Welcome Back! Thanks for coming back for Round 2 of my favorite memories from my quest to see The Force Awakens at least 13 times in the theater [a feat I surpassed, as luck* would have it. *What would Obi-Wan say? 😉 ]. When we met earlier this month, I recounted two of my most memorable viewings, and if you're ready, I'm set to jump right into the fray to continue where I left off. Here we go…
Seeing The Force Awakens as a family definitely was a highlight as I made my way toward viewing #13. The first — and only — time all four of us sat down in a theater together to see the latest chapter in the Star Wars Saga occurred on a Sunday morning, December 27th, to be exact. As we got ready for the theater to darken, a thrilling feeling washed over me — and it had absolutely nothing to do with seeing Star Wars. I was so excited to see the film with my family, and couldn't wait to hear whether Caitlin, in particular, liked it [just returned from Japan, this was her first time seeing TFA]. I waited with bated breath for the opportunity to discuss J.J. Abrams's film with all of them. Of course, having just settled into our comfortable seats, I'd have to wait more than two hours to have our ‘little chat'. 😉 By the way, this was both Tom's and Erin's second time seeing TFA, and both of them came away with new insights. When the lights came on, I turned to Caitlin, and asked how she liked this newest installment in the Saga. “Very much,” she said, adding she was looking forward to seeing it again — in 2D — before returning to Japan. [Sadly, that didn't work into her schedule, and, to date, has not seen it since.] This, Viewing #4, was the one and only time I saw TFA in 3D, and on an IMAX screen, to boot. Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of 3D films. I don't think the special effect adds that much to a movie. As always, a good film is a result of good character development and good storytelling, and Episode VII was loaded with both. It did not need any gimmicks. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you when I say this was — by far — my most special viewing of TFA. Even more so than seeing it on the 17th. Seeing Star Wars with the people I hold most dear to my heart makes for a very special experience indeed. 🙂
It would be about two weeks before I'd see TFA again, and what a viewing that was! Weeks in the planning, I ventured down to Chicago on a chilly Sunday, on January 10, 2016, to catch Viewing #5 with my good friends Lisa, Bethany and Erika! It was absolutely wonderful to see Episode VII with my Chicago contingent of Star Wars friends. 🙂 You know how I mentioned it's great to see TFA multiple times because, among other aspects, one walks away with new insights after each viewing? Up to this point, I had been looking for some mention of ‘1138' in TFA because it was obvious J.J. Abrams was paying homage to George Lucas and Star Wars throughout the film. Where could it be? [I could have searched online for the info, if such a reference was made, but I prefer to make my own discoveries. 😉 ] Finally, finally, I heard that for which I was searching! [If you're still looking — and want to make the discovery on your own — please skip the next two sentences.] After rounding up Han, Chewie and Finn on Takodana, one of the stormtroopers alerts TK38 to the insurgents' capture. ‘K' is the 11th letter in the alphabet. 🙂 Back to seeing the film with my friends… Lisa was sitting to my left. At the end of the movie, when Luke turns toward Rey, and lowers the hood shrouding his face, Lisa reached out a hand toward me. Luke is my very favorite Star Wars character, and one of Lisa's. Our hearts went out to the tormented Jedi Master. Who knows what lay in store for him… Over dinner, the four of us mused about Luke's fate, as well as everyone else's. I won't go into what we discussed, but I will say it was a fun conversation — and it will be interesting to see if any of us were correct in our predictions. 😉
The next viewing of note — jumping ahead to #11 — I had the good fortune to see TFA with a good friend, Betsy, who met me one very chilly Wednesday night. I was eager to see TFA with her because she had not seen a Star Wars film since A New Hope back in 1977! I filled her in on what transpired in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi so she'd have the necessary background leading up to TFA as we settled into our seats. I must admit I was a bit … concerned … whether Betsy would enjoy TFA. That concern evaporated early on as I heard her laughter at all the ‘right spots'. She might not have considered herself a Star Wars fan, but she certainly could get lost in the story just like the most hard-core fan. 🙂 Then, when Ben thrust his lightsaber through his father's body, Betsy turned to me with what I was sure were tears in her eyes. She was clearly disturbed. I felt so badly for her. I remembered what I felt seeing that happen for the first time, and while it saddened me to see it again, I knew it was coming, somewhat lessening the blow. That first time is a shocker. By the time the credits rolled, what wasn't a shocker was that Betsy liked her second foray into the world of Star Wars. To verify my suspicion, I asked her if she did indeed enjoy seeing The Force Awakens. “I loved it!” she exclaimed, and added, “The thing that really made it special was seeing it with you.” I couldn't agree more because seeing it with her certainly was a special experience. 🙂
I finally reached my goal on Wednesday, March 9 at the 12:05 p.m. show at South Shore Cinemas in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I sat in a theater all by myself for quite a while, but moments before the theater darkened, a few stalwart fans like myself strolled down the aisles and took their seats. Two of my fellow movie-goers were a husband and wife who were seeing TFA for the first time. Imagine, I thought to myself, my potential last time seeing it in the theater was someone's first time! 🙂 “We have a one-year-old so this is the first time we've been able to see it, ” the wife said. “I don't know how we've managed to stay spoiler free, but I'm so glad we have.” When I asked if they would let me know whether they liked the movie before they darted home, the wife quipped, a smile on her face: “I already can say, ‘I loved it!' ” She verified that prediction as the lights came on: “It was perfect! Everything was done perfectly!” It didn't even phase her that Han died. “Someone had to die. It had to happen,” she added.
To add icing on the cake, I saw TFA two more times after reaching Viewing #13. The 15th and final time [before the movie came out on Blu-ray/DVD at the beginning of this month] was at 40,000 feet above the Earth's surface. En route to Japan to visit Caitlin, I pulled the headset over my ears to block out the roar from the aircraft's powerful engines to watch TFA. I will say this — listening to the film with a headset on made it particularly easy for me to pick up some of the more indiscernible dialog. I finally was able to make out what Poe said to Kylo Ren as the captured Resistance pilot taunted the Dark Lord on Jakku! 😉
One … interesting … experience occurred during my sixth viewing of Star Wars The Force Awakens [on January 26]. The theater was about half full this particular Tuesday, and among those in attendance that afternoon were two elderly gentlemen [in their 70s, I surmised] sitting two rows in front of me. Everyone was watching the film quietly, except for laughing at various moments — until something rather unexpected occurred. As the Millennium Falcon skirts the water's surface on its approach to the island where Luke had sought refuge, the two gentlemen began a loud conversation! “Where do you think that was shot?” Gentleman #1 asked. “Maybe California?” Gentleman #2 replied. “No, I think it's Colorado,” Gentleman #1 mused. “No, look at the moss. That can't be Colorado,” Gentleman #2 posed. “Where do you think it is, then?” Gentleman #1 queried. Remember — this conversation was not conducted in whispers. All of us could hear what was being said. As I passed them on my way out of the theater, I answered their question: “It is Skellig Michael off the coast of Ireland!” They both looked at me with such perplexed looks on their faces that I gathered they had forgotten their conversation of only moments ago. 😉
I had to make a big push to meet my goal of at least 13 viewings before TFA left theaters. By the time February came it a close, it already had been dropped by some first-run theaters so I had my work cut out for me. Making my way to the theater at least twice a week at the end, it got to the point the theater employees recognized me on sight. 😉 It was worth it, though. Some might call this quest of mine obsessive. Would you? 😉 Thirteen always has been a lucky number for me. 😉
Until next time,
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