Do you remember when all of the big blockbuster movies or anticipated blockbusters were released on Memorial Day? Do you remember stand-alone theaters with comfortable lobbies and pinball machines, lobbies with lines that traveled out into the parking lot and wound round the building, lobbies so full of waiting fans that the air seemed almost unbreathable both from body heat and anticipation, just so that people could see Star Wars for the first or fifteenth time? These theaters were eventually supplanted by mall movie theaters which, in their turn, were supplanted by other stand-alone theaters with even more comfortable lobbies, perhaps now with a full bar and reclining theater seats but, in 1977, no luxury accommodations could have made hearing that John Williams score and reading that opening scroll even a fraction more exciting.
Are you old enough to remember your first VCR or cable box when such things were novelties? In retrospect, they seem massive and indestructible, like pieces of furniture. At the time, they were a boon for a young geek like me who made it my personal mission to watch Star Wars as many times as possible so that I could transcribe and act out every line of dialogue, either alone or with the friends I conscripted (ahem, cast) to play the parts I hadn’t learned yet. Do you remember the night Star Wars finally premiered on broadcast TV and you could watch it again for free–commercials be damned!? All of these were milestones in childhoods like mine, as important as first days of school, friendships made and abandoned, other obsessions that came and went. How many times have I seen Star Wars? I lost count years ago. I couldn’t even begin to estimate.
May 25, 2015 was the 38th anniversary of the original theatrical release of the first of what has come to be known as the original trilogy. Whether they were there in 1977 or not, we asked members of our Facebook group, Nerd Life is the Good Life, to share their memories of the first time they saw Star Wars. Thank you to Grey Havens Group member, Kris, for inspiring us to reminisce about our first times, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Donya: “I was 6 when it came out. It didn’t necessarily change my life so much as shape it. 🙂 Now I’m a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal romance/erotica author. I owe it all to Han Solo being my very first crush.” (Donya and I agreed that we still ❤ scoundrels.)
Jaime (who is now a paragon of geeky parenthood): “Sadly my parents weren’t geeks, so I never saw it as a child. In high school I got dragged along to see the special edition and my life was forever changed!”
Jen (another ideal geeky parent): “I grew up with Ewoks because I saw the Ewok movie at a friends house but I only saw Star Wars when I was with other people because my parents still aren’t geeks. lol.”
Katy: “I saw it at the Catskill theater. This was the first movie that really hooked me into the story. I can still smell the popcorn and tobacco smoke, and remember the way the balcony rail shook when Han yelled ‘You’re all clear, kid!’ We cheered and jumped out of our seats.”
Laurie: “I was 16, we had just moved to Wichita Fall, Texas (a place not unlike Tatooine in summer), and my brother and I saw it at the Parker Square theater. We saw it 13 times that summer. We had a beat-up old pickup truck and we would go blasting down the country roads with our dog Alex, pretending we were in the Millennium Falcon. I got to be Han because I could drive, Alex was Chewie and my brother Dave was Luke.”
Todd: “I saw it when I was in third grade. A friend invited me to his birthday party, and the whole group went to see the movie. I don’t remember the friend anymore, but the movie has been a good friend for many years.”
Sarah-Jane: “I don’t recall it changing my life, but we went to see it as a family. I would have been 11. When those big words scrolled up the screen, though, it was SO EXCITING. I remember that much!”
Scott: “I was 4 when the first movie came out, so my memories are fuzzy, but I was seriously hooked on Star Wars from an early age. When my sisters and I were all big enough to use the backyard swing set, the three single swings were always X-wing fighters while the two-seater was the Millennium Falcon.
I do have clear memories of seeing The Empire Strikes Back for the first time. My Dad and I were having a guys’ night out and were both amazed. We talked all the way home about whether Darth Vader was really Luke’s father or was just trying to trick him somehow. I was also a little confused about Yoda — the first time through, I didn’t get for a long time that the little green guy actually was the Jedi Master, though he clearly knew a lot about training! We went back to the theater the very next night, taking the rest of the family with us.
Two years later, when the Christmas blizzard hit us, my sisters and I tromped through the snow, declaring it our personal Hoth. By that time, we were pretty much hooked — as if my acting out the story with my action figures and props wasn’t proof enough. (I will say that bedroom pillows make some GREAT ice caves for Hoth scenes!)”
Leave us a comment: Share your Star Wars memories! TFWBWYA!