A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Anyone who knows anything about Star Wars will recognize the title of this column. Those words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far away” crawled up the opening scene of the first Star Wars movie in 1977. I can still remember how amazed I was as I saw it in Fresno, California, in the summer that I was 27 years old.

A friend who I was visiting had to work in the afternoon and suggested that I go and see this movie. I had no idea how much I would enjoy it.

It had a great soundtrack; one that has since become iconic. The special effects were astoundingly original as were characters with names like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. For the first time, I heard the word “droid” and was introduced to two: C-3PO and R2-D2.

Email newsletter signup

There was a mystical guru by the name of Obi Wan-Kenobi and the greatest villain of his time, Darth Vader. Doesn’t that name, Darth Vader, just conjure all sorts of sinister intentions? And the voice behind the bad guy was perfect.

The plot was like any other good versus evil movie, but it was the characters Luke and Han, plus Chewbacca and the droids that made it so amazing that midweek afternoon.

Over the Christmas holiday, Donna Sue, her mother, and I were in Panama City and staying near the Pier Park shopping area. Among the entities of Pier Park is Pier Park Cinema 16. It was there that I looked forward to seeing the newest installment of Star Wars, “The Force Awakens.”

Donna Sue and I went to see the movie on Christmas Day afternoon. Surely, I thought, everyone would be taking a nap after Christmas morning and we wouldn’t have such a crowded theatre. Fat chance. The parking lot at the Pier Park 16 cinema was full and, let me tell you, they weren’t there to see Alvin and the Chipmunk’s latest.

The Pier Park 16 has 16 screens, but you guessed that. I believe Star Wars was playing on at least 10 of those 16. You could see it in 3-D, IMAX, or regular flavored. The showings began at 9:50 and it did not matter when you got there, one was starting within 15 or 20 minutes.

As we approached the window to buy tickets, the seller said, “There are 41 seats left.” We bought ours and he said that we would have to sit up close to the front. Little did I know that “up front” meant a crick in the neck and a decibel level pretty close to a jet plane landing in your front yard.

In addition, the only seats remaining were not regular theatre seats, but seats that resembled the cockpit of that jet plane that landed in my front yard. When the sound got loud on the screen the seats began to rumble and vibrate, sort of like those seats that you pay a dollar for a seated massaging, vibrating experience. The seats also moved at different angles. It was quite annoying, but, hey, I was in the theatre seeing this year’s “Must See” movie.

I won’t be giving anything away, I don’t think, if I say that many of the original characters are in “The Force Awakens.” There’s Princess Leia, Han Solo, and for a moment, Luke Skywalker. Goodness, they have aged over the years; wonder if I have? Don’t answer!

I know you’ve heard that the movie has already sold a billion dollars’ worth of tickets in only 12 days. I’ve done my part. How about you?