We just put out a tiny little sound collage tribute to Peter Mayhew. No matter what aspect of the saga is your jam, we all love Chewbacca and Peter had so much to do with that. ❤️
FIVE DAYS! Five days until the best five days of our lives!
If you’re like me, your feelings are a mix of joyful anticipation and panic that you’re not ready. I have attended two Star Wars Celebrations (2010 and 2017), nine San Diego Comic Cons, and several local conventions here in Chicagoland. I’ve participated in so many queues, both overnight and those that just seemed to last forever, and, a secret to no one that knows me personally, I AM ONE HIGH MAINTENANCE LADY.
Although there are lots of helpful lists of general tips out there which are always important to peruse, I have specific needs. Lots of needs. I need sleep. I need to be as physically comfortable as possible. I need access to food, beverages (and caffeine) at all times. Because of certain health issues, it is problematic for me to stand or sit for long periods of time. All of these would seem to be counterintuitive to someone who loves convention culture, but after many trials and errors, here is a list of tips I have curated to help everyone (high maintenance and low) manage and optimally enjoy their SWCC experience. All product links will be provided below.
Yes. I have put coffee as my number one. It is probably as big a necessity for me at a convention as food and water. I see lots of convention attendees, looking very desperate, seeking out their daily cup of joy-sparking coffee. Personally, I do not like to rely on the convention center or hotel to provide my almond milk latte. The lines are painfully long and the products are expensive and maybe not very yummy. You might think this is over-the-top, but I have actually waited for a full 60 minutes in the San Diego Convention Center (a few times) for a latte, so I feel it’s worth the effort. First, call your hotel and find out what kind of coffee maker they provide. With that info, do what you will. I LOVE a hotel that provides a Keurig. I can easily bring my favorite K Cups with me to the hotel. Even a traditional coffeemaker that uses filters and loose grounds is fine. (I usually just bring extra filters and my favorite grounds with me.) BUT if they provide those silly coffeemakers that require pods…just, no. For about $12 at a Walmart/Target, I purchased a tiny, lightweight coffeemaker that fits easily into my suitcase. I know. This seems WAY TOO EXTRA to worry about while you’re trying to pack all your cosplay items, 50 Star Wars tees, etc, but I can assure you it will save you SO MUCH TIME in those dreadful coffee lines, you will thank me later! Additional items needed for your hotel room if you decide to go this route: SMALL filters to fit your new, tiny coffeemaker, some kind of cup/cups (I usually bring a package of disposable 16oz cups/lids or bring a collapsible cup), packets of your favorite sweetener, creamers, etc. I can usually find somewhere that sells little cartons of milk if that’s what you need, but also, many stores sell bottles of almond milk that aren’t in the refrigerated section! I pack a few of those (wrapped VERY securely in at least 2, zippered, plastic baggies and then wrap that in Press-N-Seal). I also have, at times when I’ve been desperate, relied upon Starbucks Via Instant individual coffee packets. I usually bring a few with me to every convention. They make a variety of flavors of coffee AND tea. Also, UTILIZE AMAZON PRIME PANTRY! If you have specific beverage needs, and/or don’t want to weigh down your luggage, they will ship what you need directly to your hotel where you can pick it up upon your arrival. It’s a miracle for a high maintenance convention-goer.
Hydration is a must. Simple….bring a collapsible water bottle or two. It will take up less space in your backpack than a big, bulky one. There are MANY different varieties of these available on Amazon.
Like many people, I have specific dietary restrictions. This can be very difficult when at a convention where standard food court fare may not be suitable. I pack as many snacks as I possibly can in my luggage to dole out daily as needed (bring zipper baggies!). Again, lines for food can get obnoxiously long, and I feel my time at these things is a valuable commodity. Another trick I have used for YEARS is to freeze a loaf of gluten-free bread prior to departing for my flight, wrap it in some of my clothes to protect it, and pack it in my suitcase along with small packets of peanut/almond butter. I literally live on these high energy sandwiches sometimes as I walk many miles around the convention center. Sometimes, if the hotel offers a continental breakfast, I can score little packets of jam or honey as well as plastic utensils. And again, utilize Amazon Prime Pantry if you can!
4. Waiting in long queues
This is a big concern for me, as I mentioned above. I can no longer “tough it out” as I could when I was younger and totally without health concerns. Sitting on the floor for hours is not an option. I can’t see going to a big convention such as SWC without some sort of collapsible chair. Amazon offers many brands of very lightweight (under 3 pounds), collapsible chairs. My favorite is SunYear brand. Also check the sporting departments at your local stores. The more compact and lightweight, the better for packing it in your suitcase.
5. “Sleeping” in an overnight queue
I have my fingers crossed that SWC will adopt a queue system similar to San Diego Comic Con that will make staying in an overnight queue more of an option rather than a necessity, but regardless, here is my advice as to how to make that a less torturous experience. I am a light sleeper, so I need a lot of help getting any sort of rest while sleeping on the floor under fully illuminated lighting, noisy neighbors around me, and the surprise, unholy appearance of a midnight DJ. And I really, really, really need my rest to function even minimally. I bring a large baggie with my overnight queue necessities. That bag contains very good quality earplugs, a sleep mask, probably a pharmaceutical sleep aid ( I am NOT a doctor so consult your own doctor about a sleep aid), some kind of freshening towelette for the next morning, deodorant, tiny toothbrush/toothpaste, gum/mints, eyedrops, AND FUZZY, WARM SOCKS (research has shown that warm feet aid in better sleep, and I concur). As a testimonial, I can tell you that I was sleeping so soundly at SWCO in 2017, that no one could wake me when Rian Johnson visited the overnight queue. (Yes, my own efficiency backfired on me hard core that time, and I have regretted it ever since.) I arrive at the campsite in comfy, layered, overnight clothes but also pack my clothes for the next morning in my backpack (usually something compact like a tee shirt/leggings combo). Of course, if you have that must-wear outfit in mind, pack that as best you can. In 2017, I was hesitant to leave the overnight queue early that morning to go to my hotel to change clothes out of fear that they would start loading the panel room, and I would miss it. I wouldn’t assume there will be time for a hotel room visit prior to the panel room bring loaded. Also, handy snacks for that night AND the next morning are essential. Those Starbucks Via Instant coffee packets I mentioned above are convenient, and a couple full water bottles are a must.
OK…here’s the big dilemma. WHAT DO I SLEEP ON? Some people brave the cold floor or sleep in a chair. I cannot and will not. So, a few years ago I purchased a self-inflating, roll-up camping sleep mat. Best purchase ever as far as convention-going is concerned, however, it was on the pricey side (about $100 at the time), but it is similar to the one I will link to below which is much cheaper. As far as a blanket and pillow are concerned, a travel pillow and blanket usually works as long as the layers I’m wearing are warm. The next morning, I roll it all up and either check it all at the bag check inside the convention center, or if necessary, keep it with me in the panel room, and afterwards, use the bag check if it isn’t convenient to go back to the hotel at that time. After the The Last Jedi panel, I actually used my rolled up sleep mat to protect my newly acquired, awesome rolled-up TLJ poster! At SWCO 2017, I saw a lot of people camping overnight in those inflatable, camping lounger/sofa/taco-shaped things. They appeared to be reasonably comfortable, but I haven’t tried one of those. Getting to the campsite with all of this can be cumbersome, but to me, getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep is worth the hassle.
The bottom line is I advise thorough thought about the camping scenario well in advance if there is any chance you might decide to do so, and prepare as best you can to make yourself as comfortable as you need to be to function the next day. Prepare for your own worst case scenario. In my case, I will sleep in the overnight queues for 4 consecutive nights if that’s how I will accomplish living my best SWC life. And please, for the love of the Force, let’s all collectively pray that the overnight queues and the queues that precede the overnight queues, are INDOORS. April in Chicago is simply a crap shoot of any and all types of weather. I will prepare to be outdoors if necessary, but I will be VERY shocked (and fairly disgruntled) if that is what they have in store for us.
