Friday, March 18, 2011

Top Ten Movie Theater Experiences #2 “The Star Wars Trilogy”

Sure, making it a tie between the original trilogy is a cheat, but who’s reffing the game, anyway?
The first footage I saw of “Star Wars” was a preview on Creature Features. The host of the show, Bob Wilkins, was lauding the film as the “Science Fiction ‘Gone With the Wind’”. But I wasn’t impressed. I thought the ape guy (Chewbacca) didn’t have make-up nearly as impressive as what was done in “Planet of the Apes”.

My family went on vacation the summer of ’77 to Colorado. And a cousin of mine told me I had to see this film. He spoke with awe about “Star Wars”. He had already bought the LP soundtrack. So I went with him to the theater in Grand Junction. Have no idea of the name of the theater, but it had a big screen. And when those space ships passed right over my head, I was in love.

So three years later, I thought I was ready for the sequel. Yeah, I expected to love it as well, but I didn’t think there would be anything that would surprise me as much as the original film itself. After all, I had been to that universe several times by then. I went with Gregg Naslund and Garth Shaw to the Corta Medera theater with the 70 mil and the huge speakers. While waiting in line, Garth (who had seen the film) hushed some people exiting the show. Apparently, there was some big secret. I was loving the film, but when Darth’s big reveal came, I was dumb struck. The rest of the summer of 1980 was spent arguing whether it could be true. We came up with all kind of theories to work out how Obi Wan’s claim that Darth had killed Luke’s father and that Darth WAS Luke’s father could both be true. (And just about every theory we came up with was better than the lame, punk exposition of the Lucas garbage second trilogy.)

I was anxious, desperate to see the next film. In the summer of 1983, I was working at the UA5. So I was able to go to the employee’s screening the night before the opening. This was before it was common practice to have midnight screenings for the general public. We felt like we were seeing it before anyone else in the world. I invited my sister Lola and her husband Dave to come. Lola was not impressed with Jabba’s muppets, but I was okay with them. But when it came to the scene with the great pit of Carkoon, the resting place of the powerful Sarlacc, well, the awe was back in full force.

Looking back, I’m with the general consensus that the ‘Jedi’ is the least of the originals. But on that night, as the story was completed and the heroes found victory….Well, as you can see by the rankings, the first viewings of each of these films I found were theater going highlights. And you may think it sad, but they were life highlights. (I don’t find it sad at all.)

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