My oldest son adores his R2-D2 lunchbox, eats off of “Star Wars” plates and giggles when his plush Chewbacca toy growls when his tummy is squeezed.
Yet up until recently my five-year-old hadn’t seen the actual movie, the tale that helped launch the modern blockbuster era. That’s the pull of the Force … and a marketing empire far more powerful than the Death Star.
So it was my fatherly duty to introduce him to a story set in “a galaxy far, far away.”
The film delighted me all over again, and my son finally saw the wisdom of seeing the real McCoy. The screening also taught me a few lessons about fathers, sons and why a 37-year-old movie still matters.
1. Movies can Connect Generations
I wanted to watch “Star Wars” to connect my childhood memories with my son’s growing collection. It’s why we recently screened “Abbott & Costello Meets Frankenstein,” a film I watched religiously with my father growing up. Dear Dad is gone now, but I felt the urge to show my son why a black and white comedy holds such meaning for me. I also imitated some of the funnier bits for him, the same gags my father and I cheered whenever our local station played the film.
2. Use Your Imagination
The special effects in “Star Wars” wowed audiences back in 1977. Today, those cantina creatures look silly, nothing like Gollum and today’s CGI wonders. I want my son to see the stories, not just the special effects, on display. His still-vibrant imagination can fill in the gaps where the zippers and strings can be seen. That’s a skill he shouldn’t abandon by sticking with only 21st century cinema.
3. Not All Families Look the Same
Luke Skywalker loses his Aunt and Uncle in the film’s first 30 minutes – spoiler alert! – but he finds a father figure in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Children should know that not all families look the same, and that sometimes life lets different people serve the functions that a father or uncle might. Luke’s journey to adulthood wouldn’t be possible without the guiding hand of his wise Jedi instructor.
4. Love is Complicated
How can a father explain to his son that the girl who harasses him on the playground might have a crush on him? Enter “Star Wars.” Han Solo and Princess Leia are at each other’s throats from the moment they meet. Soon, as we saw in the next two “Star Wars” films, they fall in love. The battle of the sexes is complicated, and that Leia/Solo romance could teach a youngster just how thorny the process can be. Sometimes even a princess and smuggler can make a love connection.
Photo credit: Pascal via flickr
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