One of the greatest strengths of the ‘Star Wars’ saga is the feeling of personal attachment it instills in each viewer. How were you first introduced to the ‘Star Wars’ franchise? How old were you and which movie did you see first? Did you see any of the original trilogy in the theater?
I was lucky enough to see ‘Star Wars’ during its original run back in the summer of 1977 when I was 7-years-old. I saw it at the Uniontown Mall Theater in Uniontown, PA, which is now a Carmike, but was then run by a local (now-defunct) movie chain called Manos. I can’t remember how long after the movie started playing that my parents took me to see it, but I know it had been out for at least a few weeks because kids at school were talking about it. (I also remember getting in a fight with my best friend after I’d seen the film over whether it was Obi-Wan who said “That’s no moon; it’s a space station” and whether Darth Vader lived at the end of the film. Naturally, I was right on both counts.)
After seeing the movie, I became obsessed with ‘Star Wars’. Not just in getting my hands on the toys (I begged my mom to buy me the X-Wing until she finally caved… it was an “obscene” $13, which was a lot for a toy back then), but anything and everything ‘Star Wars’ related. I saved up my allowance ($5 a week, which was pretty darn good for a 7-year-old!) to buy John Williams’ double-LP soundtrack (“You know that doesn’t have any words on it, right?” I remember my mom telling me), and a book that literally fell apart on me I read it so much: ‘The Art of Star Wars’, which included the original script among its pages. By the time I turned 8 that winter, I was talking to people not just about what happened in the movie, but how it was filmed. I was a walking library about the blue screen effects and models that were used and how certain shots were created. And, of course, I knew the movie’s dialogue by heart.
Sadly, almost everything post-‘Empire Strikes Back’ in the ‘Star Wars’ universe has let me down to one degree or another. If there’s any franchise that has survived the longest off the good will obtained during those first two theatrical films, it’s this one. By the time you read this, I’ll have seen ‘The Force Awakens’ at least twice, and will either be in my bedroom crying or back at the theater praising J.J. Abrams for saving my childhood.
The first ‘Star Wars’ film I saw was ‘Return of the Jedi’, which I saw in the theater. I can still remember walking across a boiling hot parking lot with my dad and my sisters to see it at the Allen Theater in Farmington, NM.
The next film I caught was ‘A New Hope’. I can’t remember if it was airing on TV, or if we had rented the movie and a VCR, but I know I was around 8. Right after seeing the first film, my mother rented a VCR and VHS tape so I could see ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. I watched that tape twice, back-to-back viewings. I was about to watch it a third time, but the tape broke, so we had to take it back to the rental shop halfway through viewing #3.
As a kid, I collected a bunch of the old ‘Star Wars’ actions figures. I still remember the anguish of losing Boba Fett down my friend’s drain pipe. I’ve also owned the movies on just about every home video format available. Multiple times.
Unlike a lot of other movies (heck, even the green-striped ‘E.T.’), I did not have access to VHS versions of the original trilogy growing up. This in effect led me to discover the movies on more than one occasion in spite of having quite a few toys and even taped ‘Return of the Jedi’ toy commercials. I can vividly recall thinking that I was watching each installment for the first time on different random occasions with the first movie coming last. Inexplicably, my grandparents owned ‘Star Wars’ as one of the handful of movies for their RCA SelectaVision CED player. Unfortunately, instead of watching ‘Star Wars’, it was always the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ CED that was in the machine. Still, I had the cover art to admire, and only later really wonder about Luke and Leia.
A more distinct ‘Star Wars’ memory was making a special trip with my nerdy friends to see ‘The Phantom Menace’, which was remarkable for the practically brand-new 30 theater AMC still having to make some big changes to handle the special film. Leaving the theater, I was so stunned at the disappointment, but later, when I learned that the new movie would focus on an epic war of clones, my hopes were raised… and dashed. For the longest time, ‘Star Wars’ in videogames easily topped the whiny Anakin movies to the extent that it seemed normal. This past year has been different – truly a new hope (*cough*).
I was far too young to see the original ‘Star Wars’ movie in a theater (I was only 6-months-old), but I remember seeing it at home on VHS a few
years later. I had a small army of the Kenner action figures (who didn’t?),
but my favorite toys of all were those little micro ‘Star Wars’ playsets that came with tiny metal figurines of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and other characters from the films. It’s a little sad that they don’t make toys like they used to anymore.
