A family tradition was born in 1977 in an Arlington, Virginia, movie theater when Dan Mulholland brought his 5-year-old son to see “Star Wars.”
One of five sons, Loki Mulholland, 47 and living in South Lehi, Utah, went on to see every “Star Wars” film in a movie theater alongside his father.
“I took my (oldest son) out to see the movie, not knowing much about it,” Dan Mulholland, 76, recalled. “And the opening scene just blew me away ... so I then took all the other kids to see it the next day or so, and after that, each time one came out, I took them all there.”
It was easy for the family to head to the movies when the original trilogy was released, and when the prequels hit theaters in the late-’90s and early 2000s, Loki found himself again next to his father, even bringing his own son, Jordan Mulholland, to “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” in 2005.
The latest installment in the franchise, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” concludes the Skywalker storyline, and production company Disney has no immediate plans to make any theatrically released “Star Wars” films.
To ensure their string of family screenings remained unblemished, Loki Mulholland and Jordan, 21, made the 10-hour drive to Bend to take a seat next to Dan Mulholland again Friday.
They don’t know if they’ll get another chance to do this.
Loki Mulholland, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, credits his dad’s love of movies and sharing them with him, his four brothers and two stepbrothers as one reason he chose his profession .
“Most filmmakers my age started out wanting to do ‘Star Wars,’” he said. “(Some) ended up doing different things or not doing anything at all. … I’m lucky.”
His films however, have strayed from the star destroyers of a galaxy far, far away and toward documentaries on the civil rights movement and stories about his mother, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a Freedom Rider and activist. He won a regional Emmy for his 2017 film “The Uncomfortable Truth.”
Dan and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland separated in 1975 and divorced in 1980 but lived only a block away from each other in Arlington.
“The kids were with me all weekend,” Dan Mulholland said. “And I had one of the kids over every Wednesday, ’cause with five kids, you seldom get one-on-one time with them. ... But movies have always been part of our lives.”
His home was filled with VHS tapes and laserdiscs, which the family devoured. When it came to “Star Wars,” the copies the family had on laserdisc were “on heavy rotation,” including one time when the family watched “Star Wars: A New Hope” eight or 10 times in one day.
“I think we wore it out,” Loki Mulholland recalled.
Loki Mulholland has vivid memories of the hundreds of films he watched growing up. He can tell you the theater he was in when he saw “Ghostbusters” and how he marveled at the special effects of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” And he can still conjure the panic he felt walking home in the snow after a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s horror film “The Shining.”
Dan Mulholland and his second wife, Sarah, moved to Bend in 2005. After the franchise was bought by Disney in 2012 and the new trilogy started in 2015, Loki Mulholland regularly made the trek from Utah to see the films with his dad.
“I may get out (to Bend) once or twice a year, and ‘Star Wars’ gives me a great excuse to get out and see him,” Loki Mulholland said.
The trip for the current film seems to have been worth it, too. Dan, Loki and Jordan Mulholland were generally pleased with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
“They wrapped it all up nicely,” Dan Mulholland said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”
But the experience was more than a tidy ending to a saga that’s lasted 42 years. It was an affirmation of a family bound by a love of movies — and each other.
“For me, seeing ‘Star Wars’ … was this magical moment,” Loki Mulholland said. “Like this is what movies are about. This is what it should be about.”