Why I Love…Star Wars

star wars original toys
star wars sheets set

Waking up looking at these sheets

Star Wars.  It is an institution.  As it turns 40 on May 25, 2017, I think about how much a part of life it was.  As a child, Star Wars was the main conversation.  You could talk about other stuff like The Incredible Hulk, Diff’rent Strokes, Superman, or Saturday morning cartoons, but it always came back to Star Wars.

I can’t remember Star Wars not being in my life.  Born in ’76, my parents started getting the toys before I probably asked for them.  They were relatively cheap and plentiful so a trip out could maybe mean a few moments of silence with a Star Wars toy.  I had the toys before I ever saw the movies.  I can still remember staring at the Star Wars sheets on my bed and thinking up stories to play with characters.

star wars empire strikes back burger chef poster

This beauty hung on my wall for years growing up

I can remember going to a release of Star Wars at the Glendale Mall in Indianapolis (right before Empire)…and crying when it was sold out at the first showing.  I didn’t think I’d be able to go and finally see it.  We went to a later showing but I know that people “adults” (they were probably just teens) were dressed up as the characters and I thought it was amazing.  The movie was just added amazement.  I already knew the story inside and out from records and picture books, but seeing it was pure joy.

This followed with Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back which I still remember holds the most viewings in a theater for me…I was the perfect age that adults who wanted to see Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back took me because it was a good excuse to see the movie themselves.  Each viewing was perfect.

When I “graduated” kindergarten I saw Star Wars:  Return of the Jedi.  While it might not be as good as the other two movies, to a six-year-old it was good…but it also was an ending.  There were no plans for more Star Wars at the time (minus the so-so cartoons and Ewok movies).  The toys hung out on the shelves for a few years until the lone Rancor Keepers finally disappeared from Toys ’R Us and Children’s Palace.  Star Wars gave way to He-Man, and the occasional rumor of prequels faded into darkness.

star wars toy card back

Looking at the toy backs and cross checking the toys with Sears catalog for Christmas

Despite this, the love for Star Wars raged on.  I’d play video games when they were released, and I can remember going to my grandpa’s apartment to watch Star Wars on cable when it was scheduled to air.  The first person I knew who had a VCR had a copy of Star Wars and I can remember thinking how lucky he was to get to watch it whenever he wanted.

Star Wars began making a comeback when I was in college.  New toys began to surface and the ideas of the prequels were in the works.  Early-internet, it still was hard to find stuff about it so magazines and entertainment shows were the best options.  The films were released in 1997 for the 30th anniversary with the tweaking by George Lucas (to my dismay and the dismay of old fans), but it still was Star Wars…and in the theater.

star wars wampa original figure box

The agony of asking for the Wampa for years and getting it after learning the “secret” of Santa

Then the prequels happened.  The prequels did hurt a lot, but for a moment there was that old joy.  The idea of the music booming and new words scrolling across the screen was mindblowing.  Unfortunately, the new movies were so-so.  I do think some of the prequels had great moments, but as a whole, they didn’t live up to the originals…not because I was older but because the storytelling and humor seemed pretty forced.  It just wasn’t old Star Wars, but I still ate it up begrudgingly.

The new movies give me some hope (a New Hope?), but they still have work to do.  I think Luca got a bit too close to his creation and needed to step back…maybe have a few less of his lackeys telling him how good stuff was.  Granted the new movie was just a rehash of Star Wars when boiled down to the core, but I think it captured some of the fun that was lacking in the prequels or at least felt forced.  The flipside of that is Rogue One that showed an even closer balance to something like The Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars will always be part of childhood and therefore part of life.  Seeing it brings back warm memories of Christmas mornings and receiving an AT-AT or being Chewbacca at Halloween.  I know Empire Strikes Back is a better film, but Star Wars always holds a special place for being the first.  Star Wars isn’t just an institution…it is the past and maybe the future.

Preceded By:

Why I Love…The Guardians of the Galaxy

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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