(Star Wars: New Hope – probably the greatest movie that came out to capture everyone’s imagination and left a deep impression of their life. Picture source: IMDB)
In a galaxy far, far away…
The Star Movie channel over Astro been showing all the movies in the Star Wars trilogy and last Sunday was the screening of Episode IV (Episodes V & VI will be shown in this week and thereafter). This is not the first time I am watching all the 6 movies – I probably have watched Episode IV about 20 times (or more!) and the rest between 10 – 15 times – ya, I am one crazy Star Wars fan. But despite that, it still feels exciting whenever I see on screen a Jedi fights with a light saber or R2D2 arguing with C3PO – the “Force” has made a strong impact on many of us.
The first Star Wars movie (Episode IV) came out in 1977 at the time when I was just 4 years old – too young to understand what the “Force” means.
So, I always wondered how the original Star Wars movies looked like on the big screen. If watching it on the small screen was more than enough to turn me into a true Star Wars believer, I am sure that the impact would have been greater if one has seen it on the big screen in 1977 and to many, it did.
So, in 1997, when George Lucas was preparing the world for the Star Wars prequel – Episode 1, he did something that we did not expect to see in our lifetime – he took the original movies, edited them with the latest technology and special effects and re-released them on the big screen as special edition version.
This is not the first time that someone came up with the “special edition” version but it is usually confined to DVD or VCD level but not at cinema level. I can still remember this because I was so excited of this event that I kept close tracking on my calendar for the big day on daily basis. And when the day came, I rushed from work to the Cineplex in Sungai Wang Plaza in Bukit Bintang. It was one of the closest cinemas around. But I reached there way too early – the ticket counter for the movie was closed and the cinema was almost deserted.
Worried about the crowd, I sat down near the cinema for almost one and half hours for the counter to open (ignoring my hunger in the process). By then, a small crowd had begun to form at the Cineplex. Worried about the tickets being sold out, I stood nearer to the ticket counter and I was not alone – couple of guys in the 40s and 50s was equally eager to watch the movie, was also queued up at the counter before it opened.
I glad I made the move by standing nearer to the ticket counter for the crowd had grown large (it swelled to the main entrance) by the time the counter opened – some even did not get the tickets as it was fully sold out within minutes (some were fuming at their friends who came in late) whilst others had to contend of watching the next show.
As I made myself into the dark theatre room, just minutes before the movie started, my heart was pumping hard and fast. It was like going to a blind date with a beautiful girl – excited and nervous at the same time. Whilst they were showing the advertisements, some of us prayed silently for a trouble free viewing of the movie (didn’t I tell you that we are one crazy Star Wars fan?).
Me, in particular was hoping that the Cineplex don’t screw up the sound system because George Lucas had promised that the Special Edition version of the movie would include digitalized and enhanced sound. I looked around and noticed that there were no empty seats around – all has been taken up.
There was young people and older people who were excited to see the movie. There were even couples of guys with their kids talking about the time when they watched the movie in the 70s.
When the movie started, all in the theatre was in silence and almost in trance on what they were watching. The 1977 movie was back on the theatres with better film quality and digitalized sound! Those who saw the original 1977 movie would have appreciated the special enhancements for the Special Edition version. I saw the 1977 movie twice thereafter and many, many more times in TV – a movie not to be missed!
Even since then, we have seen Episode I to III and special edition version of Episode IV to VI. I was looking for the original 1977 photo shot of the movie when I stumbled upon the original trailer from back 1977, courtesy of Youtube – it is amazing how things have changed a lot since then.
Since the last month, Star Movies is showing both the movies (from the Episode I to VI) and also re-runs of all the movies (by the way, they are showing Episode III tonight again – yes!).
May the Force be with you!