Star Wars as Family History

When I first saw the movie Rogue One, I felt like a childhood dream of mine had come true.

Having grown up on Star Wars, this movie really meant something to me. Trying to place it, I knew why almost immediately – I have connected with the story. It’s what I’m all about here, right? Stories! And there is something extra special about the Star Wars story. It started back in 1977, and has only gained more devotees ever since. It’s had people hooked from day one. The timeless characters draw you in. How many of us cheered when Han Solo boarded the Millennium Falcon in Episode VII, remembering the first time we saw him back in Episode IV? (“Chewie, we’re home.”) These characters build themselves into your own life, and we all love to see clips of them along the way – C-3PO and R2-D2 were briefly in Rogue One and I caught myself grinning unashamedly. I mean, it’s 2017, and the Star Wars story has been building on itself for four decades now. And it’s because we’re so connected with the story. We all geek out at the sound of the TIE fighters and the huge shots of those Star Destroyers, sure. But seriously, I hold that it’s the story that has us all hooked. It’s a whole galaxy of possibilities, but we follow the same story arcs throughout. Fan fiction has spun off like crazy because of these endless possibilities, too, as we all feel we have a part in this galaxy and these special stories.

The Stories of Star Wars

There’s something else about Star Wars that draws us into the story, and that’s the music. The music is like the narrator, the driving force behind it all. I remember when we saw Episode I in 1999, my mom cried when the music blared at the very beginning. I know she was all of a sudden back in 1977. John Williams has crafted this narrator brilliantly too – each character, even the Force itself, has a theme. I know in Episode VII when we first see Leia and hear Leia’s theme, I was transported back to elementary school myself, remembering how much I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack on cassette tape back then, remembering being made fun of in 5th grade for reading the giant Return of the Jedi novel at indoor recess, but not even caring because, Star Wars. The music ties it all together, weaving the story and introducing new characters and themes while keeping us tied to the old ones, connecting them in a way only music can do for a story we love.

Star Wars as Family History

My mother, brother, and I being big nerds standing in line at the theater to see Episode VII in December 2015 

My mother, brother, and I being big nerds standing in line at the theater to see Episode VII in December 2015 

But that’s the other thing I thought of while watching this movie, is the way that stories connect us to each other, and connect us to something special in ourselves. As the credits were rolling, an older woman walked past us in the aisle and smiled at us and said, “That was just as good as the first one back in the 70s.”  I knew that Star Wars must have meant something to her, and I wonder now who she saw the movie with in 1977. And I thought about what Star Wars has meant to my family. My grandpa was a projectionist at the first theater in Indianapolis to hold the rights to Episode IV for its first six weeks. Because of that, my mother and her family were able to preview the movie with all the reporters before it was even released and my mom has told me, “I probably saw it fifty times that summer, easy.”  She could get in for free thanks to my grandpa, and would go to the theater any time she could. Then when Empire Strikes Back came out, she was working at a movie theater herself, and that’s where she met my dad.

Star Wars as Family Tradition

My son Micah holding his new Jyn Erso toy he got for Christmas from his great-grandpa, who is in the background on the right 

My son Micah holding his new Jyn Erso toy he got for Christmas from his great-grandpa, who is in the background on the right 

And my mother passed it on to her kids. My brother was the first one I texted as I left the theater and hilariously he was at the theater about to see it for a second time in one weekend (he saw it at midnight). The stories are just ingrained in us, and I love having conversations with my brother about theories and characters and the music and all of it. It brings us together – a shared love for this epic story brings us together. And now it’s a story I get to now pass on to my kids, too – both my son and daughter love Star Wars, the characters, the music, the TIE fighters and light sabers and X-wings…and the love has been passed down to the fourth generation of my family – it’s become a very genuine family tradition.

Star Wars is something that connects our family, and I know it does the same thing for a lot of families, for a lot of people. It’s a story that many of us have grown up on, characters that have been there all along, music that we’ve listened to for years. We connect with it. That’s why as the credits were rolling, my daughter reached over and brushed my cheek, and said, “Mommy, you’re crying!?”

Well, yeah. Star Wars makes me cry. It’s more than just my favorite movie. It’s my favorite fictional story, and that means something to me. It really means something to a lot of people.

 May the Force be with you!

What about you? Do you have a special movie in your family? Share in the comments below!

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