So, I am in my mid 40’s, so far so depressing. However, despite my aching bones and the fact that all the hair I have lost from my head seems to be growing out of my ears I feel so lucky. Lucky because Star Wars is my generations movie, unlike any generation since. Let me explain...
So I was a young child from a large working class family, older brothers and a younger sister. Same as many people. However, as a child, something happened to me that shaped my love of movies and made me the nerd I am today. It was a toy, or a few toys. I started to see Star Wars toys in the shops. This was back in the days, way, way before the internet. I could see they were space toys and that was all I knew about them. Well except that I wanted them, in fact I needed them. So my hardworking parent bought me these new Star Wars toys for Christmas and birthday presents. I still had no real idea what Star Wars was. I had no idea who the good guys and bad guys were, so for a while my Stormtrooper was a hero robot and Chewbacca was the evil space monkey-type-thing.
Finally, I got to watch Star Wars. My dad took me, and to be fair the main thing I remember about the experience was that my dad fell asleep and snored. Loudly. However, I knew I loved the film, I knew who the bad guys were and I at last knew how to pronounce Millennium Falcon.
At school us kids would talk about it, make lightsabers with sticks and make swooshing noises before casually sending each other to A&E for lightsaber related injuries. I made space ports out of the polystyrene packing for any white goods that my parents got delivered, I built my own Spice Mines of Kessel. I used my imagination, constantly inventing new and exciting adventures for my heroes.
And this is where I feel lucky. As much as I now love searching the internet for the slightest new information about 4 seconds that were cut from Empire, or the names of the Ewoks, back then in more innocent times I could just make it all up.
Nobody knew what the Force was exactly, it was hardly in the first movie at all. There were no Force Ghosts, so there was a lot of playground discussion of the effect of lightsabers, do they make you disappear or just cut your arms off?
Well as we all know, Star Wars became the biggest film ever and all but Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford were swept up in its wake. The world loved it. And so they made a sequel.
For me the best part about the sequel was more toys, I wanted them all. I mean I had some vague toys, the Imperial Troop Transporter was one of my favourites, with little buttons on the top that made it say dialogue from the movie. Still not sure I have seen it in a movie though.
So once again my dad took me to the movie, and promptly fell asleep. I was hooked. It turns out that Vader was Luke’s father!!!! Yoda could move anything with the Force! Han kissed Leia, which was gross as I was 10 and girls were stinky. However, there were not spoilers anywhere. We didn’t have trailers a year out. There were no, admittedly fascinating and insightful, podcasts out there for fan boys to discuss their theories. This is because we were the fan boys, the innovators of nerds, the origins of the geeks. We were the very first generation of obsessive, socially inept kids who shied away from the glamour of football and talked and read about Star Wars. And when I say read, I mean books, we read the books, over and over.
By the time Return of the Jedi came out, I had most of the toys, in fact I had broken half of them as I had played with them so much. My cardboard Death Star (seriously, have you ever stopped to think what a cool name that is?) had seen better days, in fact it looked more like the half constructed one in the newest movie. Half the bits were missing from my Millennium Falcon; my Imperial Troop Transporter must have been a Volkswagen though as it was still going strong. My Darth Vader had lost his cape, the tip of Luke’s extendable lightsaber was bent right out of shape and hardly any of the figures still had guns. But I didn’t care. They were the best toys ever.
So I went to see Return of the Jedi with my podcast co-host Steven. And then we went back, and again, and again. We could, and despite our advancing years can still recite most of the lines easier than tell you what we had for breakfast. We loved it. We were talking about it at school for months before it came out. I remember recording Film 83 on a battered old VHS tape just so I could watch a glimpse. It turns out it was the speeder bike chase on Endor they showed, once again I was wowed.
So why am I so lucky? You see, Star Wars evolved before our eyes. These days everybody knows what the Force is, what a Jedi is, people even claim it as their religion. We had no idea what was coming. Star Wars is part of our culture. It changed cinema forever. It changed toys forever. It created the most loyal and fanatic (in a good way) fan base of anything, ever. To the point that almost 40 years later the 7th movie is the biggest film on the planet and may end up the biggest film of all time. And I grew up with that. Younger readers didn’t share my journey. They knew that Vader was Luke’s father, they knew that Leia was Luke’s stinky sister. Bless them, younger people even grew up thinking midichlorians were what made the Force. Can you imagine if your first Star Wars film was actually Episode 1? I shudder to think.
And so now I can take my two beautiful children to see Star Wars movies, just like my dad did for me. Only I stay awake. I held my son Freddie’s hand when Han died (maybe Steve needed that when he watched it) as he was a little tearful. I watched my children’s faces almost as much as I watched the movie. I could see the magic unfold in their eyes. These were the Star Wars movies for my children’s generation, these are the characters my children will grow up with, watch their stories unfold and share their journey. They get to talk in school about it, have their own theories. However, they will look online, they will find leaked footage, and they already know about the Force. We discovered it.
So don’t despair about being mid to late forties, embrace it, let it in! Be thankful that Han, Luke and Leia were your figures rather than Ja-Ja Binks. Take your kids to see a Star Wars movie, a real Star Wars movie. It makes them even better. If you don’t have kids, don’t worry, get breeding as we have many more movies to come over the coming years.
Thank you for reading and may the Force be with you,