Aug 17, 2011

Star Wars Wednesday - Remembrance of the Jedi

Last week I featured a some Revenge of the Jedi merchandise that was available through the Star Wars Fan Club. This week, I thought I'd try (do or do not!) do something to stretch my writing a little bit more, be entertaining and possibly get more personal than necessary.

Not my actual local ad
I remember when Return of the Jedi came out (although some details are foggy). It was the final chapter of an adventure I started six years previously in 1977. This was It. The Big Finale. Was Han Solo ok? And, more importantly, would the three year playground debate be put to rest...Was Vader really Luke's father?

I went to a matinee show on opening day. Even at age 12, it just had to be done. Back then, your biggest spoiler concern was the other kids at school. For whatever reason, my mom got my grandfather to drop me off and pick me up from the movie. He picked me up plenty early and off we went to one of the two nearby movie theaters.

Only, when I got there, they weren't playing Jedi.

How could this be? How could they not be showing the most important movie in the world? Probably because it was a tiny two screen theater crammed into a strip mall...but that's hindsight for you. I think grandpa called mom at home (using a payphone, kids) and found out the movie was in fact playing at the other theater across town.

So like Han and Chewie on a spice run, we shot across town to the other theater. There was a line of people young and old going out the door and around the corner of the building. Grandpa said he'd wait for me just in case I couldn't get into the movie. I eventually got up to the ticket window and asked for one child admission.

And was flat out denied my requested child's ticket. Something about me not being a child. Well, I must have been a very mature 12 year old. The sign said children 12 & under, which I pointed out to her after telling her that I was really 12. It was only a 50¢ difference in price, but that 50¢ would get a pack of trading cards and some candy at the corner store! I actually don't remember the details of this little scuffle, but I did get my movie ticket!

I stepped aside to find a line of sight to grandpa, still waiting out in the car, so I could let him know I was all set. Not more than a handful of people had gotten their tickets when I heard the woman tell the next person the show was sold out. Not only had we got there in time from cross town, but I got one of the last tickets for the showing. It may not seem like much of a victory, but to 12 year old me, it was like the Golden Ticket1.

Into the theater I went and it took awhile for everyone to settle down with their family and friends until solo me could find an available seat. I ended up maybe about 5 rows back2 at the end of the row next to the wall.

The movie started and 12 year old me was blown away but at the same time, didn't know how to process what was going on. So many characters died...

Cool, there's Jabba! Han talked about him in the original movie. Now we see him!

Aw yeah, Boba's back! Wait..what was that lame scream? Did he just die from a lucky accident?3 Before any EU fiction and years of fanboy worship, Boba was a badass to me.

Jabba's dead.

Ooh, Yoda's not looking too good. He was so magical before. Vader is Luke's dad!

Sister?! Yoda's gone? Maybe he'll come back at the end to help Luke.

That's the Emperor? Whoa, he looks Evil.

Mutha Lovin speederbikes!!!!!4

Ewoks! (hey, I was 12)

Blue lightning and Emperor's dead too?

Vader is dying and off comes the mask.

Ewok party on Endor!

Vader's funeral pyre5, Force ghosts and THE END OF STAR WARS6.

Fast forward to the weekend, and my dad took me to see Jedi for what he thought was the first time. Star Wars was kind of our thing. He got me into it back in '777. So when we're standing in line and I make some comment about R2 getting pretty beat up, I quickly cover it with "at least that's what I saw on the trading cards."

1 - The theater had 8 screens and one copy of the movie. It wasn't anything like today where if you miss a show, there's probably another one in 30 minutes. And yes, the next show wasn't more than a few hours away, but I had made it here and now!

2 - Again, not like today where that would put you in neck cramp seats.

3 - 19 years later when seeing Attack of the Clones, I will actually cry out "NO!" when Jango is beheaded.

4 - How many times did you ride your bike after this and toss a glance over your shoulder before going faster? You know the scene I'm talking about...

5 - This moment sticks with me as one of the most powerful from the entire series and damned if I don't choke up a little sometimes seeing it. At the time it was because this was the absolute end of Star Wars as we knew it then. Even if Star Wars never made the resurgence it did, I would still love it just as much.

6 - It was inconceivable at the time that Star Wars would still be so much a part of pop culture over 30 years ago, much less that we'd see more movies.

7 - And no matter how uninvolved in my life he would become, this is something I can never thank him enough for doing. Star Wars has literally influenced my entire life since seeing it. I may never have met some of the people I have if I didn't share this connection with them...including my wife!

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