Star Wars: The Force Awakens, already at over $1.763 billion in sales, is a welcome return of the original series that owes much of its success to its ability to bring generations together. I saw it over the holidays with my two sons, Christopher and Chandler. Christopher and I loved it; Chandler was so-so. That’s probably due to the fact that Christopher and I have a history with the original series. Christopher was 4 when The Return of the Jedi came out and I can remember seeing it in a drive-in theater, of all things, because Christopher and Anne were too young and rowdy to be in a theater. Over the next few years, Christopher would have seen all three movies in the series multiple times, and gone through umpteen battery powered sabers, so he and I enjoyed a history with the original characters that Chandler didn’t possess.
(spoiler alert – don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie, but still want to)
The tension between father and son, a strong thread in the original series, is back in this new one with the introduction of a new character, Kylo Ren, of the dark side. Kylo Ren, played by Adam Driver, is really “Ben,” son of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and the climax of the movie is when Solo and Ren come face-to-face in the latter’s attempt to find Luke Skywalker and destroy the Jedi forever.
It’s a scene that immediately grabbed me, because it mirrored what we have been going through with Chandler over the last couple years, watching him in the grip of the dark side, right up to the present when he is making a whole string of right choices. So I was a sucker for the scene, as Kylo Ren removes his mask at the request of his father, and we get a glimpse of “Ben,” struggling with this opportunity to leave the dark side and be reunited with his Dad.
I’m thinking, “How perfect; my two sons are here with me and this is going to be a father and son embrace — a turn from darkness to light — a metaphor of Chandler’s and my relationship, and an embracing of Christopher.” We’re all hoping for this, as Ren appears to soften, shedding a tear at the sight of his father, and then, as quickly as that, he runs him through with his saber — sending Harrison Ford tumbling out of the series forever. Ugh! I felt that saber.
There were numerous times when Chandler, under the influence of the dark side, seemed to deploy a saber in my gut; at least it felt like that. I was so hoping this was going to go the other way. I was even ready to cry over an embrace. But alas, it wasn’t to be, for the story’s sake, and the future run of more movies. I mean, Harrison Ford had already announced this would be his last Star Wars movie. Still, we hoped…
But it’s all right. It’s just a movie. In real life, Chandler has already crossed over from darkness to light, and not only that, he is bringing me out of isolation. He’s got my number, and he’s calling me out. Unlike the movie, “Ben” is back, and Princess Leia and Han Solo couldn’t be happier.