Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?” can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.
Q: At the Star Wars Celebration, J.J. Abrams and co. killed the
better part of an hour by reminiscing about their initial exposure to
“Star Wars,” then unveiled a teaser for “The Force Awakens” that overtly
plays to (and with) that nostalgia. What was your first “Star Wars”
encounter, and what, if any, part did it play in your love of movies?
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket
My parents took me to see “Star Wars” in the summer of 1977. I was nine years old, and it quite literally changed my life. I’d never seen a movie remotely like it before. Everything about “Star Wars” sent my imagination into overdrive. Oddly, though, I remember leaving the theater feeling dazed. There was so much to absorb that I was mentally overloaded. This was the movie that made me realize the immense power of film. For the first time ever, a movie transported me somewhere else for two hours. To this day, “Star Wars” is my favorite movie. It’s also something I’ve had an obsession with for 38 years now. I have a full-size statue of Yoda in my home. I throw my garbage away in an R2-D2 trash can. I own – and occasionally play with – an authentic light saber replica that lights up and makes noise. I wear “Star Wars” t-shirts, jackets, and even sneakers. Thankfully, I also have a wonderful wife who is incredibly tolerant and understanding of my obsession.
Liz Shannon Miller, Indiewire
Like many people, I imagine, I have never known life without “Star Wars.” I could not tell you the first time I saw the original trilogy; thanks to my parents, the answer is likely “in utero” for at least one of the films, if not more. It taught me to love storytelling, and science fiction, and Harrison Ford (only one of those things has ever ended up disappointing me) — I studied it in college, I suffered through the prequels, and I cried at the new trailer. But I will say that I never saw “Star Wars” the same way again after a family trip to Los Angeles in 1997, where we saw the Special Edition of “A New Hope” at the Mann Chinese. One of my all-time favorite movies came alive like never before with a crowd of viewers who loved it just as much as me — if I ever felt my love for movies waning, that’s the memory I’d turn to.
Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post
“Spaceballs” > “Star Wars.”
I only ever saw “The Empire Strikes Back” all the way though, out of professional obligation, and while I didn’t hate it, I just thought it was silly kid’s stuff. I still feel that way. It’s never meant anything to me. I was a voracious SF reader throughout my childhood and adolescence, and the dystopian/hard-tech movies like “The Road Warrior,” “The Terminator” and “Alien,” all released in the same period as the trilogy, were loads more fun and had truckloads more subtext to unpack.
Noah Gittell, Washington City Paper, RogerEbert.com
I guess I watched “Star Wars” on VHS as a kid, but I don’t really remember it. I do remember the next time I saw it: I was 19 years old and living in a beach house in North Carolina. It was winter, and my roommate (and best friend) had just moved out. I was alone and depressed, but I had a great idea to cheer me up: Take LSD and watch the entire original trilogy in a single sitting. It’s impossible to explain precisely what I experienced that day, but Lucas’s themes — politics, revolution, and the eternal struggle between the light and the dark — lodged themselves permanently in my unconscious, and you can still see it in my work. I don’t recommend drugs to teenagers (or adults, for that matter), but if you happen to find yourself searching for meaning and in a chemically-induced state of hyper-receptivity, I highly recommend it.
Josh Spiegel, Movie Mezzanine
I can’t remember my very first “Star Wars” encounter, but watching the panel last Thursday did bring back two specific memories of my youth.
The first is of me, likely age 8 or 9, sitting as close as possible to the screen of my family’s 19-inch TV as I was watching the original “Star Wars.” I remember this because my parents had hired a handyman to fix something in our house; said handyman was walking upstairs to whatever he was fixing, saw that I was watching “Star Wars” and said something like, “Oh, you like “Star Wars,” huh?” I probably said no more than “Yes,” though I really wanted to say, “Yes, and I’m watching it right now why are you trying to interrupt me let me watch ‘Star Wars’!” (Even as a kid, I knew I couldn’t say everything I was thinking.)
The second memory is of being in the theater at the Special Edition release of “The Empire Strikes Back,” where I was so amped up that my dad let me get a free refill of the massive bucket of popcorn I’d already eaten before the movie had even started. So, my memories are less about the films themselves—I recently rewatched the original trilogy, which holds up marvelously well — and more about the experience of being hyped up to watch them. Which I suppose is fitting, because the Celebrations panel and accompanying teaser for “The Force Awakens” did a surprisingly excellent job of hyping me up to see the new movie this December. (And likely be disappointed, but for now, I live in hope.)
