The eighth in our incredible series of Star Wars memories, written by you as a testament to the incredible power of the saga to transcend age, genre and cynicism. If this inspires you to submit your own, check out the details here!
In 1977, I was seven years old; a skinny kid living in suburban london who loved fantastic ideas and stirring stories. I was a junkie for them. Nowadays, that sort of a film comes out every week, of every shade and hue. If you want guys on jet cycles zooming across a mega-city fighting hand to hand with flaming multi-dimensional nunchuks in a duel to the death to decide if the entire galaxy lives or dies, you’ll find one. Even Doctor Who nowadays is a massive polychromatic technicolour pyrotechnic smorgasbord of universe saving, friend reincarnations and gizmos. It’s the equivalent of a flaming mojito cocktail and a knickerbocker glory with your every meal.
Back in the Seventies, it wasn’t like that. Doctor Who stories were very good but the Doctor walked around slowly, spoke carefully and had long chats. If Tom Baker’s Doctor Who ever met David Tennant’s Doctor Who, Baker would have recited something by Longfellow in a deep, wry voice while Tennant ran around him in circles, shouting. Cinema and television weren’t that different. They were almost entirely low budget, well acted, slowly paced and completely lacking in pyrotechnics. Puppets got up to some wild stuff – Thunderbirds being a welcome dose of explosions and cliff-hanging drama – but anything involving fleshy people was sensible and thoughtful.
Then, one Saturday morning, in the middle of ‘Noel Edmonds Multi-Coloured Swap Shop’, they put on a sample scene of a movie that was coming out at the cinema. It was the scene where Luke Skywalker and Han Solo fight off the TIE fighters after escaping the Death Star. I was gob-smacked. What was this? How did they do that? How could it look so good? It was like aliens landing, like finding an iPhone in my breakfast cereal. At school on Monday, everyone was talking about it. Everyone wanted to see it.
Luckily, my parents thought so too. Off we went to the Kingston Odeon; the quality cinema in Kingston, a class above Cinema 7 that skulked next door like a wino outside a pub. That was a flea-pit, a literal flea-pit since I did get flea bites while watching Robin Hood six years later, a sort of ‘medieval-o-rama-vision’ experience.
We went in, sat down and the film started. We saw the Twentieth Century Fox logo and heard its signature tune. We saw the Star Wars logo and heard John Williams’ score. I was already hooked. Even now, when I hear see the Fox logo and hear its music, I’m waiting for the Star Wars music to follow. The narration text scrolled across a night sky, the black, starry scene tilted down to the edge of a planet and a ship flew away from us, firing its blasters and lasers. Cool, I thought, very cool.
Then the Star Destroyer flew over our heads. Even now, 35 years later, I’ve got goose-bumps all over my arms just thinking about that. I didn’t watch a film that day, I had a shamanistic journey.
But the strangest, weirdest part of it is that I now know that it was my first sexual experience. I didn’t get actively involved but I was there when conception took place. It happens at the end, when the rebels destroy the Death Star. A whole crowd of small, fast, male, dart shaped vessels swarm through an inky blackness, approaching a large, intimidating ovum. They work their way over its surface, seeking the hole that will give them access to its innermost depths. Many vessels die in the attempts to ‘fertilize’ the target. Finally, one lucky vessel finds the keyhole. He fires his powerful load and the great ovum explodes. Everyone cheers! It’s no wonder Luke and Leia are so pleased at the end of the movie. Darth Vader and Peter Cushing’s skeletal leader have failed in their attempt at contraception. That huge, black condom figure has been thwarted and a new life has been created.
That, for me, was Star Wars; not only a movie experience to be treasured but a primal sex story too. Thank you, George Lucas!