Monday, August 6, 2012

John Carter (of Mars) Under the Stars

Some months ago, a link was posted in the John Carter sequel campaign Facebook group that the movie would be shown on an outdoor screen at the Utah State Capitol building in August. My reaction upon seeing this post went something like, "OH EM GEE I'M SO EXCITED FOR THIS!" (Paraphrasing, but that was the gist.) The group's administrator then contacted me and asked if I'd be willing to do some reconnaisance work on the ground, as it were, and spread the word about the campaign. I agreed.

Fast forward to last Friday. I arrive at the State Capitol building (which is amazing, by the way - even the changing tables in the ladies' room look like they're made of marble) with my mom and aunt, plus a pile of Back to Barsoom business cards, sequel petition sheets (which you can sign online HERE), and several blankets on hand.

However, I have a condition which prevents me from drawing attention to myself in public. It's called introversion. Because of this, it doesn't take me long to start feeling panicky about approaching strangers and handing them a card or asking them to sign a petition. Fortunately, my aunt does not suffer from this same condition, and she agrees to hand out most of the cards (only fitting, as she's traveled to Mars with me before), while I muster the nerve to ask the nice lady at the snack counter if I can leave the rest with her.

About this time, the director of the Utah Film Commision stands up in front of the screen to introduce the movie - with a mic. It occurrs to me that if I can grab this guy's attention, maybe I can get him to make an announcement about the Back to Barsoom sequel campaign. So, in my own subtle way, I start creeping around the outskirts of the crowd. When I'm about twenty feet away from the guy, he says they're going to do a little trivia game before the movie and asks for volunteers from the crowd to come up. Perfect! I'm already lurking around like a creepy stalker-person. And this is how I find myself with a handful of other trivia hopefuls, standing in front of a crowd of about two hundred people waiting to see John Carter.

The questions are - well, they're lame. When was A Princess of Mars, the book the movie is based on, first published? (Psh. 1912.) Who directed John Carter? (Andrew Stanton. Please. Don't waste my time.) What is the name of the actor who plays John Carter? (Wha - Seriously?!) Then we come to The Hardest Question of the Night. (I, being overcome with the Shyness Gnome, have not stepped forward to answer any.) Utah Film Commision Guy holds up a giant medallion he's wearing around his neck, which he's previously explained is an actual prop from the movie that Disney sent to Utah for this event. It looks like this:

Here is The Hardest Question of the Night: What are the words John Carter speaks to this medallion in order to return to Mars? Time passes, and no one steps up. I glance over at the prize, an official movie poster, because of course I know the answer to this one too. But I've always been weirded out by the way my voice sounds through a microphone, and the thought of speaking in front of all of these people makes me cringe. Then I notice the little girl standing next to me. She's about eight years old and she's positively bouncing on her heels. Still no one has tried to answer the question.

"You wanna win the poster?" I ask the girl. She nods. Vigorously. So I bend down to whisper the magic words in her ear: Och ohem oktay wees Barsoom. She looks confused, and who can blame her? The words are pretty weird. But then, so am I. I whisper them to her again, and then a third time, but I can tell she's still worried about remembering them. Time has run out. The lady on the girl's other side points to her and says, "She knows." They bring the microphone over to her. She tries to say it, but the first part comes out wrong, and she can't remember any more. So I whisper the words again, one at a time, so she can say each one into the microphone. People clap. She wins the poster.

Afterward, Utah Film Commision Guy comes over to me. "You knew that?" he says. Dude. I knew them all. Oh, hey! Could you tell everyone to go check out backtobarsoom.com? Awesome!

Somewhere in the midst of all this, my new friend materializes again to thank me for the poster, and also to give me a hug.

I return to the spot we've staked out on the grass, just in time for the movie to start. Later, when John Carter first arrives in the Thark city, I have to bail for a bathroom break. (It ain't like I haven't seen the movie before.) As I'm walking up the hill to the Captiol Building, I hear a little voice nearby say, "I'm glad you were able to help!" It's her again! With a gaggle of friends. "I'm glad too," I say. I get back to the movie in time to see Dejah Thoris wield her mad sword-fighting skills, feeling warm and fuzzy about getting to use my own geektastic powers for a noble cause.

True story.


Janiel Miller said...

Aw. Great story! I wish I could have gone. That little girl should show up in your writing somewhere, I think.

Robin said...

You are awesome. I saw the flick for the first time the other night. Great story!

Anonymous said...

GEEKTASTIC Maegan! nice post.

Maegan Langer said...

Thanks, ladies! Did you like the movie, Robin? Did you sign the petition? ;-)

Ron Heydon said...

Excellent work Maegan. Winning on behalf of a small child. I guess she will remember the movie for a very long time ! JC, himself, would be proud of you.

William Kendall said...

What a lovely night; thanks for sharing.

I saw the movie for the first time the other day... not the disaster I was expecting. The aliens didn't pull a Jar Jar Binks and annoy me to no end, the story was actually there, the leads had a decent enough chemistry, and Mark Strong can play the bad guy with the best of them. Sure, the special effects got a bit over the top at times, and there were times I was thinking of how convoluted Dune was....

Maegan Langer said...

William! So glad to hear you finally watched John Carter! 'Tis true: Mark Strong may be the best movie villain ever.

Russo said...

Oh, these pics are incredible. I wish I didn't have math mind at the time and totally spaced it.
PS-The final pic on this post is stunning.