When I came back from watching The Last Jedi, I found an e-mail in my inbox from my dad. He wrote to all his children to tell that his sister, my aunt Ada, had died. This didn’t come as a huge shock or surprise. My aunt was of old age, in weak health and had lost her husband a few years ago. She died peacefully. I’m not very close with my extended family and I hadn’t seen her in a while. Still, her passing hit me harder than I expected. A few months prior my uncle from the other side of the family died and so did our old neighbour.
My dad is the youngest of a large blended family, some of his sisters were already parents when he was born. So the last few years some of them have passed away at a respectful age. It’s not so much the personal tragedy or loss that affects me. But the general idea of a generation of people that always were there, slowly disappearing.
After walking out of the cinema, I was ready to talk and discuss and analyse it with other fans in my friend group. That’s one of the greatest joys of any passion or hobby, the endless debates and theoretical scrutinising with like-minded folks. But after the sad news about my aunt I wanted nothing of it. I wanted to just stay in the warm comfort of loving The Last Jedi and the magic of the Star Wars universe.
Finding shelter in the comforting glow of a sci-fi fantasy is not just flat-out escapism though. It’s not looking away from reality or denying the truth. Because Star Wars is surprisingly similar to our lives and how we grow up, see the people around us go and shape ourselves as we get older. The new trilogy showed us how our heroes from the old movies grew old and pass the torch to the next generation, but we also see how they struggle to find their place in society in these latter days of their life. We see young people, unsure about who to follow and who to trust and realising that at some point they don’t have to silence and listen anymore but that others will listen to them.
Star Wars is about family, love and loss. I’m not telling anything new here. It’s about growing up and making choices, about reconciling with your past and finding your place in the universe. It’s also about space battles, explosions and heroes facing off in epic battles against evil. It did what it had to do for me last night, it made me dig my fingers in the armrest of my chair when it was exciting and bring me surges of joy when it was fun and spectacular. And when I got sad news after leaving the theatre, it was so good to be able to linger a bit more in that post-movie reminiscence.
That’s why I love movies and that’s why I felt better the next morning.