7. Portable chargers
A few years ago I invested in a large charger that is pretty heavy (my family refers to it as “the brick”), but has become indispensable at conventions. It provides a good 6 or 7 complete charges for my phone. When I’m waiting in a queue several hours long or camping overnight, that charger is all I need. It is on the pricey side, but I do not leave home without that thing. Otherwise, I bring several smaller chargers. I can never have too many, in my opinion.
8. Tote bag
If I plan to shop on the convention floor, I pack a good-sized tote bag in my backpack. I don’t want to crush my precious, new General Grievous Funko Pop in my backpack!
9. General tips
Comfy shoes are a no-brainer for me as are a good, roomy backpack with lots of compartments, poster tube, accordion folder to keep small pieces of art and swag from being bent in my backpack, Sharpies, a sweater if you tend to get chilly.
I hope this list is of some help to someone out there, and I hope we all have a joyous Star Wars Celebration Chicago! SEE YOU ALL IN APRIL!
Small, itsy-bitsy, coffeemaker: https://www.target.com/p/mr-coffee-4-cup-switch-coffee-maker-black/-/A-53658701
Collapsible cup: https://www.amazon.com/Glike-Silicone-Collapsible-Cup-Lid/dp/B07GQJW94C/ref=sr_1_50?crid=28FTG0T3BJTOL&keywords=collapsible+water+bottle&qid=1549851983&s=gateway&sprefix=collapsible%2Caps%2C155&sr=8-50
Starbucks Via Instant coffee packets: https://www.target.com/p/starbucks-via-instant-pike-place-roast-medium-roast-coffee-8ct/-/A-15251130
Portable, collapsible, lightweight, chair: https://www.amazon.com/Sunyear-Lightweight-Foldable-Breathable-Comfortable/dp/B01D2FFN8S/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2W7AVGNJMZ522&keywords=sunyear+lightweight+and+foldable+camp+chair&qid=1549851100&s=sporting-goods&sprefix=sun+year%2Csporting%2C143&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1
Self-inflating sleep mat: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JN5JGGQ/ref=sspa_dk_detail_4?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01JN5JGGQ&pd_rd_w=b6zg6&pf_rd_p=2bd81721-c115-4b8d-93a3-2ecd17466ded&pd_rd_wg=JHrMl&pf_rd_r=0FBGMJYK6ZNR14QV5SFH&pd_rd_r=dc22a9ee-2d9f-11e9-a095-811ee4313434
Inflatable sleep taco that I haven’t tried: https://www.amazon.com/Go-Beyond-Outdoors-Inflatable-Lounger/dp/B072JQWH9Y/ref=sr_1_21?crid=1ETW0OAJNBTQX&keywords=camping+sofa+folding&qid=1549853532&s=gateway&sprefix=camping+sofa%2Caps%2C147&sr=8-21
“The Force of Star Wars Fan Fiction”
I was a Star Wars Original Trilogy (OT) generation kid who was young enough in 1977 to have no memories of life pre-Star Wars. I also REALLY love the Sequel Trilogy (ST). I love it a lot. One might say I am obsessed. One would not be inaccurate if one used that term. I love “The Force Awakens” (TFA), but Holy Hello There, do I adore “The Last Jedi” (TLJ). I have no qualms calling it a Star Wars masterpiece.
However, am I EVER disgruntled with the current rift in fandom and the oft-discussed toxicity problem. We all know about that big ol’ “The Last Jedi”-shaped sinkhole that sadly opened up beneath us on or shortly after December 15, 2017. Most fans ended up on one side or the other of that sinkhole. I have close Star Wars friends who were also OT generation kids who simply do not understand how I can love TLJ with the passion that I do having been raised loving the OT. They feel differing degrees of betrayal for most of the same reasons other fans felt that way….Luke Skywalker’s character development and death, Canto Bight being a waste of time, a lack of Snoke’s backstory/importance, Rey’s lack of significant lineage, Yaddle, Yaddle, Yaddle. I have had a general theory on our divergent opinions on TLJ since the first times we talked following our first viewings….in my opinion, it was all about how they had expectations to which they were unable to let go and a sense of entitlement vs how I was able to let go of my expectations and had no sense of entitlement. What expectations I had (mainly, that Rey HAD to be a Skywalker), I was more than willing to let fall by the wayside in acquiescence to Lucasfilm’s and Rian Johnson’s engaging storytelling.
How can this be? Why am I so willing to let go of my expectations while my friends were unable or unwilling to do so even to the detriment of their Star Wars enjoyment?
I know what my friends think of me….I’m an OT traitor. They look at me like I am gleefully stabbing them in the back while I go on and on about my adoration for Rian Johnson, his carefully crafted script, his artful direction, and my favorite feature of all….the character developments of Luke, Rey and Kylo Ren/Ben Solo. Honestly, I know they would feel justified in revoking my Star Wars card for actually being happy about and grateful for Luke’s arc.
Let me start to get to the point. There is a thing in TLJ that really got me. It got me BUT GOOD. The surprising development of the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren, ie Reylo, stunned and delighted me. Shamed I will not be for “‘shipping” Reylo, so useless the attempts are. That is a defensive statement because I have found that for….reasons, Reylo, like other features of TLJ, bothers some people. If you happen to be one of those people, don’t be too deterred about continuing to read because, really, this is not about Reylo, per se. It is more about Reylo fans, our expectations, and our solution for disappointment.
Reylo fans have been around since TFA. However, I didn’t get on board until Rian “Reylo” Johnson told me to. He seriously looked RIGHT AT ME and said, “Reylo is an actual thing I’m doing, and it is your new Star Wars obsession.” “OK, Rian.”, I answered. “I am ready, able and willing to drive this Reylo train to the ends of the galaxy!” I can talk about Rey and Kylo for hours. I can talk about how, together, they are the will of the Cosmic Force. How they will bring perfect balance to A Galaxy Far, Far Away. How only together can they achieve the balance that the Force has been striving for the entirety of the Star Wars saga. How, as the kids say, “Reylo is endgame.” How I believe Ben Solo will be redeemed through his love for Rey, with a Cosmic Force assist, and once and for all will close the circle of Anakin Skywalker’s and Padme Amidala’s tragic story through the selfless love between their grandson and his Force-chosen equal, through forgiveness, atonement and hope for the future (ie, Reylo babies). Beautiful, isn’t it? I think so.
But, wait. I just wrote that I am sure that the underlying reason my friends and a lot of fans are dissatisfied with TLJ is because they went into the theaters married or at least betrothed to theories and expectations about everything from Luke’s predicted badassery, Snoke’s backstory, Rey’s lineage, etc. So, then, why would I walk purposefully into the same trap for Episode IX? Am I not setting myself up to be a hater? Am I not going to be outraged and making YouTube videos about how J.J. Abrams ruined the entire saga by not following my carefully constructed head canons?
Full disclosure time….I would be disappointed if Ben Solo is not redeemed and Reylo fails to happen in some capacity. I understand that I might momentarily raise my fists to the sky and bellow, “WHYYYYYYYY????”. I might even be temporarily sad enough to binge on gluten-free cupcakes.
But I can also promise that I would NOT let that ruin my Star Wars joy for long. And here is the secret (It’s not a secret. Literally, huge numbers of people know about it.) that will keep me from contributing to bitter toxicity…..STAR WARS FAN FICTION.
Go ahead and make faces of skepticism. Look down your nose at me. Snicker. Chuckle. Eye roll. I’m used to it, and I’ll wait.
