Right away, “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” told me that I was in for something unusual. Most of the science fiction space adventures I had seen on TV took place in our distant future. This movie took place thousands, if not millions, of years ago in some remote corner of the universe.
Just as that was starting to sink in, the screen faded to black for a brief yet perfect second that seemed to last an eternity. Then the main title appeared to blast out of the camera lens and onto the screen, accompanied by the crashing opening of the main musical theme of the movie. I was nearly overwhelmed by the movie’s opening, which to this day, despite seeing it hundreds of times, still gives me goose bumps.
As the main title receded into space, the opening crawl appeared with a “story so far” touch that evoked memories of the old Saturday morning serials I had heard or read about. In it we learned of the rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire, the dread power of the Death Star, rebel spies, sinister agents and a young woman by the name of Princess Leia. I was goofy with anticipation.
After the opening crawl disappeared into the infinity of space, the camera panned down to the planet we later learned was Tatooine. The scene was interrupted by a racing spaceship exchanging fire with an unseen combatant. The next thing we saw was the most humongous spaceship that seemed to go on forever. The damn thing nearly took up the entire screen before we finally saw the end of it. I sat there awestruck with my eyes and mouth wide open.
In those first two minutes of the movie I witnessed more sights and sounds that stirred my imagination than in any movie before or since. My friend Steve didn’t tell me about any of this and here I was already blown away. The next two hours were absolute joy for me as I thrilled to the exploits of the movie’s heroes. I wanted to be Luke Skywalker, fell for Princess Leia and wished I had a buddy like Han Solo.
Those two hours made me forget about all the crap going on outside in the real world. It was a movie that gave me back some innocence and hope for a brighter future.
When my friend and I walked out after the movie, I babbled on and on about what we had just seen. I couldn’t understand why and was disappointed that he wasn’t as excited about it as I was.
In the weeks and months after that initial viewing, I was somehow able to convince my mom to take me back to the movie several more times during its initial run, which, at least in Muncie, nearly lasted an incredible seven months. During this period prior to home video, the movie was re-released for brief engagements each year and each time I was still able to convince my mom to take me to the movie. Eventually I had my own driver’s license and didn’t need to be taken. I saw the movie dozens of times before I finally lost track.
I wanted everything I could find about the movie. Books, magazines, comics, the soundtrack album, you name it and I probably bought it or got it as a gift. Except for the toys. The thought of being a teenager and owning the action figures seemed goofy to me.
Thankfully, my younger brother was young enough for the toys. He received several of the figures for his birthday and for Christmas.
I made sure of that.