As indicated by the blog title, I almost exclusively go the theater alone. There’s so much freedom in choosing to see what I want, feel how I want, and process a film how I want when I’m solo. However, there are a rare set of films that shouldn’t be experienced alone- they are meant to be shared with others. There are films that have a timelessness, and universal story that brings people together regardless of age, sexual identity, social class, or political association. In modern cinema- it’s something that is incredibly hard to do. That in itself is the closest thing to magic we have. It’s no wonder Hollywood has run out of ideas! For the remainder of eternity, Hollywood decision-makers will spend every ounce of energy (and money) to replicate that magic so few films have.
Star Wars has been a staple in my family since before I was born. In all honesty, Star Wars has become a family bonding activity and I don’t feel right when I’m not viewing the films with others. So upon the release of The Last Jedi, I waited until Christmas day to see it with family.
I don’t know what it was, but I felt a wave of emotion when the iconic John Williams score oozed from the auditorium walls. I thought back to the times shared with my loved ones. During The Force Awakens, my mom lit up when she saw the opening credits and fidgeted in her seat with excitement. On that same day, the family wore Star Wars merchandise, a display of our affection. 10 years earlier, prior to the release of Revenge of the Sith, my parents ordered the collectible lightsaber replicas. One evening, I found my father on our front lawn- in my mother’s bathrobe…playing with his new toy. On family games nights, we sometimes played Star Wars Trivia Pursuit- where my parents had a grossly unfair advantage and we would argue about Star Wars lore.
Sadly, my parents and siblings weren’t with me at the Last Jedi, but I thought of them as the movie was progressing. No matter what, we would always come together and enjoy Star Wars. But why did we love it so much? While I’m more a casual fan of Star Wars, I have finally begun to understand its appeal to the masses- especially the “nobodies”. Many of the characters of Star Wars begin as oppressed, discarded, or even just “ordinary”. Anakin Skywalker was a young slave with a gift for mechanics. Luke Skywalker began his journey as a moisture farmer on Tatooine. Originally code-named FN-2817, Finn was introduced as a Stormtrooper. Rae was a scavenger abandoned by her parents. Prior to the events of A New Hope, Jyn Erso and a group of unlikely heroes form the Rebel Alliance, and make plans to steal the plans for the Death Star. Unlike the other films, there is no reliance on Jedi or the Force. It’s just a group of “ordinary” people who set out to do something extraordinary. Lastly, the newest character- Rose Tico is only a mechanic on a Resistance bomber. No spoilers, but she’s more instrumental to the Resistance than she appears.
A theme that lives on in the Star Wars cinematic universe is HOPE, regardless of circumstances. And while hope may seem scarce, just one little spark of it can inspire rebellion, and then change. Hope can be found in the darkest of situations, and the most unexpected of people. The Last Jedi capitalizes on this and spins it for the current generation. Given the millions of Star Wars fans across the globe, it was imperative that Disney created a more inclusive version of the universe. In the latest trilogy (As well as Rogue One), women and people of color are the faces of revolution. To exclude them from the narrative would be insipid. For a franchise that has so much influence, how could it not take the opportunity?
Even prior to the release of The Last Jedi, and even before knowing her importance in the film, young women embraced Rose Tico. The same phenomenon occurred when Rey, Finn, and Poe were introduced. People who aren’t usually represented get a chance to see themselves as heroes, and not just as extras, sidekicks, or villains. Let me tell you, it feels good knowing you have a place somewhere– even if it is fictional. Even though the world of Star Wars isn’t real, it can inspire hope and also inspire someone small to do something big. The beautiful thing about cinema is that the biggest films are reflective of the world we live in at the time. What is The Last Jedi telling us? You too can help make a difference, or start a Resistance.
Thanks for reading, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
ADRIANA, THE CINEMA SOLOIST