I'm envisioning that the next couple of entries will be difficult because they will deal more specifically with aspects of my life which are less chronological events or themes but more constants, meaning that they have always been true from early on until now. It's time now for Part 5 --Or...
On the Importance of Star Wars
So, the film saga known as Star Wars is pretty important to me. This should be obvious to anyone who knows me. These films have collectively been my favorite with no equal nor greater for as long as I can remember. I can't stop talking about them if someone even hints of bending an interested ear. I can't even stop writing about Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars and more Star Wars! I'm looking for the right word here and what's coming to mind is 'obsession', but perhaps that does not cover it completely.
I'm writing about Star Wars right now because it's possible that quite a lot of what will come later will relate back to the moment I first saw that movie in some way. And I don't even recall that specific first viewing. The film now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was released to the unsuspecting world in May of 1977. I was but one lonely citizen of that world, but I certainly didn't see the film in theaters. I was born a little over one year earlier, if you recall. Back then, they didn't cycle movies out of the cineplex as fast as they do today, but even with numerous reissues I probably wasn't taken to the film at the theater as a child. My parents saw it while I was being watched at Grandpa and Grandma's house. My mom probably enjoyed it well enough from what she has said, but I think my dad really liked it --especially for what it did in the fields of cinematography and special effects.
Inevitably, he bought a copy of the movie, probably on Betamax. And I watched it, likely until it fell apart or the machine did. Later, when it was on broadcast or cable television, he recorded a copy to VHS and I watched that until it fell apart. We had other movies, of course, stuff that had again been recorded from TV; Dark Crystal, Charlie Brown specials, The Wizard of Oz, The Black Stallion, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Chariots of Fire, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and (later) also Ghostbusters and Back to the Future. You may notice a certain trend towards "guy" movies with action and/or special effects. You may also notice a complete lack of anything Disney and almost nothing with a musical or theatrical bent. Also missing are a bunch of older movies that I'm surprised my mother or someone didn't introduce me to until later. Notable movies that people (e.g. my wife) are surprised I didn't see until later include Casablanca (which I still haven't seen), Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, King Kong, The Sound of Music, Lawrence of Arabia (another I have missed), Mary Poppins, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (hm, not sure), The Princess Bride, To Kill a Mockingbird, anything Shakespearean or even remotely Disney-related.
I know that was a long list, but I wanted to give you the backdrop that is most of the movies of my early life. The main point you should grasp is that Star Wars was always the ultimate measuring stick against which all other films were judged. I certainly enjoyed other movies, especially Indiana Jones and Back to the Future. But if there can be only one... then it's Star Wars.
I had all the toys too. I hear a lot of people say that nowadays, but I seriously had all of them. When people say that, I start asking "did you have...?" and invariably I reach one that they didn't even know existed. I had about 72-77 of the 79 action figures ever released in the United States and several duplicates. I had almost every play set and vehicle. My basement was pretty dang crowded. I'd take them a few handfuls at a time and bring them into the TV room. I'd set them up to watch the movies, to either just sit there with me or to enact the scenes as best I could as it went along. And the hours I spent in my room or back down in the basement making up new adventures and mixing the Star Wars toys with other toys and action figures and Legos and model trains.
I'm partly bragging and partly lamenting. I mean seriously, what sort of dork was I?! As the years went by, Star Wars fell out of favor with the mainstream and most of my friends stopped playing with them. I never wanted to, but I admit that as with all childish things, I eventually put them away.
In the end I can brag. I still have every single one of those toys stored up. They've had wear and tear obviously, but none are completely wrecked. Perhaps someday I'll sell them, but I can't foresee much reason to -- beyond my kid's college education or something like that. As you'll come to learn, I've never let go.