Growing up with Star Wars

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I’ve mentioned before that when I was at first school, most of my friends wanted to be Sandy in Grease, but I wanted to be Princess Leia.  I even got my Mum to put my hair in Leia-type hairdo’s, involving plaits mostly.  The boys let me play as none of them wanted to be Leia.  They were too busy arguing over who was Han and who was Luke…..and Chewie and the droids.

Iconic scene from Star Wars: Luke on Tatooine

Any child born, or growing up, in the 70’s would literally have to have been from another planet if they had not at least seen, what is, the most famous movie saga in the world.  That instantly recognisable operatic movie score from John Williams.  The closest anything else has come to Star Wars is Harry Potter, but that is for another post.

Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon

When George Lucas wrote Star Wars, he was writing a space adventure for children to enjoy.  He never envisaged it would reach such stratospheric levels of fandom, love and devotion. He says he was inspired by westerns, the old-fashioned good vs. evil and that good always wins in the end.

The Empire Strikes Back: Luke and Yoda

I remember my brothers collecting the Star Wars spaceships and figures.  I was bought My Little Pony and Barbie, which utterly bored me.  I was forever playing with Lego and Star Wars toys when I wasn’t riding my bike, or climbing trees.  I was a little tomboy.  Hence my admiration for Princess Leia.  I loved the scene in Return of the Jedi when she leaps on a speeder bike in pursuit of a biker scout, for example.  She didn’t wait for the boys to deal with the dilemma/problem.

That ending. Gulp….

I was 8 when I saw the Empire Strikes Back (the same year I saw ET) and I remember crying when Han got frozen, confusion at that paternity revelation and the ending.  It couldn’t end like that, could it?  As an adult, Empire is my favourite of the trilogy.  It is the operatic, dark, second act.  However, back to my childhood, I was relieved when good won out in Jedi and loved the cute ewoks, but my brothers found them annoying.  However, the boys got Leia in a gold bikini so they shouldn’t complain.

Return of the Jedi

My teens, which I hated, came and went.  In my early 20’s the trilogy was rereleased at cinemas ahead of the new prequel, The Phantom Menace.  I had never seen the films at the cinema as I was only 2 when Star Wars came out.  I dragged one of my best friends along and after seeing Star Wars, she really looked forward to the next two films.  Seeing certain scenes such as the X-Wing attack on the Death Star, Hoth, Cloud City and the speeder bike chase on Endor was amazing.  To a child, this would be pure cinematic magic.

Wicket. Cute.

So, in 1999, the day tickets went on sale for The Phantom Menace, I got up early and booked tickets for myself and two best friends for the first showing.  On the day, queues were going round the block and people were offering three or four times the price for a ticket, but nobody was selling.  There was an air of hushed excitement when we all filed in, which I’ve never experienced before in a cinema………it was all for nothing.  It just didn’t have the charm, or magic.  The best thing Star Wars-related that year was Simon Pegg’s episode of Spaced called ‘Chaos’.  Simon Pegg is another huge fan of the trilogy.

Mace Windu. Bad-Ass Jedi. Purple Lightsaber.

I dutifully watched Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, hoping things would improve, the latter film being the best of the prequels.  I feel sorry for Jake Lloyd who copped all the flak.  He was just a kid.  Lucas should have cast an older Anakin and Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman (forgiven because of Black Swan) were wooden and awful.  Then there was the awful Jar-Jar Binks….. There were a few good scenes and glimpses of what could have been, in all three movies.  Ewan McGregor hit his stride as Obi Wan in Clones and Revenge.  Darth Maul was the best thing in Phantom.  Mace Windu was the best thing about the whole trilogy.  Too cool for Jedi school.