Scott Renshaw, Salt Lake City Weekly
Since I’m pretty much a cliche of Generation X suburban white-boy-dom, my first viewing of “Star Wars” was a critical piece of my childhood, but for reasons beyond the movie itself. I was 10 years old in the summer of ’77, and my younger brother and I had been pleading to see “Star Wars.” The response from my parents was generally some variation on “We’ll see,” which we interpreted as “This is nowhere near as important to us as it is to you.” One Sunday afternoon, we were on our way home from church, and stopped in the strip mall that was home to the grocery store where my mom shopped, because she had a few things to pick up. That grocery store was also right next door to the only multiplex in Bakersfield, California that was showing “Star Wars,” and when we left the store, my parents put the groceries in the car and started walking towards the theater, without saying a word. My brother and I just stood there, until my dad turned around and said, “Well, do you want to see ‘Star Wars’ or not?” On that day, I first became aware not just of how cool movies could be, but of how cool my parents could be.
Jordan Hoffman, NY Daily News, Guardian
“Star Wars” was so great that I didn’t mind seeing it with that dick Ethan down the block. He may have had his own VHS tapes when we were 7 but he ended up working in a gas station, so who’s getting the noogie now, huh?!?!
Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times
My “Star Wars” experience began prehistorically, as it were. Friends of mine had been at Cal Arts with Adam Beckett, who was running special effects animation for “Episode IV” when Industrial Light and Magic was still quartered in a warehouse in the San Fernando Valley; I went along on a visit. We saw light saber footage — just the disembodied blades, or whatever you’d call them — and some multicolored psychedelic explosion effects that had already been deemed too colorful and psychedelic to use. The surface of the Death Star, a mosaic of modules turned this way and that, was laid out in one large room; in a smaller one, models were being made, with bits cannibalized from Revell kits. (Other bits went into humorous art pieces, I guess you call them.) So I knew something was happening before something happened, and so felt a little proprietary about the whole thing when it did. Did it change how I felt about movies? I was already well into film by then, thanks to Altman and Antonioni and Kubrick and Carné, from student film programs and midnight art movies, and familiar enough with Saturday morning serials to spot the essential strain of cheesiness that ran through “A New Hope” — I never mistook it for Cinema or even as a better movie than “American Graffiti.” Which is not to say I didn’t love it. I was on board in the social moment. I have the merch to prove it. Like many, I thought “Empire” a better film and jumped off halfway through “Jedi.” In later days, the actual “Star Wars” cartoon series — even the parodies — struck me as better than the prequels, cartoons in all but name. I wouldn’t care to calculate the film’s effect on film as a whole, but certainly it created some buffs/artists on the one hand and was responsible for too many half-baked special effects spectaculars on the other. (A hell we are still living through.) But I will admit that the “Episode VII” trailer looks good, and am happy that they’re reportedly back to making models, which rule.
Ben Travers, Indiewire
My earliest memories of “Star Wars” aren’t even clear, but a set of displaced glimpses into childhood. I first remember reaching up above my parents’ microwave and discovering this strange black box with a man in a white robe on the front holding a glowing light pointed up to the sky. Looking back now, I can remember wondering what it was, as I was too young to even recognize the VHS tape itself. Shortly after I must have watched it, because my next recollection is falling head over heels in love with “The Empire Strikes Back.” Hoth, in particular, left an impact on this young boy from the oft-white plains of an annually chilly Illinois countryside. Finally, “Return of the Jedi” feels like a fever dream comparatively, with a battle involving odd furry creatures meshing incoherently with the established coolness of Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker. I’m sure my continued admiration for creativity stems from somewhere among those fading memories, but any attempt to expound further would do a disservice to the films’ effects on me. I don’t pretend to know them. I only know they’re there.
Carrie Rickey, Yahoo! Movies, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Saw “Star Wars” in Manhattan the weekend it was released. I was charmed. Struck me as a junior auxiliary version of a “Star Trek” episode with costlier special effects. (Hyperspace and warp speed are my favorite special effects.) Fell in love with Harrison Ford. That summer of 1977 I taught at the University of Vermont. On my days off I saw “Star Wars” six more times and “Annie Hall” about five more times. In July, when I heard there was a blackout in New York I remember saying to a fellow faculty member that it wasn’t the heat wave that triggered it, it was the theaters showing “Star Wars” from 9 a.m. to midnight that caused the electricity overuse. While I loved SW, as I grew older and saw how it changed the paradigm of moviemaking (films aimed at and marketed to 10-year-old boys, special-effects laden movies without much character development), I continued to like “Star Wars” while being disgruntled by “Star Wars”-ism.
