Star Wars: The Force Awakens

First encounters with The Force

Film-makers and Star Wars fans share their first memory of watching a movie from the franchise

JEREMY HUANG, 33, member of Star Wars costuming organisation, 501st Legion – Singapore Garrison, and senior executive in a commodities firm

“I was quite young when I first watched Star Wars and I remember being very confused as to why it started with Episode 4. But I was always drawn to the Stormtroopers and thought that they looked really cool. It was only later, when I started working, that I really entertained the idea of having my own  Stormtrooper costume.

As I was searching online for resources on how to get one, I stumbled across the 501st Legion and discovered this wonderful group of Star Wars fans who dress up as the bad guys of the franchise for charity and community work.

I was instantly hooked and it has been more than two years that I’ve been part of this group, giving back to the community while sharing the camaraderie of being with like-minded fans.”

KELVIN TONG, 41, film-maker

Film-maker Kelvin Tong. PHOTO: ST FILE

“My dad’s taste in films was kind of strange.He took me to everything, from gongfu flicks to depressing German films such as Das Boot, but somehow left out something as culturally phenomenal as Star Wars.

I had to rent the movie from a neighbourhood video store a few years after the whole world had seen it. I was seven and my mind exploded. It exploded again when I laid eyes on my friends’ Kenner action figurines. I somehow had to have them all– Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo, Darth Vader, the Stormtrooper and especially Boba Fett.

I bugged and bugged my parents to buy me one, but they refused. My folks, who ran a toy store, insisted that our shop had the figurines. We didn’t. Either they really had no idea what Star Wars figurines were or they ‘acted blur’. I ended up skipping many recesses and bought Luke Skywalker from a rival toy shop near my parents’.

Boy, that was the moment my house became Death Star and my dad transformed into Darth Vader with a rattan light saber.”

CHAI YEE WEI, 39, film-maker

Film-maker Chai Yee Wei. PHOTO: ST FILE

“The first time I remember watching and actually understanding what was going on in the films was when I was in secondary school. I bought the collector’s box set of episodes four to six, and watched it overnight with my friends.

When you’re a kid and you see all those amazing special effects and then you have that huge twist in the story with Darth Vader being Luke’s father – wow, it just blew my mind. I have since collected every home release of the movies in every form – video, DVD, Blu-ray and even digitally on iTunes so that I can load them on my iPad and watch on the plane.”

ERIC KHOO, 50, film-maker

Film-maker Eric Khoo. PHOTO: ST FILE

"I was 12 when I first saw Star Wars at Cathay. There was a Star Wars poster hanging on the walls that I loved so much – it was beautifully designed with Darth Vader, Luke and Leia on it, and I really wanted it. I kept bugging a Cathay employee to give it to me, but he refused.

I ended up going back to the cinema every day to nag him for the poster. He eventually gave it to me after the movie stopped playing and I have kept that poster until today.”

LEE THEAN-JEEN, 46, film-maker

Film-maker Lee Thean-Jeen. PHOTO: ST FILE

“I was still in primary school and I probably went with one or both of my parents when I saw the first Star Wars movie.

I grew up in Penang and there was only one cinema in town that would’ve shown Hollywood blockbusters –the Rex Theatre in Burmah Road, which is now, I believe, a home furnishing store.

I don’t remember the experience of watching the film as much as I remember dragging my mother to every record shop in Penang afterwards, looking for the original soundtrack. “

We finally found it in an obscure corner of a record shop that sold mainly Chinese LPs and I was willing to part with all my pocket money just to have that double vinyl LP set, which I distinctly remember had no pictures, just the Star Wars logo emblazoned in yellow on a plain black background.

Why the obsession with the music of the film? I guess it was because VHS video tapes had yet to take off and the only way to relive the movie, so to speak – without forcing your parents to take you back to the cinema over and over again – was through its soundtrack.

The epilogue to this story is, my mother wouldn’t buy the album for me because she felt it was too expensive and the record shop owner had hiked up the price to take advantage of a desperate kid.

So I got the original soundtrack only 12 years later, when I was in university, on CD.”

ELIM CHEW, 49, entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Elim Chew. PHOTO: ST FILE

“I don’t really remember the first time I saw Star Wars, but I’ve seen the movies many times since then and there’s something about the design of the characters that really attracted me. I started collecting Star Wars toys in the early 1990s and have not stopped.

Then, when Episode 1 came out, I went to see it with 120 friends and we made a huge outing out of it.”

JACK NEO, 55, film-maker

Film-maker Jack Neo. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

“I’m not really a Star Wars fan because I wasn’t drawn to the storyline. But I remember being blown away by the special effects when I first saw the movies.

For George Lucas to achieve the space battle scenes without today’s computer graphics technology back in the 1970s – that’s amazing.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'First encounters with The Force'. Subscribe