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Star Wars, Again

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“What are Star Wars, Mommy?”

I was worried about seeing the new movie. I dragged my heels, afraid to be stuck in a movie theater, flooded with alienation and disappointment. The prequels were traumatizing, I guess. All of the hype and commercialization leading up to The Force Awakens has overwhelmed me, and I was worried that the old stars would just be there for cameos, and everything would be unfamiliar and boring and patched together.

Thank God I was wrong.

No spoilers, in case there’s anyone left who hasn’t seen the movie, but I loved it.

When I was seven years old, my school bus passed a movie marquee every day where they counted down the days to the premier of Return of The Jedi. I don’t remember if I’d seen Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back by then, or just heard so much about them that I was caught up in the excitement.

We went to see Return of the Jedi on a Saturday night, and the first thing I saw was Jabba the Hut, and I was horrified. Maybe I was already tired, but after a few minutes of watching Jabba the Hut stick his tongue out, pull on Princess Leia’s chain and shake his snotty belly, I fell asleep as an act of self-protection. I didn’t even get to see the ewoks!

I made up for it later, though, and saw each movie too many times to count. I loved the ewoks. It’s not so much that I loved the idea of a race of militant fluffy creatures with high pitched voices, speaking a language I did not understand. I loved that they were the perfect combination of teddy bears and puppy dogs. I would travel to the planet of the ewoks in my mind and spend hours there.

As a kid, I did not identify “The Force” with religion, even though Obi Won Kenobi (Obey One?) was clearly a religious figure. The force, to me, was the unspoken energy in the world, all of the bits and pieces of connections and information and energy that no one talked about or acknowledged. The force was all of the things I knew but could not articulate and the air was thick with it. I could feel it. It was the ESP-like knowledge I had about people but couldn’t explain. I would notice a facial expression, or a tone of voice, or remember disparate pieces of information, and in some part of my brain all of that came together and I knew things no one had told me. All the time.

I didn’t think of it as something I could harness and use, for good or for evil. I thought of it more as the threads that kept me attached to other people, so I wouldn’t feel all alone in the world.

Obi Won represented a grownup who would teach me and protect me and be kind and reliable. He was not Yoda, who was always speaking in riddles and making me feel stupid and not good enough, and he was not Darth Vader or Jabba the Hut, using their adult power against me.

By the way, I did not appreciate the redrawing of Jabba the Hut, in George Lucas’s re-edit of the original films, where you could see the lost scene of Jabba walking with Han Solo. It was just wrong that he could walk, that he was thin enough to pass through a doorway. No. Jabba was a giant slug in a dark cave, the most disgusting, hedonistic, immoral creature ever witnessed. He was there to contrast with the clean, precise evil of Darth Vader. He was the Id run wild: killing, eating, taking whatever he wanted without conscience. He was never on a diet.

This Christmas Eve, friends of ours gave Cricket and Butterfly Star Wars toys, one of which I did not recognize (the new droid), and the other was a storm trooper. The storm troopers never really had much impact on me, except that when SUVs became popular, every time I saw a huge white SUV towering over me, I thought of the evil empire. The girls are ready to see the new movie, and all of the movies that came before.

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Butterfly thinks her storm trooper makes a nice pillow.

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Cricket won’t let the new droid out of her sight.

Butterfly is like an ewok, in looks and in personality. She is childlike, and stubborn, and full of love and loyalty. And she thinks Chewbacca is a tall drink of water. And Cricket would like to have a light saber and a droid of her own.

Miss_Butterfly

“I’m an ewok?”

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The force is strong with this one.

I ate all of my popcorn before the movie even started, because we got there early thinking there’d be a line on Christmas day. But I didn’t need the popcorn to distract me during the movie. I know that Mark Hamill was the least successful of the three lead actors in the first three movies, but he was the one who stuck with me. He was the heart of everything, and if he hadn’t been believable, none of it would have worked. Luke was me, and I was riveted to my seat waiting to see him, and now I can’t wait for the next movie!