Alissa Wilkinson , Christianity Today
I didn’t grow up watching movies, but my engineering and science alma mater was loaded with true “Star Wars” fanatics. So the first time I saw “Star Wars,” I was 20 years old. Episode III was about to come out, and my boyfriend sat me down and made me watch all of them before we went. By that time, I was so emotionally wrapped up in the story that I thought it was tremendous, much better than IV – VI. I voiced that opinion to a group of my peers in a computer science class. You can imagine the results.
Justine Smith, Sound on Sight
I don’t have a strong attachment to the Star Wars movies, I have a very vague memory of watching one from Blockbuster as a kid, but I’d be lying if it made an impression. It was only when I was 17 years old that I tried to really watch the films. “Stars Wars: A New Hope” was better than I expected but didn’t really pull at my emotions. I much preferred “The Empire Strikes Back,” which had this undeniably mythic quality that I really enjoyed. It was swift, fun and action packed — the characters also really came into their own. It had the same kind of family vibe as some of my favourite shows at the time, stuff like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”: The universe felt lived in. Yet, somehow, I’ve still never caught up with “Return of the Jedi” (especially shameful as it is among my SO’s very favourite films).
Alison Nastasi, Flavorwire
At some point dad brought home the original “Star Wars”
trilogy on VHS. Watch. Crush on Han Solo. Imitate Yoda. Root for Darth
Vader. Play make-believe lightsabers with my brother until mom told us
to quit it. Repeat. I believe we saw one of the films in the theater,
but after chatting with my family about it, no one seems to remember
much. I’ve saved most of my movie stubs since I was a child, but sadly
the “Star Wars” ticket has been lost to a galaxy far, far away — or
maybe it never existed. But that’s the power of the film — a visual
spectacle that remains ever-present as my love for cinema grows.
Sean Axmaker, Parallax View
The first film review I ever wrote was for “Star Wars.” It was a class assignment in my high school freshman English class. I was at a new school — hell, I was in a whole new culture, having moved from wet, green Victoria, British Columbia to sunny and sandy Waianae, Hawaii, and struggling to understand the local pidgin — and this was one thing I thought I had down. I liked to write, I loved movies, and I was mad for “Star Wars.” So the class went to see “Star Wars” again and we all wrote a review. I got a B. I was mortified, but even worse was listening to the teacher read the best review in the class. My review was dull, flat, a bloodless book report of a review. The review the teacher read was smart, clever, descriptive, colorful, and very entertaining. I decided that would never happen again. Who knew that such a commitment would eventually lead to a career?
Nell Minow, Beliefnet
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away, or at least that’s how it seems now, my then boyfriend and I finished the bar exam, following three years of law school and six weeks of intensive cramming and even more intensive panicking, and walked outside, blinking in the sunlight we barely recognized. Dazed, we barely made it to the theater for the prize we had promised ourselves all summer. We were going to see “Star Wars.” We loved it. The hologram message from the princess with the awful hair. The bar. The garbage compactor. The droids. Obi-Wan. The wookiee. To go from listing the elements of a negotiable instrument and the factors required for a temporary restraining order and the exemptions to the hearsay rule to Jedi and the Death Star was such an overwhelming experience that we decided to sit through it again. (I did say it was a long time ago.)
We were lucky enough to see them as they came out, to be shocked by the revelations, to suffer for more than a year while Han was frozen, wondering how he could escape. We still love them. The original trilogy, anyway. Unadulterated by later tweaks, please. Han shot first and we are okay with that. Can’t wait for the next one.
Adam Batty, Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second
As I’m sure is the case for many of my vintage (not quite old enough for the first trilogy, a bit too old for the prequels) my earliest memory of “Star Wars” involves playing with the action figures in the school playground. A friend had inherited his brothers collection towards the tail end of the 1980s, when ‘Wars was out and the Turtles were in. I later discovered the films on television and VHS, before I got in to the series in a big way when I first started to discover film, thanks to British film magazine Empire’s often-lampooned obsession with the franchise. By the time the Special Editions were released in 1997 I was a full-fledged hardcore “Star Wars” nut, subscribing to Star Wars Insider and obsessing over the Power of the Force line of rereleased action figures. This all ultimately led up to my favorite “Star Wars” memory, which was queuing with those very same aforementioned school pals for “Episode I.” We stood in line for six hours, an ultimately fruitless endeavour as we were literally the only people there. Coincidentally enough it was at the end of that Summer that I went to art school, and began to study film, which in turn led to my discovery of the kind of cinephiliac obsessions that now control my life and thinking, and while I’ve all but left George Lucas’ creation behind in the past, I have to admit to grinning like an idiot the whole way through that recent trailer.
