The only thing I remember from the first trailer was this little robot that looked like a dustbin falling over with a clang. The whole cinema laughed. We thought it was ridiculous. I’ve just seen it again online and there’s a horrible voice-over too.
So I sat down to watch it in 1977, 13 or 14 years old, without high hopes. And then it performed that trick that cinema sometimes does. Star Wars reached out of the screen, wrapped a hand round me, and pulled me into its world. I was immersed, taken through time unaware, with a big, goofy smile on my face. I already liked science fiction – Arthur C Clarke, Ursula Le Guin, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Philip K Dick – but this was something else. It was science fiction and romance and a Western and cliff-hangers and jokes and pure escapism and shiny chrome and lasers and mammoth spaceships. To a boy sitting in the shabby Lewisham Odeon, in the seventies, the beige decade, it was joy. It was pure magic.
The thrum of fantasy, adventure and possibility was always there after that. The buzz of a light sabre, the breathing of Darth Vader, that sense of the endless well of space existing around us. It has been with me, always.
So I saw Empire with my mate Phil in London one evening a couple of years later. Then a mini marathon of all three films when they premiered ROTJ. Then the prequels, which had their moments, and now we live with constant Star Wars and the magic’s a bit diluted.
But it’s still there. The music puts that goofy smile back on my face. That sense of fantastic stories within reach, of possibility, existing under the skin of ordinary life. Still there.