When I was nine years old, I was dragged to see the rerelease of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope by my dad. We had front row seats because my mum had worked out the rows wrong and so there was a lot to take in. I knew nothing about it, only that it wasn’t animation and so I didn’t really care. It seemed like an adult kind of movie, not something that a nine year old would enjoy.
But from the moment that crawl started, the music blaring throughout the cinema, I was hooked. The worlds, the characters, the story…it was mesmerizing. I fell in love with Han Solo. I fell in love with Star Wars. It took over everything in my young life. I inflicted it on my friends, it crept into my school work, I wrote a song about it, I acted out scenes, quoted it, played with all the toys and made some of my own.
I went to see The Phantom Menace with such excitement, counting down the days. I left in disappointment. Everything I had loved about Star Wars seemed to be missing. The fun, the heroics, the relationships…it had all been replaced with unnecessary special effects, empty characters and forced dialogue. I didn’t bother seeing Attack of the Clones at the cinema and to this day have still not watched Revenge of the Sith.
When I heard they were going to make Episode VII, I wasn’t interested. I largely ignored all information that was coming out about it. And then Rey happened. I was still sceptical, having seen how female characters were treated in the Star Trek reboot but a guaranteed female lead? It was definitely a positive step.
Dribs and drabs of information came through and I had to admit that it was all sounding rather good. And I hated that. Because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, not again. I didn’t watch trailers, I didn’t read interviews, I kept as spoiler free as is humanly possible in this day and age.
Then it got released. And I started hearing things from friends and family. And they weren’t good things. They were great things. Real excitement started to bubble in my stomach and I knew that I was going to have to see it at the cinema to properly judge for myself. I bought tickets to go see it with my dad just after Christmas.
I was crying within the first three seconds.
Nearly nineteen years ago I saw three films that took my breath away. Three films that kept me silent in a cinema for the first time ever, so enraptured was I. I didn’t think I would be sat in a cinema watching a new Star Wars movie ever again.
It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
From the very first scene, you know it’s going to be something special. I can’t explain it but there was just a…feeling. A nostalgia. Something warm and familiar in the scenery, the characters, the practical effects. It felt old school but still fresh. Fresh faces and fresh ideas, perfectly blended with familiar characters and fun nods to the past. At no point does it feel like it’s trying to be the original series, it’s very clearly its own thing but it respects its roots. It comes into its own. It’s everything I could have possibly wanted it to be. Just as I fell in love with Han Solo all those years ago, now I fall for Poe Dameron. Just as I marvelled at a princess taking charge and kicking butt, now I squeal and clap my hands over Rey. Just as I laughed at all the corny dialogue back then, now I laugh and grin and root for Finn. This was the film my nine year old self has been waiting for all this time. And I cried.
I thought waiting two whole weeks between seeing The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi at the cinema was bad. Now I really feel for the poor guys back in 1977 who had to wait years for their sequel. I’m already impatient for what’s to come.