30 Years Ago Today

Posted May 25, 2007 in Blog

I was eight years old when I moved back to Indianapolis in the summer of 1977. After two years in Chicago, I was once again at my grandparents, hanging out with the friends I left behind…friends that had just seen a movie called Star Wars.

Going to the movies was a big deal in those days, and there wasn’t a lot out there for kids beyond Disney. Without the aid of production art, movie traliers, or hype it was all but impossible to understand what they were talking about. Jedi Knights? Wookies? Death Stars?

One thing was clear. This movie had somehow changed them, and I had to see it.

Much begging and pleading ensued. We were a TV family, and the thought of draging me to some kids movie couldn’t have sounded appealing to my parents. But, in the middle of a record heat wave, our air conditioner broke and my vacationing step-father decided that a kid’s movie might be the perfect excuse for an air conditioned nap. Needless to say, he didn’t sleep past the opening credits.

Star Wars played through the summer and then some. I managed to see it three times over its year run at the local theater. I read Alan Dean Foster’s spin-off Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, wore out my vinyl Story of Star Wars record, and regularly piled into a dark garage with my friends so that our light saber battles would look real.

I didn’t know anything about E.E. “Doc” Smith, Frank Herbert, Flash Gordon, Kurosawa, or Joseph Campbell. To me this was the singular creation of a mad genius. Much later, I read The Lensman Chronicles and countless other stories that Lucas creatively borrowed from to create his space opera. I watched The Hidden Fortress and studied The Hero With A Thousand Faces. Star Wars became a gateway to an infatuation with the idea of storytelling.

Despite the addition of a disappointing second trilogy and the constant overmarketing of must have collectables and super-special edition Dvds, I can still remember the feeling I had walking out of that movie theater in the summer of 1977. My feet never touched the ground.