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The Force Awakens Changes Everything

The Force Awakens Changes Everything

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Yes! There will be spoilers! You have been warned!

Unlike so many Star Wars fans of a certain age, old enough to have seen the first film in its initial run in 1977, I wasn’t disappointed in the prequel trilogy. I love it. It adds richness to the saga with its Darth Vader backstory even when it misfires. Most films have their glitches, but for the record, I don’t consider Jar Jar to be one of them. I like him. He makes me smile. Episodes I thru VI are all part of one story, Anakin Skywalker’s story. There are characters who aren’t fleshed out enough for my taste (Shmi and Qui-Gon Jinn come to mind immediately), and there’s the matter of that huge gap between Episodes III and IV. But the point is that they are all one story for me, and I watch them with one mindset. I expected to feel the same about Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, that it’s another part of the same story, but for me, it’s so much more.

In my blog entry last month, four days before The Force Awakens was released, I asked if Star Wars would still be Anakin’s story. I assumed it would and couldn’t imagine anything different, really, but it isn’t. And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m glad. It’s time to move on, and I didn’t even realize it.

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There are so many aspects of my life today that are rooted in Star Wars and what it has meant to me, and I have held on so tightly. It has served me well, enriched and enhanced my life in so many ways. But time marches on and things change and so have I. The original trilogy was part of my growing up years, part of my young adulthood. When the prequel trilogy was released, we learned about a new generation, Luke and Leia’s parents and Obi-Wan’s early years, but they are a generation we always knew about. From the moment ‘ol Ben tells Luke about his father having a tie to Darth Vader early in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, we knew. The Force Awakens introduces something completely different.

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When I saw The Force Awakens on its opening night last month (that’s me in the middle, anakinside1/Erica on the left, and CWK blogger Jay Krebs on the right!), my immediate reaction was – well, to run right back into the theater and see it again, but after that – to watch the first (six) episodes in that machete order that I had heard about and mentioned before, IV, V, II, III, then VI, to make Star Wars LUKE’s story. The second the end credits rolled that first viewing, I said rather loudly, “That’s IT?!” I couldn’t believe that all we got of our beloved “last Jedi” were a flashback mechanical hand on R2’s dome and compelling facial gestures between Luke and Rey, but not a single word. NOT A SINGLE WORD!!! I wanted more (and I know I shouldn’t?). I saw Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens again. And again. And when I came thru the other side of the holiday season after spending time with family and friends and starting a New Year, it hit me. I don’t want to go back in this saga any more than I want to go back in my life.

The impetus for this revelation lies in several things. Everyone close enough to me to be kind enough to give me a gift knows that Star Wars swag is a great way to go! Almost every person in my life has given me Star Wars stuff, especially this year. Even those of my children who don’t necessarily “get” my obsession gifted me with awesome stuff. I’m thrilled! I love the Rey t-shirt that my friend  gave me for my recent birthday, every bit as much as I love all of my Padme and Anakin t-shirts, and I’m surprised. While wearing the classic Star Wars pj pants given to me by one of my non-fan daughters, I opened a gift, the new film novelization, from her boyfriend, and I was suddenly cognizant of how anxious I am to gobble up every bit of information I can find about this film and its new faces. Han is dead. Long live his son…

Wait.

What???!!

Yes! I want to know everything about the vile Kylo Ren just as I was instantly captivated by Darth Vader so many years ago. And now we get to see the villain’s face? Really??!! This is freaking AWESOME! And Rey? I adore her. I want to BE her. And I’m an old broad who has four children older than our budding Jedi. She is a budding Jedi, right? Even though I thought Finn would be the Jedi. Or maybe he still will be. And now even our stormtroopers have faces and lives and stories. HOW COOL IS THAT?!….AAAHHHHH!!!!!

This is how I feel right now, like I did in the beginning, filled with wonder about this galaxy and its denizens. I want to know that redemption exists and that heroes prevail, that mysterious beings like Maz lurk in our lives, holding keys to our best selves even when we doubt. I’m so excited…so, so excited. And as much as I have loved Star Wars for all these years, I never…ever…thought I’d feel quite like this again. Not again. Now.

A link to the old Hyperspace blog archive on StarWars.com recently resurfaced through a friend and sealed the way I feel. I was quick to check out my old cyber stomping grounds. I didn’t have a lot of time at that moment, so I did nothing more than assure myself that amidalooine’s birthplace still exists, vowing to go back and read in-depth as soon as I had a moment. Then, on a plane this past weekend, the moment came. And I didn’t want to see where I’ve been as much as I want to see where I’m going. I opened my figurative tightly clenched fist and just let go.