But here’s the thing. The fan fiction readers and writers that I know all agree on this. If one ever has feelings of disappointment with canon, fan fiction is a soothing balm for those feelings. It’s actually kind of magical. Deep within the safe confines of the internet lie thousands of fan fiction stories at archiveofourown.org. Some have blissful endings. Some are riddled with angst. Whatever kind of story you prefer (alternate universe stories, stories that stay true to canon, stories that are in the Star Wars universe but veer off into a whole other direction than canon) someone has probably written it. And if one had an idea but felt unsure about writing it, one could actually commission a writer to write that story. It is a glorious world of boundless Star Wars imagination. I am not exaggerating at all when I say fan fiction is the reason that I will not become a grumpy, Episode IX-hating ogre if Lucasfilm and J.J. Abrams decide that Reylo isn’t a thing after all, and Kylo Ren is just a run-of-the-mill villain who should bleed his own blood and die unredeemed and evil. I know many Reylo fan fiction readers who feel the same, and I think we would all cope with any Episode IX disappointment just fine by delving into any number of literally thousands of Reylo-centric fan fictions.
Why do I and others seem to catch a lot of guff because we very much enjoy Star Wars fan fiction? I have my theories on that. I think some people assume that fan fiction is not good quality writing. That is false. I have whipped through 30 chapter fictions like a crazy person because the writing was so wonderful. Often, I have been blown away at the writer’s creativity. I also think some people assume fan fiction is nothing more than gratuitous, romantic “‘shipping” stories. Granted, there is a lot of that if that is one’s jam, but there are all kinds of stories. I also think critics and skeptics assume fan fiction is only written by women and for women. I’m not a man, so I can’t say whether a man would enjoy any of the fictions I have enjoyed, but I would be interested to find out what kind of fictions men DO enjoy.
Am I saying if more fans enjoyed fan fiction, the backlash to TLJ would have been lessened? The split in fandom wouldn’t be so gaping? Well, yes. I guess I am theorizing that if more fans were accustomed to reading/writing many various takes on Luke Skywalker, fans may have had a less entitled and proprietary attitude towards that character’s arc and fate, and therefore may have been less angry and bitter when TLJ didn’t fulfill the fantasies in their heads. They may have grumbled for a bit, but then perhaps sat down to read or even write a satisfying tale where Luke is a Jedi god and lives so long he starts to resemble Master Yoda, and as a result, may have felt less hostile towards TLJ.
Also, guess what? Reading Star Wars fan fiction is just a fun, fun time. It’s fun to talk about with other readers. It’s fun to imagine all the alternative “what-ifs” in the vast Star Wars universe. It’s fun to discover a great, new fiction and recommend it to others. And it is super fun when a favorite, ongoing fiction finally posts a new chapter.
Speaking of which, enough writing for me for now. If you’ll excuse me, I have some fan fiction chapter updates to devour. May the Force be with you all.
Han Solo: A Star Wars Story hit Japanese theaters on June 29, over a month after the film’s initial release in the US. This marked the first time in the Disney era of Star Wars that the release date in Japan did not coincide with the US and other major markets overseas. I’m not exactly sure why that was the case this time around, but I very nearly had to cut myself off from the Force (at least the English speaking faction) to avoid any spoilers that would ruin the surprises in the film. Fortunately we had the World Cup to keep us preoccupied, and the Japanese national team defied all expectations for a stellar run out of the group stage and into the round of 16. In similar fashion, the Han Solo film has surpassed expectations of fans here, with the overall response being positive.
News of the film’s “struggles” at the box office overseas did make its way over to Japan. However, Disney deftly masked over that in their marketing by hyping up the film as the number one feature at the US box office in one of the short TV spots (pausing the screen you see the data they referenced was for the Memorial Day weekend). They also used some clever play-on-words in the Japanese voiceover for the same TV spot, saying “Soro soro, Han Soro (Solo).” The phrase “soro soro” is often used in Japanese when saying “it’s about time” to do something or for something to happen, so this nice little catch copy essentially tells the Japanese audience “it’s about time you head to the theater and check out Solo”. In addition to the TV spots, Japanese morning talk shows also did special sessions highlighting the movie in the run up to its release. These moves apparently paid off, with the film claiming the number spot in the Japanese box office in its opening weekend, bringing in $5.94 million and attracting audiences much more diverse than typical StarWars film, spanning all age groups and demographics. I have seen numerous comments on Japanese Twitter and Facebook of Star Wars fan here pleasantly surprised to hear how the film has drawn in and delighted people with little exposure to the saga. Solo remained at the top of the box office charts for its second week as well, and as of July 9 had grossed over $11.12 million dollars. The film’s success thus far should really come as no surprise given not only the popularity of the Star Wars saga in Japan, but the character of Han Solo himself. One media company conducted a survey back in 1995 on the most popular characters in the saga, and Han Solo ranked number one amongst Japanese fans, beating out the likes of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Our family went to see it in English (with Japanese subtitles) at one of the local theaters on Saturday the 30th, the day after the film was released. There is a USAF base in our neck of the woods in western Tokyo, and from what I saw of the audience at our showing it seemed a third were from there. The US contingent aside, the Japanese audience spanned all ages and demographics, and there were some interesting conversations I picked up on in the lobby as we waited to enter the theater. One person was asking his friend about Donald Glover, and he excitedly told him that he was playing the young Lando. As typical with most major features in Japan, the concession/lobby area has stands set up selling all kinds of merchandise related to the film. I picked up the limited edition of the official Japanese guide, which was packed with great interviews with the cast, concept art for the film, and a special poster insert. There were also toys, books, and nice Solo design folders for holding A4 size sheets of paper (especially popular among students).
We all enjoyed the film immensely, with our oldest commenting that she felt Alden’s performance was quintessential Han Solo. It seemed the audience we viewed it with had a blast watching Solo as well. When people filed out of the theater, many were eager to snap a few selfies sitting in the Millennium Falcon cockpit prop that was set up right outside. Our youngest daughter (4 years) was quite enamored with the whole set, and kept wanting to go back for more pictures. That said, there was a few times where some of the humor in the dialogue only produced a laugh from among the non-Japanese factions of the audience. In addition, I found myself trying to keep up with the subtitles at times, which caused me to miss some of the things happening in the background. Our oldest say that she wanted to go see the film again, so for our second viewing we went to watch it in the Japanese dub.
We felt a different level of excitement than our initial viewing. Would the characters feel the same? Would the Japanese dub of Han match Alden’s performance? In short, the quality of the Japanese was on par with the dub for Rogue One. In fact, in almost every instance the Japanese spoken matched what I thought it would be. The translator not only conveyed the meaning imbued within the original English, but was able to create that same atmosphere and mood. The knockout-job that they did with this translation provided for a viewing experience even better than the first. We were able to really appreciate all the great banter between Han and Lando in the Sabaac, with the dub retaining the way Lando purposefully mispronounces Han’s name after he deliberately says Sabaac the wrong way in attempt to play the fool. Rio Durant sounded no different than he did in the original, with his witty comments effectively delivered in a manner that made me think that’s how Jon Favreau would sound in Japanese. Beckett did not speak with the distinctive drawl that comes with every Woody Harrelson role, but the delivery employed conveyed the character of a man steeped in experience but wore down by years of living the hard smuggler’s life. The exchange between him and Han at the end of the film felt just as poignant as it did in the subtitled version. Perhaps my favorite scene in the dub was the conversation between Qira and L-3 in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. While the dialogue is already loaded with nuance in the original English, the Japanese dub not only kept that nuance, but actually deepened it with the words employed by both characters. Younger audience members may not have caught it, but I’m pretty sure the adults in the theater appreciated the humor of that moment.
