A Long Time Ago (1977).
In a Galaxy Far, Far Away (Irvine, CA).
The theater was dark and kind of scary, but my father’s large presence nearby was comforting. Just 45 minutes before that moment I had been watching the Donny & Marie variety show and waiting for bedtime. My dad took me, not my brother — just me, away from the house.
It boggled my six-year-old mind. It felt heady. Special. It felt … adult. My dad told me, “They’re talking about this movie at work. They say it’s really good.”
I repeated that refrain in my head. Like a mantra. Noting that everyone in the theater seemed pretty excited. That the popcorn tasted good and that I actually had my very own soda.
The the 20th Century Fox theme played. Bump-bum, Bump-dum, brrrrbum-bum!– because of the movie soundtrack I thought that Fox theme was a part of the overture. The Star Wars theme still doesn’t sound quite right unless it’s preceded by that Fox theme….
Then the now familiar words scrolled down the screen, I was proud to be able to read most of them and my dad filled me in on the rest. And then the action began. And I forgot about my popcorn, I forgot about my soda, and my world was forever changed.
I remember when Darth Vader loomed out of the smoke. Flanked by firing Stormtroopers, who looked like evil skeletons. Vader was so huge, so menacing, and making that disconcerting asthmatic wheeze that would haunt my nightmares for more than a few years to come. While I quaked in my seat my father leaned over to me and whispered:
‘That’s the bad guy’.
I remember thinking the six-year-old equivalent of “no sh*t!”
Star Wars changed everyone’s world when it debuted in 1977. Jaws may have been the first real summer blockbuster but Lucas blew Spielberg’s robotic fish out of the water and gave the world a mythology to embrace, and maybe best of all (but most detrimentally) toys to play with. I remember my first Kenner Star Wars action figures. My grandmother got them for me for Christmas. All of the original set: Obi-Wan, C-3P0, R2D2, Vader, Luke, Han, Leia, Stormtrooper, Chewbacca. Later I got more and, more, and more, and more and even now I’ve got a Star Wars poster, and several Darth Vaders adorning my workspace.
I’ve re-lived Star Wars with the original arcade game, the SNES games, X-Wing, TIE Fighter, X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, X-Wing Alliance, Dark Forces, Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast, and Knights of the Old Republic for the Xbox. We tried Lego Star Wars but it didn’t take – too hard – soon we’ll try again. I have the 360 duel pack with both trilogies. Anyone know how to start that one with the original films?
My son and daughter have seen Star Wars now. They saw the old version, thank you. I plan to show them Star Wars – Return of the Jedi maybe this week or weekend. When that is done, and depending on their reaction (Henry is 6 and Maggie is almost 9). Then and only then will I stop and consider the new trilogy and associated spinoffs.
Got any Star Wars memories there?