So, everyone's pretty much ignoring Towel Day and writing about Star Wars instead. Today is the 30th anniversary of its release. OK. So I'll write a bit, too.
I remember seeing Star Wars for the first time, shortly after the big spread in Time magazine appeared. And I remember going back a second time a week or so later. I had never seen any movie twice before that, excluding showings on television. And then a month or so later I went to the nearest theater that had it in 70mm Dolby and saw it a third time. I got my drivers license a few months later, and on the day after I passed the test I went to see the 70m Dolby version again. Somewhere along the line, I bought the soundtrack album.
I didn't consider myself obessed. I didn't buy any action figures or books. I didn't see it for a fifth time until after The Empire Strikes Back was released. Later that year, I found out that a friend of my girlfriend liked to dress up as Darth Vader, and I thought that was weird. Creepy, even. And after all, hadn't I waited until the day after I got my driver's license to see it for the fourth time? I went to Fantastic Animation Festival and also saw Rocky Horror for the first time on the day that I got my license. And Rocky Horror may have been one factor in diverting my attention from any possible Star Wars obsession. Within the next several years, I saw Rocky Horror more than 20 times. And a bigger reason was probably girls, who mostly weren't all that interested in Star Wars, but were interested in Rocky Horror, and my interest in them was a top priority.
But I digress...
Star Wars was perfectly timed. The moon landings had stopped. A generation of kids who grew up with the excitement of the NASA space program needed a fix. I had obsessively watched the coverage of all the Apollo missions, Gemini missions, and I even have a very dim recollection of being parked in front of the TV by my mother to watch the coverage of John Glenn's Mercury mission (though, since I was not even 18 months old at the time, I have to question whether that memory is real). I had read everything I could find about the space program and astronomy. I watched the Star Trek re-run on one of the local New York stations every weeknight. I had seen 2001 A Space Odyssey. Star Trek was too camp, and reruns were reruns. The Next Generation was still nearly a decade away, and nobody anticipated that it was coming. In fact, it's arguable that the Star Wars series was probably a key reason that the Next Generation was produced. And 2001? By now I can appreciate the beauty of the film, but it was too mysterious for your typical teenager on space program withdrawal. Star Wars brought adventure and excitement -- in space -- to fill the void.
Time went by. I can't even guess how many times I've seen the original Star Wars (I refuse to refer to it as "A New Hope") on cable, video or DVD. Of course I've seen all six of the movies by now. The first two (actually the fourth and fifth, the way I count things) I saw in theaters, but I didn't see Revenge of The Sith until it came out on cable. Yes, I've seen it more than once on cable, but I've never actually planned to see it. If it's on and nothing else interesting is on, and there's nothing else I want to do, then I might watch it. That's pretty much as motivated as I might get, and that goes for all of the films. Between the mundaneness of NASA for the past several decades, and having built a life here on earth that keeps me pretty busy and pretty interested in current events on the ground, I just don't see myself any more interested in Star Wars than that.
1. Pete Lyons05/26/2007 08:57:28 AM
Nice summary. That pretty much describes my relationship with the films as well. I like the point you make about NASA withdrawal; I hadn't put that together before.
2. Adam Gartenberg05/26/2007 09:57:07 PM
I'm still struggling with the fact that the History Channel (History!) is hyping a big Star Wars special.
I learned on a recent Stars Trek behind-the-scenes-type special that they actually were well under way to bringing the original crew back for a new TV series in the late seventies... until Star Wars hit and they said "forget the small screen... we're heading to the movies." Hence, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They did say that they did end up eventually pulling from many of those never-used episode plots for The Next Generation.
3. Richard Schwartz05/26/2007 11:33:29 PM
@2: I think the History channel has done some Star Trek stuff, too. Hey, if it helps them reach a new audience, why not? Besides, there's only so much recycled WW2 footage they can run.
4. Devin Olson05/29/2007 08:06:34 AM
"...everyone's pretty much ignoring Towel Day and writing..."
(Although I did watch the History Channel Star Wars stuff last night, and "How William Shatner Changed the World on Saturday")
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