Star Wars The Force Awakens has been out on Blu-ray/DVD for 10 days now, and I have yet to pop one of the discs into our Blu-ray player. Oh, I’ve removed the cellophane wrapping from the package, but I have not had the time to watch even one of the special features. Busy, busy, busy have I been! I know I’ll get around to watching everything at some point in the near future. Besides, I can’t complain since I happened to see the newest Star Wars film in the theater quite a few times.
Before The Force Awakens even appeared on the Big Screen, I decided that I was going to do everything in my power to see the film at least 13 times in the theater. It was the fewest number of times I saw one of the prequels [Revenge of the Sith] in the theater so I thought I’d pay equal support to this newest SW film, even if George Lucas was not at the helm. By the time December 2015 wrapped, I thought I was well on my way, tallying four viewings by December 27. Little did I know reaching my goal was in jeopardy – due in large part to an incredibly busy January 2016. During the entire 31-day month, I managed to get to the theater only twice to see TFA! I had my work cut out for me if I was going to reach Lucky # 13!
As they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Like Rey scaling the arduous climb on Ahch-To to find Luke, I was able to reach my own goal. In fact, I surpassed it, seeing The Force Awakens 15 times before the movie was released on Blu-ray/DVD. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share some of my more memorable viewings with you. While all 15 are special to me, and I learned something new at each one, a few individual trips to the theater stand out.
The First Time. Ah, the first time you do something, it always holds a special place in your heart – or, at the very least, in your memory bank – wouldn’t you agree? For months, I had been waiting – as patiently as I could – for December 17, 2015 to roll around. It was a date that couldn’t come quickly enough for me. Why? [As if you need me to tell you. 😉 ] That was the date many of us would traipse to our respective theaters to see the movie we thought never would be made! And with whom would I have the pleasure to see Star Wars The Force Awakens but none other than my wonderful husband [also a huge Star Wars fan!], Tom! I had my misgivings about the film being released in December. The Big Chill had arrived in Wisconsin, and I was not looking forward to standing in line outside while the mercury dropped. As luck would have it, I was able to procure two tickets at a nearby theater that had assigned seating. That meant we wouldn’t have to show up hours before show time! However, Tom and I chose to do just that, heading over to the theater shortly after he got home from work. Recently remodeled and renovated, the theater had a small café/bar, and rumor had it some Star Wars-themed refreshments were planned. We arrived about two hours before our show time, and treated ourselves to the drink of the night. Simply titled “The Force”, the refreshing purple concoction garnished with a mint leaf and lemon wedge was even one Yoda would have enjoyed. It was delicious! As we sat and sipped, we watched, happily, as like-minded fans began to fill the theater lobby. How fun to see so many of them wearing Star Wars t-shirts [despite the cold], caps, and even lounge pants. [No one could see them, but I also had on a pair of Star Wars socks, and because we Wisconsinites were lucky enough to be precipitation free that night, I even wore a pair of my Star Wars athletic shoes.]
Because Tom is a popcorn enthusiast, about half an hour before our prescribed viewing was to start, the two of us gave up our seats in the café/bar to stand in the growing line at the concession stand. Tom got his bucket of popcorn [I don’t indulge] and soda. We made our way to our theater, found our seats [we got two of the last three tickets for the 7:25 p.m. show], and reveled in the mounting anticipation for the lights to dim, the magic words “LucasFilm” to appear onscreen, and the tell-tale scroll to set the stage for Episode VIII. To say that I was blown away by J.J. Abrams’s installment is an understatement. Not surprising, Tom walked out of the theater just as happy as I was with the way the film had turned out. When we were in the privacy of our car [so as not to be overheard by theater-goers milling about the lobby waiting for their own films to start], Tom noted: “Did you notice how Han was the ‘Obi-Wan’ [from Episode IV] in TFA? He has become wiser, has all the answers, a more calm demeanor. He explains [to Rey and Finn] about the Force and the Jedi just like Obi-Wan did to Luke. Then, later, he [Han] gets cut down by his protègé [in this case, his son Ben].” I admitted to Tom that I got a bit weepy when Ben killed his father, but I could not emerge from the theater with tear-stained cheeks. I wanted to remain as stoic as possible. I did not intend to give away any clue whatsoever as to what fans were about to see.
I know some Star Wars fans have criticized J.J. Abrams for making TFA too much like the OT. Everyone is entitled to her/his opinion. Me? I was thrilled to see the beginning of the newest trilogy return to the Saga’s roots. There was a fair amount of humor, a compelling story, well-developed characters, and no, I didn’t even mind the planet-destroying super weapon. [To my way of thinking, the small-minded Imperial remnant, growing under the guise of the First Order, would resort to what it knows. Thus, it makes perfect sense that a super weapon such as Starkiller Base be constructed.]
I couldn’t wait to see the movie again the following morning! 🙂 However, it isn’t that viewing that I’d like to share with you, but rather my third time seeing TFA – this one a short two days later when I saw it in Los Angeles with my daughter, Erin, at a Motion Picture Industry screening. As a member of the Editor’s Guild, Erin oftentimes gets invited to movie screenings.
Call me silly [you wouldn’t be the first to do so lol], but I flew out to LA to help Erin ferry her two cats home to Wisconsin for the holidays. As luck would have it, that pre-planned trip coincided with one of the MPI’s screenings, and Erin was able to get tickets for the two of us. I flew out to LA on the 20th, the screening was that evening, and we flew back to Wisconsin the next morning.
We located the theater just moments before the lights dimmed, found seats in the back, and settled in for two-plus hours. I have two things to say about the opening moments of Viewing # 3 – it was pleasant to see TFA without any trailers hitting the screen first, and I wondered if there was any way I could watch Erin’s reactions surreptitiously [I really wanted to see the look on her face when key moments occurred – but I didn’t want my glances to be obvious because I was afraid I would give something away … basically implying “Something big is about to happen!”]. I thought I was being quite coy, but obviously not coy enough. Unfortunately, as we left the theater, she admitted, “Momma, I saw you looking at me.” I should have known better. Even as a young child, she had eagle eyes and eagle ears. There’s very little that gets by her. 😉
Surprisingly, out of all 15 times I saw TFA, this was the only viewing at which the entire audience erupted in applause when “Star Wars” appeared onscreen. The audience followed suit when the film came to its end. In addition, the laughter was more … collective, shall we say, and louder. Could it be that industry people know what it takes to create a film on the scale of Star Wars that they were more appreciative? Maybe. In any case, I found it a wonderful experience to see TFA with my eldest daughter, and have the unique [for me] chance to see it with an audience comprised of people who work in the film industry.
I have a few more individual viewings that I’d like to share with you, but I’ll wrap up this blog right here. Please come back to see which I choose when I post next, on April 30. I invite you to leave a comment below – I’d love to hear about your own experiences seeing TFA! – or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time,
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