On May 25th, 1977, the science fiction movie landscape changed forever. It’s hard to believe that a movie that opened in only 32 theaters (I said it was hard to believe) would end up being one of the most influential movies of all time. It’s just icing that it happened to be a science fiction movie.
This is how we remember it…
In 1977, I was nine years old and totally oblivious to most things movie, or even science fiction, related. The extent of my exposure to SF was watching Star Blazers after school. So, for most of that summer, I was blissfully unaware of the Star Wars phenomena sweeping the land. All that changed one lunch period shortly after school was back in session. I’m not sure what this says about elementary schools in Houston in the late ’70s, but they actually showed a 10 minute clip of the movie during lunch. And I remember, to this day, what scene they were showing: Han and Luke are dressed as Stormtroopers and they invade the control room with the R2-D2 and C3PO in tow.
That was enough for me. I made my mom take me to the theater in the Galleria (which is no longer there, the theater, the Galleria is still there) which, even several months after the release date, still had a line to get in to see the movie. I know you all can imagine the effect seeing Star Wars on the big screen with a theater full of people had on a 9 year old. I must have seen that movie at least five more times that year. And I became a Star Wars fanboy. Sure, that term didn’t exist back then, heck, the internet and blogs didn’t exist (as hard as it may be for you youngin’s to believe, its true) so the term hadn’t been coined. But the malady was present and well represented in society. At that time, its ok to be a Star Wars geek. Almost everybody was. Heck, you could go to Burger King and get your commemorative Star Wars glasses, and everyone did (which my mom threw out). And from the coffers of the King, a media tie-in merchandising empire was born. Check out some of the cool stuff you can find today.
I bought books, records (you know, the big black things with lines on them that play sounds), trading cards and, above all else, the action figures. If only I still had those today, but, sadly, they are probably decomposing at the bottom of a trash heap somewhere in Texas. But I had a blast playing with them and I credit Star Wars with making me the science fiction fan that I am today. We may never again see a movie that has as much impact as Star Wars did, but we’ll always have the original Star Wars.
The one where Greedo shot first. Damn you Lucas.
My recollection of Star Wars is not nearly as lucid as JP’s. I remember seeing in in a drive-in theater. The way it was meant to be seen….sitting on top of the station wagon, hearing the pebbles crunching underfoot of the people as they passed you on the way to get some popcorn…Not that many did. Our eyes were glued to the screen in wonder. As influential as the movie was, I can’t say it profoundly affected me. I didn’t rush out and get my fanboy tattoo and start queuing up again and again. In fact, I even missed The Empire Strikes Back when it hit the theaters, if you can believe that. I know, a sad thing to say for someone who has a science fition blog. It wasn’t until Return of the Jedi that the fever finally hit me.
To quote myself on that experience:”The hype was HUGE in 1983 and and me and a couple of buddies skipped school to see an early showing at the local RKO theater. We waited in line for hours to get in and just as the previous showing let out, my friend’s brother (who saw the earlier showing) saw us and blurted out ‘Darth Vader dies!!!’ Serious suckage.”
Rest assured that I have come to terms with my fanboyishness. Star Wars may not be Shakespeare, but it sure is a helluva lot of fun.
Now tell us your story!