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Penn
Penn commented about Happy 30th, Star Wars! on May 25, 2007 at 10:25 pm

At thirteen, I finally got to see STAR WARS on May 25th, a nice Wednesday afternoon, after having read about it six months prior in the November ‘76 issue (#2) of Starlog Magazine. My best friend Greg, who lived near the Park theater in St. Louis Park Minnesota, and I had been anxiously awaiting its release. We walked the four or five miles from his house to the now closed Art Morderne theater just outside of Minneapolis. After about an hour, we came within sight of the theater and were surprised to discover a line wrapped around it! We quickly got into line, with still about a half hour to go before showtime, and watched it double while everyone in it began to comment on how many people there were! Once inside we realized that about the only place to sit together was about four rows from the very front and way over by the wall, it was so packed. It was one of those old theaters with just one screen and about a 1000 seats. Both of us were like; “What the hell is going on?”

I am not sure why, but I had this preconceived notion that what we were about to see would be in the same vein as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Maybe it’s because that’s what I wanted to see; a serious science fiction film, real heavy like. The preproduction artwork, by Ralph McQuarrie, in Starlog had, what I thought was an austere quality, an emptiness. I laugh at the memory of how, early on I reacted snobbishly at the bickering between the two stupid robots in the desert, despite already having audibly produced a wow at the sight of that never ending giant triangular ship. Well, pretty quickly I gave up on the 2001 idea and let this new, flashy, gritty, noisy, exciting story have its way with my 13 year old brain.

THAT WAS THE COOLEST MOVIE EVER! or something like that, I said. The audience had reacted en masse to many scenes; uproarious laughter at the stunning of R2, stunned murmuring as the Millenium Falcon’s entry to hyperspace, cheers at the exploding Death Star.

Well, Greg’s 16 year old brother showed up to take us home, but instead we all went back into the theater, this time in much better seats. Then his parent’s found us after our little impromptu encore and yanked us all out as soon as the lights came back up, since it was now about eight or nine. Too buzzed to care that they were pissed at us, we planned our next trip back.

Over the next 60 weeks I think I probably saw STAR WARS 25 times at that theater, and that was before they got the 70mm reel later that December. One time during the following summer of ‘78, I sat through it three times in a row. I practically went through puberty while it ran there.

Tonight, 30 years later I drove by the place, the theater auditorium gone, but the spot were we waited in line was there, the front of the marquee, now a jewelry store, basically as it was and intact. I tried to imagine the line snaking around the side filled with people in 70’s attire. I followed that imaginary line to the back of the now smaller building and was pleasantly surprised to see six window-like squares in a row near the top of the exterior wall. I once sat directly under those windows while overhead projected some of the coolest light I’ve ever seen.