Nivi Engineer: A long, long time ago
I confess, I don’t recall every moment of this, and barely recall any details of the movie from when I saw it. But what sticks with me was going to a drive-in theater in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and watching Episode IV (but of course, we just called it Star Wars) when it first came out. Don’t recall what car (possibly our Plymouth Volare station wagon, but don’t quote me on that). And while I don’t recall seeing the Empire Strikes Back, I surely must have, because in 1984, I watched Return of the Jedi in the theater at Great Northern Mall in Cleveland, Ohio. I don’t remember much about my time in North Carolina (we moved to Ohio when I was 7), but watching Star Wars was definitely memorable. I’d like to say it helped me fit in, lay some additional meaning to the experience, but I don’t recall anything like that. It’s just always been a presence in my life, a great story that the whole family could enjoy. Now, I’m enjoying sharing it with my family.
Anika Dane: I fell in love with Darth Vader when I was seven years old.
I met Vader in Return of the Jedi. I was seven, and he was sad. I didn’t know it at the time but his son had turned down the opportunity to rule the galaxy with him. Which reminded him that Luke’s mother had also opted out of ruling the galaxy with him. Because she, and his best friend, indeed all his friends, had hated the Empire and all it stood for and all those who stood with it, including Vader. And now, so did his son. So he was sad. And he was also scared. The last time he’d taken a stand he’d lost everything and put evil in power. He was shy about trying again.
When Luke was attacked, Vader fought back. He couldn’t save himself, or any of the people he lost or hurt, but he could save his son. He loved Luke more than himself, more than the Empire, more than the whole galaxy. I was seven and Darth Vader wasn’t a monster, he was the father I wanted. Someone who would throw his whole life away for me. Return of the Jedi defined love for me, and still does.
Patricia Vollmer: One of the first movies my parents ever took me to.
Frankly, I don’t remember much about the experience. I was around 4 years old and it was at a theater in Hawaii, where we were living at the time. I know I saw the original Star Wars in a theater because this was in the days before video tapes or even television airing movies after-the-fact that often. For years following, I played with friends, recreating scenes: being caught in the trash compactor with the dianoga (although I probably just called it a “trash monster” or something) and of course endless, pretend lightsaber fights, complete with sound effects. It turned into a tradition for my father and me. He subsequently took me to see Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi in the theater also. By the time Episodes I-III came out, I was out of the house, but I do wonder if I should have waited to see them with my father…you know, for completeness sake? Nah….
Simon Yule: The red car and the blue car had a race
Growing up in the early ’90s, I never had the chance to see the originals in the cinema first time around. I actually saw Empire Strikes Back first and it was on VHS taped off the TV with the usual static and mindless adverts. To this day I still associate the moment Luke first meets Yoda with the old Milky Way advert with the red and blue cars. It wasn’t long before I’d seen all three films and I was hooked on the galaxy far, far away. Now, sharing my love of Star Wars with my son as he grows up is one of the things I am most excited about.
Lisa Kay Tate: First Movie I Saw More Than Once on the Big Screen
It was 1977. Our entire family drove clear across town to see Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as there were no theaters on my side of El Paso at the time, at least none that I remember. I recall being a little freaked out by the cantina creatures but soon loved them. I remember the entire theatre sharing a regional inside joke when Han first introduced his friend, Chewie (“Chuy” is a common nickname for Jesus). I remember, just a week later, my dad actually asking me out of the blue, “You want to go see Star Wars again?” Well, that never happened before. Uh, yeah, Dad. I really do.
Amy Weir: That Time I Got Chicken Pox and Watched Star Wars Instead of Going to My Sister’s Funeral
I wrote this one up in a long GeekMom post just before The Force Awakens came out. It’s a good story so I didn’t want it to get lost. Because my memories of the movie at that time were so vague (except for that one key scene), I wish I could remember my second Star Wars viewing experience, or the moment I actually became a genuine fan, but I’m not sure when that was!
Rob Huddleston: The Great Family Mystery
I was five in 1977. My parents, obviously, heard of the phenomenon, and despite the PG rating, decided to take my sister and me to see the movie at some point in the summer. According to them, I was so scared that I crawled into my dad’s lap the moment Vader first appeared on screen and buried my head in his shoulder for the rest of the movie. Obviously, they vowed to not repeat that mistake.
And so it is that my passion for Star Wars is something of a mystery. I clearly didn’t see the movie again anytime soon thereafter. In fact, it’s entirely possible that I didn’t see it again until it was re-released in 1980 before Empire came out. But by then, my fandom was already deeply established. Just … how?
My earliest Star Wars memory sheds some light on things. My mom’s best friend, Marilyn, was babysitting me and took me to K-Mart, where she let me pick a single toy to buy. My choice: the Princess Leia action figure. Why I picked Leia, and not something that six-year-old me would have thought was probably cooler like a Stormtrooper, and why I picked anything at all from the movie that had so terrified me, are further mysteries. But Leia is what came home with me, and she remains one of my most precious memories, if only because she represents the beginning of not only the collection, but also, presumably, the passion I have for these movies.
While I don’t remember seeing the first movie, I do remember all of the others, so I’ll end this with not my first but, rather, my favorite, Star Wars memory. It’s an easy one, because it was only two years ago: sitting in a dark theater and watching my son react at the beginning of Episode VII, as he at long last got to experience a new Star Wars movie, and I got to experience that magic, just a little bit, through his eyes.