‘Star Wars’ Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Four decades ago in a galaxy not so far away at all, a film franchise called ‘Star Wars’ made its official debut…and history.
If my math is right, at the end of this year, the eighth Star Wars movie will make its debut.
I’ve seen nowhere near that many of them.
But 40 years ago, when I was 7 years old, I did see the first film in the first trilogy, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
Yes, to those of you who’ve managed to remain completely uninitiated into the Star Wars universe, the first film to debut was actually episode four of what would become a nine-part triple trilogy.
To make things even more confusing, they waited years after the third and final film of the first trilogy, episode six, to start releasing episodes of the prequel trilogy, episodes one through three.
Now they’ve jumped forward to the final three chapters, and the next to the last comes out this year.
But back in 1977, when the first Star Wars film was released, I did enjoy it. It was 1977’s special effects I remember being wowed by, despite the fact that it doesn’t hold up nearly as well in 2017.
Of course, finding a copy of the 1977 movie as it actually looked is nearly impossible, since filmmaker George Lucas has meticulously re-edited those older films with CGI to make them look far more high-tech than they ever were meant to be. There’s something to be said for cheesy effects that take themselves seriously; they’re hard to find these days.
Here’s the trailer for the original film:
I will say that the original three films — episodes four, five and six — did help spark a deeper interest in science fiction. I did have the action figures, although I never got the Death Star playset my cousin had (and didn’t take nearly as good care of as I would have).
The enthusiasm over Star Wars prompted CBS to launch a little-known live-action Saturday morning series called Space Academy, which I really liked. From there, I found myself more interested in reruns of the original Star Trek, which I’d never paid much attention to.
After the series of Star Trek films that began in 1979, I consider myself a bigger fan of Star Trek than of Star Wars.
The reason? Well, simple: Star Wars sort of disappeared.
After Star Wars in 1977, its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back came along in 1980, followed by Return of the Jedi in 1983.
It took 16 years for The Phantom Menace to show up. By then, I had become far more fond of the Star Trek films that came out in 1979, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1996 and 1998.
I actually did go to the theater to see The Phantom Menace, already knowing I hate prequels. Honestly, I dozed off about midway through. I haven’t watched one of the newer Star Wars films since, not even the newest ones that take place after Return of the Jedi.
I wish they hadn’t waited so long.