Circa 2008 or 2009, myself and a group of friends were sitting around in someone’s Chicago apartment and talking. I don’t remember how we got on the topic of movies, but my friend Dave Kudla blurted out: “I’ve never seen any of the Star Wars films.” This caused a rather violent reaction in me, sort of like Elaine doing the “get out” shove on Seinfeld.
Dave was born in 1984, a year after Return of the Jedi came out, so he was alive and a cognizant human being during half of the ’80s and all of the ’90s and aughts. He didn’t see the trilogy when it was re-released in theaters in 1997 either. He never had a friend eye clamp him Clockwork Orange-style and FORCE (ha, ha) him to watch Star Wars. He doesn’t appear to have a case of FOMO. He grew up in Chicago, not under a rock. Why hadn’t he seen Star Wars? “Mostly because I’m an uncultured swine,” he says. “You’re not the first person who’s asked me that question. Usually whenever I mention I haven’t seen the trilogy, the reaction is sort of a blank stare.” His other nonchalant excuse: “I guess I never got around to it. It is kind of a daunting task at this point. I guess it’s only six hours. I thought they were going to be longer. Even that is an undertaking.” Fair enough, Dave, fair enough.
Flashforward to 2015 and Dave’s now a 31-year-old adult, a financial analyst still residing in Chicago. He’s used to living with his shame, but he isn’t a total Star Wars virgin—a friend dragged him to see Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in the theater. He admits it wasn’t a good place to start, mainly because, like all of us, he was “scarred by Jar Jar Binks.” But because The Force Awakens is coming out, and because he’s practically the only person on Earth who hasn’t seen the film and because I gently nudged him to do the deed, this week he watched the original Star Wars on a laptop during a flight. “I actually downloaded the original cut. I made sure I got the version where Han shoots first,” Dave says, referring to the contentious debate that’s consumed fans for decades. “I had to do my homework first before it made any sense,” Dave says. He had a cursory knowledge of the story and characters—he knew about Darth Vader being Luke and Leia’s father. “It creates more suspense just wondering when in the story that is going to happen and when Luke is going to find that out.” He also liked the idea of knowing the story would continue to unfurl for six more movies.
After watching Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Dave shared some thoughts on whether or not it lived up to the long-awaited hype:
- “Harrison Ford seemed like he was drunk the whole time.”
- “Just having a high-level knowledge of the whole story from start to finish, I think it made me appreciate it a little bit more because it holds a little more depth than just a standard gun fighter, or standard escape scene or something like that. I think, if anything, I’m glad that it’s built up to this before I watched it, because I wouldn’t view it as a standard action movie, or a standard sci-fi movie, so that might be a good thing.”
- “I don’t specifically know what happens in each of them. I’ve probably just heard a lot of things. Like watching this one, Obi-Wan was like, ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’ Oh, I get that. I kinda felt like an idiot for not knowing what that meant for 30 years.”
Despite having not seen Star Wars until this month, Dave watched Spaceballs a long, long time ago, but obviously a lot of the jokes—Pizza the Hutt—were lost on him. Dave has not watched The Force Awakens trailers, but will probably see the film in the theater, once he’s made it through all of the other films.
So, after waiting three decades, does Dave think Star Wars has been worth the wait?
“It has," says Dave. "Like I said, you can’t be objective about it at this point, but that may be a good thing, because you’re looking beneath the surface and seeing more than just a standard action movie. Because if I were to just see Star Wars and if you told me that it was the start and end of the story, it might not affect me as much. But I’m actually looking forward to seeing everything else that I’ve heard about them.”
Finally Dave’s Star Wars cherry was popped, and I did my job. He’s in a much more enlightened place now. At least Dave had the gumption and self-awareness to further his education, and he will no longer be ridiculed at parties and in daily life—at least about Star Wars. May the force (or Schwartz) be with you, Dave Kudla.