“Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.” – Jedi Master Yoda
When I found out that our local military base would be screening Star Wars Episodes IV-VI (for free!) one day last month before playing The Force Awakens that same evening, I immediately thought about taking my son.
I just couldn’t say “no” to an opportunity to see A New Hope on the big screen with my little guy. The fact that it would be free, in a much quieter environment than a busy public movie theater, and that we’d have the opportunity to stand for the National Anthem before the opening crawl (another teaching moment) just made it that much better. As my wife was busy with other plans that morning, it would just be father and son, master and padawan.
Padawan was already very familiar with the characters, plot, and music of A New Hope, as we’ve read the Little Golden Book and listened to the soundtrack countless times. What REALLY made him so knowledgeable, though, was that he frequently listens to a fantastic version of the audio drama twice a day – during our drive to and from preschool. It had gotten to the point that if I played a snippet from Williams’ score, Padawan could tell me what scene the music is from, and many times he recited a few lines of dialogue or narration. It was somewhat unnerving to hear a tiny voice telling me the Star Wars story from the backseat of the car, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s impressive – most impressive.
My wife and I discussed the movie, and we thought it would be fine for our son to see A New Hope. He can be a bit fidgety, and my back doesn’t like me to sit for hours on end, so we decided to just see Episode IV and save the others for a later date. This would also be the very first movie that the boy had seen in a theater rather than at home, so he was very excited to get popcorn and M&Ms. We watched the previews (minimal, being a base theater), stood for the National Anthem (“out of respect, son”), and then excitedly waited as the lights dimmed and we saw those famous words: “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”
BAM! The main theme started, the crawl crawled, and the Rebel blockade runner came into view, followed by the impossibly massive Imperial star destroyer. As scene after scene went by, I watched – admittedly, with some tears – as my little boy finally experienced with his own eyes and ears the majesty of Star Wars.
As we watched, I wondered if and when we’d ever discuss the differences between the theatrical version and the Special Edition, but it surely didn’t matter that day. My son was more concerned with how the Jawas’ eyes glowed, why Obi-Wan’s lightsaber didn’t always look blue (oh, he knows Kenobi carries a blue lightsaber), and why the Tusken Raiders ran from Ben. It was a lot of fun to hear him excitedly whisper, “Daddy! It’s the X-wings!” and pick out individual musical themes. He’s especially fond of the Force theme, Luke’s theme, and the Rebel fanfare.
We talked about the movie during the entire drive home and well into the next day. I made sure to commend my son on his excellent behavior during and his great questions following the movie. We also took time to discuss how events in the movie could have transpired differently if the characters made different choices. Now, when we listen to the soundtrack or audio drama in the car, he has a much stronger grasp of the movie. I don’t doubt that he’s the preschool Star Wars trivia expert now.
In retrospect, I’m glad that I introduced my son to the movie the way that I did. Knowing the plot and characters prior to seeing it greatly increased his ability to soak it all in without having to ask repeatedly for clarification, and we knew that there very little chance that he’d be scared. Most importantly for me, we had a great father-son bonding experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Have you taken your little ones to see Star Wars? How old were they, and how did you prepare them? What were your experiences? What helpful advice do you have for parents thinking about their kids’ first Star Wars viewings?
Until next time, thank you for reading, may the Force be with you, and remember –
This is the podcast you’re looking for!
*Far Far Away Radio is a weekly Star Wars podcast that can be found at http://farfarawayradio.com/.Powered by Sidelines