1977 was quite a transitional period in my life. In May of that year, our family moved from an apartment in the city of Providence, Rhode Island to a house in Warwick, Rhode Island. I remember finishing up the last month of first grade at my public school in Providence. I would begin second grade in a Catholic school in my new city. But before that, I made new friends in the neighborhood, and was adjusting to a new house. I missed our landlords, who were an old Italian couple that treated me like a grandchild, and spoiled me rotten. I also missed my, I mean, their dog Penny. They had gotten the Collie/German Shepard mix around the time I was born. So, we grew up together. As much as I missed them, living in a new house was pretty sweet! And I had a group of cool friends. The month we moved, and began adjusting to this new life, a new, incredible, life changing movie came out – Star Wars!
I know I had seen other movies in the theater before Star Wars was released. I’m pretty sure I had seen The Apple Dumpling Gang, and probably had seen other Disney movies. But, Star Wars was the first movie I ever remember anticipating. I know for sure that I did not see Star Wars the weekend it opened, on May 25, 1977. I probably saw it during the summer. Back in those days, before movies came out on vide – hell, before there was even cable TV, a movie could be in the theater for at least a year. This was especially true for Star Wars. Star Wars actually made it easier for me to make new friends. We all had an instant connection, talking all about Star Wars, and what happened in the movie – before any of us had actually seen the movie. I still don’t know how we were able to do that, but we did. In those days before the internet, word of mouth was literally word of mouth. We knew that Obi-Wan Kenobi died, and we knew Luke Skywalker was the hero, and that Han Solo was the coolest person in the world, ever. I was friends with a couple of sisters that lived 2 houses away, and they were even into Star Wars – thanks to Princess Leia. Even though their hair was long, they wanted it even longer so they could put their hair in buns like Princess Leia. By the time they were probably able to do it, that fad had gone out of style, so I never saw them with the Princess Leia buns.
The day finally came when I was able to go and see Star Wars. Since it was the summer, I was still 6 years old. I would turn 7 in September. My life was forever changed from the moment the words “Star Wars” appeared on the screen at the same time as John Williams’ iconic score blared.
Right from the start there was some action. These guys were waiting at a corridor, with their guns at the ready. You hear clanging and banging, wondering what’s going to be coming through the door. The door gets blown up, and a firefight begins as the good guys were fighting with these white robots. I felt bad for the guys that were getting killed. And then the giant black robot named Darth Vader makes his grand entrance, lifts a guy up by his throat, and kills him. Again, I felt bad for the victim. I had already been watching Star Trek with my dad for as long as I could remember. So I was not traumatized by this science fiction violence.
And then we go to Tatooine with R2D2 and C3PO. It was cool seeing these droids. I had never seen anything like them before. This may be blasphemous, but I did get bored for a while. I think I kept asking my parents, “When are we going to see Han Solo?” I knew that once we saw him, then the action would begin.
There was a brief moment of action when Luke was attacked by the Sand People. They were freaky looking. Then this bigger, scarier creature came along making a loud noise, and chased off the Sand People. If they were scared of this thing, it must not be good. As it turns out, it was Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi that chased them off.
Then we learned about the Clone Wars (which I always wanted to learn more about), and that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father. Then we see a light saber for the first time. That snapped me out of my boredom. And then Luke finds his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru burned just as bad as that visual burned into my mind. That freaked me out a little.
And then we finally got to the moment I had been waiting for – the introduction of Han Solo. And just as it was advertised in my mind, this is when the action kicked into high gear for the rest of the movie! Just before we meet Han Solo, we see the light saber in action, as Obi-Wan cut off a bad guy’s arm.
As Obi-Wan and Luke set off to sell the land speeder, so they could get going, Han Solo ran into Greedo.
I don’t want to go into a rant about the special editions. I’m not a hater like most people. But, this is my biggest pet peeve about any of the special editions. Han not only shot first, but he was the only one to shoot! And as a 6 year old, I was perfectly good with it. Ya got that, George?!?! Let me repeat. As a 6 year old, I totally got that Greedo was a threat, and Han was a total badass, and eliminated that threat. It made me like him even more. He had an edge to him that made him even more cool.
The whole rescue of Princess Leia was really cool to me. The garbage compactor scene is classic.
And then we finally got to see a light saber battle. After seeing some great light saber battles – especially in the prequels – this battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader is pertty lame. But, back then it was really cool. But, I was sad that Obi-Wan died. To this day, I still don’t understand how his body just disappeared. I’m just as confused as Darth Vader was.
And if the shootouts, and light saber battle on the Death Star wasn’t enough, we got to see a little space battle between the Millennium Falcon and a bunch of Tie Fighters. It made me (and Luke) quickly forget about the loss of Obi-Wan.
And then we had the final space battle, to blow up the Death Star. This was so exciting to me. Again, I felt bad for the rebels who died. I was especially upset about Luke’s best friend, Biggs, being killed. We only knew him for about 2 seconds, but it was still upsetting. And what’s more upsetting is that there are some goofy things that were added in the special editions, but they left out a scene where Biggs and Luke were talking on Tatooine early in the movie. I have seen pictures, so I know something was filmed between them.
Anyway, it was still a cool battle with a great ending.
And the medal ceremony at the end was my first exposure to racism against Wookies. Luke and Han were the only ones to get medals. I already knew that they there was hatred towards droids. They weren’t even allowed in a crappy bar, so R2D2 and C3PO sure as hell weren’t going to get a medal, even though they were ones who delivered the plans of the Death Star, which led to the victory. But, poor Chewie deserved a medal as much as anybody else did there! And then the movie ended with that incredible music.
After seeing this incredible movie, I could not get enough of Star Wars or any space related movie or television show. I also collected some memorabilia. For example, here is the lunch box I got for my first year at St. Peter School:
I also had every Star Wars action figure except for Walrus Man.
I had this case to store them in:
And it was not just a case! You could flip it over, and stick the action figures on the little pegs so that they could stand up. There are some post-original Star Wars action figures in this picture.
And my action figures did not stay in the packaging. I actually played with my action figures, and didn’t just stare at them. You would never see Luke Skywalker stay like this for long:
By the way, Luke never had a yellow light saber, so I don’t know where they got that from. I don’t think there has ever been a yellow light saber in any movie period.
I never owned the Millennium Falcon, or the Tie Fighter. I did have this X-Wing Fighter though. You would push R2D2’s head, and the wings would open up. And there was a little button behind R2 and the little light bulb in the front would light up, and make a firing sound.
Besides the collection I had, and my love of science fiction/fantasy, there was something else that Star Wars did that changed my life. It jump started my creativity. It helped me make up stories in my head. Perhaps they action figures helped with that, as I could make up any story I wanted. But, eventually I was able to get my creativity out on paper by telling stories. This happened just before The Empire Strikes Back came out. And my writing is continuing to this day – talking about Star Wars. I have more to say, so the saga will continue with The Empire Strikes Back. I know May the 4th is Star Wars Day, but I’ll make up my own rules, and make this Star Wars Week. After all, I take orders from just one person: me.
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