On the opening day of the new Star Wars movie my wife and I staked our place in the queue for the Science Museum's Imax cinema's showing of The Force Awakens with our tickets clutched in our hot little hands, filled with excited anticipation. We were at the back of the queue, after enjoying a rather lovely cup of hot white chocolate by the ice rink outside the Natural History museum, and so as we took our places almost every seat was filled with people of all ages. From young kids, one so young they came in a push chair, to old duffers like me there was a real electricity in the air. Finally the room darkened and the film began to roll. Now I would not want to ruin it for any of you yet to see it, so all I will say is after the awful prequel films, that broke the hearts of any die hard Star Wars fans, the franchise is back on course. Yes, this first of the new trilogy is a derivative of the original films with most of the plot twists being mirrored in past story lines, but to be honest that's what the audience seemed to want. The chemistry between the cast was palpable, and new cast members were superb. A special mention must go to Daisy Ridley, who blew me away with her ability to convey the inner battle her character goes through as she... woah. Nearly gave something away. As the credits ended and lights came up the room was filled with applause and excited chatter. Everyone came out into the night filled with a childlike joy, especially the adults.
For every one like me, who holds a special place my heart for the adventures set in a galaxy far, far away, there are just as many who don't get what the pull is of a load of weird sci-fi shenanigans. I think that for each of us fans it's something slightly different, but each will have the memory of the first time they saw their first Star Wars movie firmly burnt into the story of their lives. My love of sci-fi started when I was very young. My bed room had Thunderbirds wallpaper, and Jerry Anderson made the shows that illustrated my young life. Stingray, Thunderbirds and, of course, Captain Scarlet were shows that thrilled me to my core. The future seemed so amazingly real through these puppet shows, and as I got a little older Anderson moved into live action with the amazing UFO and Space 1999. Sci-fi also guided me in my quest to read. I found following the words in books difficult, as dyslexia runs in my family, but comics and the way they put words in boxes stopped the words from moving and paved the way for my love of words. When I say comics I really mean sci-fi comics, like TV 21, 2000AD and Starlord. So when it was announced that a film set in space was coming to our local cinema wild space horses couldn't have stopped me going.
The pestering started well before release day, and by the time the film hit the Odeon in Bury Park in my home town of Luton my parents knew I was going to go. However they really didn't fancy it, so my younger brother and I were allowed to travel by bus to the cinema alone. ALONE! Yes, when you are a disabled child you tend to get mollycoddled and I was expecting being taken to the cinema, but instead not only did I get to see the film but I got to go on the bus unsupervised. More than that, I got to be in charge of my younger brother. I was being treated like a grown up! I cannot tell you the pride I felt as we paid 10p for our tickets and rode the bus to the other side or town. I still remember the foyer of the huge cinema, filled with posters and 30's glamour. I can picture the seats and the vast screen. The opening shot of the film is so etched into my memory that writing this is bringing tears to my eyes. Star Wars: A New Hope was so amazing to my 11 year old eyes that it changed my life. To cap it off, next to the cinema was a movie memorabilia shop, which had put a box of cardboard tubes outside to be collected by the binmen. To our young eyes this was a box of lightsabres, the weapon brought to the world by Star Wars, and we grabbed up our cardboard light swords and fought mock battles all the way into town. I can remember every moment like it was yesterday. The joy, the wonder and freedom.
My wife has an equally life changing story for her first venture into the world of Star Wars, and I bet that everyone in that Imax cinema had too. The kids that have entered the Star Wars world for the first time obviously were going to remember the night with just a vivid recall as us oldies look back on our first time. This film was that good. It almost made up for the prequels... almost.
If you haven't seen a Star Wars movie, or don't get what the fuss is, please give it a try. Sure it might not be your thing, but you won't know until you try. All I know is I can't wait for the next two. Next time I am taking one of my collection of lightsabres and blasters. I might even dress up.