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May 25, 1977

Star Wars (not Episode IV: A New Hope) was released on this day forty years ago. A true cinematic phenomenon, an event sociologique, as Lacombe quips to Roy Neary in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

I was twenty years old when the movie came out. I did not see it immediately, even though I loved science fiction and space operas. Heinlein and Asimov and Bradbury were part of my reading back then. I was primed to eventually see it. And see it I did. I was bowled over by the movie. Quibbles aside that age and hindsight have brought up, my twenty year old self loved this movie. I saw it again, and again. I took my sister, all of ten years old at the time, to see it and she loved it as well. All told, I know I saw the movie at least a hundred times. (Back then you had dollar theaters.) Three years later, what I think is the best of the entire franchise, The Empire Strikes Back, was released, and then Return of the Jedi, three years after that. I bought the VHS tapes, I bought the laserdiscs, and I watched them every so often and marveled at the freshness of them. George Lucas had done something special.

And then, he fucked up big time.

I’m not going to rant about how fucking awful Episodes I through III are. Let’s just say that I’d rather watch something else and keep the wonderful memories of that movie that turns 40 today.

P.S., I utterly refuse to buy any Star Wars movies on Blu-ray or DVD until Disney (now the successor to LucasFilm) releases the first three movies in their original theatrical releases. Lucas, in his unbridled arrogance and disdain for the fans that made him billions, decided to “improve” the movies with new scenes and, worse of all, changing plot points so as not offend. It’s bullshit.

Han shot first.


About The Universal Spectator

An irritable, but lovable, constitutional conservative who loathes and detests collectivists and statists of all persuasions and parties...

One comment on “May 25, 1977

  1. I saw Star Wars, the first movie, and Close Encounters on the same day, back to back.
    Star Wars has lots of funny moments, and some iconic ones, but, on balance left me cold. It was the usual goodies and baddies and longing for peace, with fun special effects added because we were technically smarter. Plus it had some “mystical” poetic undergirding. It left me cold. I may have seen a sequel. I have no memory of seeing one. And I have not seen any of the new ones nor have I the slightest interest in doing so.

    Close Encounters was something new. It had style, mystery, ordinariness mixed with strange new concepts and it was scary and gorgeous and sweet. Having a notable French new wave director (Truffaut) who was tender and seemed to transcend time and space in a real image of love added a layer of mystical tenderness that is hard to articulate about.

    Those mashed potatoes Dreyfuss obsessively sculpted – what was that about? We were to find out later.
    The ordinariness of his family and the strangeness of what was overtaking him kept me glued to my seat. His sitting in his car and the shuddering and huge lights behind him, his burned face and what just happened? And that huge ending when all is revealed – masterful. The five musical notes, the sweetness. There is so much hope in this movie. It could almost turn one into a flower child.

    Whatever anyone got out of Close Encounters, this movie was the masterpiece I saw that day. For me Star Wars was for technical wizards who played video games. But Close Encounters was the work of poetry and art.


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