The Japanese dub featured not only a cast of seasoned voice actors, but also a number of celebrity guest appearances. One of these was Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut who enjoys the distinction of not only doing multiple missions on the International Space Station, but was also the first Japanese astronaut to work as a flight engineer on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Noguchi has been an ardent fan of the saga ever since he saw Episode 4 as an elementary school student, claiming that the original trilogy was one of his main inspirations for pursuing a career in outer space. He gave a glowing review of the film for the Japanese movie site Filmaga. He wrote “The true charm of the Star Wars saga is its ability to captivate our imaginations and inspire, and Solo chock full of elements which do just that. It’s a great ride for not only hard core fans of the saga, but also people who have never seen a Star Wars film. There’s so much in it that I need to verify for myself that I plan on seeing it at least two or three times more.” Noguchi was especially pleased with how they developed the relationship between Han and Chewie in the film. “Han’s initial encounter with Chewie was absolutely hilarious, but it was also incredibly convincing. The two didn’t get along right off the bat. Each had a different goal in mind, but they teamed up to tackle the mutual task at hand that they both faced. This created the bond between them that deepened as they fought side by side.” Another celebrity to make a guest appearance in the Japanese dub of Solo was Ebizo Ichikawa, the heir to Ichikawa clan of kabuki actors and the eleventh holder of the Ebizo name. A fan of the saga since he was a kid, Ebizo told director Ron Howard and Alden Ehrenreich how happy he was to be involved with the film at the Solo premier event held in Tokyo in mid-June. He lent his vocal talents to one of the Stormtroopers watching over the brawl between Chewbacca and Han at the beginning of the film.
All in all, there has been no real negative backlash to Solo in Japan that emanate from certain corners of fandom in the state. Most people have been happy to come along for the ride. I guess that’s why the Japanese TV spots have repeatedly used one of the film’s more iconic lines: “Ii yokan ga suru ze (I’ve got a really good feeling about this”). My daughter said it best after our initial viewing of the movie. “He (Alden) didn’t look like the original Han Solo, but he was Han Solo. That was a blast.” Considering that she had fairly little interest in Star Wars until The Last Jedi, I’d say that Lucasfilm and Disney have succeeded in making that galaxy far, far away accessible to a broader audience.
MAY THE FANS BE WITH YOU!
by Jason Gibner and Star Wars fans
Who made Star Wars? The first easy answer is George Lucas. The crazy ideas that we all love so much originally came from inside his finely coiffed head. But then there’s also folks like Ben Burtt, Ralph McQuarrie, Joe Johnston, Alan Ladd Jr, Lawrence Kasdan, Marcia Lucas and so many more that without their input, these strange stories of space wizards would simply not exist. But one of the most important and often overlooked contributors to the richness of the saga is us. You, me, the teacher who quotes Yoda to the class, the little girl in the grocery store wearing a Jyn Erso shirt…they are all the fans that are the Kyber crystal that powers the Star Wars lightsaber. From a certain point of view, the Star Wars we know today was made by the fans.
Star Wars has, from the very beginning, been always all about the fans. I was reminded of this few weeks ago in Orlando, as I watched Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a room filled with thousands of fellow die hard fans, celebrating the first 40 years of the saga. As she stood up there, she spoke of the fan’s passion, dedication and love for Star Wars and how much it inspires what they do at Lucasfilm every day. Without the dedicated fans, there would be no resurgence of Star Wars fiction in novels and comics in the 90s. No lines in 1997 to see the same movie they’ve already seen 75 times but now with extra Rontos and stuff. No demand to know the story on just what turned Anakin Skywalker to the dark side. And there would be no one to now say an overwhelming yes to seeing a new generation of heroes in the galaxy far far away.
As everyone today talks about May the 4th, remember that this day is a celebration for the fans and by the fans. To be a Star Wars fan doesn’t mean you’ve read all the books or you dress up or you have the biggest collection of stuff or you even like each and every movie that has had Star Wars in it’s title. To be a Star Wars fan simply means that some part of this story has made you think, inspired you or just simply made you smile in a darkened movie theater. That’s the Force at work in our galaxy at the Force is definitely with this collection of amazing Star Wars fans:
One of my fondest memories from my childhood is being 14 years old and seeing Star Wars for the first time. Like everyone else, I was blown away and went back to see it at the theater 24 times. Half the fun was standing in line with other fans sharing our love of Star Wars and anticipating seeing the film on that big screen again. After the film came out, I was able to purchase a little color Super 8 short of the movie and my dad made a big movie screen in our backyard. I was able to invite friends over all the time to watch the 12 minutes of footage from SW in that film. Since this was in the days before video cassettes and DVD’s this was really something special!
For me, my life is intertwined with Star Wars. I have made so many friends through my association with Star Wars and running the Official Star Wars Fan Club and Star Wars Insider. It has really rewarded my life. One of my dearest friends today is Anthony Daniels who was instrumental in helping me launch the first Star Wars Celebration here in Denver back in 1999. I still to this day get emails and messages from people telling me they were watching Episode One and saw me again in my cameo as Dams Denna. Star Wars has and will always be one of the most important experiences in my life!
- Dan Madsen – Publicist for Her Universe, Former President of The Official Star Wars Fan Club and founder and former publisher of Star Wars Insider Magazine
Star wars has always been a major part of my life. I remember first watching Star Wars so many years ago. When I was younger then I first became knowledgeable about the universe. My love of star wars continued when I joined the Rebel Legion in February 2014 and the 501st Legion in August 2014. I’ve been honored to be able to visit children in the hospital, Grant A Wish, be on the red carpet for the world premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, stood guard at a casket for a brave young boy, brought smiles to the faces of children and adults, raise thousands of dollars for charity, become the best friend to a child who was battling cancer, and much more. Star wars has changed my life for the better and I’m glad to combine my love of for the saga and charity to do good in the world.
- Lauren Lys – Rebel Legion – 501st
I am old enough to have watched Star Wars in the theater but the saga wasn’t on my radar until the release of ROTJ which was the first episode I watched. I quickly sought out the remaining two movies and was hooked for life! Kenner toys, Marvel comic books, the Ewok movies plus the Han Solo and Lando trilogies kept me busy until 1986 when the overall interest waned. Fortunately, West End Games released a plethora of source material starting in 1987 that made everybody’s hearts leap for joy and excitement. Then finally in 1991, Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire was released and the rest is history. Over the years, the saga has played an ever-increasing part of my life…podcasts (host and guest), 501st Legion, Rebel Legion, attending eight Celebrations, etc. Its impact on pop culture and everyday life is one of a kind. Where else do you find a regular kid with the help of different characters (dangerous types, teachers, comic reliefs) that take on evil? All that happens in space plus the good guys win which makes it even cooler.
- Marcus Dohring (TK-14057) – 501st Legion
Star Wars to me was literally another world that I could get lost in and thirty years later I still don’t want to leave. Having this living, breathing other universe I could watch movies about or play video games or read comics about meant the world to me being I was just so facisnated by everything about Star Wars. For most of my childhood, I didn’t even think about how other people help create Star Wars, because it was always around, it was this thing that always existed. As I grew up and realized I wanted to tell stories and realized that Star Wars was a story someone thought was worth telling. It continues to be one of the most important things in my life. It showed me you can change the world with a story. You can reach people and and inspire kids to create and write and read and run around their backyard and fight Tusken Raiders. You can teach people that being different is what makes them special. You can inspire a whole new generation of storytellers to want to tell their story, too. The force is real.
- Dave Scheidt – Comic Book Writer
The 12 year old that I was in May of 1977 has never grown old thanks to the galaxy far, far away. Whether with inspiring creativity through writing art, and costume making, the friendships I’ve made with other fans all around the world, getting to make kids of all ages smile by dressing up as my imaginary dream job of being a Rebel pilot, or getting to share the love of Star Wars with my now grown children. Over the past four decades Star Wars and its beautiful fellow fans have continually inspired me, kept me going through some very tough times, and added so much life to my years. When clueless people ask me why I love such a “silly and childish” thing so much all I can tell them, without going into detail, is that Star Wars is one of the things that has literally saved my life. May the phenomenon of this universe the George Lucas created continue to inspire us all to imagine, create, and work to make our own corner of this vast universe a better place for the next 40 years and beyond. And thank you to everyone out there who keep creating and sharing that love with the rest of us.
- Angela Anderson-Cobb – Rebel Legion
When A NEW HOPE first appeared, you couldn’t get near a theater without waiting in line for hours. I went with a bunch of friends and we waited in a line that wrapped around the theater twice. Inside, I bought a book that had stills from the movie (I still have it) We found some seats and waited for the show to begin. Sound seemed to explode off the walls all around us as huge ships rumbled across the screen. The audience exploded, cheering and clapping–then fell silent as the story unfolded. On that screen was everything I’d ever hoped to see in a movie–but even better than I ever imagined it could be. I was caught up in Luke Skywalker’s story and by the time I left the theater, I knew I had to see Star Wars again…and again. Part of me dreamed of drawing the characters from ANH, but it wasn’t until years later that the dream of doing just that came true. For roughly 14 years, Star Wars became my world to live and create in every day. I had a blast hanging out in the world that Lucas created. I hope, in some small way, that I contributed good things to the GFFA and gave back to a world that gave me so much!
- Jan Duursema- Artist & Illustrator & creator of Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos
How did I discover Star Wars? The actual question is how did Star Wars discover me! I was 6 when A New Hope came out…I didn’t get to see the movie in the theaters, but I did see it as soon as it hit VHS. From there I owned the toys… I made lightsabers and blaster rifles out if construction paper… I’d bring them to school and destroy them with my friends during gym or lunch.. It was great!!!! I pretty much grew up watching and enjoying the Star Wars franchise… I am one of the few or many who actually does not hate movies 1-3… I like those movies because they fill in more of the background of who was who and the mystery of the Jedi… they filled a void I was happy to see filled on screen… Now as a dad and older cosplayer, I started out cosplaying Star Wars characters. I did Mace Windu, and started creating my own Sith. It was great! Then I met a group of folks who did stage combat with lightsabers… dressed as SW characters… Let me tell you when I saw that people actual fought with their sabers… I went nuts! I joined up with the Jedi Guardians, performed had a great time, and it evolved into a few of us making SW movies… Star Wars discovered me, impacted my life… gave me an avenue in which to enjoy the creative side of myself, while enjoying a fandom from my childhood that is almost as old as I am. My latest cosplay, Saw Guerrera, gives me yet another avenue in which I get to imitate one of my favorite actors…. that to me is life!!! Star Wars to me is a part of my life until the day I move on from this world and join Obi wan as part of the force. Blast Points Podcast, thanks for giving me this opportunity to share a little about one of my favorite things in life. It was a pleasure meeting you all. One last thing… Save the rebellion… Save… the Dream!!!
- Wendell Smith – The Best Saw Gerrera Cosplayer in the Galaxy
Star Wars for me was never about the movies so much as it was about the friendships formed through the Force. My earliest memories aren’t in the theater, they are on the playground. I was born in 1989 so the 1996 re-release was when I really fell into the movies, but I don’t remember those viewings. What I do remember is my Death Star Gunner action figure and playing king of the hill with my brother’s ROTJ Luke Skywalker figure for hours. We bonded over that and I will cherish those memories forever. In High School I was a bit of a misfit, and in Boy Scouts I didn’t fit in well either. On a camping trip, yet again I was alone while the other boys were playing around and stuff. I wandered around the campsite and starting humming The Imperial March out loud, and someone starting humming it back to me! That was how I met my best friend, still by my side to this day. We made Star Wars fan films together, saw Revenge of the Sith together, built Jedi costumes and today we and our wives all work on cosplays together. Star Wars brought me this sense of community and I’ll never forget that.
- Stephen Kent – Host on Beltway Banthas Podcast
This conversation is timely, Star Wars is so much a part of my worldview that it has become unconscious – a raw impression, a solid resonant core that I cannot put into words. Just yesterday I was wearing a bit of (to the average person obscure) Star Wars memorabilia and a friend said to me “I’m sorry, I don’t get the Star Wars reference in that.” She went on to explain that she had watched a smattering of various Star Wars films, this one and that one. This gave me pause, how can you have just watched: “this one and that one?” Another friend sitting to the other side of me started to say that you shouldn’t bother, that Star Wars was just… and then he saw the look I was giving him and he paused, he paused: Star Wars is not just…. I turned back to my friend to explain that you need to begin with A New Hope and then etc, etc… as the conversation wore on I realized I lacked the words to explain what Star Wars is, what it means to me.
How do you explain the visceral anticipation in the seconds after the fanfare ends when you know the crawl is about to begin: it is a feeling in the back of your throat, a tingle in the spine and ears, tears in the eyes. My friend felt that she just didn’t understand the movies because she had missed viewing them as a child, she has missed the window of nostalgia and I was at a loss to explain that it is more than that: I am nostalgic for hundreds of things from my childhood from Otter Pops to V, but what Stars Wars means to me is so, so much more than that: my earliest memories of fundamental concepts like honor, loyalty, love, and friendship come from Star Wars. I remember clearly coming back from Jedi, I was a bit older and right on the verge of losing the childhood suspension of disbelief, and just sitting on my bed and staring out the window trying to internalize the same feeling I got when I saw the teaser trailer for The Force Awakens, the scene where we see the Millennium Falcon again for the first time, the scene where Han says “Chewie we’re home.” I screamed out loud, I cried, I got chills.
I could talk for hours about the mythology, the characters, the plot, the fundamental tropes, this scene, that scene, the canon, the books, the amazing toys, the cheesy specials, or C3PO’s, but somehow that misses the mark. We all have our own personal experience of Star Wars – for me Star Wars remains the best part of humanity, childhood wonder, and love.
- Carrie Ann Cruce – Graduate Research Assistant – University of Texas Libraries
As long as I can remember there has always been Star Wars. My first memories are of Yoda, Luke and R2 on Dagobah, their colors dulled by the poor dubbing quality of the VHS tape my dad used to tape The Empire Strikes Back from primetime television ( it took years for me to learn that the Star Wars trilogy didn’t actually have commercials). This was the big bang for me. This used universe of droids, aliens, starfighters, heroes, scoundrels, villains and princesses set my young brain on a path that would forever dominate my destiny. Consume me, it did. I’ve always viewed Star Wars less as a movie and more as a portal into another reality. An escape. Narnia for those who prefer laser swords and space slugs to half goats and talking lions. When life got me down I could always transport myself to a galaxy far, far away and feel like anything was possible. If a farm boy from a desert planet could become the most powerful entity in the galaxy than surely I could find my way in this world. It’s a special time to be a Star Wars fanatic – the characters and the universe we know and love are in the hands of people just like us, those that grew up wanting to be cool like Han but were probably just dorky like 3P0 – the ones that want to know what blue milk tastes like, and what it’s like to hit lightspeed. We have so many new stories and adventures to look forward to and I await them all with the same ferocity I had as a child. May the force be with us. Always.
- Jon Pataky – Father of twins, Founder of The Ben Quadinaros Memorial Fund
It’s hard for me to quantify what Star Wars means to me. I was thirteen when I first saw A New Hope. I was a budding artist, woman, rebel, and lost soul wondering about her own missing paternal line while staring down the twin suns of Tatooine. The movie left me speechless and with a lifetime obsession. Princess Leia was the sort of bad-ass I wanted to be; unafraid, unapologetic, and willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. Luke was a kindred spirit, kind of a whiny baby, yes, but a whiny baby who had questions about his lineage and who was troubled by the identity of his father. And Han Solo…well, I was thirteen years old when I first saw Han’s smugglers grin, his swagger and style. My developing sexuality congealed around Solo, the bad boy with the heart of gold, and he’s been my type ever since.
I grew up fast, hard, lonely, and poor. The original Star Wars trilogy and the prequels gave me something to be excited about: a place to lose myself in, a place where everything had meaning, and a place where I could find a community. I turned sixteen the day The Phantom Menace hit the theaters. A few weeks previously I slept outside the Kalamazoo 10 with a bunch of other fans and two of my best friends. Slap-happy and sleep deprived, we played with lightsabers, pretended to be droids, and talked Star Wars all through the night. It was, honestly, the most fun I had in high school.
