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1/6 — Bree Daniels as Princess Leia.



Crying In A Room Full of Strangers at the Star Wars Premiere

In the decade that’s passed since the last Star Wars movie, I’d like to think I’ve grown up into a respectable young human capable of controlling their emotions. I mean, sure I fall in love with and then cry over someone twice a year, and I’ve let this city suck the compassion I once had for people completely out of my body. But other than that, I’m pretty much in control. The one weakness I admittedly have is crying over TV shows and movies. I’ve spent more emotional energy crying over characters on a screen than I have in my actual life.

But, again, I thought I’d moved past that. I thought I could handle venturing into a packed theater for the midnight premiere of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and leave relatively unscathed. It’s always had its emotional moments, but I’d become pretty numb ever since I watched Anakin Skywalker get kicked into molten lava in the last movie ten years ago. I could handle it.

Or at least that’s what I thought earlier in the night, as I made my way from BedStuy to the Regal Union Square theater. I went with my roommate, Bree, who had bought tickets months ago, and she was clutching her Princess Leia costume like it might float away. Bree’s the biggest Star Wars fan I’ve ever met. “The first time I watched Star Wars was actually when I was really little and I couldn’t even really read yet. My mom is obsessed with Star Wars,” she explained over the din of subway announcements. “She’s a huge fanatic and she had my brother and I watch it. She read all of the opening credits and subtitles to us and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.”

Bree, like most people, attaches a lot of love to movies. I can relate. My first job when I was in high school was working at my local movie theater. I had free reign to eat as much popcorn and candy as I wanted, while I watched whatever movies breezed through the two screens we had. As I navigated the hellish social wasteland of high school in a small town, I found myself constantly diving into world after world I watched on screen. They pushed every type of emotion out of my frail lanky body—but I never did one thing in all that time. Despite over seven years of unfiltered access to whatever movie I wanted to sit and watch, I never got to see a Star Wars film in a movie theater.

So last night, when I finally got to see it on a big screen, it was a lot to take in. When I walked into the lobby at the Regal, I looked at the faces of fans of every age and background, and saw a new hope (sorry). This film premiere was more than just an ode to a franchise that was arguably the biggest in cinematic history. As I’d said earlier, this premiere was therapy. People had waited ten years of their lives and survived endless war, constant threats of violence, and an economic collapse while some part of them waited to be taken back to the planets and galaxies they’d grown up fascinated by.

As I retreated from the crowds and settled into my seat, ten years of anticipation filled the room like a bad fart in an elevator. We all braced for what was to come, secretly praying it would be more Empire Strikes Back than The Phantom Menace. It was as if we were all about to embark on a Tinder date together. They looked cute and had a lot of promise, but you can never be too sure if the preview will be just as emotionally appealing as the real thing.

It was the best group Tinder date analogy I’ve ever had. Literally seconds into the film, I realized that I had been wrong, and I couldn’t handle those emotions. As soon as that iconic theme music played and the scroll of texted glided across the screen, I began to cry. But so did everybody else. It was amazing.

From the moment an entire theater of adults began crying to the theme song, I knew this would be the emotional release we all needed.With the threat of ISIS, mass shootings, and Donald Trump’s hairpiece taking over national headlines, it was cathartic for all of us to leave our problems in a galaxy far, far away (now I’m really sorry). The film was fantastic.

I’m not going to spoil anything, but I will say that as dapper as Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaac, and John Boyega are in this film, it’s truly all about the strong female heroes shutting shit down. Like Princess Leia before her, Daisy Ridley’s character Rey is the badass woman we’ve been waiting for. Not since Imperator Furiosa slayed the game in the surprise feminist masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road has there been such an inspiring young woman acting like more than a helpless heroine.

The whole audience loved it. We laughed, we cried, we clapped, we hollered. As the film ended and we wiped our eyes and checked our phones, a round of applause greeted the credits. With a total weekend box office gross expected to hover around $230 million and a 95% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear that this was the movie we’d been hoping for. Go for the action, stay for the progressive feminist story, and enjoy the feeling of cathartic crying alongside strangers that’ll greet you when you enter the theater. May the force be with us all.

Stay tuned to Milk for more updates, provided we can still get WiFi from inside a Tauntaun. (WE’RE SORRY, OK?!)

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