Friends, a couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be contacted by Author Mark O’Connell – who had just published a new book entitled Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us. Mark was kind enough to ask if I would perhaps like to receive a copy of his latest book and review it for the site, obviously since I’m writing this you might correctly assume that I did in fact love Watching Skies and think you should check it out for yourself as well.
Watching Skies is the personal recollections of O’Connell growing up at time when things were drastically changing in his life. Being a latchkey child myself there are some hearfelt feelings shared in this book that I knew all too well. But that isn’t soley the focus of Mark’s book of course – it is that time when for many of us – movies were SUCH an important way of coping with issues out of our control. Be that from Spielberg classics such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or even a little film franchise from George Lucas called Star Wars. The importance of these films cannot be understated, not just in how they changed the landscape of Hollywood – but how those of us of a certain age grew up with the way we experienced films themselves.
As O’Connell points out in Watching Skies with some brilliant insight on the many films he is fond of himself, thanks to the creation of the videocassette recorder, everything was changed. Even if some of us had to wait quite a while to get one in our household. Those days of patiently waiting for Holiday specials like 1966’s It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or Rikki-Tikki-Tavi didn’t have to seem so long – assuming of course you were lucky enough to program your VCR correctly. To say nothing of actually being able to rent or if we paid the then outrageous sums for a VHS tape, own our favorite movies and watch them at our leisure!
From Superman, Poltergeist, Gremlins, and so many more movies that have become part of the pop culture zeitgeist – Mark relays his personal experiences with them all. In addition it is fascinating see a different experience than most as O’Connell hails from the UK – which I will admit I hadn’t thought about how long it might take a popular film such as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to finally hit theaters in Britain. The power from Watching Skies is that it feels good to know others have had nearly the same experiences as you did, in regards to pop culture. I will obviously admit I haven’t walked the same path as Mark has but his appreciation and love for the groundbreaking Directors, films and toys of the late 70’s and through the 80’s shines through – the personal recollections of such a fan of pop culture will keep you eagerly turning the next page!
The good news is Watching Skies: Star Wars, Spielberg and Us is available right this minute from Amazon. The even better news is if you like the book and I certainly think you will, you can also pick up Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan. You see besides being an amazing Author, Mark O’Connell is a major James Bond fan…who just so happens to have a very interesting family connection to the film series.
In closing, I am going to leave you with this full endorsement for Watching Skies by none other than Mark Gatiss!
“Mark O’Connell brings alive those wonderfully heady days when American cinema was young again – exploding with the fun, colour and imagination that illuminated our own frozen shores and fired the imaginations of children – and grown up children – everywhere. So take your mashed potato Devils Tower to the lost city of Tanis – via Krypton and, of course, a galaxy far, far away – and indulge in this fantastic personal account of one of the greatest chapters in movie history. An unmitigated delight.”