by Rick Mazumdar
Well It's here. Star Wars is here. It is upon us. The biggest movie franchise in the history of cinema. Shattering box offices the world over (Well, not in India, because it releases on the 25th here ) But if you're lucky (or unlucky) enough, you've already seen it or had your friends spoil it for you.
In this article I'm not going to talk about the franchise. I'm going to talk about the fans - yes, you and me and people who have not seen it, and why they should. I'm also going to talk about this one film which captured the true essence of being a fan of Star Wars, released in 2009, named Fanboys, released four years after Revenge Of The Sith (seemingly the last Star Wars film to ever release).
I'm going to take you through some personal experiences of mine and how Star Wars is so important for me.
As most of you, I too grew up in the 2000's (yay! best decade ever after the 90's) As a fat nerdy kid with not many friends, bullied at school occasionally, I was the resident comic book hoarder.
My parents were mostly busy all through the week, so I was raised by mostly two people, my Grand Mother and TV - but mostly TV. TV was this escape, it had logic, structure, rules (sound familiar?) and it had movies! And good hearty children's entertainment programs. One day in the 4th year of the 2nd millennium of our lord, while sifting through the channels I saw this.
And boy was I transported, the fuchsia skies melting over the horizon, the twin stars melting into the background,and a scruffy lad with a with a white coat walking into the distance and as I saw it I swear I heard a voice in my head that said "Out there beyond the twin stars ,lies your destiny". Though I missed most of the 1st of New Hope I continued to watch from this scene on.
I wouldn't see another Star Wars movie for another two years, but I was a fan from that moment.
What was it about this sprawling space adventure that resonated with me so much? Was it that a young boy on the cusp of manhood losing everything he once held dear and leaving his world to seek his destiny along with a band misfits was so identifiable? Or was it just a fun film to watch ?
For me it was a bit of both, but what got my attention the most was this unseen mystic force that held the universe of Star Wars together, that was the selling point for me and for many others. The things you could do with the force were unimaginable, for those of you who have not seen the movie, the force is this energy in the Star Wars franchise that is present in all beings across the galaxy but only a few can harness this energy and bend it to their will (that sounds amazing, doesn't it?). The entire base of this philosophy was taken from Hindu Mythologies, Buddhist philosophies and many other ancient religions, and it makes sense to a large extent.
That was key to me being a huge fan of the franchise. I soon amassed a huge collection Star Wars merchandise, comic books, action figures what have you. This one thing was sacred to me and to many others, I would not let this one thing go.
Daniel Fleetwood's story touched my heart. For those of you who don't know, Daniel Fleetwood was this mega fan of the series, age 32 born in Texas he suffered from 90% aggresive lung cancer and was given two months to live.
On the 10th of November of this year, Daniel Fleetwood passed away in his sleep. His wife confirmed his death through a Facebook post, writing : “Daniel put up an amazing fight to the very end. He is now one with God and with the Force.”
Before he passed, Daniel had this one last dying wish. He wanted to watch The Force Awakens before he was gone. His one wish touched thousands of Star Wars fans across the galaxy, it became viral through the hashtag #forcefordaniel. The campaign even garnered the support of Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and newcomer John Boyega.
After her husband watched the new Star Wars film, Ashley Fleetwood wrote: “Daniel just finished watching an unfinished version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!
“We would like to thank the awesomely talented [director] JJ Abrams for calling us yesterday to tell us Daniel was getting his wish granted.”
"If I got to see the movie, I might actually die from happiness,” Fleetwood had told People magazine. “Growing up, I would watch the movies over and over and analyse every little detail. I hope I get to see what happens.”
Fleetwood had been a fan since seeing the early films as a child with his father. He later camped out to be one of the first to watch the prequels to the original series.
Fleetwood’s Facebook page was flooded with messages of support. “My deepest condolences. He’s truly a Jedi up above now,” one supporter wrote.
Daniel's story took me back to the Fanboys movie (2009).
Though it was wasn't a very well made movie, it did manage to get the feel of what being a Star Wars fan was.
The movie is about this bunch of friends who are reunited with their once best friend, Eric Bottler, at a party in 1998, months before the release of "Star Wars Episode I : The Phantom Menace". The gang expresses their anticipation for the latest installment to the franchise, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Linus proposes an idea that Bottler and he had been plotting since they were children, to infiltrate Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut of the film, but Bottler dismisses it. The next day, Hutch and Windows meet Bottler at work and inform him that Linus is dying from cancer. The doctors estimate that he only has roughly four months to live; Episode I comes out in six. To make peace with his former best friend, Bottler decides to go through with their plan and infiltrate Skywalker Ranch.
I immediately connected Daniel's story to the plot of Fanboys for this reason.
Star Wars was released at a time when in the US there was a lot of negativity going around, in terms of the economic situation, civil rights , the backlash of the Vietnam war etc, so the films of that time were intensely critical of the government, very cynical and for lack of a better term weren't that much fun to watch. Star Wars made films fun to watch again, while having an inner structure to it.
Fans flocked in thousands to watch the original episodes and the franchise started building from then on. This cult like following is mainly attributed to the fact that the characters are familiar in nature, but the setting also gives free reign as to which side you wanted to be, you could be be a Jedi or A Sith. It was like being in an RPG game, with the entire universe at your disposal.
But for if it were one thing that keeps me coming back to Star Wars is the score, all written by John Williams :
The main theme of Star Wars.
The Imperial March
And Of course the beloved Cantina Band sequence
So these would be the things that would generally appeal to fans, and of course there are LIGHTSABERS. A good time film series for this winter season. A film to watch with your friends and family.
So go watch the new Star Wars movie, Star Wars :The Force Awakens. It opens in theatres on the 25th.
And May the Force be with you!