Star Wars Is 40 Years Old Today…I Think I’m Old Now

Friends, it’s hard to believe Star Wars is 40 years old. I will to admit to having a rather difficult time wrapping my head around that fact. As well as finding that I’m suddenly feeling my age. I also find myself flooded with many Star Wars memories. Having said that I felt I should focus on my first viewing of that groundbreaking film.

After all as Star Wars.Com reminds us. Star Wars is 40 years old today.

Star Wars is 40 years old - Star Wars.Com

Image courtesy of Star Wars.Com

I want to talk about Darth Vader’s appearance in the 1977 film. Moreover how I almost missed it thanks to my Father’s well-intentioned desire to protect his 5-year-old Son.
Star Wars is 40 years old

Of course when Star Wars was released back on May 25th, 1977 we didn’t know what to expect. In fact I don’t believe my Father or myself ever saw a trailer for the film until well after it had exploded in popularity. Moreover when we first saw Star Wars it wasn’t busy, if memory serves me correctly it was barely half-full. I can assure you however that the next week when we went to see the movie it was a whole other story. Lines around the movie theater!
Star Wars is 40 years old - Lines around theaters

Anyway, I am getting off subject. I was already put in a state of total awe with the appearance of the Star Destroyer. But as the rebel soldiers nervously awaited whatever was cutting through doors, a hand rose up and blocked my view. I yanked my Father’s hand down in time to see the Stormtroopers enter the Tantive IV, blasters firing away.
Star Wars is 40 years old - Stormtroopers

When Darth Vader stepped out of the smoke to survey the work of his Stormtroopers. My Father’s hand shot up again in front of my eyes. With all of my five-year-old might I began to slap at his arm, ducking so I could get my first look at Vader. Was I scared? Not in the least but I was definitely in a state of rapture as Vader proved he was dangerous as he was menacing.
Star Wars is 40 years old - Captain Antilles

As we were driving home I couldn’t contain my excitement over Star Wars. I was literally in sensory overload. While I had seen plenty of movies – great ones in fact, nothing had affected me like Star Wars. On the drive home I yammered away on everything about I loved about the movie. Of course I had to ask my Father why he had attempted to cover my eyes. The answer was…interesting.

“I don’t know. I was worried a monster lizard was going to come running out at the screen.”

While I could go on and on about what the film series means to me. As Star Wars is 40 years old today, I can’t think of a better memory to share with you all. Furthermore it is my hope that someday soon the Retroist might present a Star Wars podcast.

Until that day you can certainly enjoy the Star Wars: Droids episode of the podcast!
Retroist Star Wars Droids Podcast

For more fun featuring Darth Vader: It Only Took 37 Years To Put This Darth Vader Model Together!

While Star Wars is 40 years old today, this is a perfect time to remind you about the original Kenner lightsabers.

[Via] Ultimate Toy Collector

Star Wars Footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

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Last week while on vacation in California I got to visit the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater, located directly on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The theater opened its doors in 1927 and has been the home to many of the biggest movie premieres of all time, including this one which took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

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Star Wars opened on May 25, 1977 and was an instant success. People lined up for blocks to watch the movie, multiple times. By the end of the summer the movie was popular enough that three of the film’s stars had their footprints captured in concrete outside the theater.

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On August 3rd, 1977, C-3P0, R2-D2 and Darth Vader had their feet (and signatures) immortalized forever outside the front of Grauman’s.

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Here is how it looks today (or at least last week), some 37 years after the event took place. There are tons of prints just outside the theater, but I made a special point of finding and taking a picture of this one.

Matte Paintings

Some of the most iconic things my wife and I saw at the Special Effects 2 exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry back in 1996 were the movie matte paintings. Long before CGI was affordable, movie special effect wizards used matte paintings to fool audiences. Matte paintings are highly detailed paintings typically done on glass with spots cut out of them. Cameras then shoot through the matte paintings with the actors behind them to give the illusion of depths, or placed in front of them either using a projector or a green screen for sets that were too expensive of impossible to build.

I’m sure you all recognize this one from the Wizard of Oz. As you can see, there is a section missing in the middle where the actors actually walked down a yellow brick road. Everything else in that shot is actually a painting.

Here’s another iconic location that only existed on glass.

That is, of course, the reactor shaft that Darth Vader ultimately throws the Emperor in to at the end of Return of the Jedi.

Matte paintings are still used today, although by and large they have been replaced by computer graphics.

Darth Vader playing Pac-Man

As random things pile up and around my desk at work, eventually they begin to find one another. Take, for example …

I already covered this mini Pac-Man Arcade Cabinet a few weeks ago. Last week, someone stopped by my desk and dropped off the Darth Vader Pez Dispenser. One arm cut out of paper and a little Sharpie work, and the rest is history. I did eventually add a second arm after this photo was taken.

All the high scores on the machine now read VDR.