Now before we get to the Force Awakens, you need know my history with Star Wars. I'm pretty sure that it would be an understatement to say that since that first time watching A New Hope, I've been hooked. As I trace my love for Star Wars back through my childhood, I see that some of my fondest childhood memories are of the hours spent swinging toy lightsabers around with my friends. Not only that, but Star Wars has always driven me to be creative. From drawing, to writing stories, to doing Lego stop-motions and more, I always wanted to somehow make Star Wars.
There is a catch to all this nostalgic reminiscing though. Somewhere between toy lightsaber fights with my neighborhood friends and the year 2015, something happened that changed what Star Wars was on a basic level for me. It's hard to describe, but instead of remaining simply an innocent and fascinating story, it became something it shouldn't have been. An idol.
During this time I was making my Lego stop-motions about Star Wars you can watch them here.
The Lego series was part of an intricate story that I had created, the main character of which was really me by another name. This was my way of inserting myself into the Star Wars universe. It was my way of making it real.
Eventually I realized that what was going on was unhealthy for me, and I ended up stopping my Star Wars stop-motion series early, and throwing away a bunch of drawings and sketches relating to my series. For the most part, this cleansing worked. Of course, my Star Wars obsession wasn't completely cured, but it was suppressed.
And now we finally come to The Force Awakens. The nearer and nearer episode seven got, the more I worried that Star Wars was finding it's way back into my life. I wondered what would happen after I saw the movie. Would my idol return in full force or would I be able to keep it in its proper place? I knew I would want to re-immerse myself in the Star Wars universe. I knew I was going to have to have self control. I knew it would present the temptation.
And then it didn't.
Of course, it's not like I walked out of the theater on December eighteenth thinking "hey, I'm not tempted to be obsessed right now." It was more of a realization that I became more and more aware of as time went on. For some reason, The Force Awakens did the opposite of what I thought it would. It allowed me to feel more free from Star Wars than ever before.
So what was so special about episode seven? Why didn't it affect me the way I thought it would?
I think it has to do with what Star Wars is supposed to be, and what Star Wars had become for me. If you really think about the Star Wars movies, especially the original trilogy, you will realize that they are not meant to be science-fiction. They are meant to be fantasy in space.
What does this have to do with anything? Well science-fiction is meant to feel real. It's meant to be believable or explainable in some way. Star Wars is precisely the opposite. I think that it is when you try to take Star Wars and fit it into a science-fiction model, when you try to make it real, that it becomes something it isn't supposed to be. That's part of why the prequels don't feel like the original trilogy. Midi-chlorians try to make the magical Force feel like science.When I finally let go of the idea that Star Wars had to bee real, I began to that is actually fantasy. That it was supposed to feel unreal.
The Force Awakens represents the culmination of that principal. It recaptures the original trilogy in so many ways. It embraces the fantastical side of Star Wars in a way that the prequels never did.
As I write this, I look back on my innocent childhood love of Star Wars, and I look forward to how Star Wars will inspire me in the future. The Force Awakens looks back at what Star Wars was originally supposed to be. At the same time, it looks forward by introducing a new generation of heroes.
In the end, The Force Awakens surprised me because it made me see Star Wars the way I did as a kid: with wonder. I saw it not as a dull and comprehensible fake reality, but as a magical and unbelievable story.