Doc looks at Marty, “Where we’re going we don’t need roads.” I titter with excitement. A bat-shaped searchlight appears in the sky and mysterious music starts playing and I’m glued to the TV. Rafiki lifts baby-Simba up to the sky for all the fauna to see and I’m all goose bumps! Han Solo gets frozen for all eternity and I shrug. I feel obliged to point out that this is not an “I-hate-Star-Wars” editorial. As probably most people born in the 80’s, I was a huge Disney fan as a child. Just watching the films didn’t come close to cutting it – I had a Pocahontas dress, Barbie dolls with which I would re-enact the plot of the movie, the 90’s versions of audio books. I would go see the newest animation in December and start counting the days until its release on VHS in September (Yes, September. Boy, are the 00s children being pampered with these four month gaps between the cinema release and the DVD one.) Growing older, I got into Batman and James Bond. They were just so cool! I shifted between wanting to be the hero and the heroine. On one hand it was appealing to be as tough as Batman in his Batmobile or have full use of all Mr Q’s gadgets, but on the other hand, being Dr. Meridian Chase and stealing Batman’s heart or Dr. Goodhead and saving the Earth from total destruction with Bond would’ve been equally mind-blowing.
Fact: Home Alone, along with all of its damned sequels, is crap. But still, when it’s on TV and you’ve nothing else to do, you must admit that it’s quite exciting to watch Kevin pull tricks on the stupidest crooks in the history of family movies. Even though you know now that it doesn’t work like that in real life, the child inside you is sniggering when the burglars get hit by the paint cans and bricks, slip on green goo and staple them selves thrice in really sensitive spots. Once again, you think back to when you were in bed with the chicken pox and your parents had rented the film for you. It was a happy time, save for the chicken pox.
A friend of mine went to a viewing of the Lion King a couple of year ago. It was a weekend showing of an animation film and all the audience were in their twenties. One of the wonders of maturity is that it allows us to interpret things more deeply. When we were children, Can You Feel the Love Tonight was about Simba and Nala playing around in the forest. As adults we get hit with the anvil of realisation that the scene probably corresponds to those in old Finnish films where the couple bends into a very stiff-necked kiss and then we pan to show birch trees swaying in the wind. An obligatory nature shot.
So what’s wrong with Star Wars you ask? Why didn’t I ever wish to be Luke or Leia? Let me tell you: I would’ve. I’m sure I would. But there was just one tiny problem. I never saw even one Star Wars film until I was 21 years old. I watched the whole series that summer, to civilise myself a bit. It is kind of a big deal, after all. And they were alright, but just that. I felt no excitement when they blasted the Death Star, didn’t shout “Finally!” when Leia and Han Solo got married.
Batman aired that summer as well. And lo and behold it had me at the edge of my seat the whole time – even thought I’ve seen it dozens of times! Watching it I felt like a pre-teen again, with my know-it-all demeanour and freckled cheeks. With Batman, with James Bond, with Disney, with Back to the Future, with frigging Christmas movies with cheesy names like Guess what you’re getting for Christmas? Guess! Guess! It’s the same thing: if you saw it as a child, watching it again as an adult will transport you back to that time when you remembered all your friends’ home phone numbers by heart, when playtime started right after the afternoon cartoons and when you didn’t know what the word university meant. The mind reaches back to that feeling of watching the movies and not being able to contain your excitement. It remembers the child’s way of viewing the world.
One day, decades from now, I will watch the Star Wars again, and with every viewing remember what it was like to be 21 years old.