LOUISE CUSACK

Thirty-seven years ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…

Yesterday I heard some news that made me happy – not in a passing Hey, that’s cool kind of way, but a deep down bone-and-sinew kind of happy, the sort of happy that’s so strong and exuberant I went to sleep thinking about it and woke up this morning still thinking about it, still smiling. The sort of happy that confirms irrevocably that inside my chest beats an unabashedly geeky, sci-fi fangirl heart.

Disney (who now own the Star Wars franchise) announced that it has brought Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill back together to create Star Wars VII. I was out when I heard, having coffee with my writer pal Helen Lacey when she got news of it on her phone, and we were both stunned and thrilled, having shared a passion for sci-fi for twenty years. But as I went home to write and the day wore on, I became more and more happy, and couldn’t stop the snippets of memory that came to me from the distant past – thirty-seven years ago when I bought the first Star Wars novel, read it eleven times, then months later saw the very first Star Wars movie.

 

I remember that opening night so well. A lot of the dialogue from the paperback I’d read was replicated in the screenplay, so scenes I’d visualized as a reader were coming alive in front of me and I was mouthing the words along with the characters – fabulous lines like Leia saying to Luke on their first meeting, “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” And Han, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” That movie came along at a time when I was young and impressionable and it touched me in some deep place that has been lying dormant and is now happily awoken.

I’ve lived and breathed the Star Wars Universe for decades, feeling breathless excitement every time I heard the fabulous John Williams opening music and saw the crawl rising up the screen:

I adored the developing romance between Han and Leia, and in the second movie when he said “You like me because I’m a scoundrel. There aren’t enough scoundrels in your life,” I was hooked. And when she said “I love you,” and his reply was only “I know,” I loved him even more. So much adventure, so much romance, such real relationships. Then when the prequel series came out years later I grieved for the lack of believable romance, the lack of relationships, and the kiddification of it all. I remember distinctly going to the cinema and watching the last movie of that prequel series, Revenge of the Sith and thinking as the opening credits rolled, “This is the last time I’ll ever see a Star Wars movie for the first time.” I’m not ashamed to admit I teared up. George Lucas had said he wasn’t doing any more. The movie franchise was closing, and I grieved for that too.

Then yesterday came something I’d never imagined might happen, something so wonderful I could scarcely believe it: Ford, Fisher and Hamill back together with writer Lawrence Kasdan who created the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. And so, so important to me, John Williams composing. The integrity these guys will bring to the project just makes my heart sing, in a teary kind of way.

Storytelling has been so formative in my life, but some stories and some characters mean more than others. I can tell from my bliss that these characters – Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker – are part of the fabric of my life, and to see them as characters thirty years on will be like meeting beloved old friends. I’m sure I’m not the only geek girl out there who’s blissing over this news. I’d love to hear if it touched you too.