Sal’s Personal Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Here we are.
The zero hour.
The last stand.
The beginning of a new era of Star Wars.
Everywhere you look Star Wars, Star Wars, and Star Wars. For someone like me it’s the stuff of dreams. For old and new fans alike the excitement is building. Some people have been waiting for this moment since the announcement of Star Wars: Episode VII on October 30th, 2012.
But then there’s me.
One of the people who have been waiting for this since May 25th, 1983.
I’m of that first generation who grew up not remembering the first time they saw Star Wars. It just always was. I’m the generation that was left at the end of the story without knowing if there would ever be more. I was there when the Expanded Universe began to fill the void in our world with new Star Wars. From Heir to the Empire and Dark Empire to Crucible and Star Wars Legacy, I was there.
I was there on May 19th, 1999, when I was able to go back to the beginning and experience the untold stories of the saga. I brought my daughter to see Revenge of the Sith when she was too young to remember. It was the only Star Wars movie I thought she’d ever see in a theater (although I was able to bring both kids to see The Phantom Menace in 3D.) I was there through The Clone Wars and our family even now watches Star Wars Rebels.
Such a drastic change from the late ’80s of having nothing but three wonderful movies. Now, when even if you only count canon stories, we have six movies, six seasons of The Clone Wars, one-and-a-half seasons of Star Wars Rebels, ongoing comics series, new novels, and lots of short fiction from insider and various other ebooks.
On my journey here I’ve tried to stay spoiler-free but I’ve consumed every story thrown at me.
I keep up with the comics,
I read all the novels, and I love all-new stories, new characters, new adventures. All in my favorite galaxy.
With the Internet and social media being what they are it’s tough (but not impossible) to duck spoilers. If I see a link that looks fishy I don’t click it. I take part in a podcast where spoilers are discussed and I jump off when it’s that time. Not for anyone else but for myself. I want to sit in a theater for the first time since 1983 and not know where the story is going.
Finally, we are going into uncharted territory. I watched the prequels but we all knew where it was ending. Same with The Clone Wars and while the Rebels characters are new, their setting is in a familiar place. But now we finally journey forward. After anything we’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to step into this new age with fresh eyes and see it for the first time.
It’s so soon it’s scary.
I’m not scared of it being bad or anything like that. From the pieces and glimpses we’ve been afforded it feels right. I’m so happy to see my old friends and meet some new ones. I want to see the looks on my kids’ faces when they see the power of a new Star Wars film in a theater now that they’re old enough to appreciate it. I’m looking forward to it just like everyone else.
And it’s happening tonight.
-Sal P. 12/14/15
So how did I get here…
To tell you the truth I don’t really know where to start. I was a lifelong Star Wars fan? I won the Star Wars lottery? Simple tricks and nonsense?
I certainly was only afforded this opportunity through being an official member of the Star Wars costuming charity groups. My wife decided to join the Rebel Legion group specifically for Resistance Pilots and was given the honor of representing the Rebel Legion as one of the costumed pilots on the red carpet. Me? As a dedicated trainer, performer, and show creator for Saber Guild I was lucky enough to score a seat. But it was only through our hard work on costumes, many charity troops, and representing the best of what Star Wars means to us that we somehow had this opportunity to be a part of history.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to share this experience with our younglings. As you can imagine the space is very limited. We told them the news. They took it as well as someone can I suppose.
After quite a bit of hard work and sleepless nights we finished Liz’s Resistance pilot (modeled after Jessika Pava so we can’t wait to work on a helmet)
Then we were there. Everything started happening. We saw things. Familiar faces. Friends. It was freezing. I can’t even properly describe what happened (kinda like Shmi.) Suffice to say the experience was unforgettable, full of wonder, and nothing less than magical. I have a few pics that may help piece together this experience…..
And then we went in.
We walked up the red carpet ourselves and ascended towards what we’ve been waiting for. We found our seats and got comfortable.
I was pretty much on the edge of mine.
Then Iger walked out. There were introductions and speeches.
J.J. thanked both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (who were a mere 5 or 6 rows back.)
We saw the entire cast and the people who helped put this together.
They exited the stage off a small set of stairs that led them straight down our aisle.
Liz’s aisle, as she was right on the edge and shook everyone’s hand as they walked by.
Then the theater went dark and it happened.
After the Awakening Review?
I saw it.
I saw The Force Awakens.
What can I say?
What did I think?
I’m not sure I’m quite fully functional again but I’ll try to say something.
I loved it.
Without being horribly descriptive it had humor, action, tension, and heart.
The film MOVED.
I mean it really moved. I never had time to catch my breath. I was careening off the walls I moved so fast.
The familiar faces?
It felt like seeing a friend I’ve missed for so long. The kind of friend who you can see again and pick up right where you left off.
The new generation?
Spectacular. Endearing. Fascinating. The kind of people who you spend time with and leave just wanting to know more about them.
… and waiting for the next time you’ll see them again.
It was driving and unrelenting. The journey takes you to places you’ve never been and brings you back to places you’ve seen before.
It felt like Star Wars. The intangible something that’s so hard to catch. It’s here. The magic that started this whole journey way back on May 25th, 1977 is liberally sprinkled throughout.
I can’t wait to see it again. With the whole family this time. I’m still reeling from the experience. I don’t know if it was the film itself or the magic of the night but I do know that I left the theater both feeling satisfied AND wanting more. I feel like there’s so much more I want to analyze after a few more (probably less mind-blowing circumstance surrounded) viewings.
I have questions.
And I have answers.
It definitely feels like the start of something new while still having unbreakable bonds to the previous legacy of saga films.
It feels right.
And that’s really the best thing I can say about it right now.
All good things must have an ending…
We walked out of the theater still not quite put together. More things happened.
Like, unreal things that you never could imagine happening.
Like, I went to the Men’s room and ended up next to John Williams.
Yeah… that’s not a thing that anyone could make up.
We walked down to the reception and ate some fancy food. That was pretty awesome. I joked that if anyone asked me if I liked The Force Awakens I was going to tell them the food was AWESOME!!
We enjoyed the reception for a bit before having to finally call it a night. Everything was such a blur of friends, hugs, and memories. It feels kinda like a really intense Force vision. You can remember things vividly but can’t quite put them into context. I have a few pics that might help us put things together.
Well, I guess not but I can’t wait to see this movie again.
-Sal P. 12/15/15
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