Your Star Wars memories: Ian McArdell

The format may change but the experience is a constant

Picture: Peter Taylor

The tenth 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!


As far as I can remember, I discovered Star Wars on the television. Doubtless on a wet Saturday morning and cruelly interspersed with adverts, I must have been eight, maybe nine years old.  A confirmed Doctor Who fan by this time, I was well into my television sci-fi, but George Lucas’ film offered something else. With its epic space battles and endless desert vistas, the story of a farm boy who knew he was destined for something greater grabbed me. It probably hasn’t every truly let go.

I think Star Wars, A New Hope, Episode IV, call it what you will, is one of those motion pictures that presents the perfect marriage of idea and execution. So expertly cast; the gravitas of Alec Guinness, the feckless wonder of Mark Hamill, the imperious Carrie Fisher, the roguish charm of Harrison Ford. Beyond the actors too, the story is the stuff of pure fairytale. Lucas drew his inspiration from the Saturday serials such as Flash Gordon and thus we meet a princess and a wizard. The wizard takes on a young apprentice who discovers a new world and has so much to learn. There are fearsome monsters to be fought and a castle full of deadly traps, all to be overcome in the name of freedom. Eventually, the hero has his mentor taken from him and has to rise to the challenge, proving himself and saving the day. As with every great story, scratch the surface and there’s probably nothing that’s truly original, but it is Lucas’ stunning visual imagination that brings the story to life. Moments like the alien wonder of the Cantina Bar, the swing across the chasm on the Death Star and Luke’s contemplation of the twin sunset are burned into my memory.  Of course, Star Wars would be nothing with out the music. John Williams’ score lends the visuals a truly epic dimension. From the moment that theme bursts onto the screen behind the title scroll, you know you are watching something special.

Star Wars is one of the things that is threaded across my childhood. I remember playing with the toys on the floor of my best friend’s bedroom, recall debating Han versus Luke on the top deck of the school bus. I remember the buzz in at the revelation that the Star Wars films were finally getting a VHS release.  It is why on my eighteenth birthday party, after getting quite drunk, I sat among friends and we attempted to karaoke the film with the sound down. The VHS was, of course, a present from that same best friend.

On to my twenties and Star Wars became an event once again. With the three films re-mastered and made ‘special’, there was nothing for it but to have a group together and to see them on the big screen at Leicester Square in the first week of release. Spruced up and stunning, I remember a standing ovation in the end credits and, fans as we were, a lengthy beer fuelled dissection in the pub afterwards.

These days it’s an industry and requires a fortune to keep up with. Star Wars has burned on, past those three epic films, into books, cartoons and more. Even into three further films, each diminishing in impact. But give me that original film any day and it transports me. It takes me straight back to happy memories of childhood, to growing up with best friends and to high times in London town. It’s always worth watching and it never fails to deliver, but there is one thing I stand firm on. Special editions or not I will not be persuaded otherwise. Han shot first.