Sometimes I find it difficult to carry on a conversation with people who haven’t seen Star Wars.
This is not because I am an obsessed fan of the show who can’t talk about anything else. It’s not because I’m a snob. It’s not even because I steal quotations a lot. It’s because my life is so entrenched in Star Wars that sometimes I wonder if I make any sense to people who don’t know what I’m talking about.
I remember my first exposure to Star Wars. It was RETURN OF THE JEDI, and we had it on a record. I would listen to it with my brothers, and OB-Wan would fill in the blanks that the record left out. I remember Vader’s breathing terrified me. I remember being captivated by Carrie Fisher’s voice.
After that, there was a comic book version of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. It was weird to see pictures of it, drawn and inked in comic book style, because I knew that the movie had been made with real people.
The first Star Wars movie I saw was A NEW HOPE. I was at my friend Robyn’s house, and I was supposed to go home, but Star Wars was on CTV and I wanted to see it. Our TV was black and white at the time, so mum and dad let me stay and watch the movie.
At last, someone gave OB-Wan the VHS set for Christmas, and we watched all three movies properly in order. I loved them. I loved the story and the ewoks and Leia and Han. I loved the idea of Space and stories that could take place there. And I loved the music.
Star Wars was the first movie I ever heard “how it was made” stories about. Lucas didn’t have money to pay his actors, so he paid them in percentages of the film’s gross. Alec Guinness, the only Big Name, got the highest percentage, and for a long time was the highest paid actor in Hollywood. The speeder chase on Endor was filmed by a guy with a shakeycam, running through the forest, and then they sped it up. You can sometimes see the strings on the TIE fighters.
When THE PHANTOM MENACE came out, I saw it in a crappy little theatre with my friend Lydia, the first person outside my family I was friends with who loved Star Wars as much as we did. We both cried as soon as the opening crawl started. OB-Wan said afterward that he understood. He’d been waiting his whole life for episode one, and I had too, ever since I found out that A NEW HOPE was Episode IV, even though it was fewer years.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH followed in short order, always released near my birthday. It was so exciting to wait for those movies, and then stand in line, and then see them for the first time. People complain about the new trilogy all the time, but I love them, warts and all.
It’s interesting when something spans your whole life. I don’t remember not being a Star Wars fan. I don’t remember not knowing that Luke and Leia were brother and sister. I don’t remember not knowing who Darth Vader was. When I was little, I thought the Force was real, and that there just wasn’t anything I wanted badly enough (still my working theory, btw).
I’m not going to try to tell you WHY Star Wars is so popular, because that’s been done. I am going to tell you that I am very glad it is, because, in the end, when a movie is part of the foundation of your world, it means your world is shaped a bit like that movie. Thanks to Star Wars, I have my crit group (they met through Star Wars and I met them later, but since we had Star Wars in common, fitting in was easy). Thanks to Star Wars, I have good friends all over the world. Thanks to Star Wars, I look up into the sky and think “What if?”
I’m going to tell you my three favourite Star Wars conversations. The first happened in grade nine science, my first day at Central Huron Secondary School. I don’t know if Mr. Hodgins told us to find a lab partner and tell them something about ourselves or if I just volunteered the information straight up, but I do know that the very first thing I ever said to Colleen was:
“Hi! My name’s Kate and I like Star Wars!”
We’ve been friends ever since.
The second conversation took place between my friend Krista, her husband, and me. I was at their house for dinner and I don’t even remember how we got onto the topic of Star Wars, but I do know that this happened:
Husband: So…you’ve seen Star Wars?
Me: Not this week!
Which was true, because Spike was airing Star Wars ALL THE TIME, and I had watched several of the movies the previous week, but hadn’t yet this week, but the way I said it so automatically made it kind of awkwardly funny.
And then there are the two comments my parents whispered to me when I made them take me to London so that I could see REVENGE OF THE SITH on the big screen:
Mum: Did they really think we wouldn’t notice they got the same actor to play all the stormtroopers?
Dad: Wait…if she dies, where does Luke come from?
Mostly I’m impressed that a) mum knows what a stormtrooper is and b) dad remembered Luke’s name.
Anyway, that is my very abbreviated history of my experience with Star Wars. It’s my security blanket and my home base. It’s my model for what makes a Princess and for what makes a scoundrel. It’s some of my favourite music ever written, and some of my favourite lines ever said. I love its simplicity and its complexities. I love that the universe keeps on going (even though I don’t really care for much of the stuff outside the movies). I love the handmaidens and the bounty hunters and the Jedi.
And I love the story.