Friday, May 21, 2010

a day long remembered

I just read that thirty years ago today, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was released.

Wow, I really ought to say something about that.My roommate in college, John (who is now a prison guard, one of the hardest screws in The Shank) and I used to have fun proclaiming that we loved certain songs ("Sister Christian," for example) so much that we couldn't be intimate with a woman who didn't like that song. It was a running joke I was quite fond of, and just this week, B.A. asked me if I truly wouldn't be intimate with a woman who didn't like "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman.

His retort was something like, "Sure, you wouldn't. You'd be intimate with a cauliflower if you thought no one was looking."

Well, such is my love for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, that I just don't know if I could be intimate with a woman who didn't like that movie. Seriously, just try to seduce me whilst EMPIRE-bashing next time we're together. We'll see if I buckle. But it would be awfully nice to sit on a couch and share in the spectacle and the wonder of it all with somebody else who either feels the same way or is open to watch it objectively.

Before you're tempted to quote Mellencamp ("You just made that story up, there ain't no girl like that"), I have to think that mathematically, there's got to be women out there who like the Star Wars Trilogy. And even more mathematically like, women who are decent enough to give something a chance just because they know it's important/special to the one they're with.

After all, I sat through all eleventy-four hours of the BBC "Pride & Prejudice" once,* and I ain't exactly a paragon of manly romanticism.

In fact, I don't have a cool story about seeing ESB for the first time. I've read several testimonials of what people did thirty years ago today, how they felt, who they were with, and the magic of the experience.** I didn't see it when it came out in 1980. I wasn't old enough to be a STAR WARS fan, I guess, or at least my parents didn't think it was a good idea to take me to either film (and in their defense, I must not have pestered them to take me to it the way I did to CLASH OF THE TITANS the following year. I was into monster movies and little else). So, I didn't see STAR WARS until it hit video in 1982, and didn't see EMPIRE till it came out in '84.

It was October/November when I first saw it, and my friend Steven Staheli's birthday party. He had arrange to have his party on the day the movie hit video, and we all watched it in his living room. Then, when I went home, my dad had rented the videocassette and a VCR (I'm sure I had had him reserve it months before), and I watched it a second time by myself. By then, I knew everything that happened, having talked to people who had seen it, read the comic book adaptation, and the novelization by Donald F. Glut. Sadly, the first time I saw it on the big screen was February of 1997, when the blighted Special Edition came out.

Many essays have been published about the greatness of that movie, and the great circumstances of first viewings ("Grandpa Lewis had terminal bowel cancer . . ."), so I'm not going to do that here. Except that I will say that the movie, somehow, is as special today as it was when I first saw it. No movie series has affected me the way the Trilogy did, and everybody considers ESB the best of the three.
I worked a video store years ago, and sometimes we'd play EMPIRE, and I'd find myself glued to the screen when the Walkers attacked, amazed that it looked as good as any $100 million CGI of modern times. The only memorable part of that post-apocalyptic dragon flick REIGN OF FIRE was when the villagers are acting out ESB for a bunch of enthralled children. It's the only one of the series I've actually met the director of. Talking about STAR WARS has been a bonding experience between me and many old and new friends (both the good memories, the speculation, and bashing the Prequels).*** I love THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I don't imagine I'll ever outgrow that (not again, anyway).

If I'm still blogging (and still alive) come May 25th, 2013, I'm sure I'll have a bit to say about RETURN OF THE JEDI. That one I actually saw when it came out.

Rish "Nerf Herder" Outfield

*Wish I could say I got some play out of that. Quite the contrary.

**There were so many testimonials, in fact, that I stopped reading them after about ten. Not a one was about Grandpa holding onto life just long enough for May 21st to arrive, then passing away in the night after EMPIRE was over.

***I remember just a few years ago, being in Indianapolis for the third Star Wars Celebration, and I wasn't really getting along with the guys I was sharing a room with, so I headed out on my own, and standing in line for something, hearing the conversations going on around me, I realized, "Hey, I could be friends with any one of these guys." It was a nice thought to have.


Unascertained said...
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Unascertained said...

I watched The Empire Strikes Back at school. That seems a little strange now that I come to think of it but I'm sure they had a good reason for it at the time.

You're kidding about women not liking the first three Star Wars films, right? A strong story, action, romance, humour and drama, Harrison Ford looking cool and sexy... what's not to like?

I'm amused at the thought of using Jane Austen to score, next time try Clueless instead, it might be a little more effective :)

I used to like Pride and Prejudice myself, until one of the local pubs decided that a mural of Mr Darcy was a suitable decoration for the interior wall of the ladies toilet. It was somewhat creepy to say the least.