A long time ago, in a theater far, far away….
I was just shy of my 10th birthday in the summer of 1977, when some friends and I went to see Star Wars because out of the movies playing at my neighborhood 4-screen theater, it looked the most interesting. Typical boy stuff, right? Just hang out in a darkened theater for a couple of hours on a hot Florida day, and then on to something else, right?
Like a lot of kids that summer, I watched the film (no “Episode” number! no subtitle! BAH!) with unrestrained glee. It was the first time I could remember enjoying myself so thoroughly at something I was watching on a movie screen. It was all Star Wars all the time that year as, along with all the other 9 and 10-year-olds, I devoured the action figures and other toys, read the comics, built the models, and on and on and on….
(This photo was everywhere, that summer.)
All these years later, I still love the original Star Wars. After all, there’s plenty there to enjoy, no matter your age. Its sequels are fun, The Empire Strikes Back being its own bit of superb, of course, though I’m not as enamored with the “prequel trilogy.” Still, the music from all of the films is in my regular rotation for when I’m writing, and I’ve continued to keep up with various books and comics and whatnot over the years.
This effort was aided in no small part by my kids, who’ve enjoyed various bits of the larger Star Wars universe. They watched the Rebels cartoon and played with Star Wars toys, and because of them I got to act a little like that 9-year old all over again. For them, it was just cool characters and space ships, which in its own way is completely, spectacularly awesome. More recently, we’ve enjoyed The Mandalorian together and Grogu/”Baby Yoda” was a predictably huge hit.
Of course, things elevated to a whole new level of cool in December 2015: I’d been waiting to take our kids to see a new Star Wars movie since the instant it was announced. Sure, we’d watched the other films together, at home, but that could never compare to watching a Star Wars movie on the big screen, the way it’s meant to be seen.
As we sat there in the theater, waiting for the lights to go down so we could watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens, my oldest kid was the same age I was on that magical summer day in 1977. So, on some level it was a moment nearly forty years in the making. Since then, we’ve seen the other new films, of course, along with all the new offerings on Disney+.
But for now? Happy Birthday to the first, original Star Wars.
(This one was everywhere, too.)