We told An and Vy that we wanted to see Star Wars. They weren’t sure that we were serious. However, they looked up where it was playing and it turned out that it was at an IMAX theater a 10 minute walk from TDTU, at Vivo City, a fancy new enclosed shopping mall, and that there were discount tickets on sale (190,000 D, which is about $8.50). So we met An at the bus stop at 5 pm on Monday and walked just about around the corner to meet Vy, who had bought bottles of water for us and was waiting. I had no idea Vivo City was so close, but you can get to it by crossing the bottom of Le Vuong Street where they are creating new sidewalks and a driveway so that people can come to Vivo City on motorbikes. Previously, Joe and I walked to Vivo City by going all the way down to Van Linh Street and walking along a very dirty, traffick-y area where there are no sidewalks, or at least no sidewalks not filled with motorbikes and machinery repair equipment. You turn around once, here, and they’ve build a new street and started a new apartment building.
Of course I envisioned long lines of excited patrons. Instead, there were 8 people in the huge theater, two of them a young “foreigner” couple. The movie has been out since early December, said Vy.
Once it started I had misgivings. It was all about rockets and things blowing up and spaceships zooming around going rat-tat-tat or crashing. I thought, here I am, disapproving in my heart of the militaristic, nationalistic demonstrations that wake us up at 7 am with loud music in the soccer stadium, and now I take two young Vietnamese women to watch a movie in which nothing happens but bang-bang and chasing and shooting and crashing! Of course, as an American, I can look at expressions of Vietnamese patriotic behavior with a different eye because I am not Vietnamese. It can be right for them even if it is wrong for me. Or so I say! But then I say,”Let’s go see Star Wars!” and suddenly we’re sitting watching a crowd of desert-dwelling scavengers get mowed down by storm troopers with automatic weapons, which is supposed to be fun, while we eat popcorn? What’s going on here?
I asked Vy and An if they were OK and they said yes.
Then I got swept up in the movie. The music was the same music! It was as if I had never heard it before, yet I can remember putting an LP on the record player while Gabi and Katy played Princess Leia the Librarian. And the stars – meaning the things in the sky, not the actors – were the same, the huge basic dark screen full of little white dots, kind of low-tech for what gets done now, except that this time they were in 3-D. And there’s a knock and here come Han Solo and Chewbacca!! Where did they come from? You mean that piece of garbage is the Millennium Falcon? Of course! By then I was totally into it. They really got Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher to come back and play their roles; amazing. All those people are still alive — wonderful! And that really is Luke Skywalker! I believe it! The girl holds out the light saber to him; will he take it?
It was like 40 years ago, but better.
Such an American movie, with all the rockets and things blowing up, and great symphonic music behind it all.
At the end, Joe, Vy and An were walking out during the credits and I just wanted to sit there.
They did say they enjoyed it, but I’m not sure that they really got it. Maybe you had to be there.
I am glad I saw it here, not back in the US. Back in the US, I would have felt that it was a completely incommensurable experience. I would have felt it was hopeless to try to explain. But An said she watched the trailer and understood the story, so it was at least partly commensurable.