Over a decade later, after watching The Force Awakens, I texted back and forth with my best friend from high school. “Rey!!!!!!” I exclaimed, “Did you love her????” “God, yes,” she wrote back, “I didn’t know how much I needed her until I saw her.” And I felt the same way, even sitting here typing this tears come to my eyes when I think of Rey in The Force Awakens. It’s hard to explain, really, what it’s like to see someone with whom you both identify and inspire to be: someone who doesn’t need her hand held, someone who knows how to run, and jump, and fight, and use the friggin force like she’s been doing it forever. I texted back to my friend, “I wish I had her when I was sixteen, someone like that…” I trailed off. Maybe I thought if I’d had someone like Rey I wouldn’t have wasted my time with so many heartless Solo wannabes. But if I hadn’t wasted my time, fallen and failed, I would have never been given the opportunity to face my deepest fears, the way Luke faced his in The Dagobah Cave.
Rogue One became instantly important to me. I suffer from anxiety and panic disorder. A few days after seeing the film I had a panic attack, normally I would breathe through the attack but I had all ready begun to hyperventilate. For some reason Chirrut Îmwe’s mantra came to me, I am one with the force and the force is with me. I repeated this phrase to myself over and over again until my breathing settled, until my heart stopped racing, until I felt close to peace. I still use it to center myself when a panic attack looms or when my anxiety threatens to blow me up like Alderaan.
I recently re-watched Rogue One with my beloved scruffy looking nerf-herder of a boyfriend, who had never seen it before. I cried through the last act, the same way I did the first time I saw it. A lot had happened since my first viewing: Trump has taken office and brought dark times upon the galaxy and we lost Carrie Fisher, whose importance to me stretched beyond her unfathomable legacy as Princess Leia. Watching Rogue One this last time I cried because the film is such a beautiful testament to resistance and love: two themes that I come to time and time again in these dark and uncertain times. As I cried I felt strength well up inside of me, I felt hope.
Star Wars has given me models to look to, a community to love and belong to and metaphors for the heroes journey we must all go through. As I go through my days as a writer, educator and rebel scum, I think daily of the series, of the lessons it has taught me, the gifts it has given me, and the strength it has lent me, even in my darkest times. Thank you Star Wars and thank you Star Wars fandom. May the force be with you, always.
- Katy Shay – Graduate Assistant at Miami University
My first Star Wars memory is hearing about the film a few days after my best friend at the time told me all about it during a sleepover at his house. He talked, and I listened for hours about a bar with crazy looking monsters, a Bigfoot dog-like friend of a cool cowboy type dude, a hero that seemed a little out of place but forced to fight for what he believed in, the evil black armored robot type guy that was the movie’s evil villain, and everything and everyone in between. A few days later, I got to watch Star Wars and it was that evening…everything changed!
- Tom Berges – creator of IGrewUpStarWars.com
I only know one truth, viewing The Last Jedi teaser in Japan is very interesting.
By Dave Hackerson
The two previous Star Wars Celebration extravaganzas were jammed pack with exciting announcements that left fans in a frenzy ahead of the upcoming releases Disney has had in store for us following its purchase of Lucasfilm and rejuvenation of the Star Wars franchise. The infamous “Chewie, we’re home” line from the very first full length trailer for The Force Awakens at SWC 2015 and the gripping behind-the-scenes look at Rogue One in the teaser trailer shown at SWC Europe last summer are probably seared into the minds and memories of legions of Star Wars fans around the world. SWC Orlando in 2017 did not disappoint, providing fans with a beautiful tribute to Carrie Fisher, a gorgeous retrospective on the franchise’s 40 years of history, and last but arguably the most anticipated of them all, our first real look at The Last Jedi.
It was the early hours of the morning here for me in Japan when I saw the trailer via the online live stream. I had responded to a call I had seen put out on Twitter by other Japanese Star Wars fans to live tweet The Last Jedi panel in Japanese (#SWC翻訳) so that fans here watching the live stream could get a better idea of what was being discussed. For many of them, the English language is not necessarily their forte, and given that the live stream was not subtitled, live tweets such as the ones I and others put out were their only means to better understand the panels. I still vividly remember the profound impact of Luke’s statement at the end of the trailer: “It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Right after the trailer ended I tweeted out in Japanese “Luke said the age of the Jedi should come to a close! Is this the meaning behind the last Jedi?!” After making this tweet, I began to wonder if the Japanese subtitles for the trailer would resemble what I had written in Japanese.
In doing these live-tweets in Japanese, I was constantly reminded how blessed Star Wars fans in the English-speaking world are because we get the information right away, and perhaps more importantly, in an “unfiltered” form. However, for speakers whose native tongue is not English, they must wait for this information to be digested and then conveyed to them via the filter of “translation”. The quality of this filter can have a major impact on how these fans perceive the same things we see and “hear” in English. A good translation ensures that they almost assuredly respond to what they see transpiring on screen in much the same way native English speakers do, but a “dodgy” translation can give rise to interpretations that stray far from what the creators intended for us to derive. When the panel came to a close, I began to wonder about the quality of the subtitles we would get for the Japanese version of the teaser that would surely drop the next morning.
My hunch proved to be right on the money, and when I had a few spare minutes after taking care of some things at home in the morning I sat down to watch the trailer. The first thing we hear Luke say is “Breathe…just breathe”. I initially expected a fairly straightforward translation, so I was surprised by the liberties the translator took with a rather simple piece of dialog. The subtitles read “落ち付け…心を鎮めるのだ (Ochitsuke… Kokoro wo shizumeru no da), and when reverted back to English, we get something like “Relax… and still your mind.” Meditation requires one to empty their mind and heart of thoughts in order to relax and focus, and one of the most effective means for doing that is by taking deep breaths. Just as Luke did with Yoda on Dagobah, we can probably assume that Rey is learning how to meditate on the Force, so in this context the translation fits because it reflects the implied meaning of what Luke is saying.
“So far, so good” I thought until we came to the next line, “Now, reach out.” Here the Japanese was merely “そうだ。それでいい。(Sou da. Sore de ii).” This translation left me scratching my head a little, for the subtitles merely say “That’s it. Just like that”. While not completely off, this translation simply fails to convey the fact that Rey is supposed to reach out with the Force. Here, we have no reference of the Force at the all, and thus the viewer does not fully understand what Luke is telling her to do.
The next few lines were more words rather than full sentences, and the subtitles faithfully translated these verbatim. We then arrive at the last line of the trailer, the one that has the Star Wars fan community buzzing with speculation and trying to read in to what Luke says: “I only know one truth… It’s time for the Jedi to end.” When I first heard this line, I took it to mean that Luke—after of years and wondering and exploring the Force—had come to realize that it was time to call an end to the Jedi’s chapter in galactic history. The line “it’s so much bigger” in reference to Rey’s mentioning of the light and dark facets of the Force seems to reinforce this interpretation… implying that Luke has learned the Force is far more vast than the Jedi and Sith dichotomy. With these thoughts in the back of mind, the Japanese subtitles left me rather disappointed. Translation is by no means an easy task, requiring the translator to read between the lines and employ knowledge of the context to convey and preserve the original meaning as closely as possible. At the same time, the translator must also avoid reading too far into the text and adding their own interpretation. Star Wars makes this fine line even harder to walk, especially when it comes to something like a teaser trailer because the translator’s own personal interpretation could potentially mislead the audience or even reveal hints that were meant to remain undisclosed. Despite these admitted hurdles, though, I came away feeling the Japanese subtitles revealed a lack of understanding of Luke’s current state of mind and the sequence of events leading up to his meeting with Rey. The Japanese reads “真実はひとつ。ジェダイは滅びる (Shinjutsu wa hitotsu. Jedi wa horobiru),” which translated back into English becomes “There is only one truth. The Jedi shall perish/be destroyed/fall.” The first part of the translation works to a certain extent, but smirks of an “absolute” statement that Obi Wan said only Sith lords were prone to make, ones which exclude other potential “points of view.” The Japanese verb used at the end, “horobiru”, is an intransitive verb that means “come to perish, to fall away into oblivion, to be destroyed.” However, given the words Luke says, I do not believe he meant that the Jedi would simply pass away and perish. The simple phrase “it’s time for” reflects his belief in the need to end that chapter and perhaps seek a new beginning. That implies taking action, presumably by Luke himself, something that the intransitive verb in Japanese fails to convey.
