Friday, December 18, 2015

Spoiler alert

[Spoiler alert: this is a boring bookish entry with no spoilers.] My legendary first Star Wars experience as a kid (part 1): I have told this story a number of times. I only now, tonight, fully realize that a particular early version of my albatross-like tale of legend is actually quite true. I doubted my memory of events when I researched this many years ago (when the prequels came out I think). I stopped telling my story as the dates did not match my memories. I first encountered Star Wars in the form of a book but no...that is not the correct early version (it is my later librarian version...for obvious reasons of engendering the wonder of books in kids). Actually I saw the first trailer in a theater (I had positive but small hopes. The trailer was rough ..missing the critical soundtrack music that later carried the film almost as an invisible actor.) 

The summer after this found me with nothing to do. I was always looking for books. There was only one science fiction book on a spinning rack which I had not read at the neighborhood drug store. I noted the new books every week, trying to find one to buy. "Star Wars" by George Lucas (Published May 12, 1977) My memory had me reading this book before the movie by enough time to read and pretty much forget the book. Yet I also KNOW I was at the first showing of the movie in Montgomery, Alabama (a place where nothing ever happened and memories have no excuse to intermingle and be confused.). My research indicated Star Wars had debuted on May 25, 1977. Not enough time between the events.So I thought my memory wrong.I was crestfallen. It cut deep. I have had a lot of memories of my youth "corrected" by family member committee .. yet I KNOW I lived these memories. I have no doubt when I have no doubt.

I was pretty depressed after doing this research...oh and by the prequels. I certainly could have gotten the book on the week it came out. That rack was always up to date and I firmly remember buying the book figuring it would be awful from the cover. It had more of a comic book feel than my usual science fiction books. I remembered my thrill at the trailer so I put out the money. I will tell about my experience in the theater in a second entry. I just told the story to my wife and luckily remembered the part about seeing the trailer first (Luke saving Princess Leia by swinging on a rope. The roar of the spaceships ...which was the most amazing sound as I tended to think of space as noiseless from seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey). So I did further research convinced again my memories were right. "Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25, 1977....................,IN FEWER THAN 32 THEATERS." Oh so simple. The last place you would have thought a science fiction film to hit it big would be deep south Montgomery Alabama. It was not one of those 32 to be sure. How long to book more theaters of a film no one had confidence in? Why had I been so depressed? 

 Original opening... "long ago in a galaxy far far away" (just a cliche now) was the line that absolutely made the opening. The credit scroll was also new but I was still saying "Cool" and "wow!" at that line. I made little sense of whatever I managed to read with my mind going into strange directions as the past became a future of another civilization. Stunning...

Wikipedia again: "When Star Wars made an unprecedented second opening at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 3, 1977, thousands of people attended a ceremony in which C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt. At that time Star Wars was playing in 1,096 theaters in the United States." 

The dates are totally fine as long as they are a bit more than a mere 2 weeks apart....sheesh that had made no sense. I read slowly. So, my earlier research corrected I am fairly certain I actually lived my memories. Small memories...about big things. Regardless of who thinks I am wrong about other memories, I am firmly back on the "he said" side of the "he said, she said" equation. So, actually, I will write that autobiography after all. I believe it just started.

Trev Mac They must have made the trailer before the film was done because there seemed to be some "raw" sound.
But then trailer making was not as much an art at the time, or not as standardized.

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Michael DeVore Yes. I almost commented about the unfinished raw nature of that. Imagine you have never heard of Star Wars and this trailer appears. No spoiler there. I remember it looking even more unfinished than it does now but... I really think that is because I know what is going on now.
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Michael DeVore Also I think some background matting is missing. This trailer shows Lucas had no idea. His technique was so new. Would people see ships in space or models? From Wikipedia: "Lucas himself was not able to predict how successful Star Wars would be. After visiting the set of the Steven Spielberg–directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed, and felt Lucas's Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade 2.5% of the profit on each other's films; Spielberg took the trade, and still receives 2.5% of the profits from Star Wars." Noise in space. Fire and smoke in space, an habitable planet with an inhabitable two just seemed so wrong is a classic.