What does Star Wars mean to you? In a brief article, written for the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, Louis and Mark discuss how they came to Star Wars and what it has meant to them over the years.
Many years ago, in a galaxy far, far away, (Southampton Cinema, UK), I was asked by the father of a friend if I would like to see a new movie with them. I had gone around for tea and on the spur of the moment they decided they would have a fun outing. The friend was called John Robinson, and the movie was Star Wars.
I remember coming home that night completely shocked. I couldn’t stop talking about it. If fact, my dad who was a Star Trek fan, thought it might be an idea if he took my younger brother to see it as well. I always assumed that this was to make things fairer, but I later learned that after hearing me talk about it he wanted to see it himself. I was 8 years of age. My brother was 5. I still don’t know what he thought of it. I never asked. However, the one thing I do remember is my father brought me back a poster booklet that briefly told the story of Star Wars. The great thing was, it folded out into a massive wall poster.
This was the first time I realised that my father liked some of the same things I did and was another opening into the world of science fiction and fantasy. In retrospect it made me realise that both my parents introduced me to different aspects of these genres. From my father I gained an appreciation of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5, Star Trek, Patrick Moore and Astronomy. From my mother it was mainly books. Authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, J. R. R. Tolkien, Harry Harrison and many others. In later months my dad impressed me further by buying me my first Star Wars figure. To this day I wish I had kept it, but like a lot of things it got lost or left behind in a house move. My dad cemented into me a love of Star Wars and for that and many other things I will always be grateful.
I have only seen Star Wars twice at the cinema in it’s original form. The second time was at a showing of all three original movies when they released Return of The Jedi. That too was with my father.
Over the years, my dad and I didn’t agree about many things, but we could always come together over a discussion about Star Wars or Star Trek. We also used to analyse and watch the odd episode of Babylon 5 too, usually with a bottle of wine or a glass of whisky. I will always be grateful for those memories. That’s what Star Wars means to me.
I’ve told my Star Wars story a number of times, on a variety of podcasts and websites, but one thing I don’t think I’ve ever touched on is how it made me feel. Sure, we were all blown away by the action and the adventure, the visuals, engaging cast and stirring music, but coming away I was on cloud nine. Back when we were kids, especially British kids, a trip to the cinema was a rare and intoxicating experience. We didn’t get to go often, maybe once or twice a year, and so a cinema visit was a very special occasion. It was the only time we had popcorn, it was a trip out in an era where money was short. It was a very special bonding experience with my folks, especially my Dad.
Coming away from the film I remember being taken with the level of depth in the film. Bear in mind I was only 6, used to playing with Matchbox cars and Tonka toys, but there was something about the film, the characters and the creatures and worlds they inhabited which grabbed me. I felt a part of it all. I felt invested.
Once the other kids at school started seeing the film I felt a sense of ownership, something I guess I’ve never lost in the 39 years since. While plenty of my fellow schoolkids were fans and eventually collected the toys and read the comics, I was the big Star Wars nut. Then only other films I really cared about were Lucasfilm productions, or Spielberg films (I was aware at an early age of the many connections between the two film makers). When my pals were reading Asimov and Clarke I was still knee deep in Star Wars. Douglas Adams worked his magic on me – I ADORED Hitchhikers – and Marvel Comics that gripped me. And as the years rolled one between releases I got into fan fiction (before I was really even aware of that phrase) and building my own worlds in the Star Wars galaxy, something that continued as we developed and built the original Lightsabre back in the 90’s.
I love other properties. I’m a Star Trek nut, love Indy, Marvel and comic related films, good tentpole summer movies but there’s a heart-felt, visceral attachment to Star Wars that has endured over the years. Whatever hooked me as a 6-year-old kid in Cannock back in 1978 hooked me good.
By the way, this is my first article for Lightsabre since 2009 and it feels great to be back.