Richard Brody, New Yorker
Less than zero. When “Star Wars” came out, there was a big Fassbinder retrospective filling out the last days of the New Yorker Theatre as it was preparing to be shuttered and torn down, there was a cornucopia of classics and modern classics running daily at any of the many repertory houses around town, and I had a lot of catching-up to do. I was nineteen, movies were still a very new thing for me, and nothing I had heard about “Star Wars,” none of the clips I had seen on TV news, led me to think that it was worth bothering with. What seemed pretty clear to me at the time was that some of the most vaunted successes of the New Hollywood, such as the first two “Godfathers,” “Chinatown,” and “Jaws,” were reactionary and nostalgic lunges at classic Hollywood — not at its most thrilling inventions but at its least common denominators: the taut script, hyperproduction, overly indicative acting — and “Star Wars” seemed the same and worse. Plus I had other things going on beside the usual 19-year-old stuff to further fuel my sense of snobbery. I did glance at “Star Wars” some time in the eighties, at my parents’ house, when it was on television (I didn’t have one) and I had other problems; I remember that there were commercials, and I remember almost nothing else; I didn’t watch to the end and I haven’t done so yet. I’m not at all nostalgic for the way I felt or lived then, so I’m certainly not nostalgic for “Star Wars” — or for avoiding or dismissing it. “The Force Awakens”? Bring it on.
Peter Howell, Toronto Star
It’s sometime in July, 1977, the year I was 21. A friend and I finally decide to go and see this “Star Wars” movie we’ve heard so much about. I’m of the opinion that it’s a kid’s movie. Can’t possibly be as good as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” I think. (Actually, I still think “2001” is superior.) So we don’t make much effort to get to the theatre, a shopping mall twinplex in suburban Toronto. We get there more than 10 minutes after the movie started, missing all the early drama of Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers battling the Rebel Alliance. We walk into the packed auditorium during the scene where R2-D2 and C-3PO are wandering across the desert dunes of Tattooine. To say we didn’t know what the hell was going on would be an understatement, although I was very impressed by the Cantina scene and the lightsaber battles. It was years before I saw the entirety of “Star Wars” (there was none of that “Episode IV” nonsense, for the first 20 years or so) but when I finally did, it clicked. My appreciation for the series has grown over the decades, even with the disappointment of the prequel trilogy. So you could say I was a slow learner at Jedi school.
Ethan Alter, Film Journal International, Yahoo Movies
My first glimpse of Yoda is probably the earliest moviegoing memory I
have lodged in my brain. I would have been about four years old at the
time, seeing “Empire” during one of its early ’80s theatrical
re-releases, back when movies returned to theaters off and on instead
of heading straight to home video. Nothing else about that initial
viewing stuck — though I’d come to know that movie, and the other two,
backwards and forwards through multiple VHS re-watches in later
years — but Yoda’s slow shuffle into the frame on Dagobah, coupled with
that croak of a voice, clearly warped my fragile little mind.
Cameron Williams, Popcorn Junkie, Graffiti with Punctuation
A VHS copy of “A New Hope” recorded off commercial television was my
first exposure to “Star Wars.” My father had done the recording and hit
pause during the commercial breaks so our family had the closest thing
to an authentic copy of the movie. I’m from the generation that first
found it on the small screen and didn’t get to see “Star Wars” at the
cinema until the special editions were released.
New Hope” played a big part in my love of movies because it was one of
the first films I saw science fiction and fantasy mashed together; the
possibilities of cinema became almost infinite with possibilities. As I
grew up with “Star Wars,” it exposed me to the films that inspired it,
as I researched how it was made or came across other fans who would act
like the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons” with their superior
knowledge. Through “Star Wars” I found Akira
Kurosawa’s “Hidden Fortress” and his whole filmography, “The Dam
Busters” that inspired the Death Star trench run, and Westerns like John
Ford’s “The Searchers.” “Star Wars” opened my mind to the
interconnectivity of filmmaking and the echoes of other artists through a
new piece of storytelling.
