Okay, so. I watched it. And, oh my God, it was everything everyone had said it would be, and more. From the opening slanting words of the back story through to the Jawas and the lightsaber (grateful thanks, Rob, for alerting me to the correct spelling of this seminal term) battle between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi, I sat, entranced, glued to the screen. As my synapses adjusted and my entire psyche realigned to make room for this new sacred text, I thought I might explode from happiness and wonder. Truly, I felt part of the Force.
Okay, so, not so much.
It was fine. It was fun. It was somewhat gratifying to finally sit down and watch the whole thing from start to finish and make sense of the finer points of the plot (aided by the closed captioning — my solution to the mumbling actors — and Rowan, who said helpful things throughout, like, “And now Obi-Wan Kenobi is going to die” — oh, sorry, spoiler alert). That Luke is pretty cute, in a mullety sort of way.
I’m wondering if I would’ve felt more uplifted had the DVD player not decided to stop playing during the final few minutes of the film, as Luke is stripping off his mask and trusting his instincts and the Force in order to make the precise hit he needs to destroy the Death Star. I’m guessing nothing too important happened right then, though, so I’m probably okay.
But all this talk about Star Wars and such has got me wondering just what I was doing in 1978 rather than twisting my hair into Princess Leia buns. What movie was I obsessing about? This one:
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to my sacred text of 1978: the Walt Disney production of Child of Glass. Wherein 13-year-old Alexander Armsworth and his family move to a spooky old grand antebellum Southern mansion and he and his nerdy friend Blossom encounter the ghost of the beautiful little girl Inez Dumaine (jealous much, Blossom?), who initially appears to him as a throbbing blue light (not unlike a lightsaber, I suppose, but not really). Inez, who has been murdered by her riverboat pirate uncle, cannot rest in peace until Alexander and Blossom solve the riddle of her death and find and reunite her with the “child of glass.” Being a ghost and therefore somewhat cryptic, Inez gives Alexander only the following poetic clue to help him out:
Sleeping lies the murdered lass
Vainly cries the child of glass
When the two shall be as one
The Spirit’s journey will be done.
Oh my God people this movie freaked me out. FREAKED ME OUT. Every Sunday evening, my cousins Michael and Nancy (Nancy, who taught me how to knit and to crochet, and who worked at the Children’s Bookstore in Toronto and brought us wonderful books, and whose weekly visits are the reason I am so devoted to our weekly brunches with Rowan and Isaac’s godmothers, Judy and Jill) came over for deli and we all watched the Disney Sunday Movie together. Because rituals are good. I remember watching Child of Glass with them, remember how utterly entranced I was by Inez, and how terrified. The best part is when Inez comes alive — every ghost, apparently, has a once-in-a-deathtime chance to turn human again — in order to dance with Alexander during the cotillion his parents throw at the Southern mansion. The scariest is when she changes into a menacing spirit in order to scare off the drunken handyman who tries to murder Alexander by setting the Armsworth barn on fire. Because I was seven years old, much of the plot sailed right over my head, but I remember deciding that the only way that I would get through the rest of my life was to cultivate an imaginary friendship with the ghost of Inez Dumaine, to get her on my side so that she would protect me as opposed to, say, stalking me in her scary spirit form and tormenting me for the rest of my days. I imagined myself as a ghost and how and when I might choose to come back as human: with whom would I dance? For years, I used to lie awake at night, just knowing that the ghost of Inez was floating through my house and coming to rest under my bed. We would chat, and I would quell my nerves by telling myself that I was friends with this ghost, that she had my back. It almost worked.
Several years ago, I spent a small fortune on eBay to acquire a VHS copy of Child of Glass, and I watched the whole thing, shaking. Sure, the plot was hokey as the special effects, the dialogue was stilted and the characters two-dimensional (in addition to the drunken handyman, there is Blossom’s grandmother, the “mystical old hag” — according to the copy on the video case — who gazes into her crystal ball and tells Alexander “Strange forces are at work here... Listen to the call of the spirits... they’ll come to you soon”), but watching that movie was like watching a home video of long-lost relatives I’d met once and loved and wondered about and never seen again. Watching it was like coming home.
So, people, I get why those of you who are obsessed with Star Wars are obsessed with it. I can’t argue that my late-70s flick of choice is better or worse. Just mine.
What was yours?