Jeff Allanach: Explaining movie magic is as easy as, well, it's a work in progress
I believe in miracles.
How else can you explain a ragtag band of rebels and farmers overthrowing the most powerful nation in the world only to eventually become that which they overthrew?
Or a team of American amateur hockey players beating the best in the world?
And I can think of no other explanation for the fact that I am tired of "Star Wars."
I never thought it could happen. I've seen all six movies in the series more times than I can count, and I enjoy each one. (To some degree, I should say. We can all agree the real phantom menace in Episode I is George Lucas).
I couldn't wait until my children were old enough to watch the movies so I could relive the magic through their eyes, and was as giddy as a school boy hoarding french fries at lunchtime when that day came on Jan. 1, 2011.
They had a million questions: Who's Darth Vader? Is that a good guy or a bad guy? Are those aliens? Why is that light saber blue?
I answered all their questions happily, and in a small way felt like I was rediscovering the movies. But we have watched at least half of one of the movies every Friday and Saturday night since that day.
I. Am. Done.
I don't want to see another Wookie this side of Dantooine. (See what I mean?)
So I was hopeful one recent Friday night when my 5-year-old son, Gavin, and his 9-year-old sister, Celeste, disagreed on which movie to watch: "Star Wars" or "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."
Gavin has been talking about Harry Potter a lot recently. He's seen the first one, but he ran screaming from the room the last time I popped in "Chamber of Secrets." He didn't understand how Dobby could make a cake float in the opening sequence.
I knew I couldn't just put the movie in without him running away, so earlier in the week I tried to explain "movie magic" to him. He still didn't understand, so I figured I should show him.
I set up the camcorder on a tripod and asked him to sit on the couch. I taped him for a few moments, and asked him to recite a silly magical spell then paused the recording. I asked him to leave the couch and go to the other side of the room then I hit record again for a few seconds.
When I hooked up the camcorder to the television and played back the short video, it looked like Gavin magically disappeared. He stared at the television and smiled like he had just discovered a richer-tasting chocolate.
"That's movie magic," I told him. "Did you really disappear?"
"No, I just went to the other side of the room," Gavin replied.
"Then what happened?"
"Movie magic," he said through a wide grin.
I nodded and began writing my acceptance speech for Father of the Year from the Fraternal Academy of Daddies. Gavin would no longer fear movies because he understood that what he sees isn't necessarily real. It's movie magic.
It was a triumphant day in the Allanach household, almost like I had destroyed the Emperor myself with my own light saber. (Forgive me. That's a side effect of too much "Star Wars.")
A week or so later, I stood between Gavin and Celeste as he argued for Harry Potter and she lobbied for the never-ending space saga that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Only a coin flip could choose this one. I let Gavin pick, and debated for half a second if I should, er, how should I say this? Hmm, use the Force to make the coin land on his pick so I could catch a break.
I fought the urge, though, and he won without any influence from me. I popped in "Chamber of Secrets," and relished in my success.
But before the movie started, Gavin ran from the room screaming. He still feared Dobby.
I sighed, stopped it, and turned on "Star Wars." Gavin calmed down, and the streak of space adventures continued.
Perhaps I should put away that acceptance speech.
The writer is the Frederick County editor of The Gazette. He lives in Urbana and writes every other week about his adventures in fatherhood. If you'd like to see a video of Gavin doing movie magic, check out his Facebook page at http://bit.ly/fwfQzo. He'll post the video this evening.