The 40th Anniversary of TESB: what's your story/history with the film?

Daigo_Bah

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I thought it would be interesting now that we're in May, 40 years after the release of TESB. Were you alive then? Remember it? Collect it? When did you enter the love of TESB if not at the start?

I'm 48 this year, so was 8 years old when it came out. I have memories of seeing ANH in theaters at 5 years old (and had many of the toys, but probably not most), but my first clear memory was the re-release in 1978, going with my grandma. TESB, on the other hand... I was all-in. It represented the heaviest buying/collecting for me. I'll never forget seeing the Christmas present AT-AT wrapped and hidden in my parents' closet (I peeled back the corner wrap to see what it was :sneaky: ). I had and loved all the mini-rigs and Hoth playsets (the Imperial Attack base and Turret/Probot being favorites).

I had every single figure (with a strange, glaring pair of exceptions: I did not have 4-LOM or Zuckuss, and I'm not sure why!), including both Cloud City guards, and my absolute favorite figure was Bespin Luke.

And despite my complete love of the OT, believe or not, I didn't buy a single ROTJ product! At that point, I had moved on to GI Joe and then Transformers (as a kid, I was very exclusively one toy line at a time :unsure:).

What's your story?
 
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Kind of a similar background. Actually it's all a bit foggy as most of my childhood memories are, but I do have few brief flashes.
 
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Same age, here. I remember standing in line for TESB on opening day. It wasn't a huge line, but we had to wait for the previous showing to end so we were in line for almost two hours. We saw it probably 20 times in the theaters, nowhere near as much as we saw ANH. I think the first figure I bought was the Snowtrooper, although we had the mail-in Boba Fett. For the first showing, they did have everyone go out the back of the theater, I'm guessing to avoid any Homer Simpson moments. I kept buying figures through ROTJ but quit buying them just before the coins. I distinctly remember going into KB Toys one day after the line had essentially died and seeing a whole wall of pegs stuffed with those final waves for something like 50 cents each. If I was buying any toys then, it was G.I. Joe. I could have bought 50 Amanamans for $25, but who on earth would ever want those?
 
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I was 10. we had tickets to a preview screening sponsored by a local radio station, so I actually saw the movie in February, a few months ahead of the official release date -- so I saw it before the hype had kicked into gear; before the buzz; before the spoilers; (etc). it was a huge promotional event. all the local celebrities were on hand giving interviews; there was a life-sized R2-unit in the lobby of the theater painted to look like a giant coca-cola can (etc). some guy from the radio station gave a speech before the film started to thank all the myriad of sponsors, which seemed to take forever... then he finally got off the stage, the giant red curtain opened, (yes movie theaters had giant red 'curtains' back then), the fanfare started, and the audience cheered. everything went smoothly for the first ~50 seconds, and then we all realised, something was wrong -- there was no dialog in this movie, only music -- the guy in the projection booth had screwed up, and he synched the movie to the john williams soundtrack instead of the actual film soundtrack. (oops). the movie played with no dialog, all the way through to the point where Leia is yelling at Han in the hallway of Echo Base.... then they stopped the film, apologized to the audience, and started the movie again from the beginning.... everything went smoothly this time.

as for the film itself, it absolutely wrecked me. the 'I Am Your Father' scene hit me like a ton of bricks. I was a literal basket case coming out of the theater -- I was physically bumping into walls -- I didn't know which way was up. at some point I got stuck in a crush of people moving slowly out of the theater and I swooned. my head was swimming, my vision was turning black around the edges, and I think I may have actually lost consciousness for a second or two -- I literally, passed out on my feet, (which was a memorable experience unto itself). next thing you know, my dad had grabbed me by the collar of my jacket, and pulled me out of the crowd, and into the open air. the cold february air hit my face, my vision cleared, I regained my senses, and rejoined the human race. *sigh* good times.

^^ this is the kind of thing that makes these movies so memorable: every time we rewatch these movies it brings us back to the first time we saw it... and, more than the movies themselves, we remember our EXPERIENCES that we had, when we saw these films for the first time.