Greg Cwik, Vulture, Indiewire
a kid, I had the whole trilogy on VHS, as was assumedly the case with
every kid my age. I know this is a bit of a #hottake, but the second
film was my favorite, partially I didn’t understand the concept of a
prequel, and I thought the second movie was really the first, since it
occurs before the first, chronologically. I still think it’s pretty
good; its overt racism is sort of innate, given how it’s an homage to old
adventure serials, and that opening scene is one of Spielberg’s most
purely cinematic. Wait, which George Lucas trilogy were we talking about
Marc V. Ciafardini, GoSeeTalk, The Film Stage
For me, Star Wars comes down to three distinct memories,
and it actually has less to do with what was on the screen and more with
how I felt as a young impressionable movie fan.
1. I was born in 1980 and when I lived in Colorado in ’83,
my parents had “A New Hope” on VHS. Oh man, I remember sitting in front of
the TV — inches away from the screen — as Luke barrelled down the
trench on his way to blow up the Death Star. I can’t remember ever
wanting to be inside of film as much as that particular scene and that
2. A few years later, I found myself happily enjoying one
of the most iconic toys from the franchise and spending hours outside
waving around a toy lightsaber. It was the Darth Vader lightsaber,
pretty tall compared to a 5 year old me (FYI, this was the equivalent
of a Wiffle ball bat with the top cut off to allow air to make the “whoosh” sound), but without a doubt one of the coolest toys I’ve ever
owned. I still wish I had it actually.
3. Finally, it was John Williams’ one-of-a-kind and
sensational music that turned me into a film score fan for life. I
cannot count the number of nights that I either listened to music from
these films as I did my homework (in grade school and beyond), or
drifted off to sleep dreaming of space battles far, far away. As cool as
any droid, or spaceship, Gammorean guard, or scruffy looking nerf
herder are to the Star Wars universe, I think it’s the music that will
always spur my imagination and make me fall in love with the franchise
again and again. That said, those ships, and Ralph McQuarrie’s
production design are pretty effen cool too.
Danny Bowes, Salt Lake City Weekly, The A.V. Club
My dad took me to “The Return of the Jedi” when
I was four and bought me a program and black-suited Luke Skywalker
action figure; I’m told secondhand that I thoroughly enjoyed myself,
although somehow two years later I was pretending that the Luke
Skywalker action figure was Keith from “Voltron” and no longer had any emotional connection to the “Star Wars” movies. I didn’t see the first two or rewatch “Jedi”
until I was a freshman in college. So, the effect of the series on my
love of movies was minimal. On the other hand (so to speak) when a
playwright friend of mine used “going to Toshi station to pick up some
power converters” as a euphemism for masturbation once I got the joke
and laughed. That’s a fair précis of where “Star Wars” exists in my personal canon.
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com, Some Came Running
Anyone who’s really interested in my answer to the question won’t mind investing 8 bucks in the Kindle edition of “A Galaxy Not So Far Away: Writers And Artists on 25 Years of ‘Star Wars'” which I edited. I tell the whole story in the introduction. I won’t make any money from the sale—this is maybe the only “Star Wars” themed book not to succeed in the marketplace — but you will surely enjoy the work of Jonathan Lethem, Lydia Millett, Elwood Reid, Tom Bissell, TODD HANSON, and many other amazing writers.
Tony Dayoub, Cinema Viewfinder
I was very young when I saw “Star Wars,” 5 years old during its
original run in 1977, so what I have are more impressions than memories.
But one thing that still strikes me very clearly is the feeling of the
movie being a kind of demarcation point. When it comes to American
cinema (at least in my lifetime) there is Before “Star Wars” and there is
After “Star Wars,” the effects (for better or worse) of which still
resonate in today’s era of blockbusters trumping smaller film releases.
Luke Goodsell, Movie Mezzanine, Empire
my earliest memory, but a favorite: one of the things I love most about “Star Wars” is the sound design, so when I got to interview Ben Burtt I
was amazed to learn how many of the iconic effects were born of his
restless, everyday experimentation —like swinging a microphone behind a
TV set to get the lightsaber hum. It made me appreciate the technical
innovations that much more.
Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit
first exposure to “Star Wars” was probable my uncle showing my cousins
and his laserdisc of “A New Hope.” It was so different from anything else
that I’d seen up until that point, it hooked me immediately. Honestly, I
might actually go so far as to say that it began to infuse me with a
love of film in general. I’ve never really thought about that until now,
but it seems to be a real connective tissue for me and my passion for
John Keefer, 51 Deep
My first “Star Wars” experience was “The Phantom Menace.” That
is not a lie. For some reason when I was little I did not dig on space
ships and aliens. My trilogy was Indiana Jones. Looking back on my
obsessions with superheros, serials (including Flash Gordon and Buck
Rogers), comic books, golden age radio, movies, movies and movies it
really doesn’t make much sense to me why “Star Wars” wasn’t in there too. Maybe I figured I was nerdy enough already and didn’t need to add to
the pile. So I didn’t see the original trilogy until I was 18 and in
film school and if you’re curious about the easiest way to see Star Wars
go to film school and tell your new friends you’ve never seen “Star
Wars.” Leaving out, of course, that you had seen “The Phantom Menace” first because there’s only so much shock a person can handle at one
time. And if you are also curious about whether never having seen the
original trilogy made watching “Phantom Menace” any better the answer is
no, it did not.
Piers Marchant, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Philadelphia Magazine
As “Star Wars” was released in the early summer of ’77, I was 10, perhaps
the perfect age for such a film. I remember not knowing much about it
beforehand — something involving space, obviously, and lots of laser
beams. Marvel had put out the first issue of their comic adaptation of
the flick just before it was released (I’m thinking it was drawn by
Howie Chaykin, but don’t quote me), and I remember seeing the cover at
the comic book store I worked in (“Enter Luke Skywalker: Will He Save
the Universe, or Destroy it?”) and not being able to make head or tails
of the thing. It seemed complicated and dense, possibly. Then, seeing it
in the theaters, I was utterly and completely transported. It was the
first movie I ever saw where I lost myself completely, from the opening
text crawl, to the triumphant medal ceremony. I had always liked movies,
but after “Star Wars,” I became an absolute devote. Just best not to
ask me anything about “Return of the Jedi,” less you incur a rambling, 25-minute expletive-filled rant. I hate the goddamn ewoks.
Charles Bramesco, Random Nerds, The Dissolve
My blessed parents did their duty as my cultural guardians and exposed
me to the original trilogy at a young age, though I never felt any
profound spiritual connection to Episodes 4-6.
Having actually lived through the release of the second trilogy, I felt
a closer bond with those three films as I aged into my teen years,
though they didn’t blow me away or anything. I ran the risk of seeing
this thoroughly subpar trilogy through rose-tinted glasses due to the
large role it played in my pop-cultural upbringing (a common ailment I
call the “Goonies” syndrome), but a college course on the films of
George Lucas nipped that in the bud. As an undergrad, it was a privilege
to watch Professor Griffith split “Attack of the Clones” down the
middle, isolate each malfunctioning organ from the film’s
formaldehyde-reeking carcass, and put it on display. Turns out my
original #hottake on Episode II, given at age ten, still holds up pretty
well: “I like the Kaminoans but that movie was boring.”
Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter, Sight & Sound
I was six when “Star Wars” opened in the UK on December 27th, 1977 — by which point it had already been out in the USA for more than
seven months, and was playing in Finland, Greece, Sweden, Portugal
and Spain. The good old days! I remember having one A4-sized glossy
poster on my bedroom wall, carefully extracted from the centre pages
of some youth-oriented magazine, so I was clearly not immune to the
picture’s appeal–even if I was (then as now) very much more of a
horror aficionado than a sci-fi sort, notwithstanding my “Doctor
Who” fixation: This was the golden era when Tom Baker was the
Doctor and Robert Holmes was the “script editor” (show-runner), the
latter exiting in the Christmas hiatus between “The Sun Makers” (ended 17 December 1977) and “Underworld” (7 January 1978).
My main memories of the 1977-8 “Star Wars” hoo-ha actually
revolve around a merchandising tie-in: the digital quartz watch made
by Texas Instruments. Black, with eyecatching (and ever-so-slightly
foggy) red LED display that illuminated only at the press of a
button, it was very much the wristwear to have at Ryhope
Junior School in Sunderland — not least because it was among the very
first “digi” watches to come onto the market at a reasonable
price-tag. Less than $20 in the States! According to
TimeTrafficker.com “the watch was originally sold in a box with the
iconic “Star Wars” graphics on the side and also included a collection
of stickers that kids could use to apply to the front bezel of the
watch to customize the appearance” — as I recall, the stickerless
matte-black look was the Ryhope vogue. Get one myself, however, I
Q: What is the best movie in theaters?
A: “Clouds of Sils Maria”
Other movies receiving multiple votes: “Ex Machina,” “It Follows”