Today is the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope or as it was simply called on Wednesday, May 25, 1977 — Star Wars. That summer I was 10 and in a close Mormon-family unit. Dad worked a lot and was going to school. Mom was working part-time when my dad was home.
The funny part? I hadn’t even heard of the movie. Honestly. We were that out of touch with the outside world. My parents exposed us to much more music than television. I do remember that a bunch of kids at church were acting out the movie, but I think it was only the commercials and trailers they had seen. It only dawned on me much later that they were talking about Star Wars.
My dad and I were always watching sci-fi and other fantasy type shows on television like “Star Trek” and “Wild, Wild West” — both of which I still love today. The interesting part of this story is that mom and dad had come to me and said that Dad and I were going to see a movie together. Just us. No one else. I thought I was going to burst with excitement. I didn’t care what we saw just that Dad and I were going to do something together.
Dad told me that it was a space movie and that it would be a lot of fun. I was all for it thinking it was going to be like “Star Trek”. We got there early and even though the theater hadn’t filled yet (because it did), I still made Dad sit in the third row. I was in heaven. I’d be able to see a science-fiction movie on a big screen and see every pore on every alien. Yes, even if their skin was latex.
I’ve still never experienced the excitement and anticipation of a theater crowd more than then. People were actually talking to complete strangers about what to expect and poking fun at my dad for letting me force him into that third row seat. He just played it off and allowed me to have my say to where we sat. I’m pretty sure that not only was I hyper as hell, but he was pretty damn excited to see it as well.
The lights dimmed and we had to sit through some previews which were taking far too much time. Then the lights went all the way down and the 20th Century Fox March started. I had heard it before, but that music will always to this day remind me of Star Wars. Silence. And the prologue sentence — in blue — that will forever be itched into the brains of generations of people:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….
And then I about jumped out of my seat when the John Williams’ opening fanfare scared the crap out of me and panicked when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to read the opening scroll. After that, I settled in and discovered how fun cinema could be. My favorite scene? The trash compactor? The moment Darth Vader appeared? When Luke and Leia kissed (EEW!)? The assault on the Death Star?
It was the Cantina Band. I fell completely in love with Williams’ freaky jazz music, the unusual musicians and the weird instruments they were playing. That was how much music was — and still is — a part of my life. In fact, I loved everything about that Mos Eisley (“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”) sequence: first meeting Han and Chewy, Luke trying out bravado for the first time, Obi-Wan’s father-like protection of Luke, even the weird drinks they were serving.
And when I got home? I completely geeked out and reenacted the entire movie for my brothers.
…and then he was all like ‘beezzzuuu’ and the bad guy was like ‘I’m all better than you now’ and the lasers were all like ‘Dzoo! Dzoo!’ and then he killed him. It was sad…
So thank you, Mr. George Lucas, for entertaining and inspiring us even today. We may be a little hard on your later career, but it’s only because you made us see how wonderful the images projected on silver screen in darkened theaters could make us cheer, love, think, gasp, cry, laugh and smile. And even though I think The Empire Strikes Back is the superior film, Star Wars will always be the ultimate father/son bonding moment in my life.
Listening to: “Star Wars Theme / Cantina Band” – Meco