I finally saw this movie under interesting circumstances a few days ago, on the Friday of Mother’s Day weekend, with my kid and my kid’s mom. We’ve been separated, mostly cordially and affectionately, for going on eight years now, and I made some effort to get there to see it with them.
The specific circumstance we saw it in was a strangely dissonant Star Wars fortieth anniversary event at the public library near where they live. It ran from six till the movie, which started at seven-thirty was over, and began with crafts and cupcakes and kid stuff. Little kid stuff which my kid, who was one of the two teenagers there, enjoyed helping the really little kids with. The announcement on the library’s website noted that this was a PG-13 movie and yet I think most of those parents didn’t quite understand what movie they were going to see.
As my kid’s mom pointed out later, the little kids were either too young to quite get the action or just old enough to get the stuff going splodey, so that was probably okay, but I wonder how many of the parents got the same feels that I got from it.
Seeing all those little kids there, playing unspoiled and innocent, with this movie going on above their heads.
I, too, was completely unspoiled going into the movie.*
It was totally convincing. I had no idea there was any CGI trickery or casting wizardry going on. I was sold, beginning to end.
Seeing Wla naq ure cneragf trg gur punapr gb eha gung Yhxr naq uvf nhag naq hapyr qvq abg trg**, that just killed me.
Realizing after the movie that strange encounter played out exactly as they’d planned, all the way down to gur zbz xabjvatyl trggvat xvyyrq gb ohl n yvggyr zber gvzr sbe gur xvq gb trg njnl, univat n qrnq fubg ba Xeraavp gung fur oyrj ba checbfr va beqre gb xrrc uvz va cynpr nf n hfrshy gbby jub unqa’g svtherq bhg gur sngure jnfa’g gehyl arprffnel, nyy fb gur sngure pbhyq fcraq svsgrra lrnef qbvat jebat va gur ubcr bs bar evtug npg ng gur raq, bar ur unq yvggyr ernfba gb oryvrir jbhyq fhpprrq**, that resonated with me.
I mean, gurl unq lrnef gb cyna vg bhg, naq zbzragf gb znxr vg ybbx tbbq, naq gurl qvq vg**, and I should have known how the movie would end right then. This was so much like the original, Episode 4: A New Hope, in so many ways, except for rirelbar qlvat**, that it rang loud and true for me.
All I could see in that movie was myself and what family I have and the world we currently inhabit.
You know that scene in John Barnes’ The Armies of Memory where Shan’s father buys him an ice cream cone? It’s the kid’s mom who turned me on to Barnes and bought me that book. I’m buying as many ice cream cones as often as I can right now.
I don’t think that was necessarily the movie I wanted to see, and I know it’s not the movie I thought I was going to see, but I think it was the movie I needed to see and the movie people need to have at this time. Every now and then an artist reaches into the zeitgeist and pulls out something weird and strange and richly timed, and I think this movie is as perfectly strange as Bob Dylan’s Love and Theft coming out on 9/11 and saying “I came ashore in the dead of night/A lot of things can get in the way when you’re trying to do what’s right”.
On the way to the kid’s and the kid’s mom’s home after the movie, we were talking about something, I forget exactly what, something current, and I had occasion to say to the kid, “Rebellions are built on hope,” neither ironically or sarcastically but with a catch in my throat.
One of the things before the movie was buttons with various symbols on them. All three of us had picked buttons with the rebel insignia.
When we got to their home and I settled into the guest room, I looked for the bag of buttons I’d taken from my folks’ house.
I already had my #IllGoWithYou button and my Love Each Other Motherfuckers button on my hat. I put the rebellion button on it. Then I put on my Rock Against Racism 1979 Militant Entertainment Tour button, and my Elvis Costello making a fist button, and my Martin Luther King button from 1984, back before he was okay to like in polite company, and my old IWW button with the guy behind bars saying We’re In Here For You/You’re Out There For Us. I later added my Cooley/Hood 2016 button. I think I’m ready as I can be.***
All that is probably a little too much, and of course it isn’t nearly enough, but it feels just about right to me.
*Something I cannot say about The Force Awakens, which I still have not seen.
**There’s a convention of using the rot-13 code to mask spoilers. You can cut and paste those passages into any translator on line and see what I said. There’s probably a plugin I could use to make it easier for you. When I have time to find it, I’ll install it and patch this post.
***Or so I thought. A few days later, a guy on the bus as we rode back from Wal-Mart, read my hat and offered me his little Fuck Fear button. It’s on there now, too.