What ‘Star Wars’ Means For Us (Part 2)

We are finally a week away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and it’s truly been a great ride. Although Not Yet Rated has only been around for a few months, we’ve been dissecting and analyzing it since the day the news broke in 2012. It’s nothing short of amazing to know that the one thing that binds us all together regardless of race, gender, and locale is Star Wars. These are memories that captured our childhoods and introduced us to some of the greatest films ever made. It’s great to send these final few memories out to you guys and we hope you enjoy reading them just as much as we had making them. Even if The Force Awakens proves to be a disappointment, it won’t be able to tarnish these moments of pure childhood glee.  – Aahil Dayani

“If it weren’t for the existence of the prequels, I may have never even seen the original masterpieces”

I love the Star Wars prequels.

Hold on, that doesn’t seem right. Let me start over.

I was most unfortunate to grow up when the prequels were still going on. While Revenge of the Sith is actually quite good, the first 2 of that trilogy are the cinematic equivalent of being forced to eat feces all while being punched in the gut over and over again. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too harsh, but you get the gist. But wait just a minute; didn’t I just say that I love the prequels? Well, in a way I do.

If it weren’t for the existence of the prequels, I may have never even seen the original masterpieces. Basically, I’m grateful for the prequels. They engulfed my childhood in memorabilia from a galaxy far, far, away. I had Star Wars themed birthdays, christmases, and more, all thanks to the prequels. I hope The Force Awakens and all its memorabilia attract young kids to the original movies just like the prequels did for me.  

Now, let’s dive into what these movies meant to me. Unfortunately, I can not remember which Star Wars movie I watched first but I will always remember receiving Star Wars: A New Hope (as it was recently retitled) on DVD (back when they were a thing) for Christmas along with some plastic lightsabers and plenty more Star Wars stuff. That is when the obsession really started.

As a kid, you know how you love EVERY movie that you watch? For me, The Phantom Menace was the first movie that I saw where even at a young age, I knew that it wasn’t good. Of course I was WOWED by the podracing scene and the Darth Maul fight just like everybody was at the time but I just knew that it wasn’t good. Even then I knew that Jar Jar Binks was annoying. Then, Attack of the Clones happened and it was even worse. Ugh. Revenge of the Sith, however, I didn’t fully appreciate until much more recently but it was always easy to tell that it was the best prequel.

One thing that made my love for these movies increase expeditiously was The Lego Star Wars video games. I played the living hell out of those games on my PlayStation 2 and it was awesome. Even the prequels seemed better because of that game. I didn’t just have the games on PS2 too. I spent many hours on my Gameboy Advance playing the same exact game. Let’s just say that, when they make a new Lego Star Wars for the new trilogy, I’m definitely going to play it.

Also, just in case it wasn’t solidified that I love Star Wars, when I went to film camp one summer, I made a short film about a guy who has never seen Star Wars and enlists the help of 2 nerds to teach him in the ways of the force so that he can impress a girl that he likes who is a huge Star Wars fan. While it was written in one day, shot in one day, and edited in one day, the outcome of the film is pretty spectacular. And does the movie end in an epic toy lightsaber battle? The answer is: of course. – Colin M.

“It is easily one of my favorite movie franchises of all time”

Like many others, Star Wars has been a part of life ever since my youth. It is easily one of my favorite movie franchises of all time. I love the characters, the special effects, the stories, the lightsabers, the Millennium Falcon, John Williams’ score, and just about everything else to come from the movies – save for the first two prequels. The original trilogy is a masterpiece, and few other trilogies in cinematic history can compare. Of course, I have had my fair share of action figures over the years. In fact, I still own three lightsaber toys, among other collectibles.
I am beyond excited to see the saga continue in a couple weeks with The Force Awakens. It looks to be a promising continuation from the original trilogy. Star Wars is back in full force, and I couldn’t be happier. – Paul Romano

“I got a bit carried away and I may have Force kicked her on to the ground”

My earliest Star Wars memory is from May 19th, 1999. I was having a birthday party and some of my cousins were at my house. My dad and my uncle had disappeared for a while, but none of us kids noticed as we were too busy playing Sega Genesis and eating cake and shit. Well, a couple of hours after they’d gone, they came back and gathered up a few of us and we went to the movie theater to see Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. At the time, I had no idea what I was watching. I had heard of Star Wars before, but had never seen the movies. I fell in love with the images on the screen (little did I know that I would later on learn to hate them).

Afterward, I learned that my dad and my uncle had already seen the movie and they wanted to share it with us. That was a pretty cool birthday experience. It doesn’t top the surprise trip to Disney World the following year, but it’s one of my favorite memories. Just seeing my dad in a sort of fanboy mode. From that day forward, I was a fan of Star Wars. Not a total fanboy – no, that would come years later when I would attempt to buy every lightsaber under the sun.

When Attack of the Clones came out in 2002, my mom bought lightsabers for my brother and myself. My brother got the Skywalker lightsaber and I got Count Dooku’s. We loved those lightsabers and would duel almost every day. I still have that saber, but it’s missing a bulb and needs new batteries. I decided that I needed a new lightsaber because I deserve it. With my sights set on Kylo Ren’s weapon, I set out to find the right model for me. My local Target had one that I thought was right. I hopped in the car and drove over with every intention to buy a Kylo Ren lightsaber, but they were out of them. In my excitement, I may have forgotten to check the store’s stock.

