19 December 2015

Star Wars (1977) Memories

"We'll be back after these messages ... (followed by ominous orchestral music, then a voice-over states) You are a 'droid that has just been kidnapped by a Jawa (cue the sound of a munchkin and electronic "zap" effect)." (A radio spot I heard when the alarm went off one morning)

This is how I learned of "Star Wars" (1977). I was home from University and had taken a summer job. The school I attended had no cable and an antenna barely picked up the television stations of the two major cities, each about 40 miles distant. So I was pretty separated from television and news, I had time for little besides studying, attending class, and working. I knew nothing of this movie and the commercial did little to pique my interest.

But Newsweek magazine did.

There was an article reviewing this new film that had folks lining up around the block at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood CA to see it. Accompanying the article were pictures and these most assuredly piqued my interest.

You, gentle reader, are most likely very familiar with SW, later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope so I'll forgo the review and simply give you my impression. Cable television was only just coming out of infancy at the time and most non-network (CBS, ABC, NBC) stations were filled with syndicated programming such as Beverly Hillbillies and The Brady Bunch ... and old movies. So I saw a lot of old science fiction movies growing up and, though I enjoyed them a lot, many of them were awful. My biggest impression of SW was "finally somebody gets it!" What was "it"?

My belief that, to truly immerse someone in a futuristic milieu, one must make the universe look "lived in." That, in my opinion, was the strength of the Star Trek (1966) television series and SW. People wore clothes you could envision wearing yourself, not silver lamé jumpsuits with wings, rocket packs, and helmets with antennae sticking out of them. In the Star Wars universe hatch covers were missing, upholstery discolored and ripped ... things looked used. 

This was my impression of Star Wars. It wasn't a horror movie masquerading as sci-fi like many 1950's and 60's science fiction movies. It was lived in world much like our own the viewer wanted to inhabit. You could be a mysterious Jedi Knight, a wily smuggler, royalty, a soldier, a spaceship pilot, and on and on. That's the feeling Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens has recreated in me. I hope it touched you the same way.

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