Hokey religions and Star Wars Day are no match for Kung-Fu Kenobi at your sidePosted: Friday, May 7, 2010
You may find my lack of faith disturbing, but no amount of Jedi mind tricks is going to get me to buy into the concept of May 4 as “Star Wars Day,” as in, it’s “May the Fourth Be With You,” often closely followed by “Get it?” Charming, to the last. But let’s call that a pun too far, shall we?
No, if you really want to do it, Star Wars Day should be every year on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, which in 1977 was May 25: the day the original Star Wars was released and began to change the world for Hollywood, not to mention the worldview for millions of Generation X kids like me. (And, hey, no kidding, I looked up “Star Wars Day” on Wikipedia, and see that the Los Angeles City Council beat me to the punch by three years. And here all I knew from the L.A. City Council was from L.A. Confidential.)
(Aside I: It’s “Star Wars,” or if you’re picky, the “Original Star Wars.” None of this Episode IV or A New Hope crap needed for explanatory purposes — those are subtitles, and using them buys into George Lucas’ neverending, profit-mongering revisionism; see: Greedo shooting first; see, also: the computer-animated Clone Wars series, which further entrenches Anakin Skywalker as a good guy product line along with his annoying teenage girl sidekick. Like those jawas, I can’t abide those Clone Wars. Let’s see, Anakin’s good, but then he’s eventually the worst person in the galaxy, going from a sort of bratty John Wayne to a sort of galactic Hitler; good luck explaining that to a hero-worshipping 3½-year-old like mine, but I digress).
(Aside II: There’s a reason why experiencing the saga from episodes IV to VI, and then from I to III, works as a cohesive and satisfying narrative, and why I’m planning on having Icepick Jr. watch it that way (as best as I can control these sorts of things). Though in a bout of drinking inspiration one time, my friends and I thought it would be great to watch the entire saga Quentin Tarantino-style by shuffling the six DVDs and watching them in random order. I’m not sure we got very far with that concept that night, and I think I’ll stick with Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars and Kung-Fu Kenobi’s Big Adventure for my Obi-Wan/Pulp Fiction mash-up fix, and yes, I am digressing again.)
I was a few months away from turning 5 when Star Wars came out, and I saw it in the theater multiple times over the next 2 years. It was re-released in 1978 and 1979, and, oh yes, I went in for repeat viewings; apart from the occasional commercial-filled and edited-for-TV broadcast of a film, that was virtually the only way you could see a movie again and again in those days before Betamax and VHS, before the cable TV boom, before the dark times, before the empire (OK, I’ll stop).
The 1979 re-release was in anticipation of The Empire Strikes Back coming out in 1980. I’m almost certain they tagged a sort-of trailer for Empire onto the ′79 Star Wars re-release (though, hell, I could be remembering this as a trailer tacked onto any other flick released in the months before Empire’s premiere).
But no matter which film it was attached to, that preview caused a sense of anticipation that still sticks with me, some 31 years later. I remember one of the clips in the preview showed R2 being hurtled backwards into a pit, and having no idea what that was all about (of course, we eventually found out that was the shot of him being thrown backwards near the end of Empire, when the little droid fixes the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive and the battered heroes escape Vader and the Empire).
I’m rolling along here, but I remember the very momentary confusion when seeing Empire for the first time when the title “Star Wars” flew backwards into the stars to the opening blast of John Williams’ score (the same way all the films would begin), before feeling relieved when the the crawl next appeared announcing “Episode V: The Empire Strike Back.”
And of course, I never again experienced the same level of shock in enjoying a work of fiction — in books, film or TV — that I had as a 7½-year-old when Vader uttered those famous words: “No, Luke. I am your father.”
I doubt I’m alone in that among men and women of a certain age, as the saying goes.
So, despite the hokey religion of May the Fourth, here’s to a happy Star Wars Nostalgia to a generation raised on adventure, excitement (though a Jedi craves not these things).
And (spoken in my best begrudging Han Solo voice): May the Force be with you.