What ‘Star Wars’ Means For Us (Part 1)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out in two short weeks and no one is as excited as the NotYetRated team. For many of us, Star Wars has been this electric and crucial franchise that has been with us since our childhood. Hundreds of hours have been spent trying to recreate Lightsaber battles in our backyards and playing the latest Star Wars game until we couldn’t feel our thumbs. The franchise is truly special and with it returning back into cinemas on the 18th, we thought it would be great to dig up some of our favorite Star Wars memories. – Aahil Dayani

“It totally broke me”

I’m not much of a crier when it comes to movies. I laugh if it’s funny, I jump if it’s scary, but rarely do I become visibly emotional watching a film. Yes, I got a bit teary-eyed when Rose let go of Jack. And when Andy said goodbye to Buzz and Woody? I’ll admit, I sniffled. But nothing moved me more than the ending to Return of the Jedi. I was seven year old when I watched it for the first time. I’ll never forget the moment Luke unmasked his father. Watching the first two Star Wars films, I was terrified of Darth Vader. A cold and cruel menace. Every time we saw him, Darth Vader was taller than everybody around him. He had such an intimidating presence, so I was shell-shocked to see him this fragile, dying in Luke’s arm. When I saw Vader as he struggled to breathe, pale-faced and eyes drooped, I finally realized what he was: a human. A human who finally realized what he had done to himself; Vader had thrown away his incredible potential in exchange for power and security. David Prowse’s silent performance evokes so many emotions, and rounds out that character arc beautifully. It was by far the most powerful moment in the Star Wars saga. And it totally broke me. – Jeff Kemp

“In 2 weeks, I’ll see my first Star Wars movie in theaters”

My experience with the Star Wars saga is not quite the conventional one. My dad didn’t show it to me when I was 6 years old, making me love movies my whole life. I just kinda saw them randomly, in a weird order. With each viewing, I’d learn new bits and pieces from the saga in the wrong order. I saw the clone wars unfold before I learnt Vader was Luke’s father. Somehow, I pieced it all together, like a weird puzzle with laser swords and a dysfunctional family. My memories don’t end with jumbled viewings. Instead, they seeped through my nonchalant visits to my friend’s houses. I’d celebrate the saga with more than just the viewings of the films, I’d do weird stuff with my friends. We’d always have Lightsaber fights with my friend’s in my buddy’s backyard. But not just fights, we had a league. We’d draft people we went to school with, who wouldn’t play with us (which, thinking back on it, was kind of sad), to be on the dark side, or the light. I would always be Mace Windu, which, thinking back on it, was oddly racist.

My journey to discovering Anakin’s wrath and redemption began with Attack of the Clones. I was 6 and just saw the VHS tape at my local Blockbuster and decided to rent it. Brief tangent: It’s crazy how we’d just walk into a Blockbuster and choose the movie with the coolest cover. Now, I just pick the movie with the best reviews or the cast/crew I like the most. There’s no sense of discovery anymore. F*ck streaming. Anyways, back to Episode II. When I was 6, being able to look at a young Anakin with his saber in a cool pose was good enough. I didn’t know a single thing about the movie, but I was drawn to it. Something about it screamed at me. If I could go back in time, I’d tell myself to choose A New Hope, but honestly, that’d make for a pretty boring story. I also still can’t time travel, but that’s for another time. So, since I was stuck with Attack of the Clones, I went home, watched it. I was blown away. Even arguably the worst Star Wars movie blew me away. The lore of the characters, the creativity of the creatures, the lightsabers, it all astonished me. I named it my favorite movie, obviously. I didn’t know any better. For some reason, I never decided to go back and rent the other movies.

Later that year, when I was over at my friend Josh’s house, I ventured to a galaxy far, far away, once again. We went in his basement and decided to watch a movie. His dad picked The Empire Strikes Back. I had no idea what I was about to experience. I had no idea it was even in the same series as Episode II. Anyways, my viewing of this was one of my most notable memories of the saga. 30 seconds in, my friend leans over to his dad and asks, “Is this the one where Vader tells Luke he’s his father?” Now, this didn’t completely ruin the movie for me. I finished it and thought it was pretty good. Later on, I’ve obviously watched it many more times and respect it as the brilliant piece of filmmaking that it is.

Next, I saw Jedi at another friend’s house, then rented A New Hope. Loved both. I saw Revenge of the Sith on DVD right after theaters, and enjoyed it. Then, just this past summer, I saw Phantom Menace, and was surprised that it was actually that bad.

Another fond memory I have with Star Wars happened earlier this year. My friend James was telling me that he didn’t like the later movies because of the budget cuts. He thought they came out in chronological order. I thought that was very funny. If I look back at my Star Wars memories, they don’t really stand out and that’s genuinely exciting. I remember movies like Project X and The Blair Witch Project more. Why? Because they’re a part of me. (F*ck you, Project X is awesome.) And each year, new movies come out that I identify with more and more that I just love, each right down to their core. This year, The Force Awakens is going to join my roster. I’m not sure if the movie is going to be good or not, but looking back, I’ll remember the journey. So, my absolute favorite Star Wars memory is writing this. Star Wars never influenced me but I have a feeling when I go back to that galaxy far, far away, it’ll be the beginning of a new journey.

