Friday, August 16: Watch Me Watch Star Wars (1977) for the First Time

Star-Wars-PosterA quick note for fans of all things Stacia: I’ll be watching Star Wars (1977) for the first time ever this Friday, August 16, at 8:00 PM Central. I’ll be tweeting along to it with the hashtag #starwars, and would be tickled if anyone wanted to join in, or just come by to point and laugh.

The version of Star Wars (1977) I’ll be watching is the original theatrical version, the one found as a bonus on disc two of the 2006 DVD limited edition. I’ve heard this is a bad version from a 1993 telecine and blah blah blah, but I got tired of trying to sort out the mess caused by the re-edits (have you seen the Wikipedia articles on the edits? I blame you for this, Lucas), so I settled on this version.

Why haven’t I seen Star Wars before? It just worked out that way, I guess. I was a little too young to have seen it in theaters. When it was re-released in 1981, I was busy being moved from town to state to another town by my parents, although I understand the movie had already been altered by then. We ended up going to Wrath of Khan in 1982 as a sort of consolation prize, and I consider that a Big Win, as ST:WOK was the first film I saw in a theater that I had a real emotional, visceral connection to. Then somehow I missed Star Wars when it was shown on CBS in the mid 1980s, and after watching the “Lace” miniseries recently, I am almost positive my parents were watching that instead, and I doubt I was much interested at that point, anyway.

By the time I was living on my own, Star Wars had infamously been edited for its 1997 video release, and I wasn’t interested in seeing it unless I could see the theatrical version. For years, I was strangely proud of not having seen Star Wars. It was a conversation starter, and I often mentioned it to people who I figured would be particularly irritated by this factoid.

But now I’m trying to fill in the obvious gaps in my cinema experiences, and Star Wars is an enormous gap, even bigger than all the Disney I have cheerfully refused to watch (that’s a whole other post), and I might as well do this publicly to get maximum lulz from the situation.

Consider this post both an invitation to join me Friday at 8:00 PM and a warning to those who follow me on Twitter that I will be unusually irritating that night.

13 Comments

  1. Holy cow! I saw Star Wars in the theater in 1977! And you were probably not even a gleam in your father’s eye.

    Jeepers, I’m old …

    1. stacia says:

      No, I was five by then, and I did actually see a film in the theater that year (The Boatniks) but was still not quite old enough to really get what theaters were about. I didn’t go to a theater again until The Muppet Movie two years later.

  2. WB Kelso says:

    First off, thank you for calling it Star Wars. This ‘New Hope’ nonsense is just so much cloying bullshit. I watched the same theatrical cut a couple months ago (part of 1977 night) and enjoyed the hell out of it. It’s a touchstone for me, I admit it, freely, I’m also an apologist, sue me, but when it was over there was an honest wish that Lucas had just stopped there and left it as a stand alone summer popcorn thrill ride. No Empire. No Jedi. And certainly not the bloat and contradictory special editions and the even more contradictory prequels.(Whattaya mean R2 can fly?) I honestly envy you because you can go into it with this mindset. You’ll have lost the awe factor a bit by everything that has followed in its wake. It truly was something that had never been seen before F/X wise. OK I’m rambling now. If you can remove all the crap that followed, the film is pretty great. Go back to the tree for the apple, and forget what’s mouldering in the barrel. And if I were you, I’d stop right there.

    1. stacia says:

      While I know a lot of cultural references (I’ve seen the Family Guy episodes, I saw Ewok cartoons as a kid, some of the Holiday Special when it aired) I’m hoping I’m “unspoiled” enough that it will all be new and fun. I mean, it has Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness, which is still just a huge stunning thing for me. And it will be nice to think of it as a film and not just some formless cultural touchstone.

      I should admit I’ve seen quite a bit of Empire Strikes Back, which somehow was always TV on TBS or TNT or something, and just as I was coming home from doing whatever, so it would be on the background. I liked what I saw, and I’ll probably watch all three eventually — my husband saw them all in the theater, then on television, and he seems ready for a revisit.

  3. cmaddren says:

    I’ve never understood why people love Star Wars. I’ve actually seen it three times (the last two times because friends asked me) and it has always seemed like a flat, unimaginative rehash of an old serial. Empire Strikes Back is much better, but I’ve always been baffled by the hold this franchise has on millions of people. Your parents did you a big favor by taking you to see Wrath of Khan instead. Now there’s a cool movie.

