It’s not long now until The Force Awakens.
My anticipation for the seventh instalment of the Star Wars series has been off the scale. Martin and I were saying to each other the other day that our excitement is the most positive emotional response for us both since Hugo died.
We talked about why that could be: it’s natural really, because Star Wars has pretty much always been in our lives. I was born in July 1977, just two months after its release, while Martin was 4 and a half when it came out.
Star Wars features in some of my earliest memories – The Return of the Jedi was one of the first films I remember watching in the cinema. I can remember A New Hope being on the telly at Christmas – back in the early ’80s it was a huge deal when a film was on the telly – and being allowed to stay up and watch it as far as the ‘disco’ scene (my Mum meant the Mos Eisley Cantina, of course; that den of scum and villainy).
My brother watched Star Wars (A New Hope – but we always knew it just as Star Wars) again and again. Our version was recorded from the TV and watched so much we nearly wore out the tape. It must have been on ITV because of the ads, many of which I remember so clearly:
Washing machines –
Ariston, and on, and on, and on.
The animated skeleton promoting recordable video tapes:
TDK – rerecord, not fade away, rerecord, not fade away…
And there was a car advert featuring Richard Briers and his daughter wanting to play Duran Duran on the swanky new stereo.
I became so used to the 20th Century Fox fanfare being followed by the Star Wars music that I expect it, and it is a surprise when it doesn’t appear even when I know perfectly well the film I am about to watch isn’t Star Wars (and it happens even today!).
The original three Star Wars films had so much charm. Everything was a little bit clunky – my brother and I would look out for the scene where the stormtrooper bangs his head on the rising door.
We had so much fun with all the toys – we had so many figures and so many games of make-believe! Our cat loved the Ewok Village because of the ball on the string. We never got the Millennium Falcon we so coveted, but a few years I did get a Lego Hoth scene for Christmas (from the Empire Strikes Back, with Luke upside down about to be eaten by a monster).
In the ’90s the originals were pimped-up. With all the shiny bits and CGI they lost a bit of the raw charm, but they were nowhere near as bad as the monstrosities of the first three (more of them in a minute).
The 90’s were full of Star Wars for me. I went to Leeds University and there was a rumour that the scene from A New Hope where you first see Darth Vader after the shoot out was filmed at the university (there is a really long corridor, the Red Route, connecting the lecture theatre building with other faculty buildings). Sadly it seems the rumour is just that, but we liked the thought.
My nickname was Princess – because, I hasten to add my name was mispronounced as Leah rather than because I acted as one. I even went to a Halloween fancy dress party dressed as Princess Leia complete with handmade white frock, and side buns made out of two false pony tails (held in place by about a million kirby grips that were a nightmare to take out! It looked good though).
Ugh The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and The Revenge of the Sith had so much potential with a (mostly) great cast and lots of money. The lots of money was possibly their undoing, though, because the CGI meant not even a little bit of raw charm could peek through. And the dialogue – I don’t think there is much that is quote-worthy from those three films, nothing that has stuck in the memory like:
These are not the droids you are looking for…
I love you. I know.
Hohoho. You’re my kind of scum.
The less said about the dialogue from the newfangled films the better with the exception, perhaps of Yoda’s famous quote (I think more people – and the world – could benefit from paying heed to it whether or not they are Star Wars fans):
There were some good bits, such as seeing the awesome Yoda fight Palpatine but I haven’t sat through them again and again as I am still happy to with the ‘proper films’ as I call them, given half the chance.
During my hours of vigil by Hugo’s incubator I read my son stories and told him about my favourite films. I told Hugo all about what happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away – Luke Skywalker’s bravery on his adventures in to the unknown. The determination of Princess Leia. The cheekiness of Han Solo.
Most poignant of all, I made sure to tell Hugo about Yoda. About how size doesn’t mean anything, and that it certainly doesn’t equate to strength, character, or impact on the world.
I was pregnant with Hugo when announcements for The Force Awakens gathered apace. His dad and I were looking forward to enjoying the films with our child. We would watch the first three just because the beginning is a good place to start, but the focus of course would be on the Proper Films. Had Hugo lived, he still wouldn’t have been old enough to watch them yet but Martin would surely be starting introdcing our young Paduan to the Force.
Watching the first teaser trailer for the Force Awakens was incredible – I was so excited when Han Solo and Chewbacca appeared: “Chewy, we’re home!” – I nearly did a wee! Subsequent trailers have got better and better…and the wait is nearly over.
I feel like a child waiting for Christmas. Having that anticipation, that sense of pleasure that connects me to childhood, to the simpler days of my life is a feeling I treasure.