Column: Force brings fans, family together

‘Even as the crawl ended and the film began, I still couldn’t believe that I was there’


Parker Nolan

Sophomore Hannah Ortega finally got to share an experience inspired by her father’s Star Wars passion – seeing “The Force Awakens” on opening night (Boba Fett helmet and lightsaber courtesy of animation teacher Ray Cooper).

Hannah Ortega, Lead Reporter

Editor’s note: You are safe from spoilers in this story. May the force be with you.

The Force was calling to me last night as I walked into the Legacy Cinemark.

I was jittery with excitement as I entered the lobby, where a life-sized model of Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, and R2-D2 sat inside a police tape-marked box while another red-and-black astromech droid roamed around. I took a picture with the figures as a young Princess Leia eagerly waited for her turn. To my surprise, R2-D2 was on and being controlled remotely, and he nudged my leg playfully from behind as I posed.

Characters from Star Wars' past and future adorned the lobby at the
Hannah Ortega
Characters from Star Wars’ past and future adorned the lobby at the Legacy Cinemark.

I was directed to my theater which, surprisingly enough, was allowing people in. I thought there was going to be a long line to wait in to get in the theater. I walked past the concessions, where I saw a Jedi buying some snacks.

I ran up the stairs and to my favorite movie viewing spot- the very back row. I claimed my seat and my mother sat on my right and my father on my left. It was actually my father who introduced me to Star Wars. He had purchased a LEGO Star Wars game for Wii, and I had asked him what Star Wars was. He told me about it and then bought the movies, and he watched them with me, starting with “A New Hope,” just like he had seen them.

I checked the time. 6:30. Only two hours until the movie. My parents and I had agreed on getting there early so we could get a good seat, and I’m glad we did. As it got closer to time, people went up and down the stairs with sorrowful looks as their eyes scanned the rows, trying desperately to find enough seats for their party.

I gazed around the theater and at all of the fans. A few rows in front of me was a mother and father dressed as Princess Leia and Han Solo, and their son was in a Boba Fett costume, complete with a plush jetpack on his back. Their daughter was wearing a Leia onesie, and a few rows down was a man in a Yoda onesie. I smiled as I looked at them and listened to the men nearby talk about the prequels and a Star Wars arcade game. The fans are one of the things I love most about Star Wars. I love seeing how excited people get about these films, and I love knowing that I’m apart of that gigantic fanbase.

As the trailers finally began, there were a few cheers, for at least now we were getting some kind of entertainment. The trailers went on for a while before the lights finally dimmed and everyone clapped excitedly. But, it was only more trailers. At one point a commercial played about silencing your cell phone, and everyone knew what that meant. It was time for the movie. Everyone was silent and didn’t dare to speak or move. And then another commercial came on about silencing your cell phone. Everyone groaned and a few people exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!”

I turned to my mother and said, “They really need to start this movie because I’m getting really anxious.” She chuckled, but I meant it. I felt like I might pass out or cry. My nerd-meter was about to bust, and my heart was racing and my stomach, churning.

The Lucasfilm and Bad Robot logos finally appeared on the screen and everyone quieted and shushed their neighbors. The screen was black.

Do it, I urged the screen. Do it.

And then there it was.

The bold black words lined with gold burst onto the screen with the first triumphant, iconic note from John Williams, and everyone hooted and hollered and applauded.

This was it.

The opening crawl began, and I looked to my left. The man sitting next to my dad was leaning forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands over his mouth.

I think he was crying, and I didn’t blame him, because Star Wars is more than a movie series.

It’s a cultural phenomenon, and people find such joy and thrill and important lessons in these films. And there I was, after all these years, watching the next chapter in my favorite saga of movies ever.

Even as the crawl ended and the film began, I still couldn’t believe that I was there. I couldn’t fathom that I was seeing “The Force Awakens” after waiting for so long. My body was physically shaking.

A new generation is going to grow up with these movies, and it’s pretty amazing that I’m a part of that. It’s amazing that when I grow up, get married, and have kids of my own, I can watch “The Force Awakens” with them and tell them that I was there, that I was at the premiere.

I’ll get to tell them all about the excitement leading up to the film, how I bought my ticket about two months in advance, how ticket sites crashed as people scrambled to buy them, how some people had camped out to see the movie. Seeing that movie was an experience that I’ll never forget.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was the most amazing thing my eyeballs have ever had the pleasure of feasting upon, and I plan on seeing it again very soon. I also can’t wait for the next film and for all of the spin-off movies. My favorite galaxy far, far away is taking off (into hyperspace) once again, and I am more than ready for the ride.