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35 Years of Star Wars

Star Wars & Me 1978

A Long Time Ago in a Cinema Not to Far Away

It’s hard to believe 2012 heralds the 35th year of Star Wars …’how time flies’.

For me, there’s so much I could say about my ‘favourite’ film, but instead I thought I’d reminisce about the day I went to see Star Wars for the very first time. I first heard about the film when a young 10-year-old Neil Stringer told me about this amazing picture he’d seen on our way home from School, but this wasn’t May 1977 (25th) when it was first released in the United States, but more like early 78, as the UK premier wasn’t actually until Boxing Day 1977, a full 7 months later in two West End cinemas, the Leicester Square Theatre and the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road, where it took a record-breaking £117,690 in its first week.

Star Wars continued to play exclusively at these two cinemas for over the next four weeks, were it instantly became the hottest ticket in town, ticket-touts where reportedly selling £2.20 tickets for £30 quid. But on the 29th January it finally opened in Leeds. For me I can’t remember the precise date I went to see it, although it was a Saturday in February at the Odeon Cinema on The Headrow in Leeds. It wasn’t a family outing, but instead a trip out with my good friend Mark Adams and his Granddad.
The Odeon on The Headrow Leeds
So we set off on the No:5 bus to a sunny Leeds City Centre to eagerly wait in turn queuing down the side of the Headrow (This seems to be a long forgotten experience within Leeds to queue around buildings to see a new movie) but once we finally got into the foyer and purchased out tickets, there was a plethora of memorabilia available to buy behind the confectionary counter. For me it had to be the Official Movie Souvenir Programme and the giant fold-out poster to take home and adorn my bedroom wall, both of which I still have today. (below)
Star Wars Souvenir Programme and Film Poster 1978
The Odeon was a three screen cinema in those early days, before it was later split into a 5 screens, this meant the main screen 1 auditorium was ‘HUGE’…well, it felt huge to a small 11-year-old lad like me. So I sat down proudly holding my first swag of Star Wars keepsakes while watching Pearl & Dean as I awaited the film to start. It was at this point the curtains would close while you could hear the tiny motors widening the screen size from its 1/3rd size to full 70mm capacity.

The Headrow Odeon Leeds Interiors
Image used courtesy of Ian Grundy ©Stagedoor 2012

One of the amazing qualities of this amphitheatre of film was the sound and its sheer volume (something the Health & Safety sphincter police must have curtailed in later years) It was this sound that had a physical impact on me, because you could feel the noise of the opening Star Destroyer approaching, vibrating through your body before it appeared on-screen, and when it did appear…HOLY WOW!! It just went on and on and on, that thing was HUGE. Even at the very end of the film your spacial senses were tested as well, when Luke’s X-Wing swooped into the Death Star trench you wobbled from left to right in the same you do at an IMAX screening today. From the moment the credit finally rolled up  I was hooked…FOR LIFE…and subsequently went to see it more time than I can remember (25 Geekish times I think) even to this day I love to watch it and still don’t get bored. The new Blu-Ray gave me another excuse to have a family Star Wars viewing night, one which we have each year.

I’m quite sure you’ll hear more about ‘Me & Star Wars’ over the coming years on this blog, but for now it just leaves me to say…

Happy 35th Birthday Star Wars

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