    1. stacia says:

      I’d have to read more from people who know about this sort of thing, but I suspect that much of 1970s pop culture was based on older cultural touchstones that young people simply didn’t remember. Saturday Night Fever is just an updated boy-makes-good musical; the “fresh new” satires Airplane! and Young Frankenstein are wholesale ripoffs of older films (Zero Hour! and Son of Frankenstein, respectively). I would wager at least half of the people who saw Star Wars had no idea what a movie serial even was, and the critics who did probably thought it was a very clever idea.

  4. Fresca says:

    Fun! But I’m not on Twitter—hoping for a rehash, here? I saw the original when it came out:
    I was the perfect age for that sort of mythic quest tale (15).
    Tried to watch it again recently and just wasn’t interested. But I’m interested how it struck you, not having seen it before.

    1. stacia says:

      I’ll probably have a few thoughts on it, either in an upcoming “Elsewhere” post, or during my next TSPDK1K update (which may be pretty soon, since I’ve already seen several more films from the list).

  5. Brian says:

    I got caught up in all the hype of the original theatrical release, and was pretty impressed with the overall production, especially the model work (on the other hand, some of the rubber-masked aliens, for example in the cantina scene, were distinctly unimpressive). By the time the Ewoks showed up in the third installment, I was pretty much done with it, although I did allow myself to be dragged to The Phantom Menace when it came out — ouch! The series got dreary and at the same time too cute. Poor George, no one working with him had the courage to speak up and say “that idea is suboptimal.”

    I’m much more of a Star Trek fan, especially the original series. Wrath of Khan? Great, space-operatic stuff! Still, I hope you enjoyed it. There are just so many fun moments in the original. Of course now you can’t stop traffic and parties by saying you’ve never seen Star Wars. That seems like a lot of fun to me.

    1. stacia says:

      It was enjoyable, but overall, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I will always be a much bigger Star Trek fan than Star Wars; I grew up on Star Trek reruns, and between those creepy phlegm-looking things that attacked Spock and Trelaine, there was no way I wasn’t going to bond with that particular franchise.

      It was actually becoming a bit of a liability to have never seen Star Wars. And now I can fully boggle over the idea of Han NOT shooting first. That wouldn’t even make sense. Oy, George Lucas.

  6. Scott C. says:

    Highly enjoyed your Twitter comments, although there were fewer than I was expecting — it’s almost as though you found the movie entertaining.

    Speaking as a kid who was old enough to see Star Wars when it came out, a lot of us recognized the serial elements at the time, because those were shown endlessly on Saturday morning television when we were tots, particularly Buck Rogers and the two Flash Gordons.

    I read recently that Lucas’s first cut was three hours long and and considered kind of boring. Producer Gary Kurtz conceived, along with the editors, the idea of treating the material like an old matinee serial (which both he and Lucas were old enough to have seen in first run), increasing the pace and adding the old fashioned wipes and transitions.

    Too bad Lucas forced Kurtz out after deciding the producer had gotten a little too much credit for Empire, because his taste and sense of restraint were sorely missed in Return of the Jedi>/i>.

    1. stacia says:

      Interesting – When I was a kid, serials were only available on Matinee At The Bijou. I didn’t realize they were on TV as regular shows as late as the 1970s. The audience would have definitely recognized the callbacks, then.

      As for tweets, I’ve been trying to cut down on them during live-tweeting movies, as I always lose followers. Whether it’s my own movie, TCMParty, DriveInMob, BadNetflix or whatever, I lose 1-3 people every time, even if I give a heads up beforehand. I should probably just say “good riddance” to people who get so upset about it, but on the other hand, I’m not really trying to irritate anyone, just have some fun on Twitter.

  7. Scott C. says:

    To be honest, it may just have been a peculiarity of our local L.A. stations (Channels 5, 9, 11, and 13), which all broadcast a rich embarrassment of competing kid’s shows (cartoons and serials), kid-friendly series (Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger), and old movies aimed at tween boys (mostly Tarzan and peplum pictures, which I guess explains West Hollywood’s burgeoning population).

    I don’t get unsubscribing to someone’s tweets simply because they’re being too entertaining, especially since there’s nothing easier than scrolling through one’s feed and skipping posts. For what it’s worth, I read and enjoy your (and Ivan’s) live tweet events (it probably helps that I’ve seen most of the movies in question).

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