Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?

Star Wars Episode 3 (no spoilers) May 18, 2005

I must admit, tomorrow is one of the biggest days of my life. Tomorrow is the day I will see the final installment of the Star Wars movies, twenty eight years after seeing the first episode.

Star Wars changed my life. I was thirteen years old, I had no interest in science fiction. My best friend Mark dragged me kicking and screaming to see a new movie called Star Wars. At that time it was just called Star Wars, not episode four, not a New Hope. And Jabba the Hut was not in it, but only referred to.

I remember that day in May of 1977 sitting in the theatre, (on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and the battleship scraped across the movie screen, I had never seen anything like it. Then the "droids" and the stormtroopers and the lasers shooting and the smoke and the music. And the doors open and in strides Darth Vader.

Oh My God.

My senses were overloaded. My brain short circuited. What was I seeing!?? It didn't make sense to me. But I knew it was amazing, and I knew, I LOVED IT.

Twenty years later I would have a similar response to the first fifteen minutes of Moulin Rouge, which also changed my life. But that's another story.

That summer, my friends and I did something we'd never done. We went to see one movie many many times. I know we weren't being caught up in the hype or the "selling" of the movie. We didn't care about that. We weren't cool (although we longed to be.) We just went to see the movie over and over because we loved it. We loved being IN the movie. (And there was no such thing as home video then.)

We did buy the toys, we bought the magazines, we bought the books ('Splinter of a Mind's Eye' was sort of a sequel). We recited the movie to each other. We talked about who we wanted to be in the movie. We thought about the larger picture of the film, what was before it, and what was after it. (At that time, there was only the one movie; no sequels, no prequels). How did this happen? What does that mean?

But most importantly, we went to see the movie again and again and again. I had to pretend that I was going to see different movies because my Mom thought it was absolutely ridiculous to go see a movie we'd already seen.

But, man, we loved that movie.

Star Wars was a new world. Star Wars was endless. Star Wars was a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away. It was in the past, but it was in the future. Things were amazing, things were dirty, things were broken. It wasn't shiny and fake looking. It was real. There was a philosophy behind it (the Force). There was meaning. There was so much depth to it.

Lines from the movie became part of our vernacular. "May the force be with you." "You came here in that?" "Aren't you a little short for a storm trooper?" "Don't get cocky, kid!" "Let the Wookie win."

And this was even before my favorite character, Yoda.

The sequels, 'Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' were good, and they were exciting. 'Empire Strikes Back' was my favorite of the three for many years, and my all time favorite movie, because of the whole Yoda thing. Yoda is my guru. Yoda is Buddah. Yoda is.

(BTW, yes, I know, Yoda is a puppet. Or at least he was in the two eighties movies. Now he's all digital. But I don't hold that against him).

Then they announced that there was in fact a series; George Lucas said there would be three prequels and then three sequels, for a total of nine movies. We calculated, that if it took three years for each movie to be made, that is would be the year 2001 before we got to see the entire story.

2001 at that point was a loooong ways away. At that point, everyone was worried about 1984 (I even read that "they" were considering skipping 1984 because of the implications). We hadn't even begun to think about 1999 and the problems associated with that. Let alone 2001. Unfathomable.

We wondered what we would be doing, where we would be, what cars would look like (if there even were still cars), what the movies would be. At that time, there was no doubt that our heroes Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford would be in the movies, at least the third set of trilogies, and we wondered how old they would be (good lord, we thought, they would be in their forties!! Ancient!!) and what they would look like.

It's funny now, of course. Now that we know what happened with the movies. But in 1977, this was a huge huge deal.

Through the last couple decades, there has been ups and downs in my life, of course. But there has always been that lingering Star Wars saga. That not knowing, that small pondering in the moments, what would happen. What happened to Anakin to turn him into Darth Vader? Why were Luke and Leia separated? Who was Ben Kenobi? What were the clone wars? Endless speculation. Years of endless, nerdy speculation.

And a sense of ongoing hope. Something to look forward to.

Yes, Star Wars was that important to me, it made that much of an impression on my fourteen year old mind, so much that 25 years later, (and two only reasonable "prequels") it is still important. It is still something I have on the shelf in the corner of my mind, that I take down and look at every now and then.

Now, tomorrow, with the release of the the final movie in the series (creator George Lucas has deemed that six is enough, as opposed to nine, although in my heart, I feel someone else could pick up and do the remaining three movies at some point) something that I have carried with me for *most* of my life, will end. There will be no more speculation. It will all be spelled out for better or worse, and that will be that, whether I like it or not.

I must admit, I am very sad today. Of course, I am excited, so much so that I doubt I will sleep much tonight, (how pathetic is that, at the age of 41?) and I am worried sick that it won't be good (it can never be as good as the first ones, but I have heard that it is better than the last two, thank god). Something that I have carried with me for decades will be put to rest tomorrow at 7pm at the Glendale Marketplace (albeit in digital projection).

I wonder what my thirteen year old self would think, if he knew where I would be when I saw the sixth Star Wars movie, in the year 2005. It was all just a big, amazing, widescreen dream back then.

Rod Reynolds
"Let the Wookie win."
Los Angeles, CA USA

©2006 The Art Dept LA

PS Here's my halloween pictures from last year
(hint: the force was with me):
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