By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

Those who know me outside of my work know I am a huge lover of film. I’ve been an advocate of the medium for years, and I watch several movies each week.

I had the really unique opportunity to see the original Star Wars trilogy this past week at The Texas Theatre in Dallas (yes, where Lee Harvey Oswald hid out after the Kennedy assassination). Those three films remain personal favorites of mine, and the chance to see them on the big screen (even with the dozens of revisions George Lucas added over the years) was too irresistible to pass up.

Even with said changes (most are superfluous, others evoke a sense of adding a cartoon kitten to a classical Renaissance painting), I love those three particular movies. Part of it for me is memory. Days of childhood birthday parties and playing action figures with my father. I’ve met and had conversations with the majority of cast over the years (it’s hard to describe the feeling of hanging out with Mark Hamill/Luke Skywalker in a bar in San Diego, or Peter Mayhew/Chewbacca introducing me to his wife, Angie, after remembering we’ve visited before). And of course, I have collectibles. From those same childhood figures (which Dad saved) to original movie posters, Star Wars was more than a movie I saw on screen. It became a tangible world I could touch.

I freely admit 1980 was a great birthday. – Archival photo

That was the thought that stuck with me as I sat in a theater with other like-minded fans, popcorn in one hand, soda settled in my armrest. The Missus teases me as that’s always an essential part of my movie routine, but candidly, it’s not the same without it (and you know it).

Movies in general have always been that for me. Long before streaming services and watching videos on phone, the only tangible way to experience a movie past its theatrical run was renting a VHS tape at the video store, buying the movie for your personal media collection, or watching the late night movie on TV.

Growing up, I poured over “Making of” books and trading cards and music soundtracks of everything from Batman to Jurassic Park to Terminator 2. I loved the stories I saw on the big screen. They were my “stepping through a larger door” from the routine of daily life. I had to revisit those places once the film’s runtime was over.

Movies are the same reason I went to college to study film, and to create my own shorts. It’s why I started volunteering in film festivals, and taking on writing gigs to review movies. It’s why I’m usually up in arms somewhere online advocating the importance of cinema preservation, both for lesser-known movies and the theaters themselves. It’s also why I worked in Southern California and Las Vegas on the set of several productions. You probably know one or two of them (Arrr, me hearties).

All of this started from three little films.

I still regret the loss of our once-local Cinema IV and Movieland, as so many memories are still stored in those old buildings. On the flip side, I’m more than pleased with the recent renovations Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille has done. The theater has also been a great supporter of independent and classic film.

In the past week, I visited The Texas Theatre on three separate days to find something, to recapture a sliver of something that brought me one of my earliest joys. And so I sat each time, equipped with popcorn and soda, and just enjoyed all three films. No critical analysis. No pauses or outside distractions. I just sat in a darkened room with 100-plus other people and let the experience wash over me. And for me, that’s really what movies are all about.

Film is a connection. Film is an education. Film is physical.

I still hold to the argument that Han Solo shot first.

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