Maybe I’m too old for the training, but I want to be a Jedi. I wanted to be a Jedi way back when too, but now it actually feels possible.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

93 responses »

  1. Now I really want to see it.

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  2. You write some gorgeous sentences, Rachel. I LOVE this: “The force was all of the things I knew but could not articulate and the air was thick with it.”

    My son, Jim, who is a second generation Star Wars appreciator, was terrified after reading teasers on the Internet, that this movie would have Luke turning to the dark side. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have yet to see it, but let me just say we all thoroughly enjoyed the film!

    And when you mentioned Ewoks, I thought of your beautiful little dogs!

    Pam

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  3. I’m with Butterfly, Chewbacca is definitely one cool tall drink of water. 😀 I loved the movie and whe I was little I wanted to bring the Ewoks home with me. I would have taken very good care of them or vice a versa.. Lol

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  4. You are never to old to be a Jedi! Go forth and be one, Rachel! Oh, the girls and their toys are just too darn cute!

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  5. The movie was awesome sauce. I loved it. I want to see it again.

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  6. Butterfly does look like an Ewok! My son and I went to see the movie Christmas Day also. I enjoyed it too. Then we came home and popped in the DVD, Return of the Jedi, as there was nothing good on tv. I enjoyed all the Star Wars movies, but also am a big Star Trek fan, which also has a lot of inside messages of morality and good vs evil. Merry Christmas.

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  7. I always thought of The Force as all that’s best in religion, without any of the layers of personality that organized religion is cloaked in. I haven’t seen the new Star Wars movie – the last one I went to I fell asleep in, it was so boring. Glad to know that you had a good opinion of this one. I just might give it a chance.

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  8. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, and I think this is your best writing, yet. Thank you! I had thought of the Force much the same way, and appreciate your interpretation. Good post!

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  9. ramblingsofaperforatedmind

    I still haven’t seen ANY of these movies! I’m glad you enjoyed them!

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  10. Just saw the movie a couple hours ago. I was also worried how old the old actors would blend into a newer Star Wars. My fears were unfounded and I loved it. I found myself a bit choked up seeing them appear on the screen, one by one, as if we were old lost friends.

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  11. You probably like it because it’s in a place far, far away in a time long, long ago.

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  12. So glad everyone is loving the movie, and really enjoyed your writing. I haven’t been to the movie yet – desperate to get there this week before someone tells me all about it. Very much appreciate the ‘no spoiler’. 🙂

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  13. Sorry to be a party pooper, but I have no interest in Star Wars, or in any violent movie, for that matter. Science fiction is great in print but never ceases to disappoint me on film.

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  14. very nice,deep,relaxing post and the two white ewoks are really cool 🙂

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  15. You write very perceptively about what is there in ‘Star Wars’ to inspire deeper thought. We are all glad you enjoyed the new film so much ! Pip and the boys

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  16. I liked the originals, but having seen the first ‘prequel’, lost interest. By all accounts though, this is one of the better movies, and we like Sci fi, so maybe will see it eventually.

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  17. I’ve heard from several people that this is a good movie. I’ve pretty much avoided the whole series because I don’t respond well to the mega-marketing hype. I just don’t feel at all compelled to watch it. Yesterday we went to see The Big Short instead, and it was excellent.

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  18. May the force be with you….

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  19. Nice post 🙂
    My wife and kiddo went for the second time last night (grrrr…)

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  20. I saw the original trilogy when I was 7, 10 & 13. I could remember the plots of those films from 40 years ago like the back of my hand but sometimes have trouble remembering the names of the forgettable prequels. The force within made me feel like it was 1977 again. But I also loved the human approach to the new character of Finn. Most likely a very real portrayal of soldiers at war.

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  21. I have not seen it yet but now after reading this its on my must do list

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  22. The Force is Within You, Always!

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  23. Return of the Jedi was my favorite of the original films. The prequels do not exits and shall never be mentioned again. 🙂
    I enjoyed the new movie. There were issues, but I’m withholding public comments until more people have seen it.

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  24. Am I the only person in the world who hasn’t seen Star Wars? No, actually I’m not, I don’t think anyone in my family has seen it. It becomes a source of perverse pride.

