Star Wards: Revenge of the 70's

SPECIAL NOTE: Ava Thursday will be delayed by one day, so I can pontificate on STAR WARS. Sorry for the confusion. I know, I'm a terrible dad.

Yes, I was part of the original massive collective of fans that rushed to the theatres periodically from 1977 through 1983, waiting endlessly in lines that wrapped around the block to witness the glorious geek-fest that was STAR WARS. And after each release, my buddies and I would rush home and play with our action figures and draw pages upon pages of spaceships engaged in massive space battles. I am an Original Trilogy fan -- or "OT" for the uninitiated -- and so I exude extreme trepidation each time a new Prequel Trilogy ("PT," natch) film is about to be released. Now, don't get all up in my grill -- I was very excited back in the mid-90's when I first heard George Lucas was thinking about working on the prequels as my mind raced back an eon ago, sometime in the late-70's when I read somewhere that STAR WARS was meant to be a complete, 9-part epic (Ol' George has since recanted about episodes 7 through 9.). So thus, I just melted with the thought that there could be MORE MORE MORE of the greatest triology ever made (my young self thinking this, of course)!

So, yes -- Episode 1 came out, and I was severely disappointed. I so wanted to like it, to warm up to it, but alas, in the end, I could not. I liked several sequences (pod race, end light saber battle with Darth Maul, new creatures), but all in all, it was very difficult for me to put my stamp of SW approval on it. And yes, it was all because of Jar Jar. Episode 1 is a major point of contention for most SW fans, as it really divides the mulititudes into two camps: those who feel that the original trilogy was the best and anything new waters down the initial impact of the series, and those who feel that anything new brought into the SW universe that is conjured up by Lord Lucas is worth it. I'm mixed, honestly. I love the original, as it's my childhood, and I don't like certain grey-haired moguls fiddling with my history. But I don't mind all the new creatures and worlds that've been introduced in the new trilogy -- I'll always have a soft spot for special effects and creatures and sci-fi in general. However, when a movie completely undermines all that came before it, with seemingly blatant disregard for the wonder and amazement that the OT possessed, then it's hard for me to warm up to Episode 1 so willingly. And others seemed to feel my pain.

So, three years later, we all suffer selective amnesia and got all giddy upon viewing the newest trailer for Episode 2. It did look ultra trés cool, but once the movie came out, it was another disappointment. This time around, it was the horrible, horrible, horrible acting. And because I've seen Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman actually ACT in other movies, I knew that the culprit was George. Oh sure, the Yoda fight sequence was kick arse, the Obi Wan story line was decent, and just anything Mace Windu, but the love story... ahh, don't get me started. (And for the record, I saw that film twice, once in a huge screen in NYC, digitally projected --It looked fantastic, by the way! I loved the special effects and animation, but crisp, clear-as-a-bell digital imagery could not save the film. You'll have to ask Andrea about the other time I saw the film with her and some friends. Quite hilarious.)

So, three years later, we all suffer selective amnesia AGAIN upon viewing the newest trailer for Episode 3. And you know what? I'm kinda excited. I'm hoping that this one will save the PT, as I do desperately want to like that trilogy as much as I can. I'm trying to scrape up all the dignity from deep within, but I do hope that REVENGE OF THE SITH will be the saving grace for the entire STAR WARS trilogy. The fans deserve it. (It looks like it's getting good reviews so far, so who knows.)

