A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a nine-year-old girl fell in love with Darth Vader.
She was with her mother in a toy store, buying a gift on the way to a birthday party, when a crowd started gathering and they noticed a sign announcing that someone called Darth Vader was making an appearance at 1 pm. Soon enough, the tall, dark, and masked stranger emerged amidst dry ice and dramatic music. He was terrifying. She was mesmerised. She went over to the Dark Side.
Of course, I was that little girl, 31 years ago.
After that encounter, I watched all the Star Wars movies repeatedly -- Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back were my childhood favourites. I loved Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies, but couldn't have cared less about him in the Star Wars films. I was a Vader girl. Sure, I adored Chewy (Chewbacca, the wookie), and R2-D2 was super cute, and C-3PO was hilarious -- but as soon as I heard The Imperial March (the music that signifies Vader's appearance), I would feel tingles. And then he'd appear, mysterious behind his full helmet, imposing in stature, and baaad in character.
Over the years, as I grew up and re-watched the films many times, and I found that my fascination with Darth Vader developed into something of an obsession. When I was 19, I met a man at a costume party who was dressed as him, and I spent the night trying to get into his mask. I needed to see who was in there. Admittedly I was a little tipsy. And I was dressed as Oprah.
A lifetime later, I've had the absolute pleasure of watching my son become a major Star Wars fan. He's grown up on Episodes One, Two and Three, whereas my childhood viewing was of Episodes Four, Five and Six (they were made years apart, and not sequentially). It means that there's definitely a generational divide, with my interests and knowledge being classed as "old school" Star Wars, but we agree on one thing: Darth Vader is our hero.
Naturally, I have encouraged this obsession, under the guise of being the most awesome mum. I never had any Star Wars merchandise, mostly because it was not available in the way it is these days. But my son has it all.
I am, without a doubt, re-living that part of my childhood through him.
His bedroom looks like George Lucas (director of the first films and a veritable God) threw up in there. Star Wars, and Vader in particular, is represented on everything from underwear, to an entire range of Pez dispensers, to his light sabre toothbrush. There's Star Wars Bed linen, soft toys, Lego, drink bottles, posters, costumes, six light sabres, a talking Wookie mask (which I had to get thanks to this year's laughing Chewbacca Mask Lady), a billion books... I pretend I'm being forced to buy these things, but 90 percent of it is for my own pleasure.
It was the same when we discussed the date of the release of the latest film, Rogue One. My son asked me last week if I'd bought tickets for the first day; I told him I would only if he went to bed on time, did his homework, etc. -- when, in fact, I'd already sorted it out weeks ago. Because, forget about my kid -- as if I wasn't going to see it on the first day.
And yesterday was finally that day. From the moment the movie began, with the words "a long time ago in a galaxy far away" on the screen, I felt like I was 'home'. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, so all I'll say is that Rogue One contains all of the essential elements that make the previous films so wonderful; good and evil forces doing battle, a child who represents hope for the future, amazing aircraft, celebrity cameos, the familiar sound of storm troopers marching, alien creatures, a smart-ass droid, wondrous scenes on numerous planets, a melting pot of species, emotive hologram messages, rebels and rebellions, and a stellar multi-racial cast.
And Darth Vader in a scene so cool we were squealing in our seats and high-fiving each other.
The movie also has a significantly better ending than its predecessor, The Force Awakens. All of this means that I'll be back watching it in the cinema again, quicker than you can rasp: "Luke, I am your father."
ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA