SC Exhibitions Magazine 2016 47 Star Wars fan Danny Fitzgerald of Staten Island in Darth Vader costume poses in front of Loews Astor Plaza Dave Pickoff Picture Alliance AP Images Star Wars opened to British audiences for the first time on 27th December 1977 at the Leicester Square Theatre in London Picture Alliance empics Movie fans line up on Philadelphia s Chestnut Street for the premiere of the movie Return of the Jedi on Wednesday 23rd May 1983 George Wildman Picture Alliance AP Images a casual habit You would be in someone s rec room playing air hockey or trying to pop wheel ies on your bike and you d get bored with that and if you hadn t already spent your allowance you d head to the theater where the movie had been playing continuously since the end of the previous school year It was something to do For some like Mr Lethem it was also a gateway into more sophisticated cinematic pleasures and a first step on a backward path through movie history In his case Star Wars was replaced first by 2001 A Space Odyssey and then by The Searchers both of them not coincidentally among the identifiable ances tors of A New Hope Others held fast to childish things and formed a Rebel Alliance against the Empire of adulthood It s hardly an accident that J J Abrams director of Star Wars The Force Awakens is one of us He turned 11 about two weeks before I did The legend of Star Wars was something that arose later In 1977 we were innocent of Joseph Campbell and the further annotations Mr Lucas and others would provide The allegorical mean ings the battle of good and evil the mystery of the Force rest lightly on the jaunty surface of A New Hope There would be richer intima tions of depth and darkness in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi or maybe since we were a few years older we were more inclined to see them And then we kind of moved on at least un til 1999 when Mr Lucas returned with The Phantom Menace and the Gen X legacy of ambivalence and confusion blossomed anew That movie was terrible So was Attack of the Clones But it didn t seem to matter Everyone went to see those movies anyway and the aw fulness cast a rosy and perhaps unmerited glow on the first trilogy Those movies weren t all that good either And that didn t matter They existed the whole cosmos or gestalt or whatever it is exists in a realm beyond such judgments and also beyond the ordinary operations of nos talgia Star Wars is an old movie now older now than Elvis Presley s first records were in 1977 The film moves slowly and shows its predigital seams It s more charming than sublime a silly pop culture throwaway full of funny creatures terrible dialogue and breathless acting It s ex actly the same as I remember it and watching it again I wonder what I ever saw in it I find my lack of faith disturbing And yet I m still a be liever This article was first published in The New York Times

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