Let's talk about dorkiness in the PT, shall we? There are some great embarrassing moments that's made me wish I hadn't paid half my salary for a ticket to see one of the Prequel films and there are many others who feel the same as me. But I must raise an issue here that may or may not be important to all SW fans. I say to all the naysayers of the PT who talk up a nasty flame post on any forum or chatroom about how dorky that trilogy is, (me included) I must remind you that the original STAR WARS was released during the height of DISCO. There was no escaping that strange entity that infiltrated and permeated everything during that time. And I mean EVERYTHING. It was just the way it was, and you could do nothing about it. Being a young-un at the time, I loved disco because of all the lights! the colors! the fun music! the dancing! Never mind that they were singing about sex and drugs.... anyway -- disco was everywhere, people. Everybody did a disco song. Rockers Elton John (remember, he did rock before he did sappy pap) and Rod Stewart surprised many a fan with disco albums. And they were hits, too! KISS fans were appalled at the thought of their rock gods putting out a disco album, but they, too, succumbed to the infectious sin of disco. So, in the midst of the Disco Era, STAR WARS opened to the public and not long after, some dude named Meco produced a disco tune to the theme of Star Wars. Odd? Not so. Like I said before, it was everywhere, and so to hear the famous STAR WARS theme mixed with a silly disco beat did not seem strange to me, nor to a good many people. It actually was a hit.

Without further ado, I present to you all, Meco's Star Wars Theme (Disco Mix).

I've also found Bill Murray's performance of the Star Wars Theme on Saturday Night Live for you all, too:
Bill Murray's Star Wars on SNL.

Because you all have been so good, I've decided to present to you all another embarrassing moment in filmdom. In 1978, a year after STAR WARS, Steven Spielberg released a gem of a movie, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Probably one of the worst titles ever, the film was a big hit with audiences and especially me. I read the paperback movie adaptation several thousand times (kidding -- only about a hundred) and I so wanted to be Roy (Richard Dreyfuss's character) and be taken up by little aliens to explore the stars and heavens.... I loved the notion of possible life beyond our planet and so I felt like the film presented this notion in plausible terms. (I was 10 years-old -- give me a break.)

So, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, being released in the late 70's, couldn't have suffered the same disco fate as STAR WARS, could it? Yes, it did. And it wasn't by some oddity named Meco. It was by the movie score conductor master, himself, John Williams. I kid you not. I had this wonderful strange oddity of a 45 in my possession and played that sucker like it was going out of style. I now present to you all a special nugget of my past, the Close Encounters Theme by John Williams.

Alright, that's enough embarrassing moments. Go enjoy REVENGE OF THE SITH and tell me what you think of it. And may the force be with you. (You know I just had to say it.)


  1. Im with you Ward. I was born in 72, and was and still am a Star Wars geek. I cant wait for tomorrow. A lot of the artists at work are all hitting the 12:20 lunchtime showing. Most are looking forward to it, but most have the same reservations that most SW fans have. Not me man, I so psyched to see this film I cant wait.

    Btw..I just have to say that I really enjoy reading you and Andrea's blog sites. Even the family stuff that seeps through both sites. It really lets us the viewers see what kind of people you are and I think that is really cool. Such a creative family. Much props to you man. Andrea really seems like your soulmate it would seem. Bet you guys are great parents. Good on ya!


  2. Ditto on CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, man. I grew up on this movie, and though I can argue the other greats of Spielberg's backlog as well as anybody, I have long considered this his best movie. Maybe it's the nostalgia factor, but I don't think he's ever going to surpass it. Every time I see Roy Neary boarding the ship, a giant among a throng of ETs, I felt the same way. What does he see? Where will he go? Why can't I, dammit?

  3. You nutbar; I was hoping you'd jump all over this, and you didn't let the old man down! I especially loved the part about the collective amnesia that gripped us all between Episode 1 and 2 (remember looking at those trailers in the office-boy were we optomistic!) Anyhoo, good stuff.

  4. BWAHAHAHA! Awesome post. I think everyone born within 20 to 25 years of the movie (either side) should be a Star Wars geek. If they aren't, I think their drivers license should be revoked.

  5. Hey, thanks newsquirt for your kind words about our blogs. I really dig your blog, too.

    Jg, I think that there was something about it being Spielberg's first film where he wrote the script, too. It was a more personal film than his previous efforts at that time. And I didn't dig the "extended version" released 2 years later. I wanted the ship to be mysterious and only in my head.

