Alex and I have five mischievous nephews. One of the downsides of not having kids is not being able to share things with them, to introduce them to things we cherish, to be there for “firsts.” We try to see all of the nephews several times a year, and I’m happy to say we get to see them a lot more than I saw my aunts and uncles growing up (we lived in a different state from both sides of my family). Considering I still enjoy and cherish my relationships with my aunts and uncles, I’m confident that we’re going to have even more great times with these kiddos as they grow. Still, we miss a lot of stuff. And we’re going to miss even more when we move to another country for a couple years.
All of that made yesterday very special. Two of the nephews came over, parents in tow, to watch the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time. They’re 7 and 9, have been playing with Star Wars-themed toys since about 3 months of age, and they knew large chunks of the story as a result, but still hadn’t seen the real deal. Being that our house has an actual dedicated theater room, complete with ridiculously large speakers, subs, reclining seats, projector, and a huge screen, we were super-excited to share a new-theater experience with them. Alex and I promptly handed Lucas more of our hard-earned money the day before, getting the new blu-ray set. (*shakes fist at Lucas and his wilely ways*)
It was an all-day affair: A New Hope, lunch break, Empire Strikes Back, dinner-prep break, Return of the Jedi, dinner, dessert. My brother-in-law took the kids for walking breaks around the block between movies to work off their energy and excitement, my sister-in-law cooked lunch, and I did dinner.
Alex paused each of the three opening paragraphs for the nephews to trade off reading aloud. Apparently, because of these pauses and the time shown on the screen during it (2:05, signifying two minutes into the movie), they didn’t think they were going to see the whole thing, just the introduction. After A New Hope ended, our younger nephew turned to my sister-in-law and said with a stunned expression, “I thought that was only going to be 2 minutes and five seconds long!” Poor kids thought they were getting the worst tease ever!!
When that was cleared up, and their mom told them that they’d also be staying at our house all day to watch the next two movies, there was an explosion of hyper excitement that involved grins, giggles, and so much jumping they looked like little rubber balls. Then the oldest nephew got a bit serious and said, “are we old enough for that? are we going to watch the emperor, too? are we old enough to watch the emperor?” I guess he really wanted to be sure we were serious, no exceptions, no fast-forwarding through specific scenes.
Some of their comments and questions throughout the movies:
- star destroyer chasing the Tantive IV: “wow that’s REALLY BIG!”
- Alderaan’s destruction: “where’s Princess Leia going to live now?”
- end of A New Hope: “why didn’t Chewie get a medal?” (Oh yes, THEY GET IT.)
- Han saving Luke from freezing on Hoth: “how did Han get Luke to fit into that tauntaun? did he remove all its insides?”
- snowspeeders vs. ATATs: “how fast does a snowspeeder go?”
- Luke finding out Vader is his father (“NO, NO, THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!”): “why’s he so upset? does he think he’ll fall?” (these kids are pretty well versed in Vader-is-Luke’s-dad, so I guess they figure, no big deal, why’s he whining?!)
- asked throughout the movies, with a little exasperation by Return of the Jedi: “is Luke a Jedi now?”
…and oh, yes, about every five minutes: “Did they die? Is he dead? Did Vader kill that captain/general/admiral? Are all those people lying on the ground asleep or dead?” By the beginning of Empire when Luke’s dragged off by the wampa and Han looks like he’s freezing and they asked if they would both make it through, I was beginning to doubt it, myself. THESE MOVIES ARE FULL OF CARNAGE. I don’t remember being remotely disturbed by them as a kid, and my parents let me watch them without a peep (whereas Saturday morning cartoons were verboten). I initially thought that, yeah, Darth Vader force-choking people might be disturbing, but I had completely forgotten how A New Hope features so many rebel and stormtrooper deaths that it looks like the Tantive IV is carpeted with corpses. Before the force-choking.
But they soldiered through all the unanticipated violence and had a great time. When questioned, they both said their favorite parts were “ALL OF IT, ALL OF IT, THE WHOLE MOVIES,” although when their mom clarified that this meant their favorite part included the Emperor force-zapping Luke, they refined their statement. We then loaded them up with brownies and ice cream before sending them all home, ensuring a massive energy/sugar crash for my sister-and-brother-in-law to deal with. But on the bright side: we helped form two future geeks, and I hope they won’t soon forget that their first Star Wars experience was at their uncle and aunt’s house, and ended with a bowl full of yumminess. (I did tear up at the beginning and the end of A New Hope; those nephews are cute, it was a Big Deal, and my ovaries are quite geeky.)
I’m so glad they came.