I have to admit here that I wasn’t as anxious to see “Star Wars” as many of my friends were. We were 16 when the film came out and I was more than a year into my love affair with “Jaws.” Like my friends, I wrote away for, and received from 20th Century Fox, a very nice, full color campaign book. Four decades later, I still have it. I liked the film the first time I saw it but, as it got closer to edging out “Jaws” as the most successful film of all time, I began to dislike it. I wanted to see it again but I didn’t want my $2,50 to be the money that put “Star Wars” on top! Of course, like the rest of the world, I ended up seeing the film several times that summer. Like “Jaws” it is an important part of my youth. Something I could, and still can, share with my friends. So when they first released the trailer for the upcoming ninth episode – “The Rise of Skywalker” – I watched the live stream so I could be among the first to see it. And a funny thing happened. When it was over, I noticed that I was crying. Not sniffling but CRYING! Maybe there was something in the air. So I watched it again. And I cried again. I just watched it 10 minutes ago – four months after having first seen it – and guess what? The tears began to flow. Was there something wrong with me? Had I hit some point in my advanced age where I couldn’t control my emotions. Was this payback for bringing Richard Dreyfuss to tears when I moderated his Q & A?
I’ve gone back and tried to analyze this. I think what sets me off are the words “THE SAGA COMES TO AN END.” That and the shot of Lando in the Falcon, which proceeds those words, trigger so many great memories for me. Like the time we drove to Orlando to see “The Empire Strikes Back” in 70 mm. We were so stoked when we left the theatre that we circled the shopping center and informed all of those waiting in line over the car’s CB/PA system that (SPOILER ALERT) “Darth Vader is Luke’s father!” OK, yes, it was a dick move. But we were kids. Sue us.
I have a lot of great “Star Wars” memories. Chief among them is being asked to moderate a Q & A a few years ago with a panel that included Gary Kurtz, Alan Dean Foster and Charles Lippincott. I was honored to be asked to host this event and I brought the campaign book I had received in 1977 with me to get autographed. When I opened it I was surprised to find a letter inside, telling me about how exciting “Star Wars” was going to be. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that the letter had been signed by Mr. Lippincott. He basically introduced the film to me and now, 40 years later, I’m helping him and the others introduce it to a new generation. This memory makes me smile. So why the waterworks?
I think it’s the shots of Carrie Fisher that have an effect on me. Our Princess was taken from us way too soon. “No one’s ever really gone,” Mark Hamill tells us in the trailer. But Carrie Fisher is and that will continue to make me sad. I commented on a friend’s Facebook post about this the other day and it finally hit me. This film will officially put an end to my childhood. I still, and always will, have the memories I’ve shared with friends while we sat in the dark and took on the Empire. Sadly, many of those friends are no longer with us. But when I leave the theatre after seeing “The Rise of Skywalker” I’m going to imagine that those friends, like Obi-Wan, Yoda, Qui Gon and Annakin, will be standing in the lobby and smiling as our 42 year journey comes to an end.