    And Robert, you know I was thinking about our huddling around the monitors at Click when we watched the trailers for Ep. 1, huh? Man, did it ever move us! And man, was that movie ever a turkey! Say it now..."I was but a learner, but now, I am the master..."

    jared, what are you doing hanging around these parts?

  6. However, when a movie completely undermines all that came before it, with seemingly blatant disregard for the wonder and amazement that the OT possessed, then it's hard for me to warm up to Episode 1 so willingly.

    I was just thinking about that this morning, when, right before I had to leave for work, I remembered I had the second set of Cartoon Network's Star Wars: Clone Wars episodes still on the TiVo.

    Those shorts got me reluctantly excited to see Sith, because somehow, in the midst of watching the animated prophecies and lightsaber battles, I forgot about the sterile midichlorian explanation of the Force, and Star Wars was again something about mystic wonder and magic.

    So, in the midst of the Disco Era, STAR WARS opened to the public and not long after, some dude named Meco produced a disco tune to the theme of Star Wars.

    Ha! I actually owned a 45 of Meco's post-Empire Star Wars Theme stylings. I found the Meco CD sometime a couple of years ago, and I had to buy it and torture my friends with its utter cheesiness.

  7. Hi Ward,

    I've been reading your blog for a few weeks now and just had to post about Star Wars.

    I went to the Midnight showing last night.

    I loved it. But I'm a fanboy, too, so take it for what it's worth.

    I've got a few [SPOILER FREE] thoughts posted on my blog this morning if you want to check it out.

    I don't know if you would remember me or not. I grew up in Roachdale, Indiana where during my Jr. High/High School years, Lane Byrum was the youth minister at Roachdale Christian Church. You came with him a few times from CBC and, well, I remember you.

    Do you still keep in touch with Lane or Nancy?

    My e-mail is attached to my Blogger profile.

  8. I think what I dug most -- beyond the general story itself -- about CLOSE ENCOUNTERS was the way Spielberg thickened his portrayal of the American family. In JAWS the family scenes were few and scattered, but in ENCOUNTERS he really created a complex picture of a family, and it was as messy as families are: kids shouting over each other, everything impossible to actually hear because it's all happening at the same time, no regard for anybody or anything else. With every child and adult in every one of the family scenes, there are a hundred things happening, and not one of them is hammered home in an obvious way. I dug that a lot.

  9. I so wish I could go see this new episode of Star Wars with you! I remember watching the first episode with you and Amy WAAAAY back when and feeling that I had somehow entered a time warp - I was LOVING it! It was the most amazing movie I had ever seen up to that point and I KNEW movies would never be the same.

  10. Oh yes, Jeremy, I remember you! I've been a bad email replier, so I apologize for not responding to your first email. Expect a ping in your mailbox very soon....

    And Jg, I completely agree. I remember that Spielberg was doing almost a "suburban realism" to his movies, showing that family dynamics are more uncripted and chaotic than what was really shown on screen at that time.

    I remember watching STAR WARS with the family, Mom -- that was an experience we'll never forget, eh? It was so different from anything at that time. Now everybody copies what Lucas was doing in 1977.

  11. Hey Ward - I really enjoy your blog; thought you might find this interesting, both from a Star Wars and a working-artist point of view: http://suzyriceimage.com/AUTOBIOGRAPHY_2.html

  12. Oh yes, Star Wars! I have always been a real fanatic since childhood although I do not belong to the 70s and had never seen the originals in the cinema before (I was born in 82'). But no matter what because whenever or wherever I watch the opening credits elsewhere through home video or TV, my sense of enthusiasm suddenly leaps forward to pure satisfaction, remembering the moments of triumph and heroism as our beloved characters venture into the heart of the story. That's why I have always loved the Star Wars Saga.

