Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Star Wars Skywalker Saga Is Over

I love hearing every one's Star Wars stories about the first time they saw the original Star Wars with the final end to the entire 40 year saga. However my story is best.

Star Wars as a movie was a singular joy for the 12 year old me and like everyone from that generation I have a great story to accompany my first (and second and third) viewing of Star Wars.

You have to remember that 1977 was a far different movie landscape than we are used to today. Movies did not open in 2000 theatres and stayed around for months and months. The big opening weekend was not the focus and the multiplex was non-existent. It seems there were less movies back then and less crap just made to fill the tiny multiplex theaters. Theatres were huge and luxurious with actual balconies that you rushed to just to have that front balcony seat. Popcorn and pop are meant to be rested on that ledge in front of me and not beside me or on the floor...I am not a barbarian here.

There was little lead up to the movie so it kinda just exploded on the screen and was primed for a twelve year old audience. Never before had we seen such pristine special effects. The movie just seemed CLEAN if that makes any sense. The characters were fresh and dynamic and the whole mythology of the "Jedi" and the "Force" was a powerful phylosophy for a 12 year old to digest. I wanted to know where I could sign up to be one of these Jedi if they were accepting applications.

George Lucas famously took less of the profits from the movies themselves in exchange for full control and profits over the toys and merchandising. This kind of merchandising Juggernaut was virtually unheard of before Star Wars. All the packaging was the same and still stands out in my mind. The bedroom bedding and curtains all designed in those colors. It was so beautiful man. Don't get me started on the t-shirt iron-on transfer book.

But I digress. I was telling the story of my seeing Star Wars for the first time in 1977. Well I had waited weeks to be taken to Winnipeg with the expressed purpose of seeing Star Wars. I was obsessed with the film after seeing random trailers and one article in Starlog. I would have been the first of my classmates to get the chance and as a fanboy from birth it was something I couldn't pass up. I manipulated everyone around me to get myself to Winnipeg for the second weekend Friday night. What was I thinking right? How could the movie possibly live up the hype that I built up in my mind. What in life ever does? My quest was madness....MADNESS!

I remember racing home from school as fast as I could and my folks and sister were waiting in the car to pick me up. We had to make the six o'clock show in Winnipeg while driving a VW Beetle to a city two hours away. I couldn't believe this was actually going to happen.

Anyway, we arrived in time for the 6 o'clock show but NO ONE in the house would take me. I was totally pissed. My whole plan had hit the wall. My Dad has a beer and my Mom wanted to visit and who cared what my sister thought. My parents and older cousins actually expected ME to wait until the next day? That wasn't the plan. What didn't you idiots understand? This was MY NIGHT and you all just shit on my plans like they weren't important. I could understand if I never brought it up before that night but this was the PLAN! No way I was going to stand for this injustice.

I reached for the phone book and found the bus dispatch service and found the correct bus to take to get to the theatre and just left the house. Never told anyone I was leaving and I doubt they even noticed me walking out the door. I was the kind of kid who was never afraid of doing things on my own and I have a kind of insane bravery that comes over me in those moments. I talked to the Bus Driver teh whole way and even people on the bus were talking to me about how much I was going to love the movie.

So I arrive at the theatre, and went to the nearest line but I was in the wrong line. I was in the line for people with tickets without a ticket. How insane is that. There were so many people that you had to line up two hours before the next showing. I was crushed but I was saved by The Force and some guy in the ticket lane sold me his extra ticket for five dollars. I was in and I grab my pop and popcorn and took my seat.

For the next 2 hours I experienced something that I hadn't before or since - a transcended movie experience. So much was going on that I felt that I couldn't open my eyes wide enough to take it all in. It was beautiful to look it. It was beautiful to listen to. It was the best movie I had ever seen up to that point. It changed my life and I felt it happening at the time but just went with it. It was a hundred times better than I ever thought it could be.

When the Death Star exploded I felt a wave of panic come over me. I couldn't leave the theatre yet. I had to see the movie again...not tomorrow but right that night...the next showing. In a daze I rushed to the bathroom and using a technique I had seen on TV I locked the stall door and sat on the top of the toilet hugging my knees.

I waiting for what felt like a half hour for the movie crowds to recycle and then snuck into my second showing JUST as the opening credits began. I was giddy with euphoria for not only seeing Star Wars again but for what I just got away with. I, however, was not brave enough to purchase more snacks for fear that I would be recognized. The second time was better than the first time as I could absorb more of the beautiful little details while reliving the best scenes all over again.

You would think that after the second Death Star of the evening had exploded in front of me that I would have had enough but I was always one to push my luck. After all there was one more showing that evening and "in for a penny, in for a pound" was sorta my mantra. I thought I had little to lose. They kick me out and I still win having already seen the movie twice - something no one EVER did in the days before video tape and Netflix.

I laughed out loud when I resumed my place behind the locked bathroom stall and almost shit myself when someone tried to get into the bathroom stall. To this day I don't know if it was a theatre employee or someone with poopy pants. I just told them that the bowl was occupied and they went away.

I was so cocky during that third showing that I went for snacks TWICE just to push the envelop some more. Around midnight I left the theatre and my feet didn't touch the ground once. I don't know how I found the right bus but I eventually made my way back to my Aunt's place. Of course I had been missing 6 hours and they had the police out looking for me. They may have yelled at me but I didn't care. I told them that my plans were to see Star Wars and that is just what I did. End of story. End of lecture. I invited them to come along but they had 'other' plans. They were annoyed with me? I was let down by THEM. Another example of my passive aggressive way to get what I wanted and to this day I have NO regrets. Definitely one of the top five adventures in a life full of adventure.

I have fond memories of that night even to this day. Experiences like that are rare.

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