Thirty years of Star Wars

by DaniGirl on May 30, 2007 · 14 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything, My inner geek

I’ve been meaning to blog for a few days about the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars.

Thirty years.

Thirty!!

Star Wars is, hands down, the single most influential movie in my life. It also happens to remain my all-time favourite movie. My childhood memories are tightly woven into a backdrop of Star Wars movies, toys, books, bubble-gum cards and mythology. On this anniversary weekend, there have been plenty of articles in the media about how seminal Star Wars was, and how it changed the movie landscape forever. From an article in the weekend Citizen:

No wonder the U.S. Library of Congress’ National Film Registry has named Star Wars “a culturally, historically, and aesthetically important” film, or that the American Film Institute placed it 15th on its list of the top 100 films in the 20th century. And then there’s that ubiquitous line from the movie: “May the Force be with you.” The AFI ranks the phrase as the eighth-greatest quote in American film history. In this light, it is no exaggeration to say, as film critic Stephen Greydanus puts it, “the Star Wars universe remains a cultural institution of immense proportions.”

I clearly remember going to see it for the first time. We went with another family, and on the way to the theatre the four adults sat in the front and back seat of our wood-panelled Cutlass Ciera station wagon (it was, after all, 1977) and we kids rolled around like peas in a 10-gallon tub in the back. Return of the Jedi was the first movie my brother and I were allowed to attend without parental supervision; I remember my father dropping us off in front of the downtown cinema – in the days before the mall-based multi-plex – for an 8:30 am showing.

When we got our first VCR in the early 1980s, one of those giant ones with the square buttons you pushed down and held to make them stick and where the lid opened upwards to accept the cassette and the ‘remote’ was attached by a long cord and consisted of an analogue switch with two options ‘pause’ and ‘play’, Star Wars was the first movie we rented and later copied. I lost count of how many times I watched it through high school, but it was in excess of 120 times. (I may have mentioned I didn’t get out much in the earliest years of high school, and by the time I had a pack of friends, they were the kind of good-natured geeks who loved nothing better than to watch Star Wars again and again right along with me after hours spent playing D&D.)

Growing up, my brother had tonnes of Star Wars action figures and playsets. We (note the plural possessive – they may have been gifts for him, but we played with them together) had the ice planet Hoth, the Death Star, and of course, a Millennium Falcon. I had a wicked crush on Luke Skywalker through the first two movies, but as I entered my teen years my tastes strayed from Luke’s clean-cut innocence to the roguish worldliness of Han Solo… because in the end, no matter how good the girl, she always likes the bad boys the best.

All these years later, I will still queue up Star Wars in the DVD player if I have an open stretch of evening and feel for a little cinematic comfort food. I think it’s safe to say that I would personally rank the movies in the descending order they came out, except that I liked Episode III more than Episode I. I’m a purist, though. The new series, the Anakin stories, are good movies in and of themselves, but they don’t hold a candle to the original trilogy.

The Interwebs are full of Star Wars tributes and memes, but these two I couldn’t help but share. Have you seen this this hilarious photo from Flickr? Apparently the US Postal Service decorated mailboxes to look like R2D2 in honour of the movie’s 30th anniversary. The photo is clever, but the comments embedded into it are hilarious. (Note to self: figure out how they did that – very cool!)

And one last treasure to share with you: this clever little plot comparison between Star Wars and Harry Potter from Neat-o-rama. Perhaps this one appealled to me in particular because I’m deep in the heart of the Harry Potter books, currently in the thick of the Goblet of Fire, working my way through the series in anticipation of Deathly Hallows this summer. Funny to think that Harry Potter may be for this generation of kids what Star Wars was for me!

This post is getting unweildy and I still haven’t examined how Star Wars influenced me spiritually, or how Beloved and I still compare and contrast what the movies meant to us growing up. I haven’t had a chance to talk about the quotable Star Wars, and how the language of the movie introduced me to a world of rebel alliances and emperors and bounty hunters and cantinas and smugglers and ambassadors – words I learned for the first time through Star Wars and that coloured forever my understanding of them. I haven’t gotten into how Star Wars made me curious about life on other worlds, and inspired a life-long love of astronomy and fascination with SETI… I could go on for two sets of trilogies!

What does Star Wars mean to you?


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JoJo May 30, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was only just about to turn 4. But I remember it. Mostly I remember Chewbacca and how I was scared of him and tickled by him at the same time. I remember the big tub of popcorn on my lap, snuggling close to my mom.
But when I think back to my childhood, Star Wars is the first memory I have of the very distinct notion of right and wrong, good and bad. I still get chills when I hear the theme song.

