Those of us who saw it back then in the theater knew it mattered, even if we thought it mattered only because it was the second Star Wars movie (or was it the fifth? at 12 I didn't understand or care). We knew it mattered because the story mattered. What happened mattered. Knowing good would prevail mattered. And boy, did I ever want to pilot a TIE fighter with a light saber by my side.
I went with a friend from school. We stood in line for what seemed like hours and saw the second showing on opening day. The theater was beautiful, one of the grand old cinemas that don't exist anymore; red velvet curtains parted and the music began.
It was utterly entrancing.
- Could we trust Yoda? What was with that weird swamp anyway? "Do or do not, there is no try" shaped my life for years.
- The love triangle that we didn't yet know was a bit incestuous.
- The utter evil of Darth Vader and his lies - they had to be lies, right?
I ended up seeing The Empire Strikes Back 27 times that summer. "Whaddya wanna do?" "I don't know... Let's go see Empire!"
Even at 12 I recognized the mythic story being spun out with special effects and the smell of popcorn. I understood that this was the call to adventure, the charge to be a hero, that fighting wrong was simply right. The unanswered questions were real to me. It mattered who Luke's father was, even though I knew good would prevail. I just had to wait years for the last chapter.
Looking back on that summer it does feel like a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. The call to adventure, the unanswered or unasked questions and the belief that good will prevail are all still deep parts of who I am. I was lucky enough to have a shining cinematic moment to show me myself and the possibilities of what could be when I needed it most.
(c)2010 Laura S. Packer