You probably get this a lot, letters from fans and probably a few from non-fans. I'm going to be honest. While I'm a huge fan of your work, I am not your biggest fan. That title would go to Chris. Actually, if it wasn't for Chris, I most likely would not have paid as much attention to your work. Chris paid attention. He paid attention to all things Sci-fy related, but his ultimate passion was Star Wars. I knew this when I married him, but it would be a few years into our marriage before I would realize just how Star Wars obsessed he was.
We met in college. It was a random introduction in the school cafeteria that led to a discussion of books. On my first visit to his dorm room, I noticed the Star Wars sheets on his bed. I knew that Chris was poor and frugal so I just assumed those sheets where a set of twin sheets left over from his childhood that he just decided to use for college so he wouldn't have to spend money on new ones. Those sheets would move with us to our first apartment together, then to an apartment we would live in during graduate school in our first years of marriage. As we were packing for our third move, I pulled those sheets out of the closet and started to put them in a box. I paused and asked "Do we really need these? We don't have a twin sized bed. We should just donate them." Chris snatched the sheets from my hands. "Are you kidding me?! Do you know what these sheets are?! These are original Star Wars sheets! We're keeping them!" Those sheets would be moved with us from apartment to rent house to a brief stay in his mother's house and finally to our first home and what would be Chris's last home.
Yeah, you guessed it. Chris is no longer with us. Quite simply, we had a year of wonderful where we started a new life in a new city. We bought a lawnmower and became home owners and then Chris got sick and died. It really happened almost just that fast. Chris was smart and funny. He was my best friend. He was a total geek who knew every thing there was to know about Star Wars. The only time I ever beat him at a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit was because I'm pretty sure he let me win by feeding me the easiest questions or at least the ones that could be answered with R2D2. We had a ritual where we'd say a sort of grace before our evening meal. Both of us had lost our religion long ago, but we were in a place where we felt it was important to be grateful. We'd end our little prayer of thanks not with an "amen" but with "So say we all and thank you to the Force."
Any way. I think you get the point. The continuation of the Star Wars anthology was just a rumor when Chris got sick. A year after his death, it was official. There would be three new Star Wars movies and that you would be directing at least the first one. I thought "of course" as soon as I heard. You are the director that Chris would have picked. In reality, Chris would have wanted to direct it himself, but you were for sure his second pick. It was actually something he talked about. What if they did three more stories? Who would direct? These were the kinds of debates we'd have over coffee. I saw that movie over the weekend. I went in not wanting to have expectations and steeling myself against disappointment. There was a part of me begging for this to please please be worthy of Chris and another part of me saying to just let it be the movie that it is.
I couldn't tell you what the opening scroll said. I started sobbing as soon as the words Star Wars popped up on the screen. I used that time while the story scrolled up the screen to pull my shit together so I could watch the movie. There have been so many moments when I wish it was possible to talk to the dead, like the time I couldn't find my scooter key after Chris died (he totally knew where it was) or to ask him about the scraps of notes I'd come across while cleaning out his office. Now, all I can think of is what would he say about this movie. I want to know his thoughts. I want to hear his speculations for the next movies. I was not disappointed. It was everything I could have expected it to be and I think Chris would have said the same. In fact there were times when I was sure that Chris had to have whispered an idea into your ear.
So, well done Mr. Abrams. You managed, without even knowing it, to honor and pay respect to a dead man. This movie was a perfect balance between old and new with just enough nostalgia for the past to pull on heart strings. The new characters are equal parts intriguing and lovable and I can't wait to find out more about them and who they are. One of the most important things you brought back to this series though, is the humor. It was serious when it needed to be, but there was also the kind of humor that we saw in Episode IV. Star Wars fans needed that. You have made Star Wars fun again. For this, I thank you. Thank you J.J. Abrams for reminding us all why we fell in love with Star Wars in the first place.
Cindy Maddera of ElephantSoap.com