Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Long Time Ago...

...just outside a weird, ugly building,

The UA 150 70mm/35mm, Seattle. Contact me if this is your image.

I stood in line with two six-year-olds, a seven-year-old, my friend who had just turned nine, and a parent. I was eight. The line headed down 6th Avenue then wrapped around the corner as more people filled in behind us.

My friend and a lot of the other kids in line were excited for reasons you might guess: the school year had just met its long-anticipated death and we were out to see a movie. A break in the routine. It was a warm, sunny day.

But some of us were... lit.

We knew. We knew something else was up, something bigger was happening. If you were a kid of a certain frequency, the crackle in the air was getting loud & roiling faster. The world had a different tint to it, a high watercolor plum. (I've wondered whether people like Prince are drawn to purples because there's something mystical about them. They seem to assert themselves around wonder & the extraordinary.)

#Damson Image thanks to Willis Orchards

We sank right into this magic & rode fast. Next to nothing was all the understanding we needed. This wasn't a thing of the head, it was visceral. And it connected us. It even caught some who were not tuned in. Even some adults. Something here was larger than the stuff of hours & days.

And this is just about the line of kids outside the theater, which had begun forming before the screening prior to ours & would be hours long all day. It busted the first block & spilled to the next.

Once we were in & seated, we waited seventeen goddamned years for the lights to go down, and then (spoiler alert): they did. I'll never forget it happening.

And then John Williams slayed us all & launched us into to a completely different life. It began with The Crawl.

The Crawl image thanks to Nerdist

No jaw was left unfloored. Many would not fully re-connect with their owners' heads until they went to sleep that night. 

And that was just music & reading. So to get that, remember two things:

1) Lit. We were not a just a bunch of excited summer kids. This was different, bigger & other, and now no matter who you were, if you were in that theater, crackling air was all your breath & skin would know for ninety minutes. You were on fire with the rest of us, and nothing felt ordinary anymore.

2) John Williams is superhuman, & music+memory is among the most potent & rich meanings of life as a human animal. We were welding that powerful music to this transcendent moment, and of that fusion arose a thing greater than the sum of its parts. That was The Force. 

Infused with it to bursting, we witnessed the opening scene. Here it is. What happens between 2:08 and 2:26 changed the way we see.

Clip thanks to Marcelo Zuniga

A number of the heads in the sea of people in front of us whipped around between 2:10 - 2:15 and found themselves looking squarely at the back wall of the theater. Can you imagine why that happened? They quickly re-whipped those eyeballs back to the screen. I didn't do this, but I could tell why those people did: their brains were confused about where the vessels came from

Industrial Light & Magic didn't just skyrocket our VFX standards by degrees; it re-wired our brains.

The emergence of Darth Vader (4:32) took me clear out of my skull. I wasn't in a seat at movie theater anymore. Seeing the cloak, watching him walk, turn his head, is burned into my brain for all time. I forgot myself, my life, and succumbed to the crackling air and the magic. I rode the rest of the experience like an E-Ticket ride that went on as long as you wanted to. The cheers & chills at the final scene were loud and crazy and completely involuntary & like never before.

I would never be the same, and course the world would never be the same, and we could not shut up about it, and we still can't. There are few things in this life that make me truly, purely happy, but that's one of 'em. 

The Force will be with us, always.

*light saber emoji*

P.S. Now, for a slightly older kid's perspective, go read Marty's post!