It’s hard to believe, but in the late 1980s, Star Wars was pretty far off the pop culture radar. Kenner had stopped producing the classic toyline in 1985, and aside from a few collectibles and video tape/Laserdisc releases, fans of the trilogy were left to their own devices to keep the films alive. There wasn’t even an Extended Universe series of novels yet. Star Wars seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of other earlier sci-fi films.
Then, in the early ’90s, the stirrings of a rebirth for the saga began. Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, released in 1991, was the first clue that there may be a future after all for the galaxy far, far away. Also during this period, new video games were released for PC and Super Nintendo to great success. The powers-that-be at LucasFilm were realizing that fans clearly wanted more Star Wars.
That’s also when three friends, Troy Durrett, Lance Robson, and Jon Ramos released their own masterpiece of action figure storytelling: The Star Wars. Set to the extremely cheesy 45 RPM read-along storybook version of the first film, The Star Wars mixes action figures with Atari 2600 video game footage to recreate the 1977 film in a 13-minute-long nutshell.
The short film made its rounds at a few film festivals and film schools, even playing at Dragon*Con in Atlanta. But perhaps the most interesting screenings of The Star Wars happened in 1997 at a series of “surf-rock-from-outer-space” concerts across the US and Europe by the band Man or Astroman?. They loved the film enough to bring along Durrett (who gave himself the “astro-name” Pez D. Spencer) and asked him to screen a 16mm transfer before their sets.
So, without further ado, enjoy this classic early Star Wars fan-film, freshly re-released by its creators on YouTube: