I’m a fan of science fiction. Books, TV shows, movies. It doesn’t matter. I love all of it. Some of my earliest memories are of me sitting in front of the television watching re-runs of Star Trek. Forbidden Planet, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage, The Andromeda Strain, there were some of my favorite movies. Tales of far aways places, robots, supercomputers. The nerds who had these adventures, the scientist, theses were my peeps.
While science-fiction is my thing, I also developed a tolerance for good fantasy. I put Star Wars in that good fantasy category. I didn’t watch a lot of fantasy. The few things that I did see, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, were cheesy, full of bad acting, with the main protagonist who were strong muscular types who fought with swords instead of their minds. Yeah, not my type of thing. Lots of death at the hands of power-hungry human beings.
Star Wars: A New Hope was the first blockbuster fantasy movie I ever saw. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember we were living in Antigua at the time. The island nation can best be described as coral rock with topsoil. Antigua was dryer than most of the island but more hip. I spend most of my formative teenage years in Antigua. Antigua was the place where I learned how to do stupid things to impress girls. It was the place where I discovered my love of science — physics, chemistry, biology. We lived there from 1978 to 1983.
In those days, American movies were released in the British West Indies about a year after their American début. In 1978 I was about 12 years old. Girls were starting to look different and Princess Leia looked pleasantly different. As a developing geek who liked fiddling with electronics, who read physics and chemistry books the way some kids read Harry Potter, I identified strongly with the main characters of the movie. C3P0 and R2D2 and the Millennium Falcon.
R2 was the genius of the movie. He could beep his way out of any situation. If it were not for the bumbling behaviour of 3P0, R2 could have easily defeated the empire himself. I loved those droids. I had them on my bedsheets and pillowcases.
I didn’t like any of the evil characters. I did not like the Emperor or Darth Vader, and I do not understand anyone who cos-plays as either one. I dislike this so much I was pissed at George Lucas for putting Anakin in the “ghost” scene at the end of the Return of the Jedi. Anakin’s first act after becoming Darth Vader was to kill every child in the Jedi Temple. In a New Hope, he destroys an entire planet, killing a few billion people. He’s the definition of a mass murderer. But in George Lucas’ twisted universe, these atrocities are forgiven because Anakin redeems himself by selfishly saving his son? Whatever!
I never got into the costume thing. Mostly because geek culture did (does) not exists in the Caribbean. There was no Star Wars fan club. No place to get raw material to make your costume. No place to buy a lightsaber toy replica. Bedsheets and pyjamas were as geeky as it got. I vaguely remember owning one of the droid figures.
Despite all that, I have to admit, I have eagerly anticipated each episode of George Lucas’s tall tale. A “New Hope” will always be the favourite of the bunch because it’s where I first got to know my two robots friends. We’re going to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Christmas Eve. My kids are eagerly looking forward to the movie.
What are your Star Wars stories and memories? Where were you when first saw the movies?