    In fact, I have always want to be like George Lucas; creating worlds populated by strange aliens, humans and robots while inventing new things that were almost impossible then. But something else happens; since I begin to learn more about him, it creates some kind of a 'personal' link that make me realize that Mr. Lucas's more than just simply meets the eyes. A person who keeps doubting about his own skills, I don't think there is a filmmaker who honestly state his weaknesses in front of the public. Never I have ever met a person who has ever tried to fail himself as if he's possessed the Midas Touch!

    In fact, you should know that his epic saga is based on the cheesy Flash Gordon serials (very cheesy at best, so I don't really criticize the first two episodes that much) that George watched as a child. Truthfully, I really like all the six episodes (no matter how awful they are. At least for me, George Lucas has the best of Orson Welles and the worst of Ed Wood, as someone has stated) and each is quite special for some good or bad reason. Although George won't be producing any Star Wars movies beyond Episode VI (can't tell whether it's good or bad), its legacy will forever be placed in the hearts of many who had begun to believe in magic many, many years ago...

    - Glen!

  13. my day is now offically ruined. i so look forward to ava thursdays. :(

  14. Hehe. Funny blog. The Binks Factor didn't hit me as hard as the fact that Qui-Gon never bought Shmi off of Watto after the race with all the money they made from selling the pod, plus the winnings for the race. It just made no sense. And trust me, as a 36-hours-in-line fanatic I've tried to find a way to have it make sense.

  15. I can't believe you sold your beloved daughter out for STAR WARS.

    just kidding.

  16. oops, I didn't mean to post anonymously... that was me just now.

  17. Great Insights Ward...The biggest letdown for me was SW 1. It should have really set the tone for the movies, but it fell flat. It was the most disappointing of them all. Everything from the blatant storyline rip from Christianity to the horrible dialogue.....(I still cringe at the babbling Jar Jar). I'm waiting on Sith. Until all the fanfare blows over and I can just watch it for what it is.

  18. I'm convinced that this divide that separates Star Wars Fans into two "camps" is simply a matter of when you were born. Personally, I was born in 86 and like many others are a different generation of fans that didn't get to experience the original release.

    The first generation of Star Wars nutswant nothing to taint the experience that you first encountered with the original trilogy. As the new generation, we have no "good ol' days" to get nostalgic about. I have no problem with Jar Jar, Hayden, or the graphics. This new triology taken as a whole is a phenominal set of movies.

    Which trilogy is better? Who cares? Different times for different movies. No need to compare them.

    I HATE it when people compare Star Wars to real life. Star Wars is a galaxy far far away way back in time. (Assuming this galaxy actually "exists," boy I'm a nerd) Things operate different in the Star Wars galaxy, characters talk and act differently and have different customs. Queen Amidala's make-up was pretty damn ugly, but I'm not going to criticize it because that's a Naboo custum. The Gungan manner of speaking kind of irritates me, again, it's the way Lucas's envisioned that race of people. Leave the poor man along.

    My 2 cents.

  19. All I have to say is Lucas redeemed himself and the series that changed my life. My birthday is May 24 and every movie has been a present to me to myself. Keep blogging!!!

  20. From the moment the big scroll came on the screen, we knew that we were in for a ride. We saw it at what was then called the Lefont Tara at Cheshire Bridge Road. The Tara was originally part of the Loews Theater Group which also ran the Grand (Home of Gone With The Wind)and the Twelve Oaks Theater. When Loew's left, the Tara was taken over by George Lefont, who used it to screen a mix selection of standard and art fair films. Loews had already twinned the original auditorium when George took over the property. George spilt one of the auditoriums and added a new one on the right. May the force be with you, my son.

  21. Ward, I just recently posted my professional review of Revenge of the Sith on my blog. I liked it, though not unequivocally.

  22. OH MY GOD!!!! i've been looking for that disco'ed theme to ceot3k forever!!!!! thank you. i had been looking for the version by gene page, hopelessly i have to add, but this is the one i remebered from being a kid, i'm so happy right now.