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Jane Crowther, Editor-in-Chief
For the longest time, I thought that Star Wars: Episode IV actually had a wonky soundtrack (sometimes a kazoo-like main theme) and a slightly wibbly picture that no amount of pressing the VHS tracking button could fix. My introduction to A New Hope was courtesy of the next-door neighbors' kid’s ropy, much-loved video tape that their older brother had binge-watched before them.
The sticker had curled off the tape spine from over-handling and the box was bashed and stomped on. But we would watch the film on repeat on weekends, delighting most in the trash compactor scene (re-enacting it while viewing by squashing each other between sofa cushions; “C-3PO! Where can he be?!”) and feeling shivery fear whenever Vader stomped on screen. We’d never seen anything like it, and we instinctively loved the worlds created by George Lucas.
By the time Empire and Return Of The Jedi came out we were savvy enough to beg our parents to take us to the cinema and buy the figurines. But for years I didn’t see Episode IV as the director intended – eventually re-issues and special editions made the soundtrack crystal clear and the picture pristine, but didn’t diminish the thrill of watching.
And that’s the feeling I’m always chasing when I watch a new instalment – I want to feel the wonder I felt watching it in the lounge, curtains closed, cushions at the ready, soda-streamed drinks to hand (the blue ‘Space Juice’ flavour, of course). Some haven’t managed that (yes, you, Episodes I to III) but The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and now The Last Jedi – deliver in spades.
If only they’d let me bring my Soda Stream into the cinema...
Jordan Farley, News Editor
The Special Editions get a grilling that make Han Solo’s Cloud City torture chair look like a sunbed, but they’re my Star Wars trilogy. Blissfully unaware of what all the fuss was about, at the age of 10 I braved the stale-popcorn-scented corridors and lumpy chairs of my local fleapit for a showing of A New Hope’s Special Edition re-release. Two hours later I wanted to be a Jedi. Two weeks after that Empire was my favorite film. On my eleventh birthday I saw Return Of The Jedi – the culmination of the most exciting month of my young life.
Obsessive affection for the galaxy far, far away is not uncommon, but my love for the original trilogy is inextricably linked to every bit of ropey CGI added by perennial tinkerer George Lucas. Every new music cue composed by John Williams (give me Victory Celebration over the Yub Nub song any day). And, yes, even Greedo’s inexplicable ability to shoot first.
After years of having my favorite films dismissed as bantha poodoo, I finally saw the ‘unmolested’ (and un-remastered) cuts on DVD in 2006. I was braced for a revelation. Instead I missed CG Sy Snootles and her tone-deaf warbling. Maybe Uncle George knew what he was doing after all.
Matthew Leyland, Reviews Editor
Star Wars is the film series I love the most. Always have, always will. So of course, I have absolutely zero memory of the first time I saw it. In my defense, I was only two years old, and sitting – I’m reliably informed – strangely still for a toddler throughout the ’77 original. I well remember seeing Empire, though. Or half-seeing, since the excitement was too much for my five-year-old bladder and I spent more time facing the urinal of my local cinema than the actual screen. Return Of The Jedi remains the flick I’ve seen most times at the cinema: 12, plus an after-school showing of a VHS copy (‘copy’ being the operative word) seemingly procured by Bothan spies off the back of a lorry. And they charged us for it!
My favorite recent Star Wars memory is showing my toddler son one of the trailers for The Force Awakens; he freaked so much he nearly tipped his pushchair over. The reason for his heart-warming/alarming reaction was, I think, because up to that point he’d only seen the characters in cartoon/sticker/crochet-figure form; the trailer must’ve made him think “Holy mother of Yoda, you mean all this is REAL?!?!” As we left the house for nursery he wailed like a hangry Hutt: “More Star Wars! More Star Wars!” Which, weirdly, has been my mantra for the past four decades too.
Matt Maytum, Deputy Editor
I feel like it’s a borderline sackable offence to hold my hand up to this, but I wasn’t actually into Star Wars as a kid. It just wasn’t on my family’s radar. My only youthful viewing of a Star Wars was when I caught most of Return Of The Jedi on the telly and marvelled at the breathless pace of the speeder chase, and was slightly freaked out by the sight of Vader’s true face. And for me, that was it for a while. I admired the toys from afar – the Millennium Falcon, and Luke-in-Stormtrooper-gear action figure holding the strongest appeal – but I wouldn’t watch another Star Wars film until the 1999 release of The Phantom Menace came into focus, and I was utterly swept up with the hype.
I had duly caught up on the original trilogy beforehand, but as I didn’t have a deep-rooted affection for the franchise at that point, I didn’t feel the keen sting of disappointment. Maybe that was for the best. In the years that followed, I rewatched the original trilogy more times than I can count. The original film remains my favourite – I don’t think any of the others can quite match its mythical, fairytale quality. Its archetypal characters and classic sense of adventure are what makes it resonate with just about every kid who watches. I now feel like I grew up with Star Wars, as it’s so ingrained in my subconscious. The greatest trick George Lucas pulled was convincing you that the world was so much bigger than what you saw on screen – which is why that world has been able to live on and on and on, and fans like us continue to wallow in its seemingly infinite possibilities…