Star Wars generations
I remember gaping at the big screen as the Imperial Star Destroyer came into view with the stratosphere shot that set up the thrilling opening.
As it chased the rebel Blockade Runner, Darth Vader’s ship just got bigger and bigger.
An unforgettable opening sequence in an unforgettable movie.
I was 12 when the first Star Wars movie came out in 1977 and I instantly became a Star Wars fan. The journey continued this weekend when my family and I watched the latest episode of the saga, The Force Awakens.
Don’t worry: there’ll be no spoilers in this column.
Watching the return of Han Solo, Princess Leia (now General Leia) and Luke Skywalker in a small neighborhood theater packed with cheering, excited fans made me realize how Star Wars had become part of a tradition of fun and entertainment for my family and me.
And I suspect that’s true for many families throughout the world.
It’s probably even true for Bongbong Marcos who launched his own pathetic attempt to ride the wave of excitement over the new Star Wars episode.
“Greetings from the sands of Paoay to the moons of Batac,” Marcos Jr., wielding a faux light saber, says in an embarrassing campaign video.
Bongbong was even dressed as a Jedi knight. He should have dressed as Boba Fett or Jabba the Hut instead. (No, not Darth Vader who later redeems himself and later joins the fight against the Dark Side.)
Talk about cluelessness.
For Marcos Jr. needs to be reminded that Star Wars came out at a time when Dad, Marcos Sr., was wreaking havoc on the country — and young people were fighting back.
A few months after Star Wars was released, as journalist Raissa Robles noted in a blog post, one of these young Filipinos, Archimedes Trajano, ended up being tortured and killed after he dared question in public Imee Marcos’ right to lead a national youth movement.
The empire struck back again two years later.
Shortly after Return of the Jedi came out in 1983, Ninoy Aquino was shot dead while in the custody of Marcos security forces sent to arrest him at the Manila International Airport.
That itself led to a Hollywood movie-like ending with an uprising that ended dictatorial rule.
I had thought that Return of the Jedi would be the end of the Star Wars saga for me. But nope.
It continued 16 years later.
The first of the Star Wars prequel came out in 1999 the year my first son was born. He was too young to take to the cinema for The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, which came out in 2002.
By the time Revenge of the Sith came out in 2005, he was old enough to join me in enjoying the last episode of the prequel in a movie theater.
His younger brother was born that year. And since then we’ve enjoyed watching and re-watching the Star Wars saga on DVD and on cable.
So by the time we lined up to join the first screening of The Force Awakens last weekend, we were ready for the new characters, the new plot twists, the new adventures in the Star Wars saga.
The tradition of fun and entertainment will continue.
Yes, it’s a Hollywood entertainment. But they’re a great way to have fun with one’s sons. And there are even nuggets of wisdom you could learn together, about courage and humility, justice and freedom, fathers and sons.
Take The Dharma of Star Wars author Matthew Bortolin’s reflections on Luke Skywalker’s efforts to reach out to his own father:
“Even Luke Skywalker, with his great mastery of the Jedi ways, of understanding and compassion, cannot with his own power ‘turn’ Vader away from the path of the dark side. This is always the case. We can only offer others compassionate support and wise advice, but only they themselves can remove the shroud of ignorance from their heart and mind. Luke does not tell Vader what he should or should not do, he simply directs Vader back to himself, to search his own feelings, to investigate his own mind and discover the truth that it is not ‘too late’ for him, that he can still lift himself out of the dark side. This is the Jedi way, and it is also the Dharma way.”
My oldest son has already been reading about the chatter on what will happen next. (In fact, he wants us to see The Force Awakens again.)
We’ll be ready for Episode VIII, set for release in May 2017 … forty years after I watched awestruck as the Imperial Destroyer got bigger and bigger and bigger.
Maligayang Pasko! May the Force Be With You!
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