It’s something that makes The Force Awakens special to me. It’s the first Star Wars movie I’m getting the complete experience with. I’ll remember back in 2012 when the new trilogy was announced. I’ll remember freaking out when I saw that JJ Abrams was directing. I’ll remember crying whilst watching all three teasers. I’ll remember going to Force Friday. I’ll remember scouring through my town to get a Kylo Ren Black Series figure. I’ll remember getting my tickets the second they were released. I’ll remember joking around with my friend by saying he looks like BB-8. I took that joke so far that I bought him a lanyard with it on it and a plush one that rolls around in his van. Hell, I’m drinking tea from a BB-8 mug right now. This is the stuff I’m going to remember. It’s just so damn cool. I watched this little seed of an announcement develop and grow to be what looks to be possibly the biggest film of all time. In 2 weeks, I’ll see my first Star Wars movie in theaters. These are my Star Wars memories. I’m living them right now.
– Matt Saponar

“All I knew then was that Jar-Jar was the best and that the lightsaber battles were the greatest things to ever happen to me”

For the longest time, Star Wars has been this weird property that has always been prominent in my life. My early memories of it are a bit muffled. I remember waiting for my mom to pick me up one day from Grade 2 and the topic of Star Wars came up. I had always heard about this “Star Wars” thing but never fully explored it or realized what it was. A girl told me that the first one (The Phantom Menace) was the best one and I took her words and relayed them to my mom on the drive home. The girl told me how cool it all was; the spaceships, the podrace, the fights, all of it. I almost despised my mom for picking me up because she had to stop telling me about this world. I just had to see this movie, it sounded like the greatest thing ever. And so, my mom stopped at the library and we both went in. Right between a two-parter Goosebumps episode VHS and some other movie, I found The Phantom Menace elegantly tucked. I grabbed both the Goosebumps episode and The Phantom Menace and hastily made my way to the counter to check out.  As I popped it in, the excitement started to swell up in my throat. And guess what? It was the greatest movie ever made. I didn’t know a bunch of nerds and fanboys bashed on it for its ridiculously offensive comic-relief or emphasis on trade negotiations. All I knew then was that Jar-Jar was the best and that the lightsaber battles were the greatest things to ever happen to me. This is my earliest Star Wars memory and words can’t even fathom how grateful I am that my mom picked me up late that day. Without traffic, you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be patiently waiting for the 18th.

Shortly after this, I received a Gameboy Advance from my grandparents. I didn’t really understand the concept of a videogame but nonetheless, I basked in what the sprite-based console had to offer. I never really finished games and was mildly annoyed by their difficulty but that all changed when I got Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force. Looking back, the game suffers from its tedious controls and repetitive nature but that didn’t matter. It was the first game I ever beat and the first game I replayed. It holds a very special place in my heart because my love for videogames all started with that game. Funny thing – I played this game well before I saw the original films so I knew them beat by beat when I eventually saw them. My other gaming memories include excessively playing Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy on my PSP and The Complete Saga on my Wii. Without these games, I never would’ve been able to fall in love with video games and all they embody.

My most recent memory happened in September with Force Friday. I asked my friends if they’d be willing to line up at midnight to get Star Wars toys and I was greeted with an odd answer: “Yes”. These guys aren’t the biggest Star Wars fans but they were willing to line up just to embrace that fandom. But it might’ve also been simply because it was my birthday on the eve of this event. We all walked to our closest Toys “R” Us which was also the only store in Toronto celebrating such a holiday. We got there at about 9 P.M. and it was dead. Only a select few people and a lone broadcaster from the local news. However, as the night went on, and the line grew to over 200+ people dressed up and just having fun, it became an enormous nerd hub. People pulled up in their cars with the Cantina music playing and it was just this nerd-vana. As midnight graced us, we all raced in to find ourselves with a very finite stock. I didn’t get much but the experience was unbelievable. It was great to know that there were hundreds of people just like me that adored Star Wars enough that they’d spend their Thursday nights lining up for toys. As we walked back home in the dead of the night, I couldn’t help but imagine how exciting the 18th would be. I went to work the next day and my coworker asked me why I looked so tired and without even the slightest hint of irony, I said, “I lined up for Star Wars toys. And it was great.” 

When Revenge of the Sith came out on DVD, I remember seeing a billboard with Vader on it that said something along the lines of “The Saga is now complete” or “Witness the final film in the Star Wars Saga.” I remember looking up at it and being somewhat sad. I was taken aback by it because I didn’t want the films to end. I wanted to see more stories unfold in a galaxy where anything was possible. Throughout my younger years, Star Wars was always this background thing that I never really appreciated until October 30th, 2012.  I came home from school and sat in the very chair that I’m currently sitting in and opened up my laptop. I was graced with the news that new Star Wars movies were coming out and it was a day filled with glee and speculation. I met every bit of news that came out after that day with careful analysis. I’ve seen this movie grow from a headline, to a teaser trailer, to tangible tickets in my pocket. I’ve seen myself actually cry during all the trailers. I’ve seen myself refresh the ticketing website for three hours just to get tickets. I’ve seen myself become a new person during this brief chapter of my life. Change is good because it brings new things to the table. Change is what Star Wars needed after its ten year break. Change brought us all together. When this movie comes out in two weeks, an emotional weight unlike any other is going to be lifted off of me. A wave of catharsis is going to swoop over me and take me with it. I’m going to cry like a f*cking baby in that theater. Whether it’s good or bad, neither will matter. I’ve waited three years to sit in a dark room with strangers and I’d wait three more if it led up to this movie. – Aahil Dayani

This is just the beginning of our Star Wars memories! Come back next week to read up on Colin M.’s love/hate relationship with the prequels and Caleb Hamilton’s Lightsaber collection!

See Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters on December 18, 2015.

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