I’ve seen it. Twice.
But we’re still in opening week, which means that plenty of people haven’t see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so I still have to choose my words carefully. So all I can safely say spoiler-free is that I enjoyed it. And that’s the last spoiler-free thing you’ll read in this post, so if you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading.
Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
I enjoyed most things about the new Star Wars movie. BB8 is as charming as he seemed in commercials, the other new characters are well-written, and the pacing was spot on. And the return to practical effects was refreshing and solidified a connection with Episodes IV, V, and VI. Needless to say, there are plenty of things to love about the beginning of the new trilogy.
There’s only one thing I struggle with: the end of Han Solo.
For as long as I can remember, Princess Leia and Han Solo have been at the top of my favorite characters list. (Thank you, George Lucas, for not going through with the original plan to kill him off in Episode V!) They’re like Much Ado About Nothing‘s Beatrice and Benedict. Or Elizabeth and Darcy. There’s something fun about the dynamic, even when they finally decide that they do indeed like each other.
I think that’s why I left the movie theater on Saturday morning (during our first, unexpected foray) feeling deeply torn. There were so many conversations around the house about Han’s death feeling inevitable, but it was something neither my husband nor I wanted to see. Anyone but our favorite scoundrel. Watching it happen made me feel numb and sharply disappointed after being so enchanted with the movie.
Sunday evening, we returned with family. We had promised them that we would watch it with them before we were unexpectedly invited by friends to go on Saturday. After some time to process, my husband and I were ready to watch again, this time knowing where the story (and Han) was headed.
Even though watching Han die a second time wasn’t easy, it did lend some new perspective. As I learned while studying up on the Hero’s Journey, every hero has some sort of mentor. Han Solo filled that role for Rey (and Finn) the same way that Obi-Wan filled that role for Luke. While Han couldn’t tell Rey much about the Force, he was that parental figure she needed to help her find the right path in such a huge galaxy.
It also harkens back to another thing about the film: structurally, it’s very similar to A New Hope. Youth meets a droid with important information, escapes with Han Solo and Chewie on the Falcon, helps destroy a planet-destroying machine, and faces off with the villain. In that case, (contract conditions aside) if the structure is to stay the same, Han has to go.
But, for me, one of the most redeeming things about this is that it’s still about Han and Leia in the end. He puts himself in the situation for her, to fulfill a wish she has had for, seemingly, a long time. He might not succeed, but he does the best he can in an impossible situation.
Does this mean I’m completely okay with it? No. I’m not the type who likes to see favorite characters die or leave. (As a child, I was banned from watching the last half of E.T. because I’d bawl every time E.T. left.) But have I come to terms and still like the movie? Yes. Definitely. And I can’t wait to see the next one.
What are your thoughts on the movie?