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17 Sep 2011

Star Wars I–VI on Blu Ray @

I can remember it, now, as if it were yesterday.
   Yes, I know you hear that all of the time, but, if I close my eyes tight enough, I’m back in time to Whitsun, 1977.  Almost a man at the age of six and three-quarters, my sister and I were on school holidays, with the big six-week break just a few weeks away. 
   We were going to Weston-Super-Mare that summer, I recall.  I'd overheard our folks talking about going to ‘Western’.  Oh, how disappointed was I when my mom explained in the Cortina on the A5 that there weren’t going to be Wigwams, Cowboys or Indians when we got there?!  I digress, sorry; that was to be in July, but here we are only in May.
   The sun was glaring down, tanning the ass off the grass, Woolworths were anticipating another “’76” and their shelves were crammed with suntan lotion, water pistols and swimming trunks and my dad had just told me to put my first purple chopper away.
   Which I thought was totally unreasonable: I had wanted to ride it to Bradley Park to play football with Stu & Dean; he wanted to take my sister and I to the cinema to see Star Wars.  In this weather!
   But, it was the holiday week, we rarely got to see him (he was working on ‘the insurance’ and we were nearly always in bed when he got home) and I think mom had had enough of me bringing everyone in for a soda-stream.
   So, we agreed to go, me and Kirsty, my sister.  At that age, she (having just turned four) agreed with everything I said (that didn’t last much longer!), and I was about to have my first encounter with ‘The Force’.
   So, I put on my (imitation) leather pilot jacket, white t-shirt and blue jeans and The Black Country’s mini-me of Arthur Fonzerelli was about to hit the picture house for the very first time.

When we got to Wolverhampton, the queue was a bustling human worm, clinging to the wall all the way around the Odeon, where Oceania and the Metro terminal are now.  The sun was devoid of mercy and my sister became more impatient by the minute (that's never changed!).  
   The three of us walked beneath the canopy that announced, in three-foot high words, ‘STAR WARS’ and proceeded to The Wheatsheaf.  The beer-garden commanded a terrific view of the cinema and, according to my dad, “a bostin’ pint of Banks’s”, a few of which he slaughtered whilst we drank our dandelion & burdock, awaiting an appreciable drop in the numbers queueing to see the film.  
   When we eventually got into Screen One (there were only three screens in total, and the other two were tinier than your average chapel) I can remember how pitch-dark it was and the little circles of red-circumferenced torchlight that led us to a set of three seats together – they took some finding: the house was packed out!
   There was an expectant buzz, almost tangible, zipping above our heads as we waited for the side lights to dim.  They did, and the ber-par, ber-par, ber-par, ber-per, pop-op-arr of Pearl & Dean rattled through the speakers, cutting the murmurs dead as if someone had unplugged their supply!
   The curtains drew back, and there were the words, disappearing up the screen in perspective: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
   And that was it: my love affair with The Empire, Millennium Falcon, Chewbacca and the rest of the Star Wars characters had begun.

For the remainder of that school year, Ste Rogers was Han Solo, Claire Mason or Elizabeth Wooton were our not-always-compliant Princess Leias, and I was, of course, Luke Skywalker during ‘playtime’.  Running light-sabre battles, X-wing fighters and stormtroopers filled those breaks.
  In my mind’s eye, that slice of summer of seventy-seven seems to have lasted for an eternity, but could, in reality, only have been a few of weeks; a month, tops.
   Whether it was because it had been my first trip to the cinema, or because it was the last summer we were to go away as a family (our parents were divorced by May ‘78) or just because the characters so captured our imaginations, I don’t know.  But ‘77 will always be about the first STAR WARS; or episode IV, as it later became.
   Yes, I’ve seen all  theStar Wars movies, got some on video and DVD; but I am going to treat myself to the complete Star Wars saga on blu-ray from amazon.  And there may well be a glisten in my eye when R2 takes a hit or when Luke plugs into Obe Wan's force and takes out The Death Star, catapulting Darth Vader into the void of space to plan his revenge against the rebels.
   Sixty-quid?  Absolute bargain, and that’s just for evoking this memory.  Thanks for indulging me. 
   As I get on in years, it's these little reminisces that keep me going; as Luke would say, these days, 'they're coming in too fast'.  Zeb. x
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