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Malaysians Remembering Star Wars
Come 17 December 2015, a new generation of Malaysian Star Wars fan will be birthed. Before The Force Awakens, we speak to three Malaysians about their first encounters with Star Wars.
With that iconic image of a Star Destroyer haranguing a Corellian Corvette, many Star Wars fans were thrown headfirst into the galaxy that George Lucas created. After almost 40 years since it first entered the pop culture lexicon, Star Wars mania has hit a fever pitch in the country – and Malaysians from across the board have been waxing lyrical about their memories of a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Here are three of their stories.
Syed Sharbini Rafie Al-Edruce
For Syed Sharbini Rafie Al-Edruce, or Rafie to his friends, it was his father who kickstarted his lifelong Star Wars love affair.
“I was 10 the first time I ever watched Star Wars. My dad had gotten the LaserDisc, and asked my brothers and I to go into my grandfather’s bedroom, where he had a nice home theatre. My dad said, ‘You’re going to have to watch this. It’s going to change your life.’ And he was right. It did!”
“I remember being utterly blown away, and transported, mind, body and soul. To go into this alternate universe with infinite possibilities. And of course, lightsabers were cool, and just having something like the Force as well. It blew my ten-year-old mind.”
How far did Rafie’s passion for Star Wars take him? Aside from his job as a social media specialist for an online retailer, he’s also a stalwart of the Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club, where he hosts and helps coordinate events for the Club. Part of Rafie’s passion stems from the life lessons that Star Wars has taught him.
“What I take from it is very philosophical in nature. There’re the two sides of the Force, which are a reflection of your inner self. And from reading the Expanded Universe books, I’ve learnt about my own personal philosophies. You discover that shades of grey exist. What this saga has taught me more than anything is that I should be mindful not just of what I’m doing, but why I’m doing it. The intent matters just as much as the actual action.”
LEONG KA WYN
Sometimes, an induction into the Star Wars universe can be a simple one. For Leong Ka Wyn, co-founder of the Earth 638 comic specialty shop, it came down to a joyful experience enjoyed at home.
“I was in primary school, and I’m guessing that I was around 8 or 9. I remember watching Star Wars on television, and the main sponsor was some cigarette company, because that’s how things were that time.”
“My first vivid memory has to be the dogfight in Episode 4, where Luke and his gang were in their X-Wings, going up against Vader and his gang in their TIE Fighters around the Death Star, with Han Solo joining in later in the Millennium Falcon. It’s been tattooed in my brain ever since. The excitement, the feeling of seeing something like that for the first time. Spaceships flying around? That was the ultimate cool for me.”
Ka Wyn feels the Star Wars galaxy is unique because it can be interpreted differently by the same people over time. “Different people would have seen the different episodes in different times in their lives, and all of them would have reacted differently each time. But it’s all still Star Wars.”
Meanwhile, for Riz Rashid, advertising honcho by day and real-life guitar hero by night, he had his first taste of Star Wars when it first came out in the States.
“It was 1977, and I was 9 years old, living in America. That movie was all the rage at my school. Everybody was talking about it. So I finally went to see it with a friend and his parents - mind you, I was too young to go to the cinema without an adult!”
“It was so exciting. That opening shot was the best! It blew me away. I’d never experienced anything like that before. I went to see it 5 more times! There were too many details that I’d missed while watching it the first few times. I also realised that Stormtroopers have the worst marksmanship ever.”
Riz’s appreciation for Star Wars grew, and his child-like amazement led to a deeper understanding of its underlying motifs.
“It was just a great film at first. As I grew older, I felt it was more than that, but could never explain it without feeling like such a geek. That was until I was in high school, still in the U.S., when I took my first Philosophy class. I studied a Joseph Campbell book, Power of Myth. The book discussed ancient mythic figures that tied the Star Wars stories to ancient myths of vision quests, hero worship, mothers, earth and religion. It was fascinating and intriguing. I had a new appreciation for George Lucas after reading the book.”
“If you watch the Original Trilogy, there’s a hidden message of life that you have to comprehend and extract for the story. There’re ties to the ancient Samurai Bushido code philosophy within the three films. Episodes 4, 5 and 6 have a very philosophical undertone, and are very well-written.”
There’s more to Star Wars than just lightsabers and spaceships. On a superficial level, some may think that Star Wars can only be represented by obsessed fans in quirky costumes. But the truth is much simpler. A deep appreciation for Star Wars always starts with a single memory that lasts a lifetime, giving each fan a perspective on the world around them that’s truly their own.
By Ian Tai
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