My most vivid memory of Star Wars is reading it in graphic novel form with my dad as preparation for the movie, because of course, captioned films didn’t exist in the 70s. I asked if he remembered which movie the book covered. “I don’t remember the name, but it was the one that had these giant mechanical things that clomped along,” he responded. “They sort of looked like an animal, and I think storm troopers were inside.” This made me laugh out loud, because this is the main thing I remember too.
I googled “Star Wars Trojan horse,” and discovered this vehicle is called the AT-AT Walker, or All Terrain Armored Transport. (Cut me some slack; I’m not a die-hard Star Wars geek like my husband.) An attack by the Imperial forces and the AT-AT Walkers on the ice planet Hoth was part of The Empire Strikes Back. Bingo!
I was seven when that film was released, which would explain why I also recall having trouble with some of the words and concepts on the pages. We brought the book to the theater, where Dad helped me follow along. I’m amazed that I remember so much of this, but what’s even more amazing is that my father took the time to ensure I was a part of this pop culture phenomenon.
Now that most movie theaters have captioning, I was looking forward to seeing The Force Awakens on the big screen to get the full effect. My enthusiasm was dampened a bit by a friend’s experience. She lives in another state, but what she encountered is all too familiar for those of us with hearing loss. She posted on Facebook, “Well at least [husband] and the boys got to watch the Star Wars movie.” Despite having gone to the theater earlier in the week to ask about the captioning system and make sure it was working, on the day of the movie she tried three different sets of glasses, had the attendant test it, and nothing worked.
“The captions were only visible out one lens of the glasses, so one side was blurry/cut off,” my friend wrote. “Then the captions would start and then every second to third line would be a blank green box with no words. THEN (and this is the best part), it would start captioning words to songs and the year they were released…”Greatest Hits, 1977″…in between the words of the movie. Yeah, that’s not distracting at all!!!!”
Ironically, she had stopped going to movies because she was so fed up with this recurring issue.
Generally, I’ve had better luck, but almost every time, have run into a problem. Most previews aren’t captioned, so I don’t know if the captioning is working correctly until the movie starts. It’s a wonder I don’t have an ulcer, especially with the endless trailers.
When we left for the theater to add to Star Wars’ box office record, I brought some things to do in case I had to leave my family at the theater. We got there an hour and 15 minutes early with prepaid tickets and were first in line for our showing. We got our favorite seats, which meant an optimal spot for captioning. We asked one of the managers to be there once the movie started in case we needed to try a different captioning device. He said to give him a thumbs up or down.
During the opening crawl, when the captions read “Star Wars theme begins,” I knew the force was with me.
The verdict: Thumbs up for the captions working, and thumbs up for the movie!