I saw the original Star Wars movie the summer of 1977. I was only fourteen and had to beg my mom to take me to see it since I couldn't drive yet. Seventeen Magazine had featured the film in their movies column with a photo of C3PO. Horror movie lover that I was, I thought he was some sort of metallic skeleton and wanted to see the movie on the basis of that alone.
Boy, were my assumptions ever wrong.
Back in 1977, movie theaters were still huge. The "Big Screen" was literally a BIG screen. Gargantuan, actually. Most movie houses only had two large theaters that could probably seat a thousand people or more. Lines would often form outside the theater and worm down the sidewalk to wrap around the theater for the most popular movies. You couldn't buy tickets more than half an hour ahead of time and the internet wouldn't be reality for twenty more years, so if you wanted to guarantee yourself a seat in a popular movie, you had to show up ahead of time and wait in line to buy your ticket. The age of multiplex theaters with numerous small-screen theaters was still a few years away.
Seeing a movie on such a big screen was literally a larger-than-life experience. You felt totally immersed in the world of the film you were seeing and for me, I'd "fall" into the world I was watching, something that doesn't tend to happen with smaller theaters or when watching a movie on TV because I'm constantly aware that I'm watching a movie instead of feeling that I've fallen down a rabbit hole into a different world.
The original Star Wars absolutely blew me away in every respect: film making, story, special effects, music, costuming, and acting. I was totally gaga for Luke Skywalker and could relate to bossy Princess Leia.
Star Wars influenced the first novel I ever wrote when I was in college and made me a life-long fan of movie-music composer John Williams. I used to disco dance to Meco's Star Wars at school dances and Big John's Teen Disco in Pensacola, Florida. My high school marching band played the Star Wars theme in one of our half-time shows. I choreographed a baton-twirling solo to "The Throne Room/End Credits" music from the movie's soundtrack. I had a Star Wars movie poster on my bedroom wall, as well as a Star Wars calendar. Even now, at the age of 52, I have an official Star Wars light saber that looks and sounds pretty darn real when you turn it on.
So yeah, you could say that I'm ridiculously excited about seeing The Force Awakens this weekend at the movie theater. The early reviews are touting it for an Oscar nomination and the prediction is that it will be the biggest box office turnout of the 21st century. When I heard that the Disney company had bought the rights from George Lucas, I did a happy dance with high hopes that they'd do the next three films right. Based on the early reviews, it sounds like they have and will. All I can say is I can't wait for the weekend to arrive.
"May the Force be with you!"