It’s been just over three months since the seventh Star Wars film came out, and I’m still talking about it like it was yesterday. My coworkers in the newsroom can attest.
I am one of not-quite-17 million people who “likes” Star Wars on Facebook. Although I wasn’t alive when the original movies came out in the 1970s and ’80s, they — along with their successors — have had a profound impact on my life.
Yes, I am an adult. (At least, that’s what my driver license says…) But mention the world of space ships and lightsabers, and I turn into a little kid.
I’m not the only one. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” created incredible hype by fans who couldn’t wait to get the universe back on the big screen. When the film finally hit theaters, it broke several records in the movie industry.
It beat “Jurassic World” for the highest grossing opening weekend by $4.5 million, with its opening earnings falling just short of $529 million.
Ten of those dollars were mine. I would have gladly gone to see it again, but movie tickets cost a lot.
With all the excitement, I’ve heard more than one person question just what the big deal is. “Why are people so excited for another ‘Star Wars’?”
My editor Dave Bern asked that question one day, after Steve Howe, Tavin Stucki and I watched one of the trailers and then enthusiastically traded plot theories.
“Why are people going crazy over this?” he asked. “Is it because there hasn’t been one in a few years?”
“Yes,” we told him. But that’s not the only reason.
I think Robert McNees, a physicist at Loyola University, answered that question best when he told a Space.com reporter: “When you talk about ‘Star Wars,’ you’re really talking to someone’s childhood.”
McNees also called the original Star Wars movies “imagination gasoline.”
That’s certainly true for me. My father saw at least one of the original movies in theaters with his father. In time, my grandfather’s love for Star Wars was passed down to my generation. We owned “A New Hope,” “Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi” on VHS. (They prove that #HanShotFirst.)
When the prequel trilogy emerged, beginning with “The Phantom Menace” in 1999, I saw each new movie on the big screen.
After “The Phantom Menace” came out, my life ambition was to build my own light saber and become a Jedi Knight. One time, I accidentally broke the ceiling light in my sister’s bedroom while practicing lightsaber strokes. My friend Casey and I spent hours pretending to be Star Wars characters and acting out stories.
I also checked out all the books I could find on every planet in our solar system, looking for a suitable place to build a Jedi academy. (Because Jedi can’t be trained on Earth, obviously.)
You may say, “That was 17 years ago. I can see how you could be so into Star Wars when you were 7. Why do you still care about it now?”
Let’s go back to McNees’ comment about Star Wars being “imagination gasoline.”
In 1977 Star Wars was a movie. Now, it’s a universe. Hundreds of books have been written. There are comic books, TV spin-offs and action figures.
But why does Star Wars provide so much creative stimuli?
For me, it’s the variety of worlds and species the movies introduce us to. The details define what is otherwise a classic struggle between good and evil.
And the music! The music is brilliant. Just thinking about it sends a thrill through me. Confession: At the beginning of “The Force Awakens,” when the orchestra exploded into the main title as words scrolled up the screen to set the stage for the new trilogy, I almost cried.
Am I obsessed? Maybe, just a little. But there are worse things to be obsessed with. Besides, I like reconnecting with my childhood. It’s fun.
Jessica Henrie is a native of Lehi, Utah. She can’t wait to see “The Force Awakens” at The Ritz dollar theater in Tooele next week. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.