The Beardcasters New Hope...




The anticipation of The Force Awakens, in theaters December 18th, has created a stir of emotion in the public eye since it was announced.  Will this be the greatest movie ever? Will it be the highest grossing movie to date? Will it satisfy all the die hard fans? Will we finally know if  J.J.Abrams was the right man for the job? There are so many questions we can ask about this movie. Will this movie be what, we as fans have really asked for?...or are we more excited about the hype, and unknown, behind this movie. 


May of 1977 found a four year old boy doing what a four year old boy does, tinker toys and eating the dogs bones. My concerns in life were trying to find where mom hid the dog bones, to keep me from eating them, playing with my toys.  On a visit to reconnect with family in Illinois, my Uncle decided it would be fun to take us all to see the new space drama, "Star Wars".  I specifically recall certain events I experienced as a child that still seem like yesterday. As a child one has a collection of memories that are fragmented in their mind waiting to be put in a proper place.  One of my prolific memories took place during the opening scenes of A New Hope.  My memory recorded this moment so specifically that it stands out  at the forefront of my childhood data bank. The giant Star Destroyer flying across the screen, the battle onboard Princess Leia's ship, Luke standing watching the two moons set; these felt so real, it was as if they were happening right in front of me.  My recollection seems to have completely stopped after Luke goes to look for the droids - maybe sensory overload?  I am surprised my infantile mind accepted what it was given to that point and continued to function.


  My whole childhood seemed to revolve around Star Wars and the continued onslaught of fanciful marketing. The toys, books, and lunch boxes were the mainstays of my youth. I remember going to Woolworths and getting my first action figure, Darth Vader, and my sister got Ben Kenobi. There were the pictures books, comics, and follow along records that taught me how to read.  Birthdays and Christmas were nothing but gifts of Star Wars pajamas, action figures, and other assorted pieces. Halloween was year after year, plastic suit after plastic suit, of Stormtroopers, Boba Fett, or Chewbacca. I can vividly recall the smell of those thin, hard plastic masks with the elastic strings that held them to my head. I was those characters every time I put on those costumes...I was Star Wars!!!   


With the release of the Empire Strikes Back, my excitement was almost more than I could bear. It was as if the excitement of 20 Christmases and 20 birthdays were being bundled into one magical moment. I remember pestering my parents all day long, pacing with more excitement than I could handle, asking, "Is it time to go yet?”  It was a school night so going to the movies was a rare treat.  I had no idea what the movie was about, other than it contained my favorite characters from A New Hope. After seeing the movie, Empire had left me feeling weird and sad at the same time. Weird, because I felt like the bad guys won, and sad because I felt like the bad guys won.  Ending on such a low note, I only had one place to go: I needed to brace myself for the overwhelming excitement of the final Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi!


"Bantha Tracks" fan letters kept me going between Empire and the release of Return of the Jedi.  I was an elite member of the Star Wars fan club, with all the privileges afforded to the a supporter of my esteemed status.  This membership gave me more insight into the world I was growing up in; it gave me the ability to speak Ewok and prepared me for the "real" world - the Star Wars world. The anticipation to was more than anything I had ever felt in my life. This was going to answer all of the many questions that burned in my mind about how it all went together.


The day I went to see Jedi I was even more excited than I was for Empire. The last thing on my mind was that this would be an end to my childhood saga and youthful anticipation.


Along came The Ewok movies, yeah they battled for Endor, and star cruisers went "swish and crash." George Lukas tried to bribe and excite us with action superstar, Wilford Brimley, around 1985 with the movie, Ewoks Battle for Endor.  "I dug it", made for TV movies was the trend and I was the target demographic.  With the VHS set to record,  it allowed me to watch, what felt like a thousand times, Ewoks Battle for Endor. I knew almost every line. It was another vein flowing into my existence. I needed the Star Wars universe as much as junkie needs to shoot up heroine .  It wanted my addiction and dependency for its own selfish existence.  I needed this universe to be FEEL alive. That was the last time I  remember feeling alive. At this point I knew it was over and I had accepted  the Ewok movies as the Methadone to my Star Wars heroin . George Lucas had successfully freed me of my childhood addiction by the late 80's. I was clean and sober from the lust and desire I had.  I was growing up and girls were now becoming something from a galaxy far, far away.  An imprint was left deep inside of me, knowing this experience was something profound; something important-it was my pile of mashed potatoes. 


Come the year 1998, I learn that the childhood saga would be reborn. To now be almost age 24 knowing I was going to be able to relive a childhood "high" again. All the speculation and hype that surrounded the movie was almost too intense to take as an adult.  This is what the children of the 70's wanted, to continue to live this dream.  You couldn't go anywhere and not experience Star Wars. The marketing was so insane for The Phantom Menace, that everywhere I  went there was something. They were trying to build such hype for this new movie that it seemed to take on a life of its own.  I can  remember the different levels of anticipation getting ready for the new movie.  What a change it was from so many years ago.  I finally had the mental capacity to actually understand what I was going to experience.  As a fan, I was eager to see where this was going to go and how it was going to develop.  Was I about to "relive" my childhood addiction through this new saga? Was I going to feel the lust, desire, and anticipation I wished for?


Yes, I craved excitement and adventure for sure, but I knew that there were three new movies coming and I knew how this series would inevitably end.  There was such an immense build up leading to the release of Phantom Menace . The excitement of the announcement,  when I was able to buy pre-sale tickets, and the excitement of the day I could finally see this masterpiece.  The day my friends and I spent 12 hours in line  to buy pre-sale tickets for the midnight showing was an adventure in itself. I was  around a group of other people who were liked minded and wanted the same thing. It was an experience I can't explain. It was a new type of feeling I was having towards the Star Wars universe, a feeling of kinship.  Anticipation was something of an understatement and counting down the weeks, days, and moments to the release was nothing more than a daunting task of patience.  We all wanted this, and we wanted it now!!!  The electricity was in the air and it was finally the time to open the door to be a kid again!  I remember loosing sleep with thoughts of what was going to happen on that screen.  It was a very exciting experience, to say the least, getting ready for Phantom Menace.