I can revisit that movie again and again, and I will always remember, the 'experience' I had the first time -- I was gobsmacked. I couldn't string two words together, to make a sentence. I couldn't talk straight, I couldn't even walk straight -- I was in a state of Medical Shock! FFS..! and.. it.. was.. GLORIOUS! :ROFLMAO:




--> fast-forward to 2017. I saw Rians Last Jedi. you know..? the one he claims is "exactly" like ESB...? and what was my "lasting memory" this time...?

a full-on, white-knuckled, screaming-rant on the drive home -- anger beyond words -- (everyone says "it will grow on you", but honestly? I can revisit that movie again and again, and I will always remember, the 'experience' I had the first time -- Just Like ESB :unsure: LOL).
 
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I was 13 and I saw it shortly after it came out, but probably not opening weekend, and definitely not opening night. I think I had read the novelization already, so I knew going in that Vader told Luke he was Luke's father, but I didn't believe it until Yoda confirmed it in ROTJ.

I don't have any distinct memories of going to see it like I did with Star Wars when I was 10. For Star Wars, I remember what theater I saw it at (the Duke and Duchess theaters), when I saw it (September of '77 - I didn't hear about the hype until school started in the fall), who I was with (my dad), and even what trailers they showed before the movie (Close Encounters and Damnation Alley).

I recall standing in line at the Westwood Plaza Theater with two of my sisters, and I think that was for The Empire Strikes Back, but I'm not sure if that memory is from the original release, or the '81 rerelease.

I still got toys from ESB for Christmas of 1980, and maybe '81. I had a handful of the figures, but not all of the ESB figs, and I had the Twin Pod Cloud Car, Hoth Base Playset and Snowspeeder, but I think that's it. By the time ROTJ came out, I was past Star Wars toys and more into comics.

Oddly enough I have a clearer memory of finding and buying the first issue of the ESB comic book adaptation than I do of seeing the movie. My family was on a trip and we were having dinner at a restaurant that had a convenience store attached to it. When we finished dinner I was looking through the comics on the magazine rack while my dad paid the bill when I spotted the first issue of the miniseries and bought it.
 

Daigo_Bah

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It's funny how comics- or the storybooks- have as much, if not more memory associated with them than the toys. Speculating, it could be that with toys, we create so many different scenarios of our own that one thing doesn't stick out as much as the published media that is presented in one single way :unsure:
 
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I was born in 1981, so as with the rest of the trilogy my first viewing was on VHS taped off of tv.

And our copy of it intro'd with this...

Which was to my young eye, the coolest thing ever. Albeit I do remember being somewhat bored with movie during those 'dull' parts in between the Hoth battle and the lightsaber fight. ;)
I do recall being completely enamored with Yoda and Dagobah.

My first Star Wars figure actually was the Snowtrooper. That was in the mid to late 80s, at a KB toys, not unlike RomanXKnights experience. I distinctly remember there being a big display of them by the door, and my parents looking at the price and saying we could each get a figure. We weren't starving, but we weren't well off financially, and new toys were generally relegated to Birthdays and Christmas only.
So a random one like that was really something and I'm assuming clearance prices played a role. My older brother got Skiff Lando (my brother always had an eye for added value in that Skiff Lando came with both a weapon AND a removable helmet). My younger sister got Wicket, pretty sure my dad picked it out for her as she couldn't have been more than two or three (small parts immediately confiscated by mom; sister was born in 84 so this must have been late 86 or 87). And yours truly selected the Snowtrooper. I remember I wanted a bad guy, but felt the helmet's mouth on the Stormtrooper wasn't menacing enough.

What I wouldn't give just to BROWSE that display again today. I probably stepped over every POTF figure they made for that Snowtrooper. lol.

Interestingly, that Snowtrooper, I still have. He's the only action figure of any line that I still have from when I was a kid. He survived my mother's regular yard sale purges because of his lacking articulation. He always wound up in some storage bucket or in with mixed stuff; as GI Joe and the more gimmicky late 80s lines were my bag; until the mid early 90s when I rediscovered Star Wars and yadda yadda yadda here I am. :)
 
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I have a strange history with Empire. It's actually the last one I saw, I saw them completely out of order. I saw Jedi first, then Star Wars, then Empire. SO I saw the last first, the first middle, and middle last due to being born in 1984 and having just sort of walked in on a friend watching a VHS copy of Jedi. I loved it, so I thought...well I better start with the first one and then moved to the second. It was completely disjointed. So unfortunately, I TOTALLY missed out on a lot of surprises. I knew it all. I knew Obi Wan was going to die, I knew the Death Star was going to be destroyed, I knew Han would be put into carbon and rescued, I knew Lando would redeem himself, I knew Leia was Lukes secret sister, I knew Han and Leia would end up together, I knew Yoda was eventually going to pass away, and of course...most disappointing...I knew who Vader was. In retrospect, that kind of sucks.

But here's a testament to HOW good those films really are. You'd think me essentially removing any level of suspense would kind of taint my enjoyment of the films, but it didn't. I was enthralled. I was STILL invested. I wanted to see HOW the roles got to where they got. Maybe I did miss out on the shock factor, but truth is even knowing Vader's lineage was STILL shocking none the less. As a kid, ironically, Empire was the one I watched the least. As an adult, it's become my personal favorite. My very first SW action figure was a beaten up, down and out, used vintage Boba Fett that my baby sitter gave me. Oddly at the time, I didn't even know WHO he was. I just thought he looked cool.

I think, for a kid, Empire is perhaps the least enjoyable. It's much more mature than the other two, especially Jedi. It's significantly darker and much heavier on character than action when considering the other two. But as you grow older, you realize just how brilliantly intricate and emotional this one is. I mean, our heroes lose at every turn. It's sort of like when you're REALLY little, you blindly root for Superman. But as you mature, you come to realize...man...Lex Luthor is much more interesting. It's much the same for Empire. When our heroes are put into the ringer, it gives them so much more growth. The rebels are annihilated at Hoth, Han is betrayed and carted off to a drug lord, Leia loses her love, Chewie loses his best friend, and Luke loses a hand and realizes that space Hitler is his pops. I mean...talk about a gutsy way to take the franchise, but unlike something like say Last Jedi and its gutsy moves, Empire's are organic. They add up, make sense, and enhance the roles rather than stagnate them. It also does the whole subverting expectations thing but not in a disappointing way. Take this old Jedi master, you just assume some grizzled warrior type and low and behold it's this goofy little frog dude. It offers a positive message, don't judge a book by its cover, rather than Roundhead Johnson's always pessimistic twists. They took their brand new character, suave and charming and a person of some authority, and make him a a completely complex and conflicted character who rats his old buddy out...only to then realize he really DIDN'T have a choice. Even having the giant action sequence as basically the OPENING of the film was risky, it breaks traditional structure. It's legit the IDEAL sequel. It perfectly takes the first film and doesn't become obsessed with one upping the original, often a fault in many sequels, but rather focuses on enhancing the original. That is the sequel trap. Often they just take the exact same plot...and just try to make it BIGGER. Lost World is Jurassic Park without fences, Last Crusade is Raiders with Dad, every Austin Powers has the same running gags, but Empire did its OWN thing.

You often hear the expression "The original is always the best," but that's not really always the case. There have been a few sequels that equal or surpass the original in the eyes of many. Terminator 2, The Dark Knight, and Aliens immediately come to mind as fairly universally deemed equal to or better, l personally really like Temple of Doom and BTTF2, but I have to say, Empire I believe is THE greatest sequel of all-time.
 
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I was 11 years old in 1980 when Mom and I saw it. We did not see it on opening day.

The "No, I am your father" line was pretty darn stunning. Mom, on the other hand knew about it already because she apparently saw a live local news broadcast of people coming out of a theater.

The interviewer stuck a nicrophone in some idiot's face and he or she blurted out the biggest movie spoiler of the 20th century. :( She didn't tell me, though.

I remember the Rebel fleet turning away from the camera and the credits come up...and I was stunned again, lol. I didn't expect the movie to end! I didn't know cliffhanger endings was a thing. :) It messed with my head, but It really was something to experience. I think we saw it two more times when it was re-released in 81-82.
 
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I remember my cousins down the block seeing it first before I did, (which as a kid bummed me out because I wanted to go opening night but I was 9 & my parents decided it can wait). So they came over after seeing it & I remember bombarding them with questions about it.
When we went to see it, I was blown away at the revelation!! I had a blast watching it!!
 
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I was 9 (almost 10) when ESB was released in 1980. As a huge SW fan since seeing ANH three years earlier, I was really looking forward to the film. I saw it theatrically at least twice that Summer. I do remember being disturbed by how much darker it was than ANH. And, it has definitely become my favorite SW film of them all (including the PT, ST, and spin-off films as well).

