Amazing but true, Star Wars Episode I came out ten years ago today.
I emailed a bunch of my friends for their thoughts and feelings on the anniversary of this monumental cinematic event--sure, we're all now pretty aware of the mixed feelings that exist towards the prequels, but 1999 was a special time. The anticipation that lead up to this movie was incredible, myself, I just remember being filled with a feeling that something very excellent was about to happen, a sort of disbelief that a new Star Wars would be among us. Living in Provo that summer, it took a lot of strategizing to find a theater to go to and tickets to get. I saw the movie twice on opening day (this became my standard for all the prequels), once to break the seal, a second time to take it all in. I remember delighting in every second of it, trying to take it all in so deeply. Every second that passed I couldn't believe had happened and was sad to see go. While some people act like the Phantom Menace ruined their lives, I was so thrilled by it and left so hungry for more and more Star Wars.
Here's what a few of my friends have to say re: Star Wars memories. I suppose I'm proud of all the righteous Elders to be found among them.
My thoughts come from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was walking up a cobblestone hill in the western edge of downtown Buenos Aires. Surrounding me were advertising campaigns, poorly glued on to every possible construction wall. Each one presented scantily clad women using their assets to vouch for cell phone plans, beverages, and shampoo. As I topped the crest of the hill, a new billboard lining the cross street immediately captured my attention. I was frozen in the street. A solid black background surround the form of a red and black head with the words: El Comienzo...Episodio I: La Amenaza Fantasma.
I don't think I have or ever will feel homesickness like that again in my life.
First of all, holy crap, is it really possible that it's been ten years since the release of Star Wars 1?? I was an intern at Jammin 95.5, and my boss got in to an early screening of Star Wars, which made me very jealous. There was SO MUCH HYPE, and I personally was already dying to see it anyways, so the hype just added to the anticipation. There was this whole big effort involved in just getting tickets, and then the big wait in line. Darth Vader and some Storm Troopers were also in line with us, and Princess Leigha (sp?) was there too.
Then finally we were in the theater waiting for it to start... And then there were previews, and they showed a few opening title frames (for Lucasfilms, and THX, and Dreamworks, and all that) and then it goes dark and silent for a moment.
And it's all quiet, and then the words "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." appear on the screen, and then there is a big blast of horns, "Dauuughhnnnnnnn!!!" while the STAR WARS logo floats up the screen. And then the horns continue with their introduction: "Dun-dun-dun, dun-Dun-dun-dun, dun-DUN, DUN DUN DUN, DUN DUN DUN............" and then the big story floats up the screen while the actual Star Wars theme song starts, which goes "Dun, DUN, dun-dun-dun DUN dun, dun-dun-dun DUN dun, dun du-ta-DUN!... (dun dun dun dunt, dunt...) " But the part that really hit me in the theaters was that first initial powerful blast of horns and simultaneous appearance of the logo. The horns/logo combination especially impacted me when I watched Episode 2.
The other thing that stands out about Episode 1 is that Darth Maul is one of the evilest-looking (most evil-looking?) villains of all time. Second only to Skeletor, the evilest-looking of all villains.
Another thing I remember is that you were Jar Jar Binks for Halloween that year, and I was totally opposed to the idea, but only because I disliked Jar Jar Binks so much in the movie. I think that was the night I wore the kids' wrestling costume for Halloween, so I was in no position to criticize other people's costumes.
My anonymous friend's story:
i was in Brazil and two fubeca (mormon brazilian term: jokers/scoundrels/slackers) elders went to the mall and saw the movie against mission rules. We were very jealous, building anticipation in our hearts. it was a great and exciting time. i collected these holographic cards and kept one of yoda in my "white bible" - my missionary guide - so yoda was always present with me, teaching me, til i could see the movie after my mission. Little did i know at that time that the force had to do with midiclorians - i would have applied that to my gospel lessons. i was living two blocks from the beach and to satiate our starwars thirst we would play starwars risk every P-day eve. Down with Ticket to Ride! and IN with Starwars Risk! Long Live Starwars Risk!
Thanks for the reminder.
Phantom Menace. Man, was I excited about this one. A few friends of mine and I had the plan laid out: half of us would skip the last period of the day to get a place in line, while the other half would rush across town to the theater as soon as the last bell rung. I was one of the latter half, and I kind of think sitting through an entire day of class added to the anticipation of it all. Because in the end, that's what was best about Phantom Menace. Sure, the lightsaber duels were off the charts. And seeing the title roll across the screen gave me goosebumps. But sadly, getting that first glimpse of Naboo couldn't live up to the backstory that I had guessed at, endlessly, for so many years as a kid.
I do think Phantom Menace is a good movie. But once the movie was over and I had that Christmas afternoon feeling of, "where do we go from here?" I realized that the best part was over after the title logo disappeared off the top of the screen.
I was on my mission in La Crosse, WI when The Phantom Menace first came out. I was out serving the Lord faithfully and resisting all temptation to sneak out and catch a peek. I mean, how could I? Not only would I be breaking mission rules but I would forever tarnish my appreciation of Star Wars with the stain of disobedience! Besides, Kwik Trip, the local gas station, came to my aid to vent all my Star Wars needs. They ran a Star Wars promo that offered seven different Collector Edition souvenir cups featuring the characters of Phantom Menace. So not only did you get an awesome cup but you got a bag of chips AND a hot dog! All for 2 bucks! Those quick Kwik Trip trips of innocent Star Wars anticipation will always have a more special place in my heart than the fulfilment of Episode One - which I saw two days after I got home a year and a half later.
So that piece of news just made me feel really freakin' old. In fact, no piece of news has made me feel older... seriously. If you were to quiz me on when the Phantom Menace came out, I would have said 2006 a mere 2 years ago.
I now hate the Phantom Menace!
Adam raises the key point. How did so much time pass? Where did these ten years go?
Please, help us continue to celebrate this special day by sharing your Episode I thoughts and feelings in the comments. Please.