Memories are funny things, aren’t they? Like imprinting, it’s the earliest memories that make the greatest impression. Those things you see and feel and touch and experience in your youth stay with you forever.
And so it was with me and millions of others with the “first” Star Wars in 1977.George Lucas’s film figuratively blew my seven-year-old mind. Death Stars! Lightsabers! Blasters! R2-D2 and C-3PO! Luke and Leia! Han and Chewie! Those scrolling credits! The Cantina Band (which, in adult retrospection, are a little disappointing, having just that one song in their repertoire)!
It was almost too much to take in.
But what I did know is that I wanted to take it in again and again. With adult supervision in tow, I joined the rebel alliance of fans whose queues snaked around the block to see Star Wars. Twice was enough for me – yet it was enough to fashion a lifetime affection for the series.
There had never been a villain before like Darth Vader. There had never been an action sequence as thrilling as the Death Star attack. There had never been such amazing special effects. Movies were changing forever right in front of my eyes – and I had a front-row view.
And the merchandise! What amazing things those action figurines seemed to a young boy’s mind. I collected dozens of them: the Darth Vader with the little lightsaber, the Boba Fett figurine, poor Greedo, Luke, and the large-size C-3PO (the large-size R2-D2 was too expensive). I bought the lightsabers, the bed sheets, the scale models and anything else I could get my hands on.
My greatest Christmas gift memory is receiving an Imperial Star Destroyer toy. On Christmas I got up before everyone else and unwrapped it under the tree, then, with eager hands, opened up the pod door underneath to reach for Princess Leia’s consular ship. Ah, what joy! It’s a memory still as strong and fresh as if it happened yesterday. (Years later, in my adulthood, I treated myside to a top-of-the-line, $500 lightsaber complete with cool lights and authentic humming noise. But we’ll keep that secret between you and me.)
So, yes, the first Star Wars – to this day I refuse to recognise the one with Jar Jar Binks as the first, chronologically correct outing – imprinted itself onto my young mind as the best.
The Empire Strikes Back was likewise amazing and chock-full of moments … for me, there has never been a spoiler that has had the impact of Darth Vader admitting, “Luke, I am your father”, the spoiler to beat all spoilers, the granddaddy of spoilers.
I can still remember my teeange excitement during Return Of The Jedi upon seeing the doors of Jabba’s lair open and a hooded figure taking off his hood to reveal … Luke (gasp!).
And now, a new generation is about to be imprinted with Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Will they feel the same way about Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren as my generation did about Darth Vader? Will Daisy Ridley’s Rey become a cult figure like Mark Hamill’s Luke? Who will become this generation’s Han Solo? Will young fans see the movie again and again? Will they buy the figurines, the lightsabers, the droids, the bedsheets?
That is for the new generation to decide as the baton – or lightsaber – is handed onto them.
Enjoy, young padwans. Enjoy.
PS So what do I mean when I say in the headline “Boba Fett is alive”? Well, that’s one of my predictions for the new movie. To people who say that Boba Fett definitely died in Return Of The Jedi – being digested by the mighty sarlacc over a period of 1000 years – I say, au contraire. Boba Fett did survive the sarlacc, the first individual ever to do so. You can take up Boba’s tale in Star Wars: The Bounty Hunter Wars I: The Mandalorian Armor. Perhaps the Mandalorian flag in the trailer is a wink to Boba’s imminent return.
Personally, I think it would be great to see Boba again … although Han Solo might feel differently.
My ebook military thriller, The Spartan, is out now on Amazon.