Why I Cried At Star Wars: The Force Awakens

why i cried at star wars
photo credit: #167/366 via photopin (license)

I’m good with the analogies.

I can summarize Michael Jackson’s career in terms of cooking enchiladas. I’ll compare love to baseball. (Or baseball to love.)  I’d explained once why I didn’t want an iPhone with references to Google, Parvis Emad and The Order of the Croatian Trefoil.

(Okay, so maybe that last one wasn’t fully developed.)

I’ve struggled to articulate a reason for my kids – and their vine-watching culture – why a man in his 40s cried not once, but a handful of times, while watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens. That it’s not just the emotional crumbling of Generation X.

“Dad’s crying,” Grace announced to her sisters and the two rows behind us.

“Every other old guy in here is, too.”

I don’t trust Disney.

This happened during a pivotal and emotional scene that I won’t spoil.

In case you haven’t seen it.

The relief

I don’t trust Disney.

Know the kids who whine if their green beans touch their mashed potatoes? That’s me. I didn’t want my Rebel Alliance and Empire to touch your Austin & Ally or Good Luck Charlie. Gross. My spleen cramped when I saw this video. Disney jacked up ESPN.

Now they’re handing Star Wars? The saga that defined my childhood?

For a 6-year-old, this movie changed the game. Excitement came as triceratops and the NFL, pre-Star Wars. Star Wars, though, brought intrigue and a story line, a battle of good and evil that natural prehistoric and divisional rivalries couldn’t match.

Why place something that precious in the hands of people who created Dog With a Blog and canonized Brett Favre’s every move?

Star Wars was a sense of belonging and a yearning for it too, all at once. It still is.

Why place something that precious in the hands of people who created Dog With a Blog and canonized Brett Favre’s every move?

The reunion

We met when I was 6, got back together before I turned 9, and got reacquainted just before I became a teenager. I’m not talking about general hygiene or Captain and Tennille records. I’m talking Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2.

Know when you see an old friend you love? Not the girl at the sandwich counter at Publix, although she should be remembered, too. It could be, if her likeness with a light saber adorned your lunch box. Or if you collected figures and trading cards of her.

I hadn’t even kissed a girl when I last saw them (the three movies released since Return of the Jedi don’t count.) Now, I have three daughters.

As I set up the Jabba the Hutt play set on my headboard in Colorado at age 11, I had a father, a mother, and a sister. Dad’s no longer here, the rest of us live in North Carolina, now, and my sister has two kids.

The theme song still gets me.

I hadn’t driven, learned to play saxophone, or fallen in love by then.

I’ve since driven thousands of miles, watched my saxophone dreams live and die, and have racked up enough heartbreak to choke a bantha.

The memories

The theme song still gets me.

Darth Vader’s march makes me feel like a badass.

I still scan the crowd in the scene at the cantina in Mos Eisley and in Jabba’s skiff to find the faces of the obscure Star Wars figures I loved most.

Star Wars themes dominate my girls’ gift giving. I carry Stormtroopers in my backpack. And pocket. I wear Star Wars vans, and a 3-foot Darth Vader figure stands on my work desk like a dark beacon for anyone looking for me.

What’s next?

I’m still a little short to be a Stormtrooper. People who’ve meant an awful lot to me have understood why I still try.

The possibilities

What’s next?

For the first time since 1983, I’m dreaming of what’s next for Star Wars. And those dreams have nothing to do with JarJar Binks or Samuel L. Jackson. Or mortgages or Disney.

The dolts who dreamed up Shake It Up carried out Episode 7 like champions, right down to the sounds and color of the laser shots.

I met old friends again – “Indiana Jones looks so old!” one kid complained – and I never missed a beat. Nor did they.

I made new memories, on a day my heart felt heavy, by sitting alongside my kickass girls for something. But what? And why did it bring me to tears?

“I’ve waited 33 years for this movie,” I tried to explain that night.

It’s like …

Something that happen during a pivotal and emotional scene that I won’t spoil.

In case you haven’t seen it.

star wars quote



  1. Yvonne says:

    You great soft pillock! ❤

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ve never been called that before

  2. You said this perfectly and I loved the new Star Wars movie, too having been a fan of the original from the time I also was a young kid. We saw it on the Saturday after it opened in 3D IMAX and as soon as the theme music played I got goose bumps literally had my eyes peeled to that screen from start to finish. As for that pivotal scene, I know exactly what you are talking about and still can’t believe it! Here is to the next installment is 2017!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      They did it right, Janine. I was so worried about Disney’s paw prints. It used to feel like an eternity until the next movie came out when I was a kid, and it still does – but those years are best spent appreciating the one that just came out. (And getting a few figures and ships.)