I was curious to see if I was guilty of reading too far into the lines, so I posed this question to other Japanese fans on a Facebook Star Wars discussion board. I received a lot of positive responses from other fans, and nearly everyone said that I was right on point with my interpretation and critique of the Japanese subtitles. A few fans indicated that they were a bit frustrated by the translator’s desire to lend emphasis to the word “end”, claiming that it produced the opposite effect. One fan said that the word “horobiru” also produces the added implication of “everything falls to ruin”, which is not the case here because Luke does not equate the end of the Jedi with the end of all Force users. Another fan posited the theory that “the end” Luke is referring to could be somehow tied in with Kylo, while agreeing that the Japanese subtitles did not fit the context. In addition, the comments many of them left revealed an underlying sense of skepticism when it came to subtitles in Star Wars. A few people went so far as to say they completely ignored the subtitles of SW trailers because they 1) did not trust them and 2) did not want to let their interpretations be influenced by misleading translations. In reflecting on these comments, I once again returned to my original thoughts on the advantage English-speaking fans have in accessing the Star Wars franchise in its “unfiltered form”. Perhaps more importantly, though, I was deeply impressed by the simplicity of this tale and the power of the themes to speak to people all over world, and break through the obstacles language may pose in the process of relating the story. That alone is a true testament to the enduring legacy of the Star Wars saga and its deserved place within our shared mythology.
Incidentally, a few days after I posed this question I noticed another version of the trailer posted on Youtube. The trailer that I and many Japanese fans first saw was the one put out by Disney Studios Japan. However, MovieNex (which releases Blu-ray + DVD + digital download packages of Disney films in Japan) also put out a subtitled version of the title on the 15th, but it has not been viewed as many times as the official Disney Studios Japan version. I am a bit intrigued as to why Disney would have two different subtitled versions, but I’m glad they do because the MovieNex one is far better in every respect. I can only hope more Japanese fans see this one, for the translation does the English original justice, especially the last line: “私が言えるのは一つだけ。もはやジェダイの時代ではない (Watashi ga ieru no wa hitotsu dake. Mohaya Jedi no Jidai de wa nai) .” Translated back into English, we are given a statement consistent with the interpretation many fans seem to hold: “There’s only one thing I can say (one thing I know)… It’s time to leave the Jedi in the past.” Come December, we’ll find out if that is truly the case.
It’s So Much Bigger
By Jason Gibner
I can freely now admit that I have a problem. That problem is the teaser trailer for The Last Jedi. Now, I definitely do not have a problem with any aspect of that first look at the next chapter in the Star Wars Saga. My problem is that I just can not stop watching it and non stop thinking about it. I try to do work and all I can do is think about is that handful of brief images that were first shown to me at Star Wars Celebration. I try to clean the house and all I do is think about just what is happening there on Ahch-To. Ancient books about The Force in trees, weird tree caves, multiple islands… as someone who usually trips out about any kind of talk about the will of The Force, the whole thing has got me straight up bugging.
Now this morning as I replayed the teaser in my head, as all normal people do, one moment and one line in particular really hit me. Rey describes her vision into the Force as seeing the light, darkness and the balance. As we hear the old master Skywalker say, “It’s so much bigger”, we are shown the beautiful and instantly iconic shot of Rey on edge of a mountain practicing with the saber of The Chosen One as Luke stands behind and above her watching on. In this moment, Rey and Luke are shown as being very small against the massive sight of the Ahch-To waters and mountainside. As I thought about this, my mind immediately went back to my college and my endless amount of art history classes I took and i realized the rest of my day may be shot.
One of the more interesting classes was an Asian art history class where we looked at countless very old Japanese works of art where one of the overriding themes was that nature was always presented as being bigger and more powerful than people. In so many of the pieces my professor showed, if there were people in a piece they were tiny compared to the majesty of the wave or the mountain or the trees that were so often depicted in the art. Now we know the Force is an energy field created by all living things and it surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together, right? As Luke may reference at the end of the trailer, the will of the Force in the future of the saga may be something bigger than any Jedi has ever recognized before, thus calling for a whole new way of thinking about and/or using the Force. This moment, at the side of the mountain perfectly speaks to that as an important as Rey and Luke’s story may be going forward, they are still very small next to the power of nature or The Force. Like Luke reminds us, “It’s so much bigger.” The true nature of the Force may be a greater power then any Jedi has felt before.
I admit, I’m getting carried away here but all that got me thinking too about some of the other important symbols in Japanese art like shape, balance, animals, birds, mountains and waves. The uneasy balance seen in The Last Jedi poster of Luke and Kylo’s faces with Rey’s gleaming saber of light separating the two. The combination of hard and soft lines in both Rey and Luke’s very grey costumes. The birds that rumored to be inhabiting the island with Luke. The mountain, which in Japanese art represents the unmovable and power almost being a symbol for The Force itself. The waves that crash into the island, which Rey stares out to in teaser, representing power, strength and the very unpredictable aspect of nature. Rey, perhaps being very much the unpredictable new vessel for the Force which may have the power to move the unmovable mountain?
It’s clear that this island, which may have be the location of the first Jedi temple, has quite a bit more going on in both story and symbolism then what we saw with our brief look at it in The Force Awakens. Much like Dagobah, Mortis or Moraband, Ahch-To is seemingly a planet that has a deep connection to The Force just as The Last Jedi appears to have a connection to the Japanese art and cinema style that got George Lucas going all those years ago. Until December or our next look at the film, we will have to “breathe…. just breathe…”
By Ryan Porter
Over the last forty years there have been nine Star Wars movies that have inexplicably combined for one, ONE! Best Picture nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Truly a crime of galactic proportions.
Normally, I embrace and encourage objectivity but if you want to be objective about Oscar winners versus Star Wars movies – I would strongly encourage you to start looking somewhere else! In this post, we’ll be comparing the nine theatrical Star Wars movies (yep, The Clone Wars is getting some well-deserved acknowledgment!) to that year’s winners for Best Picture at the Academy Awards!
1977 – Star Wars Vs Annie Hall
Is it even fair to compare a movie that transformed not only its genre, but the entire industry, to a romantic comedy? Even if it is a good one? No. Obviously not.
And comparing George to Woody isn’t fair either. George is a modern day Walt Disney. Remarkable for not only what he creates, but how he creates it. George is an unparalleled visionary and a philanthropist without equal. Woody Allen is now best known for, well, things I’m not getting into in this post.
Obviously Star Wars, and George Lucas, should’ve won the Oscar in 1978 and ALL the Oscars since then.
1980 – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Vs Ordinary People
One of these movies is a brilliantly directed work of art that examines the relationships of friends and family in the face of terrible tragedy.
The other movie I’ve never heard of.
1983 – Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Vs Terms of Endearment
Terms of Endearment certainly has a lot going for it as a movie and as an emotional experience. But it doesn’t have an epic climax to an unforgettable saga or a desert with a mouth. It doesn’t have Bib Fortuna. And inexplicably Terms of Endearment doesn’t feature a single Ewok.
BONUS ROUND! – 1997’s Special Edition Trilogy Vs Titanic
I actually enjoy Titanic quite a bit. I know most people don’t but I’m used to dealing with that mentality. I deal with it with the Prequels and I deal with it with the Special Editions. My only problem with the Special Editions, and all the changes since, is that they don’t go far enough. For starters, I want Battle Droids on the Jawa’s Sandcrawler. Changes should be ever-present in the Star Wars films to create a better continuity that “binds the galaxy together.” Even Titanic went back and made changes after Neil deGrasse Tyson called out the placement of the stars in our own galaxy!
