My 4 year old universe prematurely expanded from the back seat of 1967 Plymouth Fury Station Wagon. It was the family car, big as a house, enough real estate with the seats folded down for my older brother and I to stretch out with sleeping bags and take in a drive in movie with our parents. In heaven, we eagerly watched the first of the double features all the way through. A comedy. We laughed where mom and dad laughed, marvelling at the night lit up by the glow of the screen. We ate popcorn, drank fountain drinks and chewed candy. I couldn’t say for sure what the first movie was that night, but I will never forget the second feature.
Heavy eyed, filled with sugar, up way past our bed time. It started. Blue words appeared. My dad started reading aloud “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”. Our eyes widened.
From the the opening crawl, to the appearance of stars and planets. Then, something we had never laid eyes on before. A spaceship pursued by another so big it defied logic in our little brains. My heart beat fast, sitting upright, taking it all in. In a single, incredible moment in movie history, we were transformed. Nothing else would really matter after this. We were hooked. And that hook, has held fast for over 40 years.
To see through the eyes of my childhood self, who, to be honest fell asleep from pure exhaustion. What did we see that night, at a cold Drive-in Movie theatre in B.C’s Lower Mainland? What was it that planted its seed in our minds and grew uncontrollably in our psyche for decades? It was simple; Magic.
I grew up in a time when Saturday afternoon movies played on television. Old Ray Harryhausen adventure pictures. We knew Ray didn’t make these movies. But, to us – he made them. It was the strange stop motion animation and mind bending special effects that made those movies important to us as kids. Myth and mystery come to life. We knew it wasn’t real, but it was incredibly interesting. Seeing Star wars changed that for me. It crossed a line, looked over its shoulder and reached out its hand to us. There was no longer a ‘real’ and ‘unreal’ there was simply the story and all the things that helped us believe it. Eventually, we found the answers to our burning questions. We would see the scale models of the ships and the death star. yet, the magic was not erased, but enhanced. Simplicity was key.
Years went on and I found art and painting and drawing and comic books and music. I would watch movies and would give myself to them. One eye would watch, while the other studied. I looked for the tell, the trickery. Could I see it? Was the city really there? Is it a painting? Did they convince me? Did I believe?
Seeing Star Wars in the late 1970’s from the back seat of that station wagon opened my mind for the first time, and would haunt me for years to come.