Tales From SYL Ranch – 2017-05-07

The Old Fan's Commentary On Star Wars
 Tales From SYL Ranch, Sunday May 7, 2017

Episode I:
The Old Fan’s Commentary On Star Wars

The Old Fan's Commentary On Star Wars
The Old Fan’s Commentary On Star Wars

May the 4th be with you!

Just in time for the film’s 40th anniversary, Tales From SYL Ranch presents Episode I of the Old Fan’s Commentary On Star Wars.

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard live Sundays on //aNONradio.net// 20:00-22:00 UTC.  The station is listed on iTunes, TuneIn, and other streaming services.

Archives are available at //aNONradio.net// and the Internet Archive.

Internet Archive.

As usual, I’ll have The Hitchiker’s Guide To the Galaxy and topical music by Maestro John Williams sprinkled throughout.

This time around, I made a very conscious effort to speak in my General American accent.  Additionally, in the immortal words of my Junior High drama teacher, I have “dropped my jaw and enunciated.”

Hopefully this will make for a better listening experience.

Star Wars original title crawl.I’m also streaming the film if you wish to follow along.  I wouldn’t ordinarily do that, but I’m commenting on The Despecialized Edition.

The Despecialized Edition is a fan restoration that lovingly returns the film to nearly the theatrical version.  Every shot has been color-corrected, as LucasFilm has never gotten the color right.  All scenes added after 1977 have been removed.  The original Fox logo and fanfare, original LucasFilm logo, and the original title crawl have been restored.

Han shot first.

Han shot first.
Han shot first.

My HD copy is as close as you can come to a pristine copy of the film reels on opening night.

I’ll not be streaming in HD, nor will the stream be available except during the live show.  If you want it (and I highly recommend it) ,find it it the way I did.  Bittorrent is your friend.

Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard live Sundays on //aNONradio.net// 20:00-22:00 UTC.  The station is listed on iTunes, TuneIn, and other streaming services.

As always, to set the stage:

It’s 1977.  Everything we’ve come to take for granted didn’t exist.  There was no streaming, no MP3s, no Internet, no personal computers of note. Powerful computers were the size of a warehouse and were only owned by governments, universities, and very large businesses.

Even phones were radically different.  There was only one kind:  the land-line to your house.

I was 12 years old — the precise target demographic of Star Wars.

I first saw Star Wars a few days after it opened.  One has to recall that this was before Star Wars was a phenomenon.  Where today one might spend all day in line for an opening, no one knew anything about Star Wars.

I don’t remember much about that first screening because it was totally eclipsed by my second.

The first screening was in an average-sized theater in Omaha, Nebraska.  Theaters at that time were generally converted from live theaters and seated several hundred people at least.

The theater was jam-packed.  By then, word-of-mouth had spread and people were coming back for additional showings.

One must remember that at that time, there was no home video nor streaming.  Films were released for a limited run, and then never again.  If you wanted to see a movie, you saw it in a theater or not at all.  This partly accounts for Star Wars‘ success.  It was so much fun that people flocked back to the theaters rather than miss seeing it a second, third, fourth, or fifth time.

I don’t know how many times I’ve watched Star Wars in the last forty years.  It may well number in the thousands.  I’ve watched it multiple times every year.

Star Wars is my favorite film of all time.  Despite being a Trekkie almost from birth, Star Wars is a film that I can watch my entire life and never get bored.

My first screening of the film completely astonished me.  This was totally brand new.  There had certainly been space-opera adventures before, but nothing like this.  The special effects were simply groundbreaking.  The story is probably the perfect Hero’s Journey and never gets old.

As I say, I remember little from the first screening other than being completely blown away.  I watched it with my father and best friend and remember walking out of the theater saying to my friend:

“Wow.  That was way better than Logan’s Run.”

Keep in mind that pre-Star Wars, there was very little science fiction, neither in films nor television.  Star Wars changed everything.  After that, there has been a non-stop torrent of science fiction.  Logan’s Run was the most recent SF film of note, also with groundbreaking special effects.

They couldn’t hold a candle to Star Wars.

However, my first screening became irrelevant after my second.  I watched it at the Indian Hills Theater in Omaha, Nebraska.  Sadly, it was demolished in 2001.  It’s now a hospital parking lot.

In 1977, it was still in its heyday — and it had a CinemaScope screen.

A CinemaScope theater.
A CinemaScope theater.

You’re probably unfamiliar with CinemaScope.  It was a very short-lived widescreen format which had a huge curved screen.  The effect was the create a more immersive experience by attempting to cover the viewer’s periphery.

Boy, did it ever.

The interior auditorium of the Indian Hills was circular in shape and seated 810 patrons, with 662 on the main floor and 148 on the balcony.

When I arrived for my second showing, the house was already packed.  There was absolutely nowhere to sit except dead-center of the front row.

In modern theaters, one avoids such seats due to severe parallax distortion.  The Indian Hills, however, had a significant distance between the front row and the screen.

I saw in the front row, dead center …

It was an experience I’ll never forget.  The curved screen made it completely fill my field of view, including my periphery.

The experience was barely describable — which is part of why I’m making the commentary.  I actually became nauseous during the Trench Run.

To follow along with the amazing adventure of a 12-year-old watching Star Wars in CinemaScope, go to:

Be aware that the link for Star Wars: The Despecialized Edition will only be available during the live show.

Listen in and follow along to hear what it was like for a 12-year-old fan to see Star Wars for the second time — in CinemaScope!

Author: William Stone

"No human being has the right -- under ANY circumstances -- to initiate force against another human being, nor to threaten or delegate its initiation."