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  25. I was dragged to see it on Christmas Day and it was okay, but I admit to being disappointed. I saw the originals from the 70s and 80s and then the (confusing) beginning ones from the 90s and 2000s. The storyline is okay if a bit grim, but then isn’t good versus evil always that way? I did not like the new protagonist in either looks nor acting ability, Darth Vader as a villain indeed had a clean precision about his evil, the Emperor was scary and evil, but believable as someone who had been exposed to the Dark Side so long he was made into that monstrous looking creature… this new villain – grandson of Darth isn’t he? – is just meh. The creature playing the new Grand Poobah of the Dark Side (that holographic looking huge monstrosity in the chair) was cartoonish (to me). So there were good points in the movie, but I could have waited and watched it on cable (and I probably will when it’s available) and been just as satisfied. That’s me though. I’m glad YOU had a good experience and enjoyed the film. Maybe it was mediocre to me because of my exposure to the originals. It is interesting though how much hoopla is generated now. I don’t recall that from the other movies.

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  26. I love your description of the Force, it fits with my perception. I haven’t seen this one yet, but it is on my horizon. Oh, and Jabba – you nailed him – never on a diet!!

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  27. Haha, I have an awesome Star Wars tshirt that I love. But have not seen any of the movies. Wrong generation, I guess. lol

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  28. I haven’t seen it yet, Rachel, and your positive review thrills me! Your posts never disappoint, and it’s grand to know the movie won’t either!

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  29. Hi Ewok, you look so like me it is amazing! Very cute. KoKo

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  30. Nice piece, Rachel! I too have an ewok at home!!

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  31. Butterfly and Bailey are both ewoks, for sure! And I would love a BB-8 of my own. 😉 Happy New Year, Rachel! All my best to you and your girls!

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  32. I still haven’t decided whether I want to see it or not…but one of Al’s sisters gave us two movie passes for Christmas and a concessions coupon. Butterfly does look like an Ewok. 🙂

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  33. That’s convinced me, I’m seeing the movie tomorrow!!

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  34. My dog Sophie is also an ewok. I think they watch over us.

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  35. Sold. One Star Wars ticket.
    I was on the fence anyway, but now I’m there.
    May the Force be with you, your mom, Cricket and Butterfly in 2016!
    Happy New Year!!

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  36. Happy New Year! I enjoyed the new Star Wars too. It had a lot of similarities to the first one. I agree with you about not liking the remakes of the originals. The snow monster was a lot scarier when you could only see the arm and had to imagine the rest.

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  37. Der ist aber süß so richtig Gnufick lieber Gruß und ein gutes neue Jahr Gruß Gislinde

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  38. Your little ewoks are just darling! The latest movie was great fun and really captured what I loved about the original trilogy.

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  39. I loved the movie too! My dog is jealous of the Star Wars toys…

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  40. Your gorgeous doggies really do look like Ewoks, don’t they? Especially Butterfly! I haven’t seen the new movie yet – which is almost a crime for such a Star Wars fan. I’ve been a fan of the original movie since I first saw it on the big screen back in 1978 at the age of 16. I have always refused to call it Episode 4 because it was so complete in itself without the other two movies that followed it or the horrible prequels that never matched up to any of them.

    I always saw that original story as being Luke’s story – and this was before I’d ever heard of Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler’s theories about the Hero’s Journey. Luke was a frustrated farm boy who refused the call to adventure out of duty to his aunt and uncle, but had to accept the quest when his circumstances changed. He went into the unknown world, learned the skills, rescued the princess and brought back the treasure with the help of his new companions and then fought the good fight with his new tribe to earn his rightful place as a decorated hero. Wow, what a story!

    However, Star Wars was also the start of my fascination with Harrison Ford, whose Han Solo was just so doggone handsome, self-sufficient and watchable that I couldn’t help but become a fan of his. He became the hero in so many other movies and I’ve been a fan of his my whole life, so I’m almost scared to see this movie in case I’m disappointed.

    Should I be worried, or should I just go and see it while it’s still on the big screen?

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  41. I also saw it on Christmas day, loved the movie! Butterfly is very like an Ewok.

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  42. So cute! I want ’em!😊💞

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