One more thing. I avoid media criticism of movies as much as I can, especially when it comes to the stories I love, but it’s difficult to miss some of the overt criticism of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. The bit that bothers me most is the knock on the new film for being too much like the original, too quick to recycle old plot lines. My words to you, oh haters: History is cyclical. For those who are seeing a Star Wars film in theaters for the first time, it’s not about their learning “our” Star Wars; it’s about their discovering their own. Every generation repeats the sins and triumphs of the past in some way, both onscreen and in life, and for the fans of this film it is no different. Wars happen for all the same reasons and heroes rise on similar wings. Doubters doubt familiar themes. Fathers kill their sons and vice versa. It goes back to biblical times not just the original Star Wars trilogy. ”Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.” Matthew 10:21. That’s the way it is, haters. Get over it.

And get into it! Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens is freaking amazing. All by itself.

Join me, and remember…

This IS the podcast you’re looking for.

You can contact Pam at pamb@coffeewithkenobi.com.

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9 Comments

  1. Ryder
    January 13, 2016 at 11:10 Reply

    Pam! This was great! I totally agree with you on the criticisms of the “rip off” storyline. History repeats itself in real life, so why shouldn’t it in Star Wars? We keep making the same mistakes as our ancestors so why shouldn’t the Empire also? And I love looking ahead too. With TFA we get the perfect balance of old characters and new, and the story feels fresh and like it’s going forward. And there is enough mention of Anakin/Vader in TFA to let me know that is still the same story, but it’s not totally dependent on the past.

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      January 13, 2016 at 15:25 Reply

      Well said, Ryder…that there is just enough mention of Anakin/Vader. I think that’s what surprised me most about my reaction to the the film…that I was OK with JUST that amount of mention. I’m such an Anakin/Vader fan that I could never have imagined myself being satisfied with just that much. Until now. Thank you for the comment, Ryder.

  2. Erica
    January 13, 2016 at 11:50 Reply

    Loved this! And I loved being able to see the movie with you too!

    One if the things I adore about SW is that it’s thematic. These aren’t a series of totally random events linked together for any old reason. It’s cyclical, as you say. One of my favorite things is to see how an element–a sound, or a visual or an emotion–appears again–like in a poem or a symphony. People who don’t understand that are not seeing the mythic level of storytelling that’s going on. The layers upon layers of thematic repetition is part of what makes SW special, part of what makes it great.

    It is time to move on and enjoy seeing how these themes evolve, take a new twist, or get derailed for the new generation.

    May the force be with you! Xoxox

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      January 13, 2016 at 15:28 Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Erica! It was such an awesome night, the three of us together 🙂

      The thematic tapestry that is woven throughout Star Wars is brilliant. You make excellent points. Now all we need is for Kylo Ren to say, “This is where the fun begins”…

      Hahahaha.

  3. Jay Krebs
    January 13, 2016 at 18:20 Reply

    Yay!!! Fangirls unite!!! What an amazing thing to be able to share together *sigh*!! 🙂
    There is SO much I want to say about this!

    First off, this has got to be one of my favorite pieces of yours. Bravo! 🙂

    You are spot-on with everything you said. I hadn’t really thought about TFA as being a break from the old, but a blending of the two lineages. Now, I can see your points about how this era of Star Wars is something new. It makes me think of growing up – I’ll never forget my hometown, and I’ll always treaure those memories, but its time to embrace the present, and the future!

    For the record, I have fallen for Kylo Ren… hook, line and sinker. But not in the way some may think. We’ve discussed before – his very Loki-esque persona. The anti-hero, perhaps…we shall see…

    History IS cyclical! I was JUST having this argument with a fellow teacher, a big fan of Star Wars in general, but a nay-sayer about TFA. I told him that he HAS to see it at least one more time! I also directed him toward Mike Klimo’s Ring Theory – we’ll see if he takes me up on that one! I’ll be addressing Ring Theory a bit myself in my next entry on the 18th (*shameless blug*! Now, THERE’S one from the “old days!” ) 😉

    Star Wars really is FOREVER!!!!

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      January 14, 2016 at 12:54 Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Jay, and for your kind words. Your hometown comparison is a good one, particularly for the old blogosphere and how I feel about it. I’m here now. Here.

      Kylo Ren is just…wow. Such mixed feelings about him. And the Loki comparison…have to think about that one some more. You KNOW how much I adore Loki, but I think I feel differently about him somehow. Not sure. Maybe? 🙂

      I look forward to your blog!

  4. Oboe-Wan
    January 14, 2016 at 00:21 Reply

    Hey! The old blog 😉 This post gave me the happy feelings. Thank you!!

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      January 14, 2016 at 12:55 Reply

      It gives me happy feelings, too, Lise, but they are feelings of the past, you know? I’m quite happy to be in the present. xoxo

  5. ladylavinia1932
    January 19, 2016 at 13:52 Reply

    I didn’t care for it that much. I didn’t hate it. I found the movie entertaining. But that was due to the performances of John Boyega, Harrison Ford and Lupita Nyong’o.

    However, entertaining performances from three cast members does not make a movie. Nor does plagiarism . . . which this movie is guilty of. If this was the best that Abrams and Disney could do, God help this franchise. Perhaps Rian Johnson can clean up their mess.

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Pam is a writer, editor, mother, fangirl, and self-proclaimed geek from Pittsburgh, PA.

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