Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Can Almost Smell The Popcorn

Something happened on my last day at ComiCon that seemed like it was aimed just at me. Considering it happened on the jumbotron over the Lucasfilm booth, though, that's pretty unlikely.

Does anyone else remember the preview trailer for The Empire Strikes Back that was released with the Theatrical Re-Release of Star Wars in 1979? I sure do, because 25 of the 27 times I saw Star Wars in the theater in the 70's were during that magical summer. In those days before VCR's, our Star Wars obsession through the intervening years had been fed only by the comics, the novels, the flip-books we'd made out of Topps cards, the dialogue and sound on the Story of Star Wars LP, and of course the Holiday Special that even at the age of 11 we recognized as atrocious.

So the chance to see the film again -- and again and again and again -- was golden. Those 2-and-a-half minutes of preview for TESB were absolutely joyous. We stayed in the theater through multiple showings, enjoying the movie but living for, and memorizing, that trailer. As an avid Han Solo devotee, who considered Luke a loveable but annoying tag-along, I adored the moment when the announcer intoned, "Your favorites are back," and then listed off the characters... and as he said "Luke Skywalker!", instead of the head-credits-beauty-shot that the other characters got, Luke FWUMPED sideways across the screen to thud into the snow. Priceless!

When The Making of Star Wars was released on VHS in 1980, it included the Empire trailer. My father, a news producer, had a VCR before they became common. I saved my allowance to buy that video. I was so excited to have a copy of my own of that trailer I had committed to memory.

Except it wasn't the same trailer. It was similar, but had small variations. And they'd changed Luke's entry. Crushed!

As far as I know, the trailer I remember has not been released on any of the DVD extras. I haven't seen it in almost 30 years. But today at ComiCon, there it was, on the screen above the life-sized Clone Wars maquettes. Thank you, Lucasfilm Archivist Steve Sansweet, for that absolutely visceral journey back to a darkened movie theater in 1979.

2 comments:

james ford said...

gillian, in the final days of laserdisc (i'm dating myself) lucas released a nine disc STAR WARS DEFINITIVE COLLECTION that had all the trailers (something like eight or nine for SW alone, some with an amazingly bad almost stereotypical southern accent). unfortunately lucas doesn't embrace his history, he tries to rewrite it.

media boy said...

seems like the Star Wars franchise has been somewhat worn out, but still, Clone Wars looks fun to watch