May 25, 1977. Forty years ago today, the world of cinema and the lives of geeks all over the world changed forever when Star Wars – long before it had picked up the “A New Hope” subtitle – premiered in theaters around the world. The legends of that time are well known at this point, lines stretching around the block, toys that were so in demand that Kenner was able to sell a cardboard box for Christmas, and overnight sensations being made out of unknown actors like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford. Star Wars filled a void that no one had known existed until that point, and people have been clamoring for more and more of it ever since. On the 40th anniversary of the very first Star Wars, we wanted to share some of our personal memories of the saga.
Raven wrote a beautiful article a few years ago called “The First Time I Saw Star Wars,” which you can read by clicking on that link. But here’s a quick sample:
I had always been into nerdy things as long as I can remember, especially science fiction. At that age, I was watching Star Trek reruns of the original series, and looking forward to my annual viewing of the cheesy Santa Clause Conquers the Martians. I had injured my arm in a playground accident, and my arm had been in a full cast. I wasn’t able to write, so my teacher assigned a partner to help me do my paperwork in class, and she and I became friends. Being pretty geeky herself, she really didn’t have friends, especially as the new girl at my school.
Seeing as I didn’t have many friends either, also by virtue of being the dork, we continued our friendship through the rest of the school year until she moved away. And though we were pen pals for a while, that eventually stopped. But I never forgot her or the fantastic place she introduced me to – The Mos Eisley Spaceport. I never got to see her again, or thank her for that. So Shonna, if you’re out there and possibly reading this – grab your blaster, girl! I promise I’ll let you shoot first this time. I miss you. No, not because I’m a Stormtrooper, you smart ass.
Scott Woodbury: Star Wars, specifically the EU books during the 90s and early 2000s helped me deal with a lot of personal life issues.
It was a family for me. I would watch the original trilogy often.
I would do anything to meet the authors and shake their hands.
Joe Hadsall: “Star Wars” was my first movie. I was 4 in 1977 (YES I’M OLD NOW SHADDUP) and my dad took me to see it in the theater. I was enchanted and hooked instantly. It bonded me to sci-fi and put my head in the stars. It set the bar for what a story should be. I had no idea what merchandising was back then, so I thought that if a movie wasn’t good enough to have its own toys, it must not be a good movie.
Malkontent Blizzard: This is going to sound silly but the way Star Wars first changed my life was through R2-D2.
I was a short chubby kid who couldn’t run and had a powerful speech impediment so recess was not among my favorite times. But when Star Wars started to come back into vogue with the opening of R̶e̶v̶e̶n̶g̶e̶ I mean Return of the Jedi I could be Artoo and help save the day! You don’t find that in just any franchise.
I may drag on the prequels and the revisions (Don’t get me started on Greedo) but Star Wars will always be something special to me.
Lauren Harrington: My Art Aunt was a huge part of my childhood. She helped build my love for the arts up right alongside the love of science the rest of my family instilled in me. Without her influence, I would not be the person I am today. When I was 5, she bought me the deluxe VHS set of the original Star Wars series. Art Aunt knew how much I loved the series, and she shared her love of it with me. It was one of the last birthdays I spent with her before she moved out of state, and I treasured that box set. Unfortunately, the parent I let hold onto it while I went away to college let it get kind of trashed, but I still can’t bring myself to throw it away. I still get nostalgic whenever I see any of those box sets.
Jarys Maragopolous: So my Dad and I had a spotty start to our relationship. When I was young it was difficult for us to connect with each other. One of the most memorable and positive things I remember us sharing was when I was four or five years old, and he sat me down in front o the TV, pulled out a copied VHS from a friend and, putting it in the VCR, told me “I think you’re going to like this.” That first viewing of A New Hope opened my mind in formative ways. I also remember trying to connect with him over Star Wars throughout the years, buying him the last VHS digitally remastered VHS pack for Christmas, so we could have a copy of our own, dragging him along to see The Empire Strikes Back when they put out the Special Edition in theaters, he took me and my best friend to see The Phantom Menace and we waited in line for over an hour. He also gave me my first Wraith Squadron book, after I had read all the entries in the Thrawn Trilogy my school Library had. I later discovered that a Christmas Gift of socks hid the first Hand of Thrawn book six months later, when i was lacking new socks. More specific to myself, the EU gave me a magical Space Opera to mull over, with many different expressions of the same characters and places that gave a backdrop for the helpful moral questions posed by these books. Had it not been for the New Jedi Order, I probably would never have had the verbal framework to understand the issues that caused me to self-harm as a young person. The nuance of these EU stories helped me decide for myself what was important. I guess what I’m saying is that Star Wars really helped formulate my values and helped me connect with my Dad.
Patrick Lowry: My first memory of Star Wars is the last time you see Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. I think it was on TV, and my parents turned the move on halfway through to show it to me. I was already aware of Star Wars as this nebulous thing that everyone knew about, but seeing Luke’s decision to be a true, honest to god Jedi, to choose love and forgiveness over hate – well, it had a pretty massive effect on my life. While I want to make sure my own kids enter the saga not knowing the twist from Empire, I think knowing through the entire saga changed how I viewed it pretty significantly. When I watch Rogue One, I cry during the Darth Vader scene, seeing a man who wanted so badly to be a hero be so far gone. And I guess, I cry because I know that underneath that black armor is a man who would one day be saved by the love of his son.
Chris Brecheen: Wanting to be Luke Skywalker has been my moral compass more times than anything else ever has.
Jim Lucky: I can’t remember a time when Star Wars wasn’t a part of my life. It was my first geeky obsession and I have a million little stories about the good times I’ve had based around that IP. However, the one that sticks out to me about this one is sharing the original trilogy with my younger sister.
Several years ago she shared with me that she had never seen it and so I was determined to introduce it to her (this is not uncommon for me to do, it’s sort of our thing). She and I sat down and watched the whole original trilogy together in a weekend and I was delighted to watch her discover the same spark of wonder that I had found as a small child rewatching the same VHS tapes of over and over again.
A few months after that we had a laugh over the fact that she had paid it forward to a friend of hers who had also never seen them.
John Garcia: My first Star Wars was Return of the Jedi. I think it was its TV premiere (this was back in the 80s), but the time slot was 9 pm to 11 pm Sunday Evening. I wanted to watch this “Star Wars Part 6” (as it was marketed by the Network hyping it up)…Unfortunately because I was a small kid with school the next day, I wouldn’t be able to see it….THEN….
…there was a big typhoon, and the forecasts called for “Signal #2,” in the Philippines, meaning the typhoons were so severe that up to secondary schools were suspended for that Monday….I was able to watch Star Wars, finally.
Though watching Return of the Jedi first, the big reveals about Luke and his father was all but a given. I was also a bit lost on who is that guy they are saving from the Carbonite, but it didn’t matter to me because it was all awesome, including the Ewoks! (The same network also showed the Ewoks movie some time after, and THAT was my second Star Wars movie).
Kris Yalung: My first connection to the saga was a VHS recording of Return of the Jedi when it was played on HBO back in the mid 80s. To me , Return of the Jedi was the only Star Wars movie that I knew of growing up. It was not until I was maybe 10 or so that I fully watched the other movies in the Trilogy.
What are your favorite Star Wars memories? Let us know in the comments.