If you know me even remotely at all, you’re probably expecting me to answer Star Wars. That’s probably because one of the first things people find out about me is that I love Star Wars, and, being a movie, and being a thing that I love, it kind of gets catapulted to the top of any list of favorite movies of mine. I do like other movies. I have lots and lots of favorite movies. So the easy way out of such a complicated question is to focus on one pure and simple fact: I love Star Wars.
When you walk in the front door of the apartment I share with Kristine, you’ll see directly in front of you a whiteboard/corkboard with a cutout of Han Solo on it and another that says “EMPIRE.” The text on the whiteboard is a quotation from Robot Chicken’s latest SW parody, and I have magnet words of Luke Skywalker’s A New Hope quotes that are rearranged into funny combinations. On the table is a picture of me and Kristine downing Tatooine Sunrises at our 10th Anniversary Extravaganza party for Episode I. There’s a Stormtrooper cutout next to it; also there’s a little bust of a Stormtrooper named Iasson usually sits on top of the whiteboard but is on the table for right now. I have a Star Wars desk calendar on the table that makes up my study area. Directly behind me is a desk chair with a blanket over it, and sitting on it is my Build-A-Bear limited edition Star Wars bear named Trilogy; he is holding an Empire Strikes Back 30th Anniversary Limited Edition tin that contains two decks of special edition playing cards. In the kitchen is a copy of Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes. On the main bookshelf is a collection of my SW reference materials (visual dictionary, cross-sections, atlas, technical manual) and an assortment of spin-off paperbacks (some of which are Kristine’s). There’s an Episode III soundtrack sitting on top of the CD rack. On the DVD shelf is a collection of Star Wars DVDs of all six movies. (I didn’t bring most of my collection with me, actually. I didn’t want things to get lost or damaged, and plus there isn’t room–I’ve got four or five large boxes of stuff. So I feel like it isn’t unfair of me to continue to focus on Star Wars as my favorite film.)
I do take all six individual movies as a single film entity, which also makes this question easier to answer. I first saw A New Hope on February 12, 1997, which makes the date on this post even more appropriate, since it’s only two days shy of the 14 year anniversary of my seeing it for the first time. I first saw it as the 1997 re-release and never even saw the original until just a couple years ago. And I liked it–it was a good movie, and I enjoyed science fiction. It was a good time for it, too, since the re-release and the filming of E1 had entertainment shows and magazines buzzing about SW, so there were plenty of ways for me to feed my casual interest. Mom rented The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi on February 21, although she hid from me the fact that she had gotten them both at the same time. As a result, when we finished watching ESB, I was resigned to having to wait a week or more until we could go back to the store and rent the second one. Imagine my shock the next day when she revealed she already had it! Now, ROTJ is the movie that did it for me. That was the film that irrevocably infected me with Star Wars fever, and my diary entries from the time reflect this, too–I was still only as casually interested in Star Wars as I was in, oh, Indiana Jones or any other movie I saw that year until Return of the Jedi. After that film, I remember walking down the hall to go to my room and standing looking through the window in the front door out at the enormous moon rising over the eastern horizon, and just being thrilled with every fiber of my 11 1/2 year old body at a single thought: space. I’d been interested before, but now . . . I was hooked. I washed Dad’s car for three months to pay for a copy of the special edition trilogy on VHS.
I kept the interest quiet because I didn’t really believe in being interested in things, or letting people know I was interested. But it soon became pretty evident to everybody that these were more than just movies to me. No, I wasn’t lined up outside of a theater for weeks when Episode I came out–I saw it a month after everyone else, on June 19, because my parents wouldn’t let me see it opening day. “Next month is good enough,” they told me. (Making up for that particular bit of cruelty, they bought me the Episode I Visual Dictionary, which I looked at and took with me everywhere so that its pages started falling out.) My sister graciously agreed to take me that Saturday when anticipation would bear no more, and I dressed up super cool in jeans, a sleeveless yellow shirt, a multicolored bead necklace, and denim-colored flip flops. I even wore my hair half down in recognition of the special occasion. I sat up leaning toward the screen the whole film. I laughed at the funny bits, even sat at rapt attention through the freaking podrace; my eyes were on Qui-Gon every second he was on screen. I loved Jar Jar. My heart raced throughout the lightsaber duel, and I cried when Qui-Gon was struck down, even though my niece had inadvertently revealed to me weeks before that he died. I saw E1 three times in theaters and then ran out of people who would take me. Nobody would even take me to the December re-release. It was a long, cold wait for May 21, 2002, let me tell you. (I didn’t know they were going to release E2 early) But I did cry the next April when Dad surprised me by buying Episode I for me on VHS. Dad doesn’t like movies very much, and it’s not like it was my birthday or anything whatsoever; he seemed kind of embarrassed that I cried about it, but it still strikes me as one of the sweetest things, just because we didn’t go around buying movies too often and I only had a couple of my own.
So that’s me and my favorite movie. Return of the Jedi is still king, and I’ve seen it hundreds of times. I could watch that movie on practically an endless loop and never notice. The space battle and the lightsaber duel are all you need to make it great. So I guess in answer to your question, my favorite movie is Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. I love it. It started it all for me and has stayed on top for 14 years. The others are, in descending order, Revenge of the Sith, The Empire Strikes Back, The Phantom Menace, A New Hope, and Attack of the Clones. In short, I love Star Wars more than anyone you will ever know, or, at the very least, in a way unlike anyone you have ever met, and the thrill Return of the Jedi still gives me, well, can probably only be matched by the thrill one experiences when racing through the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs. I guess what I’m trying to say that, if there’s any movie that’s always on the marquees here in Rhutopia, it’s ROTJ.