Med thumb star wars

It’s 3:30 a.m. on Thursday, December 17, 2015, under the dark night sky of Sheepshead, Brooklyn, and I’m talking to a fully grown man wearing an Obi-Wan Kenobi robe.

“Actually, it’s Obi-Wan in clone trooper armor,” he points out. “Make sure you print that.”

He also asks me not to print his name, so I’ll call him “Jim.” You see, Jim doesn’t want his boss to know he’s skipping work to attend an 18-hour Star Wars movie marathon.

Yup — 18 straight hours of Star Wars, an event held by movie theater chains throughout the country. This nerdgasm — which I am attending as a Star Wars noob — kicks off with the three prequel films, followed by the three original films, and caps off with the world premiere of The Force Awakens. Van Winkle’s intern Robin Scher has agreed to join me for emotional and energetic support. He is a Star Wars geek. During each 15-minute intermission, I’m counting on Scher to explain what I’d just seen, and why it’s so important to fans.

“Wow, Jar Jar Binks. He’s every bit as awful as I’ve heard.”

Not surprisingly, Robin isn’t remotely the geekiest geek in the crowd. Behind Jim in his Obi-Wan robes, I see Yoda ears and Ewok jackets worn by other brave fans skipping work, school and familial obligations to attend this marathon. We’re in the middle of finals season, and several college and high school students have told me they’re skipping exams to be here.

I ask several fans which movie they think they’ll fall asleep for. “I hope it’s The Phantom Menace,” one tells me. (Normally, this is where I would explain exactly why fans don’t like The Phantom Menace, the first of the prequels. But I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who doesn’t get it. The rest of the world knows Star Wars a lot better than me.)  

One man admits he’ll be popping Adderall throughout the day. Me, I’ll be going the old-fashioned way — by chugging on coffee and Diet Coke.

“What if you end up falling asleep for The Force Awakens?” I ask one fan. “Aren’t you worried you’ll be too tired to enjoy it?”

“Absolutely not,” she responds. “No way. That’s not going to happen.”

Let’s hope she’s right.

Without further delay, reporting from the UA Sheepshead Bay movie theater in Brooklyn, New York, here’s my 18-hour journey sitting through (and trying to stay awake) for all seven Star Wars movies.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

4 a.m. - 6:15 a.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji Moderate Energy LevelModerate. Widely considered to be the worst in the series, The Phantom Menace is the film everybody wishes they could fall asleep during. But the marathon’s just begun, the excitement is too high and Jar Jar Binks is too laughably awful for anyone to doze off. That is, until the film’s second half, when a handful of viewers pass out after the Tatooine scenes.

Intermission Chat:

Jeremy: Wow, the energy was high until the second half. Did you feel the same way?

Robin: Oh yeah, completely. I feel like that’s a big problem with the film; the second hour is really tedious, and after the pod race it goes completely downhill. Afterward, it’s just the story dealing with the trade federation. Do you even understand it?

Jeremy: Not at all. But as for the series itself, I’m having a lot of fun. I know this is the worst movie, and it’s really campy and childish, but I feel myself developing this passion and excitement for Star Wars that I’ve never had before. Except, wow, Jar Jar Binks. He’s every bit as awful as I’ve heard.

Peak Audience Moment:

Every time young Anakin shouts “Yippee!,” the audience roared with laughter. This could be the new Rocky Horror Picture Show.


Episode II: Attack of the Clones

6:28 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji Low Energy LevelLow. Nearly everyone in the theater fell asleep during Attack of the Clones, the longest, most political and most convoluted entry in the series.

Intermission Chat:

Robin: I have a lot of fatigue.

Jeremy: Serious fatigue. I fell asleep, you fell asleep, the whole room fell asleep. And I’m disappointed with myself, because I was really hoping I could stay awake for all seven movies.

Robin: This is maybe the most boring movie of the entire series. I mean, The Phantom Menace is bad, but Attack of the Clones is just so boring.

Jeremy: Agreed. It could’ve used some more Jar Jar, honestly.

Peak Audience Moment:

Anakin’s “I don’t like sand” monologue:


Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

9:20 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji High Energy LevelHigh. The audience got a burst of adrenaline for Revenge of the Sith, which, unlike the other two prequel films, doesn’t drag on.

Intermission Chat:

Jeremy: Wow, everyone was awake! The energy was high! The emotions were high! I don’t think a single person took a nap. This is my favorite Star Wars movie so far.

