Star Wars, just plain Star Wars, no episode number, is the best movie of the Star Wars series. I can’t bring myself to be critical of any of the rest at great detail as I’ve found things I like in all of them, but none caught my imagination like the 1977 movie that started the series and triggered in me a reaction of nascent fandom.
This was the first movie I and others my age at the time had ever been fully immersed in, immersion on the level of learning a foreign language. We lived, breathed, and talked about the movie and made plans to see it again and again. We would have eaten it too, but food tie-ins weren’t much of a thing back then. We speculated on the nature of Jawas. A sudden interest in sword fighting erupted thanks to the light saber scenes that easily surpassed anything that influenced us from watching Three Musketeer movies or Robin Hood. Arguments erupted about light speed and hyperspace and whether this was faster than light or not. Other disagreements followed: X-wing or Tie Fighter? Was the Millennium Falcon actually a good ship or a piece of junk like Luke says? What happened to Obi-Wan when Vader stuck him down? It went on and on.
There was a Story of Star Wars LP that I got my hands on that I played to death. I had it memorized in no time, yet those platters kept spinning. We got the novelization of the film and soon the comic books, but none of these scratched the Star Wars itch as much as seeing the movie for another time in the theater while we still could.
The toys and other products were generally out of our price range. But an empty caulk gun became a blaster and flashlights became light sabers. Allowance money was saved for another movie ticket and eventually the trading cards.
Once in our seats, we didn’t have to wait for the good stuff. Stephen Speilberg understood this with Jaws, throwing a shark attack at us for the first scene. With Star Wars, we got one giant spaceship blasting the pants off a second mere moments after the weird scrolling text. Thus followed a rabid love for science fiction movies, even if we would later argue whether Star Wars was science fiction at all or some subgenre like science fantasy. True grist for the nerd mill.
Timing, of course, is everything. We had the perfect summer without jobs (besides a paper route) or other responsibilities. We believed every summer would be like this, but none of them ever were. Even by the time the excellent sequel Empire Strikes Back came out, we saw it a second time in the theater but not a third, talked about it some, but the magic intensity of seeing the first movie had faded.
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