A Long Time Ago, A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Star Wars Video Ephemera
I’ll make an assumption here that you haven’t been living under a rock the last couple of days, and that you’ve seen the latest teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was debuted at the Star Wars Celebration fanfest in Anaheim, California yesterday. And it did not disappoint. Not one bit.
I’ve loved the world of George Lucas’ Star Wars for almost my entire life. Since seeing the first film in 1977, through the ‘VHS Years’ of the late 80’s and early 90’s, suffering through the Special Editions in the late 90’s, right on through to the prequels and Clone Wars television shows… I’ve loved it all. (Almost all. A certain Jar Jar and some ill-chosen CGI special effect additions not withstanding…)
Many fans of my generation bitched and moaned through the prequel era, but I lucked out; two young sons about the perfect young age to experience the prequel films in much the same way I got to experience the original trilogy. The prequels are their “original trilogy,” and that’s what most adult fans forget. These are films for kids. All six of them. Soon to be all seven of them.
As much as I feel like I got slightly burned with the imperfect Episode I: The Phantom Menace after being treated several months earlier to an amazing teaser trailer, I have to say my hopes are again way high, WAY HIGH, for this new film. Taking place 30 years after Return of the Jedi, it will serve as a jumping off point for a whole new series of adventures, while at the same time letting us spend a little more time with some much-loved characters from the original trilogy.
The new Star Wars films promise a bit of a return to the style of that beloved original trilogy. Gone are all the shiny, perfect computer generated ships, troopers, landscapes, and sets. Back is a built world of real sets, real monsters, real troopers… Like many, I feel that CGI special effects have become a crutch for filmmakers, giving all big budget films a very similar clinical feel.
So anyway, the newest trailer debuted yesterday, and for 90 seconds or so, I was that 7 year old all over again. I have to admit, I’ve watched it about 20 or 30 times since. I just can’t stop. And it’s got me thinking about just what a huge deal Star Wars was back in 1977 and 78, to me and my entire generation. Thankfully, we live in a magical time when much of our popular culture is archived and preserved online for us to peruse. So I thought I’d share a few vintage Star Wars clips. Why not? It’s Friday afternoon and you’re done working. I know you are. It’s OK, I won’t tell. Sit back, and enjoy.
The Making of Star Wars: Original 1977 Television Special
I remember getting to stay up late the night this special was on. My brain was addicted to all things Star Wars, and to see behind the scenes? Too much! And to see clips of my all-time favorite movie AT HOME, ON TELEVISION?? That just didn’t happen back then. Hosted by C3PO and R2D2, narrated by William Conrad, and aired on ABC in 1977. This is a 49 minute nugget of what it was like to be me during my third grade year.
Star Wars: Deleted Scenes
OK, so this clip is actually from 1977, but it contains some special footage from Episode IV that was left on the cutting room floor. Released on one of the many DVD versions of the film, these are very cool to watch, and do a pretty good job of explaining for themselves why they didn’t make the final cut.
The Star Wars Holiday Special
As excited as I was for the Making Of special, I was SUPER geeked for the Star Wars Holiday Special. Made to give fans something to chew on while we waited for the next film, the Holiday Special is an infamous example of just how bad and wrong television specials could get during the 1970’s. My guess is that every single person involved in the production of this show was deeply addicted to one drug or another. There’s simply no other explanation for how utterly terrible this is. It’s reputation precedes it as something truly horrible, and it definitely lives up to it. Here, helping Chewbacca and his family (including son Lumpy and father Itchy) celebrate Life Day are the Star Wars regulars along with special guests Art Carney, Harvey Korman, Bea Arthur and Diahann Carroll…singing and disco dancing their way into obvlivion. I remember as a kid sitting in front of the screen thinking to my 8 year old self, “What in the Hell have they done to my Star Wars??”
Urban legend has it that George Lucas was so embarrassed and disappointed by the Holiday Special, and rightly so, that he attempted to purchase and destroy every single copy in existence. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that it was only officially shown just the one time on television, and not once since. Bootlegs are everywhere, and I admit that several years ago I purchased a black market DVD of the special (from Argentina) for way more money than I should have. But I’m glad I did, even if I find it incredibly difficult to sit through.
Have you ever seen it? Would you like to try? Find out for yourself just what kind of Star Wars fan you truly are. The youtube video won’t let me embed it, and this one’ll probably be deleted soon anyway, but if you really want to see something,
CLICK HERE. If this link doesn’t work, just search a little bit. It’s out there.
Original Star Wars Movie Trailers
Want to see how cheesy and terrible movie trailers were during the 1970’s? Check these out.
First, the original Star Wars teaser, released without any of the original music, and with lots of the finished special effects missing. Definitely makes it look like a really bad, low-budget flick.
Now here’s the original full trailer. Better than the teaser, but still… Movie trailer artistry’s come a long way since this.
Star Wars TV Commercials
As a kid, a big part of Star Wars was the TOYS. How did we find out about these cool new toys? These really bad TV commercials, that’s how. Here’s a compilation of very low-quality commercials. Time capsule stuff, this is.
I wish I still had my old Star Wars toys. All that remains are just a few well-used, very well-loved old action figures.
All in all, this is a very exciting time for Star Wars fans, especially those of us who’ve been around since the very beginning. Now all we need to truly be satisfied is for Disney to do the right thing and release the original trilogy in their original, non-special edition, unaltered versions. The versions we all want.
Oh, what’s that you say? You didn’t see the new trailer? What’s wrong with you? I’m just kidding. I know you’re busy. But here it is right here. Watch it. (I’m gonna check it out again, too. Just to make sure I haven’t missed anything.)
December simply can’t get here soon enough. I can’t wait to meet Poe, Finn, Rey, BB-8, and Kylo Ren… and spend some time with some old friends.