic of the movies enthralled me. Watching Star Wars, you're introduced to a whole new world, and it's easy to get enveloped in the story.
As I grew older, I quickly fell in love with the Star Wars saga (I am happy to report that I saw the next two movies without incident), and with the advent of VHS, I watched them religiously from the comfort of home. I quickly memorized all of the dialogue and all the characters. When the prequels came out between 1999 and 2005, many people had a love-hate relationship with the movies. Many people, including myself, found that the use of practical special effects in A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and, Return of the Jedi gave the movies a more realistic overtone, as opposed to the heavy CGI used in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. After watching the trailers for The Force Awakens, I noticed they were able to retain a realistic look with a more subtle use of CGI, which of course, thrilled me beyond words. Turns out, I wasn't disappointed.
Early on, I also fell in love with another element of Star Wars, the score. Written and composed by John Williams, the symphonic score, which has carried over into all of the movies in many iterations, is arguably one of the best and most loved soundtrack scores in film history. The melody of the opening sequence is unmistakable and beloved by fans far and wide. I have owned the soundtracks in every format available: cassette tape, CD, and MP3. I always found them to be quite relaxing and invigorating at the same time. Just listening to them allows one to feel that magic and sense of wonder. Hearing the familiar melodies laced throughout the new trailers gives me goosebumps every time and gets me, and scores of others, even more excited to see the newest chapter.
There are two reasons that The Force Awakens is receiving so much buzz and restored my faith in the franchise. First, the movie is helmed by J.J. Abrams who has become a highly regarded director. His directorial efforts on the two new Star Trek movies garnered him critical acclaim. He seems, to me, a perfect fit, as he can give a young, fresh, new perspective into the aging movie franchise. Secondly, the movie also heralds the return of Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher reprising their roles as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia. This was one of the main reasons I was so excited about the movie in the first place. The return of these characters alone has heightened the predicted grosses to record levels.
Indeed, it’s already overtaken Avatar's domestic box office record, and became the first film to break the $800 million barrier.
The buzz surrounding the The Force Awakens is one unlike any movie before. The marketing campaign successfully kept the movie clouded in secrecy. The trailers kept things ambiguous, giving viewers exciting teases while not revealing much about the plot, which only served to generate more hype and excitement. Advance ticket sales surpassed a historic $100 million, and it has broken many records, including fastest film to gross $1 billion (12 days). There’s no denying that J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will be an epic fan favorite for years to come.
I was very excited to take my 11-year old son to see Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. This new Star Wars movie brings with it the magic I felt as a kid to a whole new generation. We will definitely see all the coming Star Wars movies together too.