I’m a fan boy and my life is going to be hell until December 18.
I’ve watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens on my feeds slowly fill with pictures, rumours and reveals about what’s to come. With the release of the final trailer this week the banks have burst, creating a flood of speculation and commentary as the anticipation swells for release day. It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fanboy.
So why is my life going to be hell? Because I want to see this film with the same sense of wonder that I had seeing the first Star Wars when I was 8 years old. To do that, I have to avoid as many spoilers as I can, and that means I’m fighting our natural urge to find and create story.
In 1978 (I saw it a few weeks after its release on 27 December 1977) I was sold on Star Wars through the opinions of friends and schoolmates who had seen it before me. Today there’s a beauty parade of images on my news feed calling me to take a sneaky peek at what’s to come. So, tempting as it is, I’m definitely not clicking on the links. Nope. Definitely not.
Of course it’s natural to want to look, because we’re inherently curious. The more we see the more we want to know, and we begin piecing the images together to make sense of what we haven seen. This is how our story minds work, to create a logical flow from the information we’ve gathered.
I can’t think of any greater proof of this than the existence of the video below from the good folk at IGN (although I haven’t actually watched it!):
This exercise in story is brilliant, pulling apart every scene from all the trailers and sorting them into an order that they think may occur in the film! There are hundreds of studies that tell us the brain loves to complete things. It loves to make assumptions and draw conclusions with a minimum of information. What better way to demonstrate this than what the IGN team have done. We’re storytelling creatures.
As a kid I had made up my own story of what Star Wars was before I saw the film, and it was pretty difficult to piece together the story from the excited unstructured reviews of your classmates (“…and there’s this big fight in space and stuff blows up and Darth Vader is there and there’s lightsabers and a Wookie!”).
I was way, way off (or far, far, away?) pretty much from the start, so every action scene, location, every turn of the story had me open-mouthed with surprise and delight. When December comes, after my brain has gorged itself on the spectacle (probably less open-mouthed but still delighted), I’m looking forward to seeing how IGN fared with their predictions.
After the film.
But it’s so tempting just to click on that link…
By restricting contact with the pre-release material I’m trying to create A New Hope (apologies, but I’m allowed to indulge in one fanboy temptation!) that I can relive the sheer joy of being taken to strange worlds and experiencing perilous situations along with our hero, to experience the thrill of having no idea what’s going to happen next.
It’s recreating the excitement you felt on your 9th birthday, just after seeing the film. It’s unwrapping a Darth Vader action figure with tiny retractable plastic red lightsaber that you really wanted, immediately mounting an attack on the dog, and then seeing Vader’s fighting arm chewed off in the magnificent horror of the moment.
The Force was stronger with you that day, Sandy. I hope the Force is strong with me until December 18.
Grow the Story