Good Night, Sweet Princess

My dad and I walked out of Star Wars in 1977. Well, actually, we drove out. We watched the epic space opera at the old Winchester Drive-in in Campbell. (It closed in 1984.)

He said something like, “This movie isn’t very good. Do you want to leave?” I sleepily nodded.

I always had a great time when I was out with my dad, so I’m not sure why neither of us took to the film. Eventually, I came around.

In about a week’s time, everybody at school was talking about Star Wars. I recall that while most of my friends admired Luke Skywalker, they shared a deeper affinity for Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia. Personally, I liked the Jawas. I thought they were badass and cute.

In the summer that followed, one of my nerdy comic-book-reading friends told me that Star Wars was the fourth episode of a larger series. I remember thinking that waiting for more films was not only going to take me into my teens, it might even take me into my 20s. It’s hard to believe that a seventh film has been released while I’m clinging to my 40s.

By the middle of the post-Star Wars summer, I had a decent collection of Star Wars action figures and trading cards. I used to love staring at the stills on the trading cards, but several of the photos were of the unfamiliar scene of Skywalker and Solo receiving medals from Princess Leia at the end of the movie. (At that time, I still hadn’t been back to the theater to see the rest of the film.) By fall, I was able to finish what my dad and I started.

I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen since 1977, but most of them have undoubtedly fallen into the genre of drama. Horror, science fiction, fantasy, or space drama, are probably the last movies I’ll pay to see. I’m somewhere between my friend who has seen Star Wars over 300 times, and another — who has never seen any of the films. That said, puberty made it nearly impossible for me to pass on seeing Leia in that metal bikini in Return of the Jedi in 1983.

Of all the things that I’ve read today, the late legendary film critic, Roger Ebert, once said that Star Wars gave him an ‘out of body’ experience. That’s pretty significant. I can’t add anything substantive to what’s been said about Carrie Fisher. She was, by all accounts, the galaxy’s sweetheart. Of course, outside of film, Fisher’s most important role was to speak out about — and help to destigmatize — mental illness and addiction.

A friend of mine wrote “mortality is currently bitch-slapping us all in the face.” It’s true; 2016 has been brutal. So let’s weep, sulk, and brace ourselves for a few more days, and then … storm into 2017 like fu**ing Jedis!

May the Force be with you.

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