Oh, come on! Y’all had to know I was gonna go there. If you didn’t, you clearly don’t know me as well as you think you do.
I decided not to risk the wrath of the combined Evil Empire of Lucasfilm-Disney, and didn’t even try to find the opening credits from one of the films; that’s just more trouble than it’s worth. But this clip of John Williams conducting my favorite film theme of all time with the Boston Pops, one of the best orchestras of all time, is pretty fun. I really love this music beyond reason. I sometimes even find myself getting a little teary-eyed over it. I always, always smile when I hear the opening.
I was 8 when Star Wars came out. (I refuse to add the subtitle, since when it came out, the title was simply Star Wars. If you refer to that, everyone knows what you’re talking about. If they don’t, then they’re either way too obsessed with the movies, or they were born sometime in the last decade.) Initially, I didn’t want to see it. My choice for the family trip to the movies that week was Close Encounters of the Third Kind (also an awesome movie); I even called my aunt who’d seen it to ask if it was an okay movie for kids to see, in an effort to convince my parents that we should see that instead. But Mom and Dad’s minds had already been made up, and we trekked off to our local movie house to see Star Wars. I’ve never been happier to be overruled.
I was the perfect age for this wondrous adventure. At the time (long before Lucas started tinkering with it), Star Wars represented the pinnacle of special effects. They even gave it a special Oscar for the hard work of all those technicians (but nothing else, damned Academy). Sure, the dialogue was kind of cheesy, and some of the costumes and sets seemed a little cheap (hey, they had to cut the budget somewhere). But the story was classic: the hero’s journey. George Lucas was highly influenced by the work of Joseph Campbell, so it made perfect sense that he based his masterpiece on the classic archetypes of Western culture. The following sequels added more depth and complexity to all the characters, but they were fully formed and compelling. The actors fit their roles so beautifully, it’s hard to imagine anybody else even auditioning for the roles. It was enchanting.
It still is. Everything about it seems a little dated now, but I still get happily lost every damn time I watch the original movies. When I was out of work back in the early 90s, I watch my VHS copies constantly, at least one a day. I’ve bought the original trilogy at least three times (possibly four, I’ve lost track of how many copies are floating around my house). It’s money I’ve never, ever regretted losing. For many people in my generation, Star Wars represents a defining moment, possibly the defining moment. We might be the first generation that has a lower standard of living than our parents, but we’ve got Luke, Leia, and Han. That’s gotta count for something, right?