The only ‘Star Wars’ movies I’ve seen in a theater were the Special Editions and prequels – all of which sadly left me with varying levels of disappointment. Fortunately, I recently discovered Harmy’s De-Specialized Editions online, which is a project to painstakingly restore the original trilogy to what they were when they were first released. Now I’m finally able to relive my childhood and watch these great films without all the unnecessary tampering whenever I want to… and in HD, too!
M. Enois Duarte
My earliest memory of the ‘Star Wars’ universe was ‘A New Hope’. If I remember correctly, I was around 8, maybe 9-years-old. The movie had just come out on VHS that year. I was really excited because other kids had already seen it and talked about it, and I collected many of the toys. I didn’t finally see a ‘Star Wars’ movie in the theater until ‘Return of the Jedi’.
Of the toys, the Darth Vader Collector’s Case was my most prized possession, but I most often played with Han Solo, Greedo, Chewie, Vader, Boba Fett and one lonely Hoth Stormtrooper.
Although I had seen all three movies repeatedly long before the prequels, my fondest memory of the original trilogy, for some strange reason, still remains the battle scenes on Endor and the Ewoks.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
I was born in 1978 when ‘Star Wars’ was already an established phenomenon, so I have no real memory about when I first saw any of the original trilogy. Honestly, I don’t have any specific memories of watching the movies at all when I was a kid. Between TV broadcasts and very early home video releases, they were always just around. I’m not sure if I saw any of these movies theatrically prior to the 1997 Special Edition reissues, but I know I saw them many, many times growing up.
The earliest ‘Star Wars’-related memory I can muster is asking my father about the colors of lightsabers in 1982 or ’83, although I’m not sure if that was inspired by the movies or by the action figures. Even after G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe had taken over the toy aisles, I’d still grab every ‘Star Wars’ figure I could get my grubby little hands on. I have unexpectedly vivid memories of buying Bib Fortuna, and I remember my dad being livid at me for breaking my new C-3PO figure, unaware that it was meant to have its limbs removed.
The prequel trilogy had a particularly long-lasting impact on my life. It’s a little embarrassing to admit now, but I was terrified of driving when I was a teenager. I had a license and even a new car, but I just couldn’t bring myself to drive much of anywhere, especially by myself. During the summer of 1999, my mother was visiting family out west and I was left home alone for more than a month. I was desperate to see ‘The Phantom Menace’, though, so I finally mustered up the courage to get in my car and drive a couple of miles to the theater by the mall. After that, my weird mental block was shattered, and I racked up a couple hundred miles behind the wheel within a few days. At least something good came out of ‘The Phantom Menace’!
I was about 6 or 7 when my grandparents took me to visit their friend “Uncle” Bob (not really a blood relation) and his wife. This was in the early days of the home video boom, and Bob was obsessed with movies in a way that must have seemed really abnormal to other adults at the time. He had a rec room with a TV, a VCR and several shelves filled with hundreds of VHS tapes of movies he’d recorded off television airings (probably in EP speed to get as many per tape as possible).
I remember that Bob asked how many times I’d seen ‘Star Wars’, and was practically aghast when I told him I’d never seen it at all. He needed to rectify that right away, so he set up that tape to keep me occupied while he and the other adults had some tea and a chat in the dining room. I think I watched the movie about one-and-a-half times before my grandparents collected me to take me home.
The first ‘Star Wars’ movie I saw in the theater was ‘Return of the Jedi’. My mother had a system in place where I had to do either chores or activities with her to earn “points” which I could save up. After a certain number of points, she’d take me to a movie of my choosing. Of course, that’s the one I wanted to see. I don’t believe my mother had ever seen either of the previous ‘Star Wars’ movies herself (or had even the faintest interest in them) and I’m sure she had absolutely no idea what was going on in this one, but she endured it for me. As an adult now, I recognize that ‘Jedi’ is by far the weakest of the original trilogy films, but it still has a lot of sentimental value for me.
I never owned very many ‘Star Wars’ toys as a kid. It really bothered me that the action figures couldn’t bend their elbows or knees like my G.I. Joe figures could. However, as an adult, I got swept up in collector’s fever during the late 1990s and bought up dozens of the hideous “Power of the Force” action figures – the ones that were all sculpted to look like the characters had beefed up on steroids. Even Princess Leia looked like a linebacker. Fortunately, I eventually came to my senses and sold the whole lot while there was still a market for them.
I do not currently own any of the ‘Star Wars’ movies on DVD or Blu-ray. I have the Definitive Collection Laserdisc box set to tide me over until the original theatrical cuts of the first three films are properly restored.
Tell us your ‘Star Wars’ memories in the Comments below.