  3. Kisma says:

    The force is strong with this post Eli. I LOVE IT.

    Have a great week!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thank you, Tiff. Glad you liked it! I still feel like there’s an element of the unexplained for this.

      Maybe its the unexplainable?

  4. Holly says:

    I had tears when the music started up, and the only original I remember seeing was Return of the Jedi at the drive-in theater when I was a youngun. Didn’t matter that I had seen the prequels too, it was just being THERE for it.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      If you came in to the story at Return of the Jedi, you still came in time, Holly. That would have been enough. Obviously, it was.

  5. cricketmuse says:

    So you cried because it was done so badly after waiting so long for the sequel?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      noooo … because it felt like home again.

      1. cricketmuse says:

        Aha–that was a Han line!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        “Who’s scruffy looking?”

  6. stomperdad says:

    I feel I don’t belong in the SW community, that I can’t call myself a fan. I’ll include myself in the community and call myself a fan, nevertheless. I haven’t seen the new one yet. I will be in line to buy when it comes out though. And you’re so right. It will be like catching up with old friends. Older than JarJar and Boss Nass. Thank you for not spoiling it 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      God, Boss Nass. I’d never spoil it, brother. Even at face value, it’s just an awesome flick.

  7. Kim says:

    Loved the new one. And, yes, the music and that one scene.

    At risk of being branded an absolute SW heretic… Jar Jar doesn’t bug me as much as he once used to. My boy got me watching the animated Clone Wars with him, and it added a ton to the whole saga. Seriously – go watch 6 seasons worth of cartoons on Netflix. You’ll love it.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      JarJar tolerance isn’t horrible. I think it’s the depiction of the gungans in their habitat that bothered me. I loved the war scene they were in.

      JarJar was quite loved in our house.

  8. rachel says:

    rey is a badass.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She’s the ultimate badass, Rachel!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      i imagine your eyes weren’t dry, beth.

  9. Anxious Mom says:

    I did, too. I didn’t grow up on Star Wars, but fell in love with it after watching the original trilogy.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I thought you might, Erika. Just watching those first three – no matter where or when – is enough to hook you.

  10. I loved the movie! That scene, I knew it was coming, it had been spoiled for me by a 70 year old’s FB post…but that moment, I gasped. Then I cried. I was told I jerked in my seat and brought my hands to my face. I do not remember doing this.

    I saw the original trilogy in my youth, they were wonderful. This was everything I had hoped it would be. But I had faith more faith in Disney than you did.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Wasn’t it awesome, Michelle? A thousand spoilers couldn’t have taken the edge off that moment.

      My hand went to my mouth too. shit, it probably still does just thinking about it.

      I had little faith in Disney. I’m glad they came through.

      1. It was an emotionally rough scene. I need to watch it again!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I need it in a boxed set with the original three, Michelle.

  11. TammieB says:

    SOOOOO GOOOOOOD! Loved it! I teared up a little too throughout the movie, it’s okay to express your overwhelmed emotions. 😉 And THAT scene! Dear Lord! I think I turned paler than I already am. Disney did good with this and I can’t wait for the next one. What makes it all the more exciting and great…my 6 year old LOVES Star Wars. We made her watch 1-6 before we watched the new one and she loved them all. Proud mama right here.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Tammie. Glad you could relate! I couldn’t have stopped the tears if I tried. Jesus, that scene.

      I knew it was coming! I squirmed in my seat. Disney must have asked a lot of us Generation Xers for input.

      Sharing it with Generation Y is a beautiful thing, too. Except Grace keeps referring to Han Solo as Indiana Jones.

  12. I wrote about my favourite princesses once – Leia was that the top! I enjoyed the “new” movie – even more so since I got to share it with my oldest. His friends had an extra ticket and decided I was cool enough to join them…and hang out afterward. The movie was cool – being accepted by my 26 year and his posse, made it that much cooler!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Of course she was, Jenn. The generational share is the best. You even got to hang out afterward?

      When I’m lucky enough for that, I pretend it’s not a big deal, and that I’ve been there. Easier said than done!

  13. Rorybore says:

    Still not over it.
    But what a time to be alive!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s definitely too soon. Although it’s never too soon to think about the next movie. It never has been.

      1. Rorybore says:

        But my OTP is gone!!!!!
        And Luke! Luke! Wherefore art thou Luke, and why!!???

        Oh yeah, I’ve been ready for this forever.

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