What it was really like to see Star Wars in 1977

Originally published at: What it was really like to see Star Wars in 1977 | Boing Boing


I distinctly remember not wanting to see it after seeing a brief contextless clip on the TV news of the docking pad fight at Mos Eisley. The clip may have been from a rough cut with no laser SFX put in, so it looked like a Western.

My mother none-the-less insisted that the family see it for our regular Sunday movie outing. Like you every other elementary school student seeing it my mouth was hanging open and my eyes were as wide as a tarsier’s minutes after the crawl.

  1. Saw the paperback in a local drug store. The purple McQuarrie cover, no photos at all. “Soon to be a major motion picture? I dunno, sounds kind of cornball.”
  2. Saw the trailer, which made the film look like the coolest freaking thing ever.
  3. Bought the paperback on the way home.

I recall seeing it at a theater in Hicksville, LI. The lines were long, but fortunately not horrific.

I was a D&D player and avid SF reader, so SW didn’t come across as super-sophisticated, but it was visually beautiful and also a sort of validation. Hyperspace travel! Space empires! The kind of space opera I’d loved for years.


I saw it as many times as I could afford to at the Cooper theater in Denver as a 10 year old. The impact and newness can’t really be put into context because you have to account for what 1977 was like regarding the types of cultural stimulus available to kids then. Let’s just say things were very quaint by comparison. Nor had anything this epic and inventive been experienced in a theater. It was totally transforming. After the first time and the second it became an imperative to come back and see again. I think I made a dozen trips.


i was 10 in 1977. i can confirm the one comment that it was a “life altering” experience. i distinctly remember a few things about it: firstly, one of my friends got to see it on opening night in our city (Denver), and he was telling us about the opening scene the next day, and how HUGE the star destroyer was. i couldn’t believe a ship could be that big. secondly, when i finally got to see it the first time*, the theater was so full i had to sit in the front row, and the scenes with the x-wings swooping into a dive into the trench (with the camera following) gave me such intense feelings of vertigo, like being on a roller coaster, that to this day i can conjure it up when i watch it, and lastly, the entire theater ERUPTING in cheers and clapping when Luke destroys the Death Star is just a feeling that’s hard to describe. i walked out of that theater an entirely different person than i was when i walked in.

*i saw it 11 more times in the theater after that.


holy crap – i saw it at the Cooper when i was 10, too! high five


I was nineteen, the same age as Carrie Fisher. It was pure magic, and nothing else has ever come close.


“There was an almost palatable anticipation”

I hope the anticipation was palatable, at a minimum.

Palpable, maybe?


Care to blur that spoiler? Geez!


The voiceover for this video is terrible and bland, the exact opposite of what it was like to see Star Wars in the theaters.

Also the continuous & pointless background music is terrible.


for a 44 year old movie? and they show it in the clip that the story is about? i think not. :sunglasses:


I thought the one at the beginning was the Death Star they talked about in the crawl when I first saw it. Little did I know!



Was 5 years old. Saw it at a mall theater in Ft. Lauderdale with the family while visiting relatives for the summer. Surprisingly I did not remember lines. Mind blowing. Fan for life. Got the Kenner toys… Saw every theatrical re-release and made sure I had it taped when it finally got to HBO around 1981’ish


I wasn’t born until a few years later. I grew up watching the movies on VHS cassettes, but only when we visited my aunt’s house since she had all of them.

My youthful understanding of the films was limited despite my enthusiasm. I thought the 2nd Death Star was the 1st Death Star and the incomplete look was because parts of it had been blown up in the first movie, but not all of it (despite seeing it all blow up in the first movie). I thought the shield generator on Endor was more powerful than the original Death Star because it had the power to protect the Death Star (like a parent being more powerful than a kid they protect).

I got my own copies in my early teens and watched them probably 100 times each between 13 - 17.

I got a job at a movie theater in my teens because I knew they were going to be rereleased in 1997 and I wanted to get in free and watch them over and over again.


I saw it about 13 times in the first month it came out.
I noticed that the soundtrack would change slightly over time as they were apparently still fiddling with the editing, so when a new set of reels would show up, the sounds for certain elements were just a little different. If I saw it in a different theatre it might be an “older” version (from last week) and I would pride myself on my attention to detail.

What is life without obsession?

I later went to the first Comic-Con in Chicago and actually took out a loan to buy stuff. Like a pair of 80"x80" Posters. For $25 each. Every place I lived for the next decade had that massive poster on the wall someplace, held up with masking tape.


I was nine, my brother was eight, we were staying with our cousins in Seattle for part of the summer. We saw it three times, I think, during that visit but it was hard convincing parents to give us the money and take us. It really did seem like a huge deal at the time. Obviously, at nine I was no film expert, but it wasn’t remotely like anything I had seen before. I remember thinking that in every other space movie I had seen, everything was so clean and shiny; ships, interior scenes, clothing, etc. it all looked new. And then, in Star Wars, things were dirty and oily and actually looked like they were being used and I just loved that.

A few months later, while living in the UK while my dad was on sabbatical, my friend’s dad agreed to take us to the theater for a movie and we fought really hard for Star Wars. But, being so religious, he was afraid it was too violent so he took us, a group of four boys, none over ten, to see 2001 A Space Odyssey and we were absolutely flabbergasted. What the hell IS this? we were all thinking. Such a let down.


Parenting done right. :slightly_smiling_face:


I was 14 and lived in Arlington VA. My friend’s mom drove me and him and another of our friends into DC in the family station wagon at 5:30 PM. She dropped us off and we stood in line for two hours until we could get tickets for the 8 PM show. We finally got in and spent the next two hours spellbound. When the credits started to roll the whole theatre erupted in a standing ovation that lasted the duration of the credits, and swelled noticeably at the effects section. My friend turned to me and said “let’s come back tomorrow with my dad’s camera and some high speed film and take pictures!” For some reason neither of our parent groups thought that was a good idea.


Wow! At Roosevelt Field, maybe? Pretty sure that’s where I first saw it. (I know we went to Korvette’s while we were out.)

I was in elementary school when the movie came out and saw it a day or two before school started – so, I guess, on or around Labor Day weekend. I don’t remember any hype at all – we moved from LA to NY over the summer, so maybe I was too preoccupied to notice, but it’s not as though I didn’t watch TV – if anything, I would’ve remembered that Elvis had died. Somehow I heard of it, though: I had made a Lego spaceship & my dad remarked that it looked like something from Star Wars. I remember asking “what’s Star Wars, anyway?” So I must’ve at least heard of it; we went & saw it right after that.

When Darth Vader first appeared, it scared me enough that I wasn’t sure I wanted to finish the move – but I hung in there.

And not long thereafter, whenever my parents turned on the radio, it seemed like it was always the Meco version of the Star Wars theme, or “You Light Up My Life,” or something from Rumours, or something from Saturday Night Fever.


I was twelve when it came out, and I saw it eight times in the space of a few months. There was one time I just got out of the theater after watching it and decided to turn right around and buy another ticket and see it again, lol.

On a subsequent trip with my mom to Venice, we passed a cinema showing Guerre Stellari and could have seen it in Italian - why didn’t I?! I still ask myself.