Episode VII Cast Meeting

Anyway, onwards and upwards.  My 5 year old is now Star Wars obsessed.  Star Wars is his world.  Luke Skywalker is awesome and my son wants to be a Jedi when he grows up, alongside acting, directing and winning the Tour de France. Of course.  He will be 7 when Episode VII is released in December 2015.  I cannot wait to take him to the cinema, along with my husband, my brothers and nephews.  This is a film with huge expectations, build-up and excitement, much like Christmas.  I have every faith in JJ Abrams being the man for the job.  I think the force is strong in this one.

Images: IMDb

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My Favourite Movies

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So if you have been following this (2 month old) blog from the start, you will know I have loved films my whole life.  I hope the following gives you an insight into the films I like, love and/or wish I hadn’t seen!

My Top 20 Films:

The Godfather 2, LA Confidential, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Bourne Identity, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Empire Strikes Back, Casino Royale, The Fellowship of the Ring, Signs, Jaws, Cinema Paradiso, Avengers Assemble, The Goonies, Shaun of the Dead, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation, The Shawshank Redemption, Black Narcissus, Sleepy Hollow

First horror film and favourite type?

I was 10 and staying at my best friend’s house.  Her teenage brother had a collection of horror films.  We watched Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves.  I had to sleep with a light on for a month afterwards.  I was easily scared then.  I prefer 70’s horror movies like The Shining, Carrie, Halloween and Rosemary’s Baby.  I also like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.  I did enjoy the Ring and the first two Scream movies too.

Films that make me cry?

Oh, there’s been tons.  Schindler’s List, Born Free, Watership Down, Amelie, Beaches, Artificial Intelligence, Ben Hur, Cinema Paradiso, The Green Mile, Sense & Sensibility, The Shawshank Redemption….

AI: Artificial Intelligence. Beautiful, but sad.

Best child actor?

Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire.  Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine.  Rory Culkin in Signs and Mean Creek.  Perfect examples of actors, not stage school ‘jazz hands’ types.

Great example of a child actor: Rory Culkin

Films that make me laugh?

Trading Places, Despicable Me, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, There’s Something About Mary, Paul and speaking of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, their Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and World’s End.

Shaun of the Dead

Most disappointing film?

Anticipated by so many, so many left disappointed.  The Phantom Menace.  Should have waited for The Phantom Edit.  Come on JJ Abrams, I have faith in you to restore the saga.

Jar Jar Binks. Enough said.

Best teen film?

When I was a teen; The Lost Boys, The Breakfast Club and Heathers.  I never got the fuss about Dirty Dancing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, it is fun, but I am dismayed when women say ‘it’s the best film ever’, including other genres. It’s set in the 60’s , but he had a mullet, she had a perm.  They dance.  They fall in love.  Nobody puts Baby in the corner.  More recently, I’ve enjoyed Mean Girls, Kick-Ass and Superbad.

Favourite war films?

It isn’t my favourite genre.  They’re sometimes a hard watch, but it’s important that they exist.  Schindler’s List is amazing. My favourite are; Empire of the Sun, Ice Cold in Alex and Carve Her Name with Pride.  My husband wanted me to say Apocalypse Now, but that’s his favourite.

Carve her name with pride. Heroine.

Most beautiful film?

Studio Ghibli make the most beautiful animations.  Giuseppe Tornatore’s films are stunning.  Tarantino, whether you like his films or not, always makes an amazing visual impact, on me.  For costumes, music, cast and locations;  To Catch a Thief and The Talented Mr Ripley.  Powell & Pressburger’s Black Narcissus is absolutely exquisite.  Most recently, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi.

Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Stunning imagery.

Favourite thrillers?

The Talented Mr Ripley, Match Point, Shallow Grave, The Usual Suspects, A Simple Plan, No Country for Old Men and LA Confidential.

Woody Allen’s Match Point

Who are my favourite actors?

Several.  Cate Blanchett, Leonardo di Caprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Tobey Maguire, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts, Robert Downey Junior, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lawrence, Paul Giamatti, Edward Norton, Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson and, Tom Hanks.

Paul Giamatti. Brilliant actor.

I hope you know a bit more about what I like now and most importantly, that you enjoyed reading!

images: IMDb