So, 40 years ago this film came out. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I wasn’t actually there to witness the premier of the film, but I can say with absolute certainty that these films have had a tremendous impact on my life.
I still remember the first time I watched it. My parents bought the original trilogy (or the Star Wars trilogy, as it was then known) on VHS from Sam’s Club. I even remember picking up the box, still wrapped in plastic, and turning it over in my hands.
“What’s this?” I asked, wary of the black case and block lettering, obviously not my usual 7-year-old fare of Disney and The Land Before Time.
“It’s Star Wars,” my dad said, a twinkle in his eye. “We’re going to watch it tonight.”
I sat back in my seat with a doubtful “Okay…”
It was the last time I was ever reluctant to watch it.
That night, for two hours, I was glued to the screen, my tiny heart thrilling at the adventures of Luke Skywalker and friends. Luke, a misunderstood kid who dreamt of something greater (i.e. me), watched the twin suns of Tatooine set as he gazed off into the distance. My heart ached with him as we both yearned for something greater than our humdrum lives. Yes, even at 7 (or perhaps because I was 7) I felt the limits of my existence, the smallness of my life, and a burning desire to be more, do more, live more.
I responded to this movie in a way I’d never responded to a story before. It made me want to be in the story. And then it made me want to tell my own stories. Sometimes they were science fiction stories. Sometimes the main character had magical powers, or was swept up in one of a thousand others adventures. It’s no coincidence that I wrote my first story shortly after watching A New Hope. In the past 20 years, not a day has gone by that I haven’t written.
And now I’m getting ready to finish a Master’s degree in screenwriting (!!!) in LONDON, of all places. I’ve been on my own journey, taking me from my homeworld of Tatooine (Maine, admittedly slightly less arid) to Degobah (Florida, obviously) with a slight detour in Hoth (Alaska). Although my adventure hasn’t included blowing up any Death Stars or picking up X-wings with my mind, it’s taken me far beyond the reaches my 7-year-old self could have wished for. I think Luke Skywalker would be proud. I’m proud. And I’m thankful to have Star Wars in my life.