The day is fast approaching when we gather our loved ones together to celebrate a simple man who brought a message of joy to millions: our Lord, George Lucas. Yes, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is about to hit cinemas, and we Wookiee-worshippers will be thronging the pews down at the local multiplex, ringing in a whole new era of ‘Star Wars’ fandom.
But what about those poor souls who have never seen ‘Star Wars’? Who have never felt the simple joy of robot banter or the warmth of an Ewok’s campfire? When I learn that one of my good friends – former Time Out TV expert Phil Harrison – is suffering from just such deprivation, I have to step in.
Despite growing up in the early ’80s heyday of ‘Star Wars’ mania, Phil has somehow managed to miss all six movies. He puts on a brave face, but I can tell that deep down he is crying out for some Yoda-like guidance. In a spirit of festive generosity, I decide to take him under my X-wing and tutor him once and for all in the ways of the Force. It’s time for a marathon.
Following a heated outcry on Twitter (‘for the love of God, think of the newbie!’ screamed one @timeoutfilm follower) I opt to present the trilogy in release order, starting with the cheerful low-budget thrills of the original and working up to the CG-slathered sprawl of the prequels. Fuelled with pizza (the Hutt), blue milk and strong beer, and surrounded by a rogues’ gallery of action figures and memorabilia, we blast off for a galaxy far, far away…
Star Wars (1977)
For me, the opening of ‘Star Wars’ is like coming home: everything’s just where you left it, and all your friends are there to greet you (I know, I know, it’s pathetic). But might it look a bit rough-around-the-edges to someone who’s never visited before? ‘It reminds me of old “Doctor Who”,’ says Phil, and I have to resist the urge to hit him over the head with my plastic lightsaber.
R2-D2 is kidnapped by the junk-dealing Jawas. ‘Is that a wookiee?’ asks Phil. No, it’s not a wookiee. ‘Is it an orc?’ Not for the last time, I channel my inner Jedi master and exercise patience.
Phil is making our trip even more nostalgic by repeating almost word-for-word the observations my dad would make when we watched ‘Star Wars’ on telly at Christmas. So Darth Vader ‘has a respiratory problem’, C-3PO ‘is a bit camp’ and R2 ‘looks like a bin’. I’m surprised when the film isn’t interrupted by adverts for Watney’s Red Barrel and the Woolworth’s sale.