If you have ever seen the movie Fanboys you will know where my thoughts go from here.  This movie explains it all completely, a group of friends who are huge Star Wars fans and their desire to re-capture the feeling of A New Hope .  This movie follows a group of friends who experienced Star Wars at a young age and are now getting ready for the release of Phantom Menace, not unlike my friends and I.  The sad part is, it follows a character who is dying and may not be able to see the movie when it is released, and his friends devise a plan to break in Skywalker Ranch to see the new movie.  A very entertaining movie that really explains  the true thought process of a true hardcore Star Wars fan.  If you haven't seen this movie please do so, it will make those who may not understand the point I am trying to make, much clearer. 


Episodes 1, 2, and 3 came and went like a series of movies.  It wasn't the experience, I think, they had hoped for, nor was it what I really thought it would be. Maybe the anticipation of Episode 1 was super hype and the desire to bring a feeling back to the core audience.    The content was good.  I remember sitting in that theater during the midnight showing feeling like a little kid again.  I had knots in my stomach, and wondered what was going to happen next; it was an amazing feeling. Though, I knew at the end of the day all knew what the outcome was going to be.  I accepted the fact that this was "my" continuation in this magical universe. I knew where the prequel was going, and that took away from the fire and zest of episode 2 and 3.  After the fire for a new Star Wars movie was extinguished by Phantom Menace, I was left with two more movies that I really didn't need to be excited for.  For me, the air was let out of the balloon.  I watched the balloon slowly deflate as I climaxed with Anakin becoming Darth Vader in Episode 3.  My little fantasy land was now complete and I  needed to accept what was given to me.  The Star Wars universe was complete and I needed to embrace the full project as a whole. Woopie....


Clone Wars, a fun cartoon adventure for the whole family.  This wasn't  the Star Wars I grew up with. It was more of the Phantom Menaces red headed step child.  It seemed more like a ploy to sell toys and stay relevant with the youth of today.  I guess it was popular with all the children but my friends and I all agree, not for us.  I do remember  a gleam of hope that the Clone Wars movie would suck me back in. Nope, I could barely make it through the movie and found it most unappealing. The TV show was completely unwatchable for me. It was "too fantasy" and didn't hold the solid form of the original movies. The original movies, Hope, Empire, and Jedi were all about an adventure and how they got to the end. Phantom, Attack, and Revenge were nothing but eye candy and telling a story we already knew.  The Star Wars franchise was now dead to me, as was Mr Lucas and his "glitter babies". All I could do is cling to the memories I had from my youth, and they were memories of just that, A New Hope; I saw no future for my beloved saga.


George Lucas sells franchise to Disney for 4 billion dollars

In 2012. What did this mean and how would the fans react?  Did this mean there would be new life brought into what many had speculated to be a done story?  Was there going to be an episode 7?  The seed had been planted for the continuation of the Star Wars empire.  This announcement excited long time fans with an idea the saga would continue.  When it was finally announced that Disney would  continue the story, and franchise; it was as if the magic was back. The excitement and anticipation instantly came back full force.  The flurry of emotions that came with the release of the first teaser trailer. Seeing Han and Chewbacca again, was something I haven't felt in a long time. All the online videos, featuring interviews with the original cast and including J.J.Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy, said everything I  wanted to hear. They gave us back a youthful feeling, many of us haven't felt since we were children.  I can't take the anticipation any longer, I want to see this movie so bad...or do I?


Once I sit down in that theater at midnight  December 18th and the movie begins, I will never be able to go back again. Once it is over, I will probably wipe the tears from my eyes and reflect upon what I had just witnessed. I know that once I see the movie, It can't be unseen; better yet, once I experience it, I can never relive it.  The movie will be over and I will have a closure.  Wonderment of what it is about and what each of the characters rolls are in the plot, will finally be presented. The anticipation will be all gone.  There will be episode 8 and 9 to come, and many spin offs to be excited about, but it is the anticipation of the FIRST one that is what attracts me to it. Maybe I enjoy the feeling and exhilaration of the unknown more than I do the content.  I remember more of how all the original movies made me feel, not so much what they were about.  The anticipation for each of the original movies is what is really locked inside my mind, a euphoric series of moments that lead up to the payoff.


With only a few months to go, we have but speculation from a few images in a trailer. Any foresight seems to be under tight lock and key. Characters have finally been announced, but not their significance in the whole game. A whole new line of toys has just been released revealing some new and interesting characters.  Just as with each release, the release of new merchandise really gets fans super pumped for the release of the movie.  I am loving this more than I could have imagined, it is like this marketing is aimed right at me.  I couldn't be happier not knowing anything!


I will no doubt love this movie more than life, but for right now I am enjoying waiting for it more than I can't wait for it.  I am feeling youthful again and am taking in these feelings each day. I want to sit down in my seat, feeling the electricity in that movie theater, I want to live my childhood again.  My life started with A New Hope, and I hope to continue arresting those feelings through what is yet to come.  It is a youthful joy that I know many fans are truly feeling for The Force Awakens.  I can't wait for the new galactic tale that hopefully holds the legacy of what came before it, I can also be patient and take in all the wonderment and joy of the anticipation to  enjoy what The Force Awakens holds.