Thursday, August 21, 2014

throwback thursday: star wars, summer of '77

In the summer of 1977 the biggest movie of the summer was Star Wars. I had been eagerly tracking the progress of the film's opening through various fan magazines, and was not disappointed when we finally went to see it, on Long Beach Island (at a theater in Beach Haven, which alas, is no more). My family were all big science-fiction fans and loved the movie, from the corny crawl-titles at the start to the space battle at the end. Star Wars is the first movie that I ever saw twice in a theater. I think we all went back to see it again the next weekend.

Star Wars was also the first movie where I remember merchandising being an integral part of the experience. My brother and I collected Star Wars cards, which came in a pack, with gum, like baseball cards. Wish I still had some of those now. My mom loved the character of C3PO so much she asked a friend to create a customized tee shirt. I had a major crush on Mark Hamill, and was devastated when I read about him getting banged up in a car crash while filming his next movie, Corvette Summer. Anybody remember that one?

As much as I loved Star Wars, I wasn't in any rush to see the next installment, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Maybe it's because I guessed who Darth Vader was when a friend who had already seen it said, "You'll never guess who Luke's father is ..." and I suddenly just knew and told him. His face told me my guess was correct. I did end up seeing it, of course, and liking it, and the third installment, Return of the Jedi, too. I even managed to make it through the 1999 dreadful George Lucas cash-grab prequel, Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

I definitely had this one

When the Star Wars trilogy was re-released in theaters in the late '90s I headed back to the cinema to see if it was still as much fun on the big screen. The new digital scenes that had been inserted added absolutely nothing to the film, and the re-titling and re-sequencing of the original trilogy meant diddly to me. I didn't quite recapture that feeling I had all those years ago when seeing Luke and Leia and Han and R2D2 and Obi Wan and Chewbacca and all the other memorable characters for the first time during the summer of '77, but it was, and still is, a fun film.


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