Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Two Different Impressions
As the title suggests, I have seen the seventh instalment of the Star Wars saga, “The Force Awakens” twice. Each time was in two very different locations and times, and each viewing was starkly different from the other. The first time I’d seen it was on the opening day, December 18th. It was also the last day of my final exams for the semester, which ended at 11AM. Naturally, I was super excited, and happy that I would be ending my semester by watching “The Force Awakens” on opening day. I had purchased the ticket two months in advance the moment the presale tickets were up for sale, because I knew that they would pretty much sell out quite soon. Anyway, there I was, on my way to the theatre for the movie. Wearing a stormtrooper T-Shirt, I was thinking “Maybe I’m overdoing it, I mean do I really need to wear this to show my support/fandomness for Star Wars”. On arriving at the theatre, I came to the quick realisation that I was the person least dressed for the occasion. As far as the eye could see, Star Wars fans who had flocked to the theatre to see “The Force Awakens” were dressed up as iconic characters from the original trilogy, stormtroopers and Jedi/Sith personas. It was as if one ginormous collective family had come together to experience a grand wedding and everyone was directly related to either the bride or the groom. The excitement was great, however, my show time was 4:00 PM, and at the time my watch was showing 12:00 noon. It was approximately 3.5 hours before we would even be seated for the showing of the movie. But man, were those 3 hours fun or what! From taking pictures with different people on cosplay to engaging in lightsaber duels, Jedi vs. Sith, it really drew me in to the Star Wars fan base which most definitely was an awesome group of people, not the racists who were ranting on the film for casting an African American man for a storm trooper (to which John Boyega, the actor in question, responded in amazing fashion.) They were just happy that they were going to be taken back to the universe that they fell in love with and were looking forward to witnessing the events following “Return of the Jedi”.
The three hours of amazing fun went by, and a theatre employee dressed resplendently as Boba Fett, announced that we would be seated momentarily for our showing of the film. Cheers were on and the excitement built ever forward. Sitting through the trailers and ads was relatively better than usual given what we were in for. At long last, the classic prologue text “A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…” appeared on the screen in the very same font and colour scheme that it always has been in, and the big cheers and applause was underway, as the title sequence music and opening crawl came up with “Episode VII: The Force Awakens” on the title. It was on.
Even at the end of the film, specific names major people involved with the film received special applauses and cheers, like Director and Screenwriter J.J. Abrams, and long time cast member Harrison Ford. It suffices to say that every person in the theatre was satisfied.
Flash forward (Lost-style, another awesome project Mr. Abrams started) to approximately 2.5 weeks later. I’m back in my home country of India, with my family to relax and chill out for the winter break. My brother, to whom I had introduced the original trilogy once I had arrived, instantly fell in love with it and realised the true nature of the force (Had to get one reference in there, didn’t I.), was dying to see this film in theatres. So the whole family was on its way to see “The Force Awakens” in a theatre in Bangalore city, which if you don’t know, is pretty much a solid metropolitan-urban city with a huge tech industry. Point is, there is good number of movie buffs in this town. Once there, the familiar excitement I felt back there in America was completely absent. People who had no idea what the heck Star Wars was about were coming in to watch the film, presumably because kids saw a trailer with a cool light-sword thing and wanted to see it in action. People sat down, started chatting about random things, all unrelated to Star Wars. The absence of excitement was just the beginning. The opening prologue text, the title sequence music and crawl both got zero cheers or even applause. It was literally only me and my brother who were at least familiar with the original trilogy to say the least. We were left to ourselves quietly simulating “woo-hoo’s” to eachother at the key moments which the entire crowd completely lost. Han Solo appearing on screen, the damn Millenium Falcon coming on screen! None of these super nostalgic moments got any acknowledgement by the audience. A few times during the film, people started switching on the phone flash lights for some reason or the other, which was extremely annoying to say the least. There was also a kid loudly asking obvious questions about what was going on. Obviously, me and my brother were being all sort of condescending about the whole situation, “These people, completely oblivious to that moment when… So sad.” was common dialogue between us. But anyway, it was quite interesting to see the difference in viewing experiences from two different locations. Even worse was that of Zero Dark Thirty, which was understandably completely incomprehensible by an Indian audience used to the same old actors coming on screen to sing about their love for the woman in the film (Sorry I have a thing against Bollywood, but am I not a little right about that situation being in most blockbuster Bollywood films?)
Anyway, enough of my ranting. Those were my two very different experiences in watching “The Force Awakens”.