A long time ago…

Advance tickets. Allowed to cut school. Stand in long morning line at the Century Theatres. Vaguely aware Darth might be Luke’s father thanks to Cinefantastique (the first spoiler magazine). Tremendous cheers at Fox fanfare. Stop-motion Taun-Taun! Luke! C-3PO! R2-D2! Amazing Walkers. Han! Leia! Magnificent John Williams score. Perfect Saturday matinee vibe. Much humor. Yoda and Luke bond. The Asteroid Field. Creepy back of Vader’s head. Han and Leia hook up! Huge applause for light speed. Cloud City no big deal. Hello, Lando you scoundrel. Boba Fett! “I know.” Han frozen. Poor C-3PO. Luke to the rescue. Who is The Other? Luke and Darth Vader finally face-off. Dark duel. Mark Hamill never gets enough credit. Space operatic cliffhanger. We have to wait until the next chapter? The Force is strong with this one. Where were you?

18 Responses to “A long time ago…”

  1. true story. i was 6. my family organized a big night out to see the movie, because the adults had seen the first episode. not me. the theatre lobby was so big, i can remember the echoes of the crowd. i can remember the curtain, in those days, it was covered with ads. i can remember every single second of the movie. it was the most amazing thing in my life, until then. for years, i carried this souvenir with me : snow, dark corridors, doom, the music… it felt so complicated, so terribly adult for me, and yet, i was mesmerized… giant mechanical turtles… weird space creatures… han solo’s frozen pain…. yes, i felt it like my first horror movie… right to the last scene, vader and luke amazing duel… i was so scared of lightsabers sounds, and the heavy breathing, and the shouts, that i spent the last 30 mn of the movie under my seat. before this movie, the only movie i saw in theatre was pete’s dragon. i remember the smell of the ground, the fun of hiding, my parents laughing at our cowardice, and my little blond girl neighbour, with me under the seat, as the theatre exploded in sounds. i wasn’t crying. i was just imagining stuff going onscreen, and for years, i would never know what really happened in that tragedic end, on which i got to see only the last shots, when i climbed up the seat, my mum’s hand in mine : a ship’s bay, and two people, hugging in front of space. in the fast food restaurant after the movie, i remember playing sabers with my brothers on the benches. i was so into it. half of it i’ve seen. half of it, I’ve imagined. a perfect playscape, for the next 10 years. when i saw the movie for good, with the end, i was a teen, and i’ve literally spent my childhood imagining that ending : the fact that it managed not to disapoint me is why Empire is still my favorite movie ever. it’s a great day !

    here is the french poster

    • christian Says:

      Great memory walk. So what happened when you finally saw STAR WARS?

      • i saw it like, a year or two after, when it was re-released in theatres. my mom took me in this very small cinema, and we entered when R2 is getting caught by the jawas on tatooine. i never really saw the beginning of the movie until the video release. i remember my mum holding my hand for the whole seance. afterwards, i was totally into star wars, and return of the jedi was my first coming out of age movie experience. star wars hold a dear dear place in my heart. *sigh*

  2. I was 25 at the time, and talked the girlfriend I was living with to join me, and went to the 5 AM showing at the theater in Hollywood showing it around the clock (I’m thinking it was the Egyptian Theatre) before going to work that day. No spoiler magazine for me, so I was jaw-dropped. All I could think about that day was having to wait three more years till the next episode!!! Still, it was one of the best things I ever woke up at o’dark thirty to attend. Thanks, Christian.

  3. i was 13 i think…i can’t remember the exact cinema sadly, but it was BONZA, so exciting and grand and cool and sad and dramatic and dark and tragic (i couldn’t seem to get over the shock of luke’s hand getting cut off; i clearly remember my friend and i looking at each other in utter ‘oh no he didn’t!’ shock as luke plummeted down the structure into the tube clutching his stump). the one image that probably stands out over the rest is luke’s ‘vision’ while in training with yoda when he faces vader, decapitates him and sees his own face staring back at him from inside the helmet. absolutely beautiful (and freaky as hell). imho ’empire strikes back’ is a stone cold cinema classic and most certainly one of the best movie sequels of all time.

  4. Frank B Says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this one…the dude in the helmet looks really familiar.

  5. Frank B Says:

    That would explain a lot.


    By a ZILLION miles. The first one’s so much more icy, cold, Lucasian, surreal, white, weird, otherworldly… Empire is great and all, but really, without SW it wouldn’t exist.

    Plus HOW DID ANY OF YOU OLD ASSES see these in theaters?

    I was 7 when this came out, didn’t see it til the 83 rerelease. By that time I’d seen EVERY MOVIE EVER, so it was no big deal. Just another OK movie.

  7. Ah, I also have very fond memories of seeing EMPIRE when it first came out in theaters and being blown away by the Snow Walker attack on Hoth! And then to see Han get carbonized! 3PO blasted to bits! Luke getting ihs hand chopped off… by his own father?!!! Incredible stuff. It’s a damn shame that Kasdan never scripted another STAR WARS or Indy Jones film. Both franchises are infinitely poorer for his absence.

    And I am down with LexG, the first STAR WARS film is the tits! But not for the reasons he states. oh contraire, I think it’s the warmest, most personal of the SW films and goes from the micro to the macro as Luke is forced to go into a much larger world (galaxy?).

    Hopefully, this comes through – the best SW reference in recent memory:

    • christian Says:

      Yep, Kasdan shoulda been writing ROTJ. He brought a lot to EMPIRE. And yes, ESB was definitely a watermark in terms of visual excitement, but it in no way replaces STAR WARS but then, it’s not supposed to. That’s why ESB worked so well, it wasn’t just telling the same story as most sequels do, it continued the tale and allowed the characters to move forward, particularly Luke.

      J.D., thanks for the clip tho I find SCRUBS unbearable. The worst kind of forced quirk. Thank God Billy Dee popped in.

      • “That’s why ESB worked so well, it wasn’t just telling the same story as most sequels do, it continued the tale and allowed the characters to move forward”

        You just hit the nail on the head as to why EMPIRE is so great. It’s just not a rehash of the previous film but its own thing. So few sequels seem to understand this.

        And I’m not a huge fan of SCRUBS (John C. McGinley is the best thing about the show) but this clip is priceless. Easily the funniest moment in its entire run.

        • it is a very good point. sequels always end up rehashing the same plot over and over again, with different characters, but in the end, we get more of the same (xmen 2 and fucking cerbero just popped in my head). star wars narrative was inherited from pulps, picking up the thread and running with it. we lost that. we want self contained narratives, with very few relations to other episodes – it s all about character meta arcs, because execs think that if you need to see the first one to understand the second, then fewer people will come. bad, bad.

          • christian Says:

            I thought EMPIRE had extra pulp quotient. “The Imperial March” is the greatest pulpiest serial music ever.

  8. christian Says:

    Lex, I’ve take a page from your hero Jeff Well’s Stalinist Playbook:

    Miley Cyrus = Pop Spam

  9. You know she is dreamy.

    I got a fistful of Taylor Momsen links on deck…

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