Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Star Wars and Carrie Fisher – such a part of our lives

Star Wars was a global phenomenon. It’s such an obvious thing to say, now, 40 years on, that it’s hard to remember just what a shock to the system it was; a bolt out of the blue.

It was the first film that I ever saw without an adult relative. My sister (three years younger) and I saw it one afternoon in Ashton-under-Lyne, delivered there by my father and picked up by him later. How grown up we felt.

The cinema was packed. I remember so much – and yet so little. It’s fair to say, though, that it had a huge impact on my life, possibly to the point of changing it.

My teachers had decided I was set for a career in graphic arts, but I had already rejected that.

I thought ‘graphic arts’ meant designing adverts, and there was no way that I was doing that. I also thought, with the pretentiousness of youth, that I had ‘the soul’ of a fine artist, but, rather less characteristic of that age, considered that I had none of the talent.

I gave up art.

Yet for a while, I seriously hankered after going to work in the States, building models of spaceships for the likes of Star Wars.

However, there was nobody around to tell me that this might have been possible or to point me in the relevant direction – any more than they could point out that ‘graphic art’ could include animation or comics or so much more.

It has taken me until my fifties to work all this out. I’m a slow learner. Although in my defence, I’ll point out that, with no private income and no trust fund or similar, when I was thrown out of polytechnic after a year for having had the temerity to be injured as a direct consequence of the course, the only thing that I could hope to focus on was getting a job – any job. And this was the beginning of the ‘you’re overqualified’ era .

Yet for a few years I nurtured a dream of putting together a book about the blossoming of fantasy film. Before my polytechnic career turned very sour, I had been to the cinema on my own to see Jim Henson’s Dark Crystal, and remain in love with it to this day.

And yet …

Yet reality can batter you. As can the edict learned so well from both my father’s pulpit sermons and his dinner table ones. I have been so suckered by that stuff from 1 Corinthians 13:11.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

I have wasted so many years believing that I should be so bloody bleeding boringly ‘grown up’!

True, I have reviewed and appreciated work by others that has included sci-fi and fantasy and that area where the two intersect. But probably until the last 12 months or so, any thoughts that I might produce any sort of work along such lines had lain dormant so long I had forgotten about it.

I have even attended events where I’ve met members of the cast of the first three films.

Yet this year it has all awoken again. And while I wouldn’t remotely suggest that that’s ONLY because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that this is the year in which art – graphic art – has become a part of my working life, I have few doubts that it hasn't been part of a wider process. It was a reawakening of a certain kind of dream – of a certain kind of modern mythology.

For me, all those years ago, George Lucas’s vision opened a door to me – a teen still struggling in a home environment that was more of the 1930s than the 1960s and ’70s; an environment that considered any form of adults having pleasure with suspicion, that saw me carted to evangelical meetings in the hope that I would succumb to the emotion (I did).

Never mind air guitar –  my counterpoint to religion saw me wield an air light sabre and dream that The Force was real.

Since September, I have been using art – graphic art – in my work. Not something I expected. But it's been a massive leap forward.

On 1 January this year, when The Other Half and I got to see The Force Awakens, within a few moments of leaving the cinema I had declared, in a state of giddiness, that JJ Abrams had given us Star Wars back.

It was a quiet cinema when we saw it, but I wanted to cheer when Leia arrived on screen.

It’s been a shit year for the deaths of people whose talents and works have shone light on the light of others.

For me, not all of those people have meant a great deal, but even those who have not made the greatest impacts on me personally have added something to the creative mix.

Personally, I feel as though I have been most hit by the deaths of Alan Rickman and Victoria Wood.

And now, by the loss of Carrie Fisher.

Carrie … you were a crucial, feisty, fabulous part of all this: one of the few real and meaningful awakenings my teenage spirit felt – and that has been renewed in the last 12 months.

Wherever you are – go well: may the force be with you.

And thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment