If you have been sleeping under a rock, you might have missed the big news. Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens Thursday. I read today that fans are already lining up at the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Now that's dedication.
I have mixed emotions when it comes to Star Wars. It was 1980, my brother and I sat in the back of my dad's car. We were on our way to the opening screening of The Empire Strikes Back. It was a huge deal for any young boy at the time.
I remember the rain in the late afternoon. Mike and I happily bounced in the back of the car, as Blondie was singing, "Call me" on the radio. I expect Mike was as excited as I was, but I couldn't see his face through the thick smoke from my dad's cigarettes.
We had arrived at a parking lot near the cinema. My dad parked the car and we hopped out. The smoke billowed from the car, like a scene from a Cheech and Chong movie. The three of us happily walked down the street towards the movie theatre. Mike and I were slicing and dicing ourselves with imaginary lightsabers.
It had been three years since Star Wars had premiered in Toronto. We didn't see it in the theatre because we were too young at the time. Now we were big kids, I was eight and Mike was five.
My Dad was already 47. He wasn't a movie fan, nor was he interested in Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, or the rest of the ensemble. He was simply a divorced father who was trying to entertain his kids on one of his weekends. What better way than to take them to the opening of the most anticipated movie of the year?
The hell with this!
As we approached the theatre the rain began to fall harder. The weather gods didn't hinder our spirit. Suddenly, the unthinkable happened. We stepped around the corner to discover a queue of people longer than the opening credits of Star Wars. Hundreds of people were there!
With our hands in tow with our father's, we stood frozen in horror. Mike and I innocently glared up to our dad, who abruptly exclaimed, "The hell with this!"
Before we could object, our dad did an about-face and we returned to the parking lot. We sunk back into the rear seat of the car. We hadn't been gone long enough for all of the smoke to dissipate. My dad lit another cigarette, and we drove home in silence.
The force was not in our favor that tragic day.
Thirty-five years later, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is upon us. Much technological progress has occurred since the early days of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Animatronics and hand-crafted models have advanced to green screens and CGI. You don't have to rely on TV and newspapers for Star Wars news, you can get everything online. Most importantly, movie tickets can now be purchased in advance.
The moral of this story? Don't be my dad. Get your tickets for The Force Awakens today.