2 Loukia May 30, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Star Wars is my husband favourite movie. I also have fond childhood memories of Star Wars. My cousins would come over and as children we’d play ‘Star Wars’. My older boy cousin would be at the bottom of the stairs pretending to be Jabba the Hut while we were falling in the quicksand… or something like that… haha! Luke was one of my earliest crushes and it didn’t turn into Han Solo for a long time! Then with the new movies, I thought Anakin was amazing and Padme, too, were so good together and I knew what to expect with the ending of the third movie but I was still sooooo sad…

3 Kerry May 30, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Wait a minute… are you saying you liked the ewoks more than the first star wars movie? Ewoks, Dani?
Shame!
(I’m not judging you though – I liked the ewoks more too… when I was 9.)

4 Kathleen May 30, 2007 at 3:04 pm

Being a little older, I was always more into Han Solo. I saw the movie many times, mooning over him. Han Solo has to shoot first. Changing that scene altered the character, and the movie.
When the 20 year anniversary of the first film came around, I was contemplating dating a guy I already liked as a friend. He blew the possibility of us ever becoming intimate when he said: “after all, I was only 5 when it came out”. I was 13. Somehow this 8 years or the cultural divide between us seemed an unbridgeable gap, and I gave up on the idea of him as a romantic partner.

5 Loukia May 30, 2007 at 3:06 pm

Ewoks were so cute… remember the cartoon of the Ewoks? “We are the e…e….e… ewoks!”

6 DaniGirl May 30, 2007 at 3:29 pm

No no no, Kerry! Get with the numbering system. I is Phantom Menace; III is Revenge of the Sith. Ewoks are in VI, Return of the Jedi.
I’ve never been fond of the Ewoks myself. Jawas were way less annoying.

7 BeachMama May 30, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Hours of non-stop fun for J and all the Star Wars talk you could ever put up with. I personally am getting tired of it, but if it keeps the kids occupied, who am I to say.

8 Loukia May 30, 2007 at 4:06 pm

What was the name of the horribly annoying character who said: “You means we’s going to die??” Those things bothered the crap out of me and almost ruined the new movies for me. Thankfully they weren’t in (or didn’t speak in) the last movie. Or, I should say, the 3rd movie.

9 alison May 30, 2007 at 6:30 pm

I remember going to see Star Wars. I think I was in Grade 8, around 13 or so. I fell for Han Solo right from the start and wondered if I could get my hair to go like Princess Leia’s.
I think that my appreciation for SF novels comes from seeing that movie. And it’s timeless — last weekend I was at a party out in Pakenham. I left the bonfire and went into the house to visit the bathroom, and two boys, about 8 yrs old, were crashed on a couch in the living room watching Luke and Han, disguised as stormtroopers, escort Chewbacca through the Death Star. And they were riveted to the screen.

10 cait May 30, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Yay yay yay for the Star Wars post!!!
Have you see the Veggie Wars, or Produce Wars or whatever it’s called?
Look it up if you haven’t, it’s pretty funny.
Star wars is what The Boy and I invariably fall back on after a 45 minute argument at Blockbuster, which usually ends with him calling me a sappy eurosnob, and me calling him a stupid bloodthirsty brute…so you could probably say that our addiction to Star wars has saved our relationship (or at least our Friday night)many a time!

11 Kerry May 30, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Jar Jar Binks, Loukia. The most irritating character in movie history…

12 Loukia May 30, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Thank you Kerry. I shudder. Yes, I totally agree with you – the most irritating character in movie history for sure!
Remember Spaceballs?

13 Sara May 30, 2007 at 10:54 pm

Star Wars pretty much defined my childhood.
It was the first movie I *remember* seeing in the theater, and I still remember, to this day, the awe I felt at the last sequence, how real that zoom down the trench felt, how I realized when the Death Star blew up that I had not breathed for the last five minutes, or at least it felt that way.
From that point, I lived it. I was Princess Leia two or three years in a row. I collected all the figures. ALl I wanted for my birthdays for about 5 years was Star Wars. I saw every movie every time it came around (remember, before everyone had VCRs, when the only way to see it again before the sequel was for it to be re-released theatrically?
Of course, I really, really wanted to *be* Han Solo. Not smooch Han Solo, *Be* Han Solo.

14 Sayre June 3, 2007 at 6:22 pm

I wasn’t into Star Wars so much as a child. I was a HUGE Trekkie though. I did see the movies and enjoyed them, but it wasn’t until my son came along that I became a HUGE Star Wars fan. We own all the movies, some of the comic books, we’ve read all the books from the library, and recorded the various specials that have come out around the anniversary. I love ALL the movies, but my favorite character is Obi Wan Kenobi. Especially in SWII. Very dashing indeed!

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