July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Force Awakens (And Diverts a Stressed Teen)

Spoiler Alert! In “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Chewbacca is… (Wait, sorry, I’ll be back in a moment; I see the Spoiler Police running towards me and they don’t look happy!)

To be honest, I can’t spoil the movie because I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve ordered IMAX tickets to see it next week, with my brother, but until then I’ll have to carefully avoid spoilers. I’m sure at some point in the next week I’ll be on Facebook and someone will post something like “OMG DARTH VADER IS BACK. TURNS OUT HE WAS ALIVE THE WHOLE TIME!” But, hopefully the people I follow online will know that others won’t necessarily be seeing the movie until later. (At least I know I’m going to see it. It usually seems to me that every time an exciting new blockbuster comes out, i.e. “The Martian” or “Inside Out,” I say I’m going to see it, then don’t get a chance or don’t bother going until it’s too late.)

But, some of you may be wondering, “What’s the big deal about this film, anyway? It’s just a movie!” The more cynical of you may say, “It’s just a cash grab!” Well, it is both, of course (the merchandising even extends to ice cream flavors, I’ve heard). But it’s also not just supposed to be a good movie—not that I can judge that firsthand, but most of my friends who have seen it said it was great—but it’s also a major cultural event. This is the first film continuation of one of the most beloved movie series of all time. There have been prequels (which most fans don’t like to talk about), but this is the first movie to take place after the end of the last movie in the “original trilogy.” There have been books and other media telling about what happened after “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” ended, but I’ve heard that now they’re no longer canon. In other words, this is the first time for fans to get the true story about what happens next—and the Star Wars story is one that is beloved by many, many people. The storylines of most movie series that date back to the late 70s aren’t as well-known today as Star Wars.

I think, however, that in addition to nostalgia and fan excitement, there is something else adding to the buzz surrounding the new movie. It’s something intangible, but it’s there: the feeling that this is a cultural event that we can all enjoy. This movie is going to shatter records (reportedly it already has, as I write this, in pre-sales) and is going to be remembered as the film that brought Star Wars back. Will it be remembered fondly for that or will it be lambasted for being too mediocre of a film to be gifted with doing such a task? Everyone (particularly the head honchos at Disney) hopes it will be the former, but either way, it’s a film release that everyone has been talking about ever since it was announced years ago, and thus a film that almost everyone feels compelled to see. “The Force Awakens” is transcending any sort of societal barrier possible—socio-economic, religious, racial, ideological, political and so on and so forth. This is one thing the Democrats and Republicans have no reason to argue over. It’s a film that has sneakily united us all, the community of the world, in a sense. That does sound a bit hyperbolic, I’ll admit, but it feels like that’s the case.

On a personal note, I’m excited to see the film simply because it will be a temporary but meaningful respite from ordinary life. I realized that the other day when I got the chance to see the Ramaz School performance of “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” (shoutout to my sister, the assistant director!). The performance didn’t seem like it was happening at such a great time, at least for me. I’ve been overloaded with tests and work, not to mention college applications—yes, I’m still dealing with them—and applying for Israel programs. But when the show began, I found myself feeling far more relaxed than I had expected. It was actually the perfect timing for me to see the show, because it allowed me to take my mind off of all of my stress for an hour and a half and just enjoy some fine Ramaz entertainment. (Not that I’m biased or anything! Hello to my sister.)

There is a lot of merit in using escapist entertainment to help us become more relaxed, I feel, as long as we don’t overuse it. I’m not an advocate of binge-watching 50 shows a week on Netflix, for instance, but taking some time to watch a fictional story can work wonders when you’re overstressed. Given that I do have a stressful time ahead of me when it comes to my college apps and other work, I’m excited to have something to look forward to that I know will take my mind off of all of that, just for a bit.

(Confession: I’ve only seen Episode IV, also known as the original Star Wars, before the sequels and prequels were released. But I’m not so uptight about reading spoilers about those…)

Oren Oppenheim is proud to announce that he has been accepted to The Jewish Link University (Moshe Kinderlehrer School of Journalism)! Or maybe he’s still working on college apps… Who knows? Email him your congratulations at [email protected]!

By Oren Oppenheim

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