Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Hamill

A long time ago.  So it is, when you read that Mark Hamill has turned 60.  Was it really so long ago?  Are we really getting that old?  Does time actually pass that quickly?  One minute you are a boy collecting newspapers in order to make enough money for the long awaited arrival of a summer blockbuster that is changing (for good or ill) the way movies would forever be made.  The next minute you're in your mid-40s, remembering.

Thanks for the memories Mr. Hamill.  To a generation of kids roughly my age, there was nothing to compare to the excitement of Star Wars.  Oh sure, Harry Potter has the money and the records, and it has achieved a level of its own influence with the modern generation.  But nothing in Harry Potter was ultimately new.  Think about it.  The whole could have been Harry Alias, since it was a hodgepodge of fantasy tropes, cliches, and themes mixed together and repackaged.  Not that it wasn't done well, but it was merely that which had been done before.

But Star Wars, in the summer of 1977, was new.  As Steven Spielberg said, after the first seconds of the movie's opening, when the Star Destroyer had just passed overhead, he knew movies would never be the same.  If the elements of the story were remade from old 30s matinee faire and war films, the technology, art, and design had never been produced to such an extent.  Never had special effects been so groundbreaking and at the same time treated so mundanely.  Almost every scene had something in it that was new, and yet at almost no point was that the focus.

So great was its groundbreaking achievements that we can sometimes forget the actors.  And one was a 25 year old who most of the world had not noticed before.  But for me and many others, he was a hero, if only for a short time.  So for your part in the memories, thanks.  And have a happy birthday and blessed year.