Star Wars Day: Memories of watching the original trilogy at a young age

As Star Wars Day is celebrated, one fan remembers watching the movies before she knew what 'delusions of grandeur' were and when Force philosophy was a little much. Star Wars Day is celebrated on May the fourth (take a second, you'll get it).

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'Star Wars' stars Mark Hamill (second from l.), Harrison Ford (r.), Alec Guinness (second from r.) and Peter Mayhew (l.).

As one might expect, watching the original “Star Wars” trilogy as an adult is different than watching it when you’re a kid.

I’m part of a generation that didn’t see the original three movies in theaters, but instead viewed them at home on VHS for the first time. For me, going to see a “Star Wars” movie in theaters didn't mean seeing Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford again – it meant getting hopes built up, then being disappointed and saying, “Maybe the next one will be better.” (It was not.)

Watching the original three at home happened during a time before we knew what midi-chlorians were, is what I'm saying.

At this point, I don’t even remember when I first saw the original trilogy, which also means that, to my disappointment, I don’t remember when I found out one of cinema’s best twists, that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. Similarly, anytime I watched it, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death at the end of “Star Wars: A New Hope” was not of huge concern to me. I knew he would be back, surrounded by blue light, pretty soon, anyway.

While I’ve watched the first trilogy many more times since, as a teenager and an adult, I do remember some first impressions and misunderstandings that arose when I first watched the original three “Star Wars” movies. Here are a few memories.

–When we first started watching the movies, my little sister was too young to be able to read the opening crawls that begin every “Star Wars” movie, so my parents or I would help her out by reading them out loud to her. This would start out leisurely, then lead to us talking more and more quickly to try to read all of it because the VHS format squashed the text, meaning you’d be halfway through a line before it would disappear. To this day, I automatically start reading the crawl at the beginning of the movie out loud before remembering that my twenty-something friends are probably capable of scanning it themselves.

–I adored Yoda, but his “Empire” training with Luke, replete with philosophy and mind-over-matter, was a little much for me at that age, so I usually sat impatiently through those sections while waiting for the movie to get back to that funny C-3PO and Han Solo’s wisecracking.

–When I was in first grade, we were allowed to choose a bonus spelling word that could be anything we wanted. I chose the name "Millennium Falcon."

–While I don’t remember being scared by anything particular in “Star Wars," I unintentionally frightened my best friend at the time, who was also six years old, when I brought “Return of the Jedi” for a sleepover at her house. We only made it a half-hour into the movie – Jabba the Hutt was too scary and it was turned off.

–More verbose jokes often went straight over my head. When Han Solo lamented that during the time he’d been frozen in carbonite, everyone had gotten “delusions of grandeur,” I had no idea what he meant until maybe age 13.

–As I’ve previously mentioned, during an early viewing my mother comforted my sister, distraught over an Ewok that got shot in “Return of the Jedi,” by telling her it was “only sleeping.” By this point, I was a worldly-wise older sister and figured the Ewok had bitten the dust, but graciously decided not to disabuse my sister of this notion.

–Even when I was little, I thought Leia telling Han Solo “Hold me” in “Return of the Jedi” was cheesy.

–Because we originally watched the movies on VHS copies whose cardboard cases are now almost completely destroyed, I was never subjected to an ending where Hayden Christensen popped up to hang out with an elderly Yoda and Alec Guinness at the end of “Return of the Jedi.”

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