Re: the merchandise, I do remember getting the ESB Storybook, at least one version of the Marvel Super Special comic adaptation, and some of the toys.
 
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Chose my words very carefully for this one. Today is the day, the day, it was mass released. Happy Birthday, Empire Strikes Back. I wanted to discuss my personal favorite lightsaber duel.

I always felt Empire was the most artistic of the Star Wars films. The lighting and cinematography of this fight is simply impressive. The atmosphere and mood is simply haunting. Luke Skywalker has come to meet his destiny...or perhaps his final hour. Vader moves like a silhouette, Luke at last facing a mockingly intimidating phantom in a mist of orange and blue highlighted steam, mirroring their clashing red and blue weapons. He's finally here, confronting the murderer of his master. The murderer of his father! Vader is a shadow in a darkness of lies...and what comes to light...is he's the shadow of Luke's very own lineage. Of Luke himself.

98594659_10223688513579815_2781098651097759744_o.jpg
 
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I have two distinct memories - the first was buying the novelisation with my pocket money. It was the first time I got to manage my own pocket money spend. I bought the book, a notepad and a pack of Snoopy colouring pencils. I still have the book. The pencils were rubbish and got pushed to the back of my desk's drawer. Not sure what happened to the notepad - it wasn't anything special. The second was the theatre I saw it at was the one at the shopping mall that Back To The Future was filmed at. Of course, that memory came much later, when BTTF was released.
 
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My parents hardly ever took us to the movies. In fact I can only remember once seeing Star Wars at the dive in as a family. The guy next door took me and his son because he was a huge fan.

However it WAS playing at the drive in which was a bike ride away. My cousin and I used to "sleep" in the tent in the back yard. Which meant grabbing the radio and riding bikes after dark to watch it over the fence. Nowaday I realize how dangerous that was. Not the best neighborhood for 2 7 year olds to be riding bikes through at 10 pm...
 
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for my second viewing, I was still 10 years old. my parents both worked during the day; same with the kids across the street... so I'm sitting around in the suburbs with these 2 kids who lived across the street, our parents were all at work, and we were all bored out of skulls. we got it in our heads to take a bus into the city and go downtown to watch star wars. because, why not? I didn't bother to phone my parents and ask for permission. because, why? my older brother, and younger sister, both refused to participate. they warned: "...you're gonna get in trouble!" but I didn't care. I cracked open my piggy bank and hopped a bus into the city, with these 2 kids who lived across the street, to go see empire strikes back. unfortunately, after paying for the movie tickets, we had no money for bus fare to get home (oops) so one of the other moms (not mine) came to 'rescue us' downtown after the movie was over. when I finally got home later that evening, I was expecting to catch ****, and get myself grounded or something... but instead my parents congratulated me on "taking the initiative" and "making decisions for myself". they scoffed at my siblings (who had tried to get me grounded) and bacially called them out for being a couple of sheep *sigh* good times.
 
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I was 22 and just had finished basic training and AIT from the Army Air defense school in El Paso Texas when I saw it.
Original or Special edition?

I still have my tickets from the Special Edition releases. I need to dig it out and see where I watched it.
 
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My first memory with ESB:

I was about 6 or 7 back then.
Over here in Austria, we had a TV show airing every saturday named "Trailer", introducing all new theatre releases for the coming week.
With ESB they intoduced Lando, some scene from the asteroid chase, Luke vs Vader...
But the one thing that got stuck into our minds, were clips from Hoth.

We replayed that "bring down that giant iron camel" sequence over and over with our bikes 😂😂😂😜

This, and a viewing of still untitled ANH on a rental VHS at my uncles place, just a few weeks before, was my introduction to the world of SW. ( the cut off arm of walrus-man was pretty scary at that age😖 )

From this moment it went on, vintage toys, marvel comics, selfbuild roleplayweapons with LEGO... I remember building a Lightsaber, a basic rod out of grey and blue part which didn't even last one swing 🤣🤣😂😂
I guess no one in my family would have expected this love would last forever😜
 
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My history with ESB started with seeing it on VHS in the 90's. I thought the AT-AT's were the coolest things ever and to this day they're still among my favorite, if not my favorite, vehicle in Star Wars.
 
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