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My Son’s First Star Wars Theatrical Experience

My Son’s First Star Wars Theatrical Experience

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“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….”

... and the tears started. Blurry, but best I could do.

… and the tears started. Blurry, but best I could do.

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.

Headed home, listening to John Williams. Happy Jedi indeed.

Headed home, listening to John Williams. Happy Jedi indeed.

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!

Contact me at MediocreJedi@coffeewithkenobi.com or on Twitter @MediocreJedi.

*Far Far Away Radio is a weekly Star Wars podcast that can be found at http://farfarawayradio.com/.

Many thanks to Meg Humphrey (@tspofnutmeg) & Mallory Conlon (@malloryconlon) for their editing!

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11 Comments

  1. Dan Z & Cory Clubb
    February 14, 2016 at 15:15 Reply

    This is really fantastic, and the moment I knew you were going to write about this, I knew I’d be transported, both to live vicariously, and to the future, where I will most certainly be taking my padawan. Thanks for sharing this!
    -Dan Z

    1. MediocreJedi
      February 16, 2016 at 13:33 Reply

      You bet, Dan! I’m sure you could see yourself in the same situation.

  2. Jay Krebs
    February 14, 2016 at 15:58 Reply

    This is absolutely great, MJ!
    It’s so cool that you got to show him the ORIGINAL Star Wars in the big screen! Not many younglings these days get such an opportunity, and that you could share it, together, as his first theatrical experience makes it even better, for sure!
    Definitely one of those moments to treasure for a lifetime. Thanks for sharing!

    1. MediocreJedi
      February 16, 2016 at 13:34 Reply

      Well, it was the Special Edition, so “original” enough. “Daddy – it’s Boba Fett!” Uh, yes, I suppose so, son…. 😉

  3. Pam Bruchwalski
    February 14, 2016 at 17:08 Reply

    I would have LOVED to have been able to show my kids the OT in a theater. I’m so happy for you that you were able to. I saw each of the PT movies with my son, who was 8, 11, and 14 at the premieres of each. The older girls saw Ep’s I and III with me. Oldest only saw Ep I…

    I didn’t really have to prepare anyone save for letting them know my mania. I do have to say, though, that now, my children buy me awesome SW (and other geek) gifts, particular my son and daughter #3!

    Nice entry!

    1. MediocreJedi
      February 16, 2016 at 13:35 Reply

      Thank you! I think I’ve created a little Star Wars fan… well, figuratively as well as literally!

  4. Dennis Keithly (@DJKver2)
    February 15, 2016 at 09:05 Reply

    That’s a great report. My boys are older and have seen all the movies at home, but it was incredible taking them to see The Force Awakens in the theater back in December.

    1. MediocreJedi
      February 16, 2016 at 13:36 Reply

      I’m not sure my little guy is ready for TFA, though I had really considered it. Not too long from now, though.

  5. Melinda Wolf
    February 15, 2016 at 10:02 Reply

    Absolutely Awesome!!! 😀

    I couldn’t help but smile throughout reading your recap of seeing “A New Hope” with your son. What a special moment in time. 🙂

    I remember the first time we took our daughters to see a movie in a theater for the first time (not Star Wars at that point; the re-release of the films wouldn’t be in theaters for a few years yet.), and you’re absolutely right — it can be a bit ‘iffy’ when they’re young. Growing up watching movies on DVD, the girls could interrupt their viewings, if need be. Early on, however, they were captivated by the stories unfolding on our television, so by the time they were 3 years old, we knew they could handle sitting in a theater.

    (Oh my … 😉 … as I wrote that, it sounds like we used the television to “babysit” our daughters. lol Nothing could have been further from the truth! However, since both their parents are HUGE film buffs [and we have a certain affinity for Star Wars 😉 ], movies always have been a part of their lives. 🙂 Our eldest even followed that career path, and now works in the entertainment industry. 🙂 )

    Each of the girls had seen the OT — numerous times — prior to its rerelease in 1997, but there was nothing like taking them to see the films on the big screen. Only 8 and almost 5 at the time, they were totally captivated by watching the movies on the big screen. Like your own experience with your son, it helped that both of our girls were well aware of what was happening on screen so they could dive into that big-screen experience. 🙂 I will never forget it. 🙂

    In late December, I found myself in LA visiting my oldest daughter, and she got industry passes to an industry screening of “The Force Awakens”. I already had seen the movie a couple of times, but this was to be her first opportunity to see it. Try as I might, I couldn’t help but try to watch her reaction — surreptitiously 😉 — when key plot points were about to unfold on the screen. I wasn’t as inconspicuous I had hoped I’d be since Miss Eagle Eyes told me afterward that she could see me watching her. We both laughed about it. It was a lot easier to get one by her when she was 8! 😉 lol

    I hope you’ll share your ensuing experiences of watching the Star Wars films with your son as they occur. They’re magical moments, and it is an honor to have been privy to this one. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

    1. MediocreJedi
      February 16, 2016 at 13:39 Reply

      I concur on all of this. Yes, he’s used to pulling up shows/movies on demand (well, not REALLY on “DEMAND”), and he knows that he can stop it whenever he needs to. Like most kids, his attention span isn’t always very long, and ANH is certainly not as 4-year-old-friendly as Lightning McQueen or Dusty Crophopper. Still, though, he did great, and we had a LOT of fun!

  6. Mike MacDonald
    February 19, 2016 at 09:07 Reply

    My kids’ first theatre experience was Revenge of the Sith in 2005. I just think it’s so cool that we can make Star Wars such an important part of our lives. I have an interesting situation in my house where my son (who is 17) “grew up and away” from Star Wars onto other interests but The Force Awakens has now made him a bigger fan than me in a way. 🙂

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