Have you ever felt like a total outsider? Like everyone is in on the joke but you?
That is how I felt on Force Friday, when I spent an unhealthy number of hours at Toys “R” Us in Times Square waiting for the new Star Wars toys to be released. The whole time I was hiding a huge secret. I had never seen a Star Wars movie.
It’s not that I haven’t tried. My brother insisted that we go to a midnight screening of Episode I, and I promptly fell asleep the second the room went dark. I tried to watch Episode IV last year… and fell asleep. Do I suffer from Star Wars-induced narcolepsy?
To be clear, I have not been living in a bubble my whole life. As Chris Taylor notes in his book How Star Wars Conquered The Universe, “Star Wars [has] become one movie series for which it is always perfectly acceptable in modern society to discuss spoilers.” Perhaps that’s because everyone assumes you’ve seen Star Wars. So, I knew some things going into the movies. I knew who Darth Vader was and that he was someone’s father. I had heard that Jar Jar Binks was not well liked, but I didn’t know why. I knew that Han Solo shot first, but I had no idea who he shot.
While at Toys “R” Us, I saw people of all ages getting excited about this world. What was all the hype about? What was worth standing in line until midnight for? I had to know. I needed to be in the in-crowd. I needed to watch all of the Star Wars movies. And I had one conveniently timed vacation day to do it.
I was nervous about entering the Star Wars world. I know that the movies are hallowed ground for many, and I was not sure how people would react to a newbie watching the movies for the first time while live-tweeting them. Luckily, from the second I posted my first tweet, I was feeling the Star Wars love. Fans welcomed me with open arms.
A couple from Canada joined me virtually for Episodes III-VI. Chris Taylor jumped in to answer questions I had. Fans encouraged others to join in my fun.
As for the movies themselves, I was blown away. The story is compelling. I watched the movies in numerical order, and while there was much discussion about that online, I am so glad I did.
I was able to see the characters grow and change as they progressed from the newer films to the older ones. If I had watched the movies in release date order, I would not have gotten a creepy feeling about Chancellor Palpatine, and we all know how he ends up.
Something about Chancellor Palpatine doesn't sit well with me.— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 7, 2015
Seeing the character’s story arcs gave me lots of feels when I got to the end of Episode VI. Watching Anakin grow from a little boy, into a young Jedi, then slowly become Darth Vader was very powerful and the sadness I felt was only possible because I watched the movies in Episode order. You know that he has evil tendencies, but I kept thinking back to him racing pods and building C3-P0. How could that little boy turn into a monster?
I did not expect to be this sad over Darth Vader dying! pic.twitter.com/wygFImLloj
— Aly Keves (@alykeves) September 8, 2015
One thing that gave me an unsettling feeling was the age difference between Padme and Anakin. I asked Twitter what the age difference was, and answered varied from 3 years to 5 years, but no matter what way I did the math, it never seemed to work out. Anakin was young when we first see him racing pods and Padme was already a senator. Because we see Anakin as a young boy and Padme is the same actress throughout, the age difference seemed so vast to me. It was a little hard for me to accept.
One thing I loved is that there are two very strong female characters in the movies. First, Padme, who is in the Senate at age 13, and being a total badass, going around in disguise and risking her life for the people of Naboo. Her death after she gave birth to a monster’s children was tough to watch, but I see why Lucas had to kill her off. Padme would definitely have made it harder for Anakin to go to the Dark Side.
Princess Leia is also a badass chick. When we first see her, she is kicking ass and taking names trying to save the galaxy. Her no nonsense attitude really took me by surprise. I knew very little about her going into the movies, but my preconceived notion was that she was a more reserved character. Boy, was I wrong. She is not afraid to get in the middle of a scuffle. One thing that I did find a little out of character was her response to Han Solo’s famous “I know” line. Why she didn’t push him into the carbonite herself, I will never know.
Some moments in the movies made me laugh.
This an awkward first meeting of the parent. pic.twitter.com/wu7jv0H6Y9— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 7, 2015
Oh shit. pic.twitter.com/7QoJKsH5BO— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 7, 2015
Some moments reminded me of other familiar things.
Some moments hit me pretty hard.
Guys, Yoda is getting so old…— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 8, 2015
YODA DIES??? Burn it down.— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 8, 2015
I am sure that we could debate for hours about the most iconic Star Wars character, but for me it’s Yoda. When he died, I felt like a little piece of me died too. I know, he lives on in spirit, but the pain was so deep.
I have two gripes with the Star Wars movies, they are related and I know Star Wars fans will feel my pain.
At the end of episode VI, we see the spirits of Yoda, Obi-Wan, and a young Anakin…what? Why is Hayden Christensen there? It is one of the few moments that took me out of the movie, and I wish they would have left well enough alone (something I understand Star Wars fans often lament).
Wait. What? pic.twitter.com/FyaKI9bYv1— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 8, 2015
My second complaint is another moment from Episode VI. The scene with Jabba’s band is so distracting! Clearly, this was added way after 1983 when the movie was released. It was very distracting and a pretty pointless change.
That song and dance number was really something. And by something, I mean weird AF.— Aly Ellis (@alykeves) September 8, 2015
Between each movie, I recorded my thoughts on what I just saw.
My remaining questions:
- Who is Anakin’s father?
- How did no one notice that Padme was pregnant with twins?
So, now I’m finally part of the global club of Star Wars fans. Thank you Star Wars community for being so stinkin’ welcoming and fun. I cannot wait to follow the madness along with the rest of you, now that I finally know what all the excitement is about.
Thanks to @alykeves for an amazing day. It was nice to see Star Wars from a first timers perspective. It made me excited for SW again.— Jamie (he/him) (@JamieTheJedi) September 8, 2015
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens comes out Dec. 18 and I already have my tickets. I still haven’t decided who I will dress up as yet, but I am working on my Wookiee call.
If you haven’t seen all of the movies, do yourself a favor and watch them. Just, maybe not all in one day.
Update: We turned it into a show, and you can watch the first episode here:
Illustration by Tiffany Pai