The Dark Side… and The Light


“There has been an awakening… Have you felt it?” Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is already blessed with perhaps the greatest movie trailer there has ever been. If you have not yet seen it, please do yourself the favour of your life and view it now:

I can’t even begin to describe how happy to be alive these 88 seconds make me feel. Tears of joy at that music and that “heap of junk,” in particular. It has the distinct air of Star Wars done absolutely right.

It is a cliché beyond a cliché for gentlemen of my advanced years to talk about what Star Wars has meant to them throughout their lives. Forgive me, then, gentle reader.

It’s fair to say Star Wars pretty much owned and fired my imagination back then. Doubtless it did the same for innumerable others.

My own awakening to The Force came in 1978*, when the nice lady at the ticket office at the cinema in Ramsgate (whilst we were on a family holiday there) said my mum and I could go in early to watch the end of the Star Wars** screening before the one for which we’d just procured tickets. So I had the remarkably enjoyable privilege of seeing it for the first time from just before the climactic Death Star battle… and then getting to see the full film again from the start. There is no better film.

Cue three years of playground disagreements about who gets to be Luke and who gets to be Han during playtime. And endless debate about whether Darth Vader actually died when he went spinning off into the cosmos. Not even any video tapes back then, so this was conjecture based on distorted and over-excitable memories.

My mum took me all the way to London to see The Empire Strikes Back at the Odeon Leicester Square on a Friday evening shortly after its release in 1980. There is no better film.***

At the end of November 2014, at age 41, the 88 seconds of the trailer for The Force Awakens give me exactly the same feelings of joy, wonder and excitement as did the Star Wars films of yore.

Even if The Force Awakens ultimately goes all Phantom Menace on us, at least we have one perfect trailer.

And I love the fact that the website One Perfect Shot (which exists to celebrate the fact that, no matter how good or how execrable the movie overall, every film includes one perfect shot) has already celebrated three perfect shots from The Force Awakens (one of which I reproduce at the top of this here post). That’s three perfect shots from a film that none of us will get to see for a whole year from the time of writing.

I would love to know what you make of the trailer for The Force Awakens. I would love to know what Star Wars has meant to you. Or, as my friend Gemma notes, everyone has something that is that close to their heart. Please let me know about whatever it might be. The good and the bad. The Dark Side… and The Light.

* I always thought this happened in 1977, but a quick Google tells me that Star Wars came out the day after Boxing Day in 1977. So what with the glacial pace of films filtering out of the London market back then, and the fact we definitely weren’t in Ramsgate in midwinter, I suppose my awakening to The Force must’ve come in 1978.

** It was definitely just Star Wars then. All this “Episode…” stuff was retroactively appended later.

*** What are the chances of there being two unbettered films released in one’s lifetime? Never tell me the odds.

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