Robin: Actually, I napped for a little bit. But, yeah, I agree, the energy was very high, I think because everyone’s excited to finally make it to the original trilogy now. Were you surprised by anything?

Jeremy: I loved this movie, but actually, it dawned on me how useless women are in this series.

Robin: Absolutely. Natalie Portman’s only purpose is to turn Anakin into Emo Darth Vader. She started out strong in The Phantom Menace, but by Revenge of the Sith she’s totally pathetic. It’ll be exciting to see the seventh movie flip this around.

Peak Audience Moment:

Yoda’s battle with Senator Palpatine. Also, when Padme says, “Anakin, you’re breaking my heart,” the audience cackled.


Episode IV: A New Hope

12:01 p.m. - 2:17 p.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji Moderate Energy LevelModerate. The audience is excited to finally enter the original trilogy, but fatigue kicks in yet again. Several viewers pass out. Also, a musty, stale stench begins to fill the room.

Intermission Chat:

Robin: I thought the excitement for A New Hope would be even higher than Revenge of the Sith, but it’s actually gotten lower.

Jeremy: Yeah, I agree. There were a lot of snorers.

Robin: But seeing it on the big screen was just amazing. Just looking at the sets and everything, I much prefer this to all the CGI in the prequel movies.

Jeremy: Would you hate me if I said I had more fun watching Revenge of the Sith than A New Hope?

Robin: No, not at all.

Peak Audience Moment:

When Obi-Wan Kenobi says, “Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time,” the audience all shouted “How long?” right before Obi-Wan says “A long time” again. Again, we’re in Rocky Horror territory with this group.


Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

2:30 p.m. - 4:46 p.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji High Energy LevelHigh. Not many people are napping, but the general fatigue and lack of healthy sleep is turning the audience loopy. There’s popcorn all over the floor, soda is spilled everywhere and people are screaming at each other to turn off their cellphones.

Intermission Chat:

Robin: How are you feeling?

Jeremy: It’s tough. I’m not tired, exactly, but I’m feeling sick and my stomach hurts. And I can tell everyone in the theater is not in the sanest state of mind.

Robin: I’m starting to forget what reality is. I’m losing myself in the Star Wars world and I can’t remember what’s real and what’s on the screen. Did you enjoy the movie?

Jeremy: Yeah, but I feel weird and I can’t think straight. It’s just a lot of screen staring. However, hearing “I am your father” perked me up.

Peak Audience Moment:

Second only to “I am your father,” the audience screamed in horror at Leia and Luke kissing.


Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

4:56 p.m. - 7:12 p.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji High Energy LevelHigh. We’re so close to the seventh movie, the energy in the room is in full-force and nobody can fall asleep.

Intermission Chat:

Jeremy: Oh my God, we’re so close. Everyone’s energized and everyone stayed awake but everyone’s a little insane. I feel like we’re all on drugs, though I’m sure some of us actually are.

Robin: Yeah, it feels like a contact high. We’re all going mental. What did you think of this movie?

Jeremy: This was the best of the original trilogy, actually. Following the progression of Anakin to Darth Vader, and seeing it all come to an end was just very exciting.

Peak Audience Moment:

When Leia tells Luke she’s always known he was her brother, several audience members shouted, “Then why did you kiss him?” Also, every time Darth Sidious acts like a pedophile around Luke.


Episode VII: The Force Awakens

7:20 p.m. - 9:36 p.m.

Energy Level:

Emoji Very High Energy LevelExtremely High. We’ve made it. Despite the long, grueling day we’ve had, not a single person falls asleep for The Force Awakens. There’s love, laughter, cheers, applause and screams throughout the entire film. The audience is fully united as one big happy family, experiencing this joy together.

Intermission Chat:

Jeremy: We survived, we survived! And holy crap, I loved this movie. I thought it was one of the best in the entire series. Oh my God, I can’t believe I sat through all seven of these.

Robin: Would you say you’re now a Star Wars fan now, having gone through this experience?

Jeremy: I’m not sure I can become a Star Wars fan overnight. But I will say that now I actually care about following Star Wars news and seeing all the future movies and having conversations with people about Star Wars. I couldn’t say that before today.

Robin: I really liked this new one. It had some of the best dialogue compared to the prequel trilogy. It was smarter and edgier, which I appreciated. And I’m not even feeling tired.

Jeremy: You’re going to feel it tomorrow. We both will.

Robin: May the force be with us.

Peak Audience Moment:

The re-appearance of a certain, ahem, spacecraft.