Han Shot FirstOn July 1, 1977, my then-girlfriend Lori and I were a couple of the first people in line at the Charlottetown Cinemas for the noon showing of "Star Wars" - the first showing in Charlotte. When we stumbled out into the brewing thunderstorm a couple of hours later, the line to get into the next show stretched around the building and down the highway. And stumble out we did - stunned and speechless about what we'd just seen.
It wasn't like we didn't get a bit of forewarning. While ordering underage beers at the White Horse on Eastway was entertaining, for the most part we were all movie nuts. In particular we were regulars at the Midnight Movies at Eastland Mall (I was one of the original mall rats) where we went pretty much every weekend to watch The Groove Tube, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and later Kentucky Fried Movie. By the summer we'd also started making occasional forays into Myers Park country to catch the Rocky Horror Picture Show at SouthPark Cinemas. So all throughout the spring we'd been seeing the trailers for Star Wars - it was certainly not a surprise. The limited release in late May and the subsequent media frenzy made it sound like this was all out of the blue but we'd been anticipating this sucker for months by the time it finally came out. And it was every bit as good as we'd hoped and probably a lot more.
A couple of days later I headed off to Governor's School in Winston-Salem for 6 weeks, where I met our bud Lex and found guys that had already seen the movie half a dozen times in the first 2 days of release, so I certainly wasn't the geekiest. I've still never saw it in the theater as many times as I saw Rocky Horror or Holy Grail. But there's not question that it has loomed larger in my life than any other single movie.
Because of all of that, I've been very pissed with Mr. Lucas and his long-time refusal to release the original movie on DVD without his at best inane and at worst sacreligous alterations (Greedo shot first , my ass!). But he did finally (with very little fanfare) release un-fucked-with versions of the first three (IV-VI) movies.
So on Sunday July 1, 2007 we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the arrival of Star Wars in North Carolina with a little geekfest at our house with a screening of the original cut of Star Wars on the HDTV, many very expensive imported beers (hey, we're geeks with good JOBS!), some Bantha Burgers on the grill and a general enjoyment of a cinematic masterpiece.
I've got many friends who are Trekkies much more than Star Wars fans - they still sign off their emails with "Live Long and Prosper". But for me, it will always be...
May the Force Be With You!