I was of course disappointed, but I hyped myself up with the idea that I’d have another lightsaber in my life. So I looked at other options and decided that I would buy the color changing Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader lightsaber. It was a bit more expensive than the one I set out to buy originally and thought, “You work hard. Treat yo’ self.” And that’s what I did. That was lightsaber #1.

I got home and took my little sister outside to fight her. I gave her my old Dooku blade and me with my fancy new Anakin/Vader laser sword (it has the Force FX type blade and is missing the progressive light-up sequence, but for half the price). I got a bit carried away and I may have Force kicked her on to the ground.  It was kinda dark and she wasn’t faring so well with a dead lightsaber, so I told her to get in the car. I drove back to Target and she picked out Luke’s Return of the Jedi lightsaber. That was lightsaber #2.

I still *really* wanted a Kylo Ren lightsaber. If you don’t – let’s be honest – you’re a loser. I did some research by watching YouTube video reviews and discovered that the Disney Store had an exclusive Kylo Ren model. It had the progressive firing sequence just like the movie and the much more expensive Force FX sabers. There was an extra bonus feature which totally sold me: it vibrates. Yes, the Disney Store exclusive Kylo Ren lightsaber vibrates when you “lock” blades with another lightsaber. What luck, they were having a sale. That was lightsaber #3. – Caleb Hamilton

“It became an essential part of my me”

I’ve always enjoyed the original Star Wars trilogy, in fact I can’t even remember the first time I saw it. They were always just a part of my life. When I was ten years old, my dad took me on a two and a half hour car ride to see a late night screening of the original movie that a theatre had put on to celebrate one of the film’s anniversaries. Apparently it was a big deal because almost everyone was either dressed in costumes or were wearing some of the coolest Star Wars shirts I’d ever seen. It was at that event that I realized just how big of a phenomenon these movies were, and what they meant to so many people. That’s when Star Wars, and films in general, became more to me than just something to watch for entertainment. It was just a bunch of pictures I looked at for 2 hours in a dark room. It was a film that changed my life. It became an essential part of my me. It turned me into the person I am today. – ABARy

“You’re goddamn right, Han, we’re home”

I grew up during the longest drought between Star Wars movies. Before Disney, before the prequels, and before the Special Editions. The 90s. There was almost a decade and a half of (mostly) untampered original trilogy epicness since the release of Return of the Jedi. We will likely not see a Star Wars drought that big for several decades (if ever).  All there was to do was watch the movies (without argument or caveat), and maybe read some books. But we didn’t have copies of the original trilogy in our home. We just had a VHS copy of The Making of Star Wars. A behind the scenes look at the creation of what is now known as A New Hope, hosted and narrated by R2-D2 and C-3PO.

I watched that tape basically on repeat, and loved Star Wars more each time. It was just a bunch of people playing with their imaginations. The Death Star trench run was filmed by running the camera past models built on a ping-pong table, Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas dog, the ships were just miniatures, and everyone was drawing inspiration from their favorite movies and film serials.

I was a generation behind those that had their mind blown when the Devastator comes across the top of the screen in 1977, but the idea that translating George Lucas’s imagination to the big screen with high production value was as simple as the creation of realistic set pieces and the use of some basic camera techniques blew my mind. One of the few times it can be said that seeing the sausage made doesn’t ruin your appetite.

When it was announced that the original trilogy was getting spruced up and returning to theaters, I couldn’t be more excited. My mom subscribed me to the Star Wars Insider magazine, which always included articles showing how they would make the effects work, or how each other-wordly set was really just comprised of stuff we had all throughout our home. Coffee makers, power tools, HVAc hosing, and ice cream makers. The movies that I loved so much were really nothing more than a good imagination, some household supplies, a little duct tape, and some hard work.

The special-edition re-releases marked the first time I ever lined up to see a movie opening night.  I’ve waited in line for many movies on their opening nights since then, but none of them provide quite the same experience as Star Wars. There’s a magic on the screen that you can feel in the lines as fans eagerly wait for the opening crawl, even if it’s a movie we’ve already seen hundreds of times.

That’s what’s most exciting about Star Wars being back in theaters. In an age where studios and editorial mandate overrule the imagination of brilliant filmmakers, and production technology diminishes the need for practical sets, props, or even creative camera use, The Force Awakens promises a breath of fresh air. A time when a peek behind the curtain at the making of a movie can be just as mind blowing as what actually happens in the final cut.

Having lived through the Star Wars fandom’s turn from unconditionally loving everything Star Wars (except maybe Ewoks), to the polarizing division on the prequels and Lucas’s changes to the original trilogy, I can’t say there’s not an emotional catharsis to seeing the Harrison Ford in the trailer, standing on the real set of The Millennium Falcon saying phrases like, “It’s true, all of it,” and “Chewie, we’re home.”

You’re goddamn right, Han, we’re home. – Stephen Colbert

Well, there you have it. It was amazing to share these memories with all of our readers. There’s a bit of grace in knowing that a few of our memories are going to be made next week when we see The Force Awakens for the first time. Come back next week to check out our review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and plenty more Star Wars stuff. May the force be with you.

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

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