2016-02-01 / Family Matters

Return of Star Wars

David Rockower

Through the years, I’ve been jealous of my family and friends who geek out over the books and movies of Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings or the Star Wars movies. I was jealous of their insatiable love for the stories and characters. I loved all of them, but wasn’t totally pulled in; I wasn’t part of the phenomenon. I couldn’t rattle off the history, the secondary characters, the inside tidbits like my aficionado friends. I fancied myself more of a realistic fiction guy. I didn’t think this would ever change, but then I saw “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” And everything changed. I began to sense a disturbance in the force. I was hooked.

As soon as I got home, I started reading about how the story was created, about how Director J.J. Abrams was a lifelong Star Wars fan and how important it was for him to keep the feel of the original Star Wars movies, directed by George Lucas. I rewatched episodes IV, V and VI, paying closer attention to the backstory and getting reacquainted with the original characters. Then I went back to the theater and saw “The Force Awakens” for the second time. Again, I was moved and came home to read more about the First Order, The Resistance and how Abrams’ high school English teacher was his inspiration for Maz Kanata. Could I finally be turning into a full-fledged Star Wars geek?

When it comes to movies, one of my brothers is prone to hyperbole. After seeing “Independence Day” at the theater, he woke up my parents, telling them, “You have to see this movie. It will change your life!” I don’t know that the Star Wars movies, this one or those that have come before, have changed my life, and I don’t want to exaggerate the theatrical quality of the current movie — like whether it will be nominated for an Academy Award for best film — but there was something about it that struck a chord with me. I was moved. Perhaps that had to do with the fact that I was 5 years old when the original film was released or that throughout the early ’80s my neighborhood friends were obsessed with Star Wars. Or maybe it’s because in the prime of my youth, I impatiently waited for the next film in the series to be released.

There was definitely a strong sense of nostalgia with this new film. Seeing Han Solo, Chewbacca and R2-D2 reminded me of being 12 years old, running through the borough with my lightsaber. But I think it was more than that. Abrams managed to retell an old story while giving it a new heart. Some have criticized Abrams for rehashing the original Star Wars film with new characters. Maybe there’s some truth to that, but if Rey is the new Luke Skywalker and Poe Darneron is the new Han Solo, cool. I can’t wait to see them again and follow their next adventure.

I can’t remember the last time I went to the theater twice to see the same movie. I can’t remember the last time I left a movie feeling like a little kid. And I can’t remember the last time a movie grabbed both me and my kids, engaging all of us with its story. Nathan and Maddie are equally excited about the film. Nathan dug up his lightsaber and is wielding it daily. Maddie talks about Rey and how awesome it was to see a “girl warrior who is so fearless and strong.” And for me, well, I keep coming back to the nostalgia and the characters. When C-3PO sees his longtime companion, R2-D2, he says: “Oh dear friend, you don’t know how happy I am to see you.”

And I, like millions the world over, am saying the same thing. •SCM

With a sports-obsessed 11-year-old son, a spirited 9-year-old daughter and a goldendoodle who looks like a muppet, teacher David Rockower has a lot to write about.

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