When I was a young science fiction fan, way back in the 1970s, I thought Star Wars was just about the coolest thing ever. But it lived mostly in my mind. Since this was a time before VCRs became ubiquitous (never mind DVD players), the only way to see any relatively current movie was to make a trek to an actual movie theater. Star Wars had a long first run and a few theatrical re-releases. But I grew up in a rural area an hour away from the nearest movie theater, so I "only" got to see Star Wars three or four times.
I had some of the Star Wars toys and a well-read Marvel comic book adaptation of the film, and I'd occasionally find some kind of Star Wars-related book or magazine at the grocery store. All that stuff was nice, but, again, it was leaving a lot to my imagination. So I was thrilled when I learned about a Making of Star Wars TV special that would air in late 1977 (I seem to remember it being on CBS, though Wikipedia says it was on ABC). I probably checked the TV Guide repeatedly to make sure I had the correct date and time, then I sat down in front of the television, hoped for good reception (we were so rural we didn't have cable), and watched the special live as it aired (no one in those days could have even dreamed about Tivo).
And I think that's the only time I ever saw The Making of Star Wars. I believe it was issued on VHS as some kind of giveaway in the mid-1990s, but I never got a copy. Even having only seen it once, I still remember a couple of things about that special: C-3PO and R2-D2 were the "hosts," and there was footage of an in-camera lightsaber effect--basically a stick covered with some kind of reflective material. And, of course, the special featured plenty of footage from the original movie, which I was more than happy to see in my own living room.
Now I have more Star Wars than I need. I have it on VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD. Heck, I think there's a digital copy on my phone. And I still think Star Wars (the original version--don't get me started on the "special" edition) is a fantastic film. But it's not as special as it was back in the late 70s, when I couldn't watch it whenever I wanted to, when seeing Star Wars on a screen, be it big or small, was an event.
If you'd like to watch the Making Of special that initiated all of this nostalgia, check out this GeekTyrant.com post. Hopefully the powers-that-be won't file a copyright claim and have the video banned from the Internet. Better yet, maybe the whole thing will get remastered and show up on the inevitable Star Wars Blu-ray set.
Want even more behind-the-scenes Star Wars info? Check out this book: The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film.
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