In May of 1977, I had been a teenager for all of five months. I’d like to say I was one of the coolest kids out there, but I was, just as any other thirteen year old boy a complete and total dweeb. I wasn’t sure if girls or toys were the most important thing. Staying in my room, or going outside to ride my bike were my most difficult choices. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great childhood; I lived in an up and coming new neighborhood with kids all around me, who were there to play and help me get into mischief.
One day, my mom took me to the theater to see a new movie which had just come out; Star Wars. Up until this time, Star Trek reruns, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Planet of the Apes movies had been the sum total of my science fiction experience and honestly, I didn’t really know what to expect with this new movie. She dropped me off at the movie theater on a Saturday afternoon to meet friends, telling me she’d be back later to pick us up.
With snacks in hand, I went in and found my seat. Things were simpler back then, the chairs were cooshie, but they did not lean back, well they kind of rocked a little, maybe a couple inches; just enough for the kid who couldn’t sit still to be able to work off his or her sugar rush from the Juju Beans and soda. As the lights went dark, I don’t remember if there were any movie trailers or it went straight into the movie, but I do remember the John Williams opening fanfare and thinking, “Hey, this is different!”
As the music played, the opening crawl came across the screen, and as I read it I remember thinking this could be cool. I’d never seen a movie start like this and the words simultaneously had me on the edge of my seat with anticipation and got me excited to see what this world of Star Wars had to offer.
What happened next totally blew me away. The Tantive IV, Princess Leia’s ship came into view from the top of the screen. I remember thinking, “Man, that’s huge!” But following right after was the Imperial Star Destroyer, and it seemed to take a full minute of screen time for this behemoth to pass into view. I can honestly say it was at this point, less than five minutes into the film, George Lucas had me completely and totally hooked.
It is a moment in my life I will never forget. If you were a fan of the television series That 70’s Show, watching Eric Forman see Star Wars for the first time is exactly what it was like for me. (Click picture to see clip)
My memories of the original three movies all come from my teenage years; age 13, Star Wars, age 16, The Empire Strikes Back and age 18, The Return of the Jedi. Many years later after my children were born, it brought me much joy when I was able to introduce them to this series when George Lucas re-released the original films with added footage on the big screen before making the prequel episodes, and yes I do like the character Jar Jar Binks!
Here I am forty-two years later, and my love for this franchise has only deepened and become more expensive. My office is what most would call a shrine to the god of Star Wars, but I call it surrounding myself with things which bring about some of the best memories I have. And as a writer surrounding myself with creative things helps me to create. (At this point my wife will say I’m justifying my purchases).
The past forty plus years have seen a lot of changes in Star Wars, and I love them all, and yes, even the Star Wars Holiday Special. With the new Disney+ television show The Mandalorian being the first of many Star Wars television shows to be made, not to mention all of the animated series and new movies on the horizon, you could say I will be enjoying Star Wars even with my grandchildren; the first of whom is scheduled to arrive next April.
But if you happen to be looking for me on December 18th and 19th, leave a message on my phone, because you’ll find me sitting in an AMC movie theater experiencing all nine movies in a row. Twenty-four hours of Star Wars bliss for me, and very little sleep. Star Wars Marathon here I come!
For the Kingdom and the King, May the force be with you!