Today’s dram: Rogue, Dead Guy Whiskey
Today’s tasting notes: I haven’t had it.
Will it be good? Will it live up to the reputation of the beer it’s based on? No clue. Someday I’ll give it a try, though.
Today’s thoughts: I’m posting this one early. Because it’s movie night.
Tonight I continue an unbroken streak of watching every new Star Wars movie the week it arrives in theaters, on opening night if feasible.
While I don’t distinctly remember it, I’m told I was a well-behaved child when my parents took me to see Star Wars in ’77.* Most of my memories of the movie are from watching it (and re-watching it and re-watching it …) on cable or VHS tape.
Not only do I remember seeing The Empire Strikes Back in ’80, but this is the first real movie theater experience I remember at all. Oh, the anguish I felt when Lando and Chewie flew away and the music rose and the credits started … what? how? no! Best. Cliffhanger. Ever.
Three years is a long time. Three years is forever to a child who can’t wait to know what happened to his favorite heroes. Return of the Jedi is the first movie whose release date I marked on my calendar and counted down the days for. Then I wasn’t allowed to go until the Saturday matinee. “Moooom, I’ve been waiting for-ev-er! Arrrrgh!” Anyway, it was worth the wait. My jaded adult eyes may see flaws now, but for this movie the child inside me will always light up immediately, just like Luke’s new green lightsaber.
And that was it. Thirty-two years went by before anyone made another Star Wars film.
Those other movies?
Yeah, okay. I was pretty excited to see The Phantom Menace in ’99. So were my good friends in college. We scoured movie listings to find a midnight showing, and the closest one that was feasible was an hour and a half away, so we piled in the car and went to see it, then slept on my roommate’s mom’s floor. I mean, we slept eventually. After we were done arguing about it.
By the time Attack of the Clones rolled around to theaters in 2002 I really couldn’t be bothered. And yet, a good friend was visiting when it opened, so we went to the midnight release on a lark. This was better, but still not good.
I did not want to see Revenge of the Sith. I was tired, so tired, of this entire pointless prequel trilogy by 2005. But Mom asked if I wanted to go. So we went, on Sunday of opening weekend. It was okay. At least it was over. And I got to see it with the woman who had taken me to see the original trilogy, so there was a nice closure to the whole experience.
But then … The Force Awakens.
I really tried to tone down my excitement when this came out last year. (The title helped.) This couldn’t be good, could it?
Except, they had Lawrence Kasdan back. And much of the cast. And it was what I had really wanted to see all along: the next part of the story …
So I bought tickets for opening night.
The Empress of Whisky, who did not grow up immersed in Star Wars, and does not think of it with anywhere near the same degree of passion, accompanied me nonetheless because she is awesome and knows what this means to me.
I can no longer remember who said it first, but lots of people said, of The Force Awakens, “There are now four Star Wars movies.”
I have no better words to describe how I feel about it.
A week after it was released, we went to see it again. We were in my hometown for the holidays. Mom and my younger sister joined us, and we watched it in the same theater where I had seen the original trilogy.
A few weeks later that theater closed forever, but I feel like that old building and I had come full circle. It hadn’t changed much in almost 40 years, and maybe that’s why it finally shut its doors, but I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend, who had been with me for so many good times, but none, none, as important as Star Wars.
Now, it’s another opening night.
Again, I’m filled with a bit of trepidation. Yes, the new minds in charge of Star Wars have my faith, and yes, the trailer looked damned interesting …
But I have my doubts, and they are almost entirely the fault of the prequel trilogy. Aside from all its other shortcomings, its biggest problem was telling a story whose ending we already knew. Everything you ever needed to know about Anakin Skywalker was told in the original trilogy. Spending nine hours watching him grow up and go bad, awash in outrageous digital effects, was pointless.
And so, Rogue One.
We know this story.
We know the outcome.
Or do we?
There’s something in me, some longstanding attraction to a story where the ending seems inevitable, a small band against incredible odds. They aren’t going to overcome. It’s not about winning. It’s about how and why they lose.
Maybe that’s what this is.
Maybe it’s more about the nature of resistance, the forming of rebellion.
Maybe it’s exactly what we need to hear right now.
Today’s comment on word counts: Yeah, I hear you. All this and no real whisky, either, right? Sheesh. I owe you a double.
Today’s toast: To the Rebellion: May the Force be with you.
* — That’s the title of the movie, Star Wars. Star Wars (no italics) is also the name of the franchise. I refuse to participate in the revisionism of calling the first movie A New Hope.