“For an entire generation…”
“There’s more cheese in that movie, than what’s on this pizza.” I can hear Alan say it in his British accent as I type his words, even though I’ve only seen him once since that day back in 1996. We were in New Zealand, my brother Corey and I sitting in a restaurant watching Corey’s two close friends Alan and Simon have lunch. We were waiting for the rain to stop so we could go and see the latest big thing : Independence Day. Corey had just announced our plans for the day and invited Alan and Simon to come with us.
Looking back I’m surprised Simon and Alan hadn’t said anything about what was in store for us, they are just as mad about Star Wars as Corey and myself. Alan once showed me from his personal collection an R2-D2 with a tiny record player inside that played the Star Wars theme which I have never seen anywhere else since. He then produced an empty cardboard box he had paid NZ$400.00 for, so he could have a complete vintage Dewback toy. Yes, you read that correctly. Sitting there in the Regent cinema watching the trailers for the usual Coke and co, one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen happened without any warning or fanfare at all. The special edition cinematic release trailer announced that Star Wars was back for it’s twentieth anniversary. More accurately, STAR WARS WAS BACK ! So what? I’ll tell you what…Star Wars was back, this was the end of the dark times, the end of the fourteen year drought of Star Wars in our lives. Sure there had been the odd book or exclusive toy for American release only, but for most people it had simply gone away.
In 1983, Return of the Jedi ran for ever and ever, it seemed like it would always be in theatres, and the toy shelves would always be bulging with Star Wars toys. My Christmas that year was the best of my childhood. The tree was half buried in Star Wars magic, and I was busy trying to extract one more trip to the toy shops to practice my toy begging craft. Time passed and one by one, the theatres found other lesser movies to play, and toy shops began to run out of figures and vehicles. For the first time since it all began, Star Wars wasn’t happening all the time, everywhere. This must be what it feels like when you go into rehab. The supply has gone dry, and you need to find out what other people do with all those minutes in a day so you don’t go crazy.
Suddenly we had entered a glorious renaissance of the far, far away galaxy, and all our long-lost friends were back. The shelves burst forth with shiny new products and I tried my hardest to buy every one. I saw A New Hope and came home from Wellington city, New Zealand’s modest capital – nearly an hour long trip into the suburbs. I had dinner, tried not to bore my flatmates to death with Star Wars talk and went to bed around 11.00. Five minutes later my friend Matt was banging on the door, waking everyone up shouting “lets go see Star Wars at midnight”. What else could I do but get dressed, and back we went, to watch it one more time. The lights went out and the Lucasfilm logo shone on the screen. In the silent darkness a serious voice from the back rows spoke for us all, one word defining this masterpiece, “Classic”. A number of people murmured agreement then quickly hushed…A long time ago…
That was a long time ago, but the renaissance continues, the momentum gained in the time since the special editions has only grown. Now that Disney’s titanic machinery is the driving force behind this most special of brands, it will be many many years before a Star Wars fan has to face a time without Star Wars in their lives again. I looked up that trailer on Youtube before writing this to refresh myself, and had to stop and wonder that when I first saw it on that rainy day in New Zealand, the internet was still several years away from being a real thing in our lives. There was no way of knowing every detail of an upcoming movie. We were truly surprised when that little T.V. was up on the big big screen with that famous movie opening on it’s tiny boxy front. “For an entire generation – people have experienced Star Wars the only way it’s been possible, on the T.V. screen.” Now you can watch it anywhere, anytime, so why don’t you go bang on your best friends door, wake them up if you have to and “see it again – for the first time.”