A Day Long Remembered: 35 Years of Star Wars

On May 25, 1977, the worlds of science fiction and fantasy collided, and everything changed.  The classic era of adventure serials merged with state-of-the art visual effects and advances in sound technology, kickstarting a pop culture phenomenon that would define a generation.  With only a single trailer sporting unfinished effects, combined with a handful of radio spots and a novel that saw print roughly 6 months before the film’s release, people lined up for blocks to experience Star Wars.  Over the years that followed, an empire sprang forth, releasing sequels, prequels, digital animation, all manner of continued advances in visual effects and audio technology, and merchandise to the extent that had not been seen since the 40s Superman craze.  Over the years that followed, fandom was forever transformed… and so was holiday shopping.

To the eyes of this lifelong fan, Star Wars is a collaboration of genius.  Envisioned by George Lucas as an homage to the great serials of his childhood, Star Wars brought together the visual talents of the late Ralph McQuarrie, the audio skills of Ben Burtt, the musical signature of John Williams, and a host of creative masters too numerous to name who gave us the ships, the creatures, the droids, and everything else that we’ve come to know.  We all know the history (or we can visit Wookieepedia and look it all up).  As important as that is, it’s more important, I think, that for each of us there is that little special something that defined it for us as something worth holding on to.  It gave us first generation fans something wonderful to share with our kids, and in some cases our grandkids as well.  Today we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original film (now dubbed A New Hope), as well as the 29th anniversary of Return of the Jedi.  I’ve heard the 25th called “Geek Pride Day” by some.  Whatever makes you happy, I suppose.  May the 4th is nice, but THIS is the official Star Wars Day!  No other fandoms or franchises need to horn in on the action for 24 hours.

Credit where it’s due.  Lucasfilm sent it our direction.  The casts and crews of the various Star Wars projects continue to act as ambassadors to that world.  But it is fans who have kept the torch lit all these years.  YOU made it happen.

Star Wars thrives because of the fans who buy the merchandise, attend conventions, dress up in costume, and share their creativity and passion with the rest of the world.  It’s the fans who donate their time, energy, and resources to saving the Star Wars heritage.  It’s the fans who dwell in the corners of comic shops, discussing the merits of the prequels and their impact on the originals.  Having lived through the Dark Times of the mid-80s to the early 90s when there was no Star Wars, I am grateful for everything I receive, then and now.  I’d like to personally thank each and every one of you who’s ever kept the flame alive in some small way at any time, then or now.  Special shout-outs to fan organizations such as the 501st Stormtrooper Legion and the Rebel Legion, Steve Sansweet’s Rancho Obi-Wan collectors museum, websites such as TheForce.net and RebelScum.com, to the Force Cast, and for so many other people and groups beyond counting for helping to bring together the Star Wars fan community.  If you know of (or represent) one of the many Star Wars groups out there, let us know and share the love of the Wars!

If you’re one of the many fans with Star Wars memories to share, comment below! I was 3 years old when that first film was released, and seeing it opening day with my father changed my life in ways that defy description.  I know that I’m not alone in that.  Did you meet Darth Vader at the terrified age of 4 (like I did)?  Did you get a holiday of nothing but Star Wars toys?  Or maybe you were one of the first to receive Kenner’s “placeholder” and had to wait for the toys to be produced?  Do you still dig out that old Meco album?  Or maybe you’re a younger fan, new to the Saga?  Comment below and let us know your Star Wars milestones!

Here’s to another 35 years.  As always, may the Force be with you.