Tuesday, September 21, 2004

And, Now For Something Completely Different!

The Star Wars Trilogy

It's time to take a break for something really important - the first ever release of the original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD!

First - a spoiler. This isn't the original theatrical versions, but the later, computer enhanced "special editions." That makes me just a little sad; well, morose. Okay, moody.

One of the great things about those original editions was finding how many bloopers you could spot. Who could forget Luke Skywalker landing his X-Wing after blowing up the Death Star and shouting "CARRIE" (not LEIA) at the top of his lungs?! The special editions got rid of all that great, human, trivia.

Still, I've purchased this trilogy as a gift for Angela (shhh! Don't tell her) and a trip down nostalgia lane for me.

When the movie first came out I really didn't pay much attention to it. It's probably hard for younger audiences to believe, but Star Wars was originally an underground hit. The studio didn't mount any massive ad campaign for it and it's popularity grew mostly through word of mouth. As the film was literally entering it's last week of release, a friend took me to the Central City Mall in San Bernardino to see it.

Like most others, I was stunned by the opening graphics. The pan from the surface of Tatooine to the small diplomatic ship to the huge Star Destroyer pursuing was inspired and changed science fiction films forever.

It would be years before I saw the original Star Wars again. Remember, this was before you could see any movie and be sure that it would be released on VHS in less than six months.

Star Wars fans had to wait for years (well, at least two - my memory fails me) for the Empire Strikes Back. To me, this was (and is) the best of all the Star Wars films. I saw this one a dozen times.

The mini-adventure that launches the film (Luke attacked by the Wampa and using the force to kill it; Han venturing out in the face of certain death to rescue his friend) became a Lucas trademark.

The sudden - and unexpected - sexual tension in the triangle of Luke, Leia, and Han made this movie instantly provocative and riveted your attention. In the original Star Wars, the suggestion was that Luke and Leia were an "item." Putting Han into the mix was an inspired twist. Of course, the revelation that Darth was Luke's father made this an instant soap-opera hit. The "love-triangle" was particularly significant to me at the time, for reasons better left unsaid!

Those were happy days, idyllic in hindsight, when all you had to worry about was how long you had to stand in line and whether or not you could get the perfect seats - center aisle, a few rows back - and revel in the newly released THX sound, following the plot so closely that you could (literally) quote the dialog along with the film!

I still have my VHS copy of Star Wars and the Empire Strikes Back and I drag them out from time to time, just to remember days gone by. When I finally get the DVD's, er, that is, borrow them from my daughter, it's going to feel a little strange to be sitting in my den with a 42-inch monitor listening to Dolby Surround Sound.

But I believe a little of that earlier magic will come through.

No comments: