Thursday, October 18, 2007

x365: 20 of 365: Star Wars

In the summer of 1995 I was dating a girl five years my junior. She hadn't met any of my friends, so one afternoon I took her to a restaurant with couches and fancy pizzas with mandarin orange slices. This was considered interesting in 1995. My friends were all around my age, born between '69 and '72, a collection of grad students, slackers and people with an embarrassing concentration of Rush and Vangelis albums.*

At some point the conversation turned to movies, and then to the first movie we'd ever seen in a theatre. She had seen The Aristocats, back when Disney classics rotated through theatres every five-seven years or so.** As for the rest of us, we had lost our movie virginity, every last one of us, at Star Wars.

I saw Star Wars at the age of six. It was playing at the Cove Theatre in Halifax's north end, which at the time usually played more adult fare. The place may have been seedy and small, but to my eyes the place was huge. We walked in on a cartoon already playing, and the darkness of the theatre combined with the bright screen gave me a sense of floating in space. Then the movie opened on a field of stars, and I was utterly lost.


*I was one of the only members of that circle who'd grown up on groups like The Smiths and Billy Bragg. The rest of the group tolerated my taste in music, provided I never mention Morrissey in their presence.

**Does anyone else remember this? For the longest time, Disney wouldn't release their classic cartoons on home video. Instead, they would release them in theatres every so often.


Abigail Road said...

Nobody has ever understood my fascination with Morrissey, and especially not my high school friends who were more into AC/DC and Iron Maiden.Morrissey was my dirty little secret for years.

Nate said...

That's hilarious to me, because it's SO COOL to like the Smiths/Morrissey now. I, too, remember a time when it wasn't cool.

Also, Vangelis makes me want to die.

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

I totally remember the Disney stuff in the theaters. My first movie was also Star Wars. Gosh, we have so much in common.

So, wanna, I dunno...get coffee sometime or something?

palinode said...

Nate - When Jon Stewart was hosting the Emmy Awards, they played a Fox News montage of shock 'n' awe footage of the bombing of Baghdad, set to a minimalist-but-heroic orchestral prog score. "My God," Stewart said. "They're attacking Vangelis".

If only.

palinode said...

'Sir' - I dunno, are you in my province? Do we share a country? A continent?

Are you, ya know, a woman? Because I like them.

Marie said...

My first movie memories are The Great Muppet Caper, Return of the Jedi, and Annie. Have no idea what order those were out in.

mnuez said...

Despite having been born in 76 I never saw Star Wars. Still haven't. I mean sure, when it's on TV I'll occasionally feel like I "have to" see it to try and regain that childhood I never had (the fault of which is obviously never having seen Lucas' films) but when I try n'watch it I find myself crying out boredom. Hot salty tears. I mean, sure, it's cool to see a young Harri Ford and a young Sam Jackson - but not nearly cool enough that I'll be able to survive a full viewing of the film.

Anyway, first film I recall seeing in the theatres was ET. Could be I was witness to others before that but they seem out of recall.

I saw ET at least twice and in the mountains when I was turning 5, I believe. Hmm... y'know what, lemme look up when it came out. I think it was 81 but lessee, would let me know when I actually saw it...


See, I recall having seen it my first year in Kaniyanga (that would be the "in the mountains" referred to above. That's what middle class Orthodox Jews living in New York did back then (and for all I know, still do) they shuffled off their wives and kids to "bungalow colonies" up in the Catskills where they were preyed upon by insects and arachnids of all forms. - Yah, anyway.... oh, I was explaining what was funny. Y'see I saw the film the first summer that we went up to the mountains and I recall having been 5 at that time. With a birthday in August I naturally described myself as "turning 5" at the time that I saw ET. Of course however that was using adult logic rather than the child logic that was employed when the memory of my having "been 5" was created. With a birthday in August I was not "turning 6" but rather quite distinctly "5" (or 5 and three quarters) when we first went up to kaniyanga (or whatever the proper spelling is for that ancient indian burial grounds).

Anyhow, I recall the movie distinctly and recall a shudder of terror when ET, in fright, shoots his head up through elongating his neck. - Which is Exactly how I would have described it at the time. :-)

Cheers ~


Rebecca said...

My first movie in a theater was Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. I was four years old and terrified of Marty Feldman.

As you can see, my parents were pretty laissez faire about childhood.

Rebecca said...

Oh, and I remember that Disney movies recycled through the theaters every few years. They were doing that even before the advent of VHS and Betamax in the 70s and 80s. It's how I saw Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Rescuers, Dumbo, Pinocchio, etc.

Bambi, though. Man, me and half the kids in the audience burst out screaming and crying. The manager turned up the lights and all of us had to be removed from the theater. I haven't seen it since.

palinode said...

Marie - you probably saw those movies in the following order:

Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
Annie (1982)


palinode said...

mnuez - It's been a good while since I've heard from you. Hope you've been well.

According to my wife, my brother-in-law freaked out when they took him to see ET. I guess he hid in the aisle and refused to come out until the strange little man on the screen had gone away.

palinode said...

Why are so many children's cartoons traumatic? I remember getting really wigged out by Fantasia.

I mean, are any children scared by Monsters Inc. or Cars these days? Maybe some kids with a terror of aesthetic theory ran screaming from Ratatouille? Personally, I think children should be watching stuff like Pan's Labyrinth. That'll put the fear of the woods into them.

Teaspoon Follies said...

Pepperidge Farm remembers...back in the day, when my pappy took me to see the "four-wall" roadshow distributed films such as "For The Love Of Benji" and "The Late Great Planet Earth". Movies that nowadays would go straight to DVD. I miss those movies that would skulk into town like a failed carny.

Somehow I found it easy to reconcile my enjoyment of '70s-era Vangelis (very, very pre-"Chariots of Fire" Vangelis) with my enjoyment of say, Wire, or Television. Clanky, melodic, just peculiar enough. Oddly, this seems to describe my taste in women as well.

palinode said...

Groups like Wire and Television (I always imagine muppets dancing to the opening bars of Marquee Moon) live just around the corner from prog rock. I'm not sure how Television was ever thought of as a punk band, with their wonky time signatures and five-minute guitar solos.

Rebecca said...

I totally agree with you on Pan's Pan's Labyrinth. I saw it with a friend who refused to bring her children (13 and 11) along because she thought it would be "too intense" for them.

This from the mother who lets them watch the Blue Collar Comedy Tour movie over and over again. I don't see how you can be any less scarred for life by the humor stylings of Larry the Cable Guy.

Rebecca said...

Yes, that's Pan's Pan's Labyrinth. It's...the sequel. Yeah.

teaspoon Follies said...

Yeah, I woudn't disagree with you on the punk/prog netherworld inhabited by Wire or Television or their contempoary ilk such as The Mars Volta. Hell, I have no idea at any given time why I like what I like. Then again I had a friend who for a few weeks in the '80s incessantly listened in equal measure to Black Flag's "My War" and Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and for the life of me I thought, my friend has had some sort of mind-altering stroke.

Tamara said...

My elementary school (and I think no one I've ever met has said their school did this) would show the non-animated Disney movies like Herbie the Lovebug and The Shaggy Dog on a screen in our gym. We would all drag our little chairs in there and watch a 16mm print and eat stale popcorn out of one of those gigantic bags. They called it the Big Movie. The 80s were rad.

ozma said...

My first movie scarred me for life. I can't even talk about it.

OK, eventually I will.

You had me at Vangelis. I don't even remember what Vangelis is but for some reason I know he is hilarious. He is like the music for the mom who lives across the street and smokes her son's pot.