1999 – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace Vs American Beauty
Confession: I was once a pretentious film students that tried real hard to like films that pretentious film students should like. Nothing captures that lapse in judgment like my interest in American Beauty. Ugh, the shame.
Anyway, like the esteemed hosts of Blast Points, I too have much love for The Phantom Menace. Padme and Anakin isn’t at all creepy compared against Kevin Spacey’s motives. And whatever narrative problems might exist in Episode 1 are a far cry from a movie narrated by a dead guy. (Spoilers!) If Kevin Spacey would’ve spent the whole movie training for the big race at Boonta Eve, instead of trying to sleep with his daughter’s best friend, I’d still be able to have some respect for American Beauty.
2002 – Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Vs Chicago
I saw Chicago on a date with a really cute girl.
I saw Attack of the Clone four times by myself.
Until I wrote those sentences I hadn’t thought about Chicago, or the cute girl, at all. But I’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking about Attack of the Clones and quoting one of my favorite lines in the entire saga as much as possible: “She can’t do that! Shoot her – or something!”
2005 – Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Vs Crash
Hollywood may not care, obviously, but Revenge of the Sith delivered onto Star Wars fans everything they’d been waiting for. The ultimate and climactic showdown between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the birth of Luke and Leia and of course, the return of Qui-Gon. Well, unfortunately not that last one. But that’s just more evidence that these films CONSTANTLY need to be given the Special Edition treatment.
No one was happy to see Crash win in 2005, much less look back on it over a decade later and have any delusions that the Academy made the right decision.
2008 – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Vs Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire is a unique take on the rag-to-riches format. And that pretty much sums up the entirety of The Clone Wars. What began humbly in the feature film (I found few other Star Wars fans that seemed to enjoy it as much as I did) grew into a force to be reckoned with within Star Wars canon and with fans and even newcomers and casual viewers alike. An impressive, and seemingly unbelievable, ascent to the top of the mountain. Insert Star Wars/Slumdog Millionaire pun here.
2015 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens Vs Spotlight
So Spotlight wins over legit genre contenders Mad Max Fury Road and The Martian, with The Force Awakens not even getting a nomination.
Sometimes I wonder why I still live on this planet.
I can only assume that a majority of Academy members were too busy developing their own Snoke Theories to remember to send in their ballots with The Force Awakens circled, highlighted and underlined. Where’s Rey? Not at the Oscars apparently!
2016 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Vs ???
As of the time of writing, La La Land hasn’t officially won best picture but since it’s a musical about Hollywood, and Hollywood LOVES movies about Hollywood, so it’s obviously going to win.
Rogue One was legitimately the best shot at a nomination that Star Wars has had since the snubbing began in 1980. Rogue One is a war movie full of loss, self-sacrifice and serving the greater good in the face of opposition. Usually these are all things that the Academy loves to throw golden trophies at but sadly, if predictably, Rogue One couldn’t even garner a nomination.
Time to put together a rag-tag group to steal the results and replace them with ten Best Picture nominations, all for Rogue One.
BONUS ROUND Part 2! – 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If there’s anything the Academy enjoys more than giving Oscars to movies about Hollywood, it’s giving Oscars to actors that have passed away. Carrie Fisher was beloved by not only Star Wars fans, but by Hollywood and those that worked in the industry.
We don’t yet know what kind of a roll General Leia (the Huttslayer) will have in The Last Jedi, but if there’s a scene in which she cries, causes another character to cry, or causes the audience to cry (as she almost certainly will), expect the Academy to honor the life and legacy of Carrie Fisher with a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
The Importance of Jyn Erso
By Jason Gibner
There was a disturbing trend that started around the release of Rogue One with major entertainment journalists writing about how Jyn Erso’s character was left on the cutting room floor or how she lacked personality or wasn’t as strong of a character as Rey and blah and blah and blah. I didn’t understand that then and now that the film has been out for over a month now, that kind of chatter seems to be the new norm amongst a certain percentage of fans out there. Not only do I not like that icky way of thinking, I would even argue that Jyn Erso is not only a complex and fascinating character, she is one of THE MOST important characters in Star Wars history.
Let me explain:
When we first meet Jyn, she is a young girl watching her family literally torn apart as The King of Bad Luck Orson Krennic takes away her father and Deathtroopers kill her mother. She is later rescued by Rebel guerrilla fighter Saw Gerrera and I’m sure has a fun time living in stinky caves being taught to fight until she’s 16 and Saw ditches her in cave with only a knife, loaded blaster and a pack of gum. So here we have a person who looks at the Empire and the Alliance with equal disdain and distrust. Her whole life has her being an afterthought in this giant galactic civil war and every move she’s made has been wrapped around these two sides fighting. Because of this confusion and heartache, Jyn has turned herself off to all the political activity of her time. She travels around the galaxy with an alias. She has left her old life behind and would rather now just be nobody and blend in with the crowd looking out for only herself. Awoken in an Imperial prison by water dripping on her face, she stares longingly at the Kyber Crystal necklace given to her by her mother. “Trust the Force”, she said. Surely, at that moment she does not have much faith in that ancient religion, but then as we know “the force moves in mysterious ways…”
Things change once her father befriends an Imperial cargo pilot named Bodhi with the hope that maybe his message of how to destroy the Empire’s destroyer of worlds will get to Saw and just maybe his daughter is still there with him. Within his extremely important message of hope for the galaxy is also a personal message to his daughter if she is still alive. Completing her father’s mission becomes Jyn’s personal quest and she will do it with or without the Rebel Alliance. Her quest of mentally getting back home and repairing the damage done to her family is greater than any of the back and forth of the Empire or the Alliance. During her passionate speech to the Alliance council, you can see the looks on Mon Mothma and Bail Organa’s faces. Her fire is exactly what the stagnant, fragmented Alliance needs at that moment. After they tell her that a mission to Scarif can’t happen, what does she do? Against the odds, she goes anyways. This is the kind of David vs Goliath attitude that the Rebellion was founded on but had become lost under rules and battling opinions. Mon Mothma’s smile when she is told that Raddus is commanding an attack fleet to Scarif to protect Jyn’s team says it all.
Let’s look at Jyn Erso while she is stealing the Death Star plans. Over and over again, it becomes clear for her that there is no getting off Scarif alive in this mission. Even when Cassian is knocked out, Jyn “No Retreat, No Surrender” Erso keeps climbing and shoves herself through a death trap heat vent hole thing. Finally confronted on that catwalk by Krennic, Jyn wastes no time reminding him and herself who she is what she is fighting for. She still may not care for either side of the war that explodes in the sky around her, but she does care about her family that loved her and for what’s the right to do.
Had Jyn not begged the uptight Alliance to listen to her and then go off and rebel on her own, the Empire would eventually find Yavin and destroy it. Ben Kenobi & Yoda would grow old alone in their huts on far away planets, Leia Organa would likely be captured and terminated on the Death Star, and the last Jedi would sit on the moisture farm looking up at the sky and wondering what else is out there for him. With her compassion and ability to never quit the fight, Jyn Erso not only lights the fire of the Rebel Alliance, she plants the seed that ends up saving the entire galaxy and brings about the return of Jedi.
The history books in the Star Wars universe may not have a chapter on the brave Jyn Erso and her unbelievably heroic actions but us viewers of these Journals of the Whills have Rogue One to see just how things went down. The only one who would live to tell the story of Jyn and the daring crew of the Rogue One would be likely Mon Mothma. I would love a story or comic one day as she tells of a passionate criminal daughter of an Imperial scientist who inspired the very spirit of the Alliance that carried forward. Mothma would likely tell the young eager soldiers of the Alliance or the New Republic that everything they have is because of a woman she met once who was named Jyn Erso. People may think that Mothma is just telling a story to inspire others, but we know the truth that often some of the greatest heroes are not the ones who get the medals.