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« Curio: Seeing Silhouettes | Main | Take Three: Cécile De France »
Tuesday
Jun192012

Twins: Luke & Leia

twins daily at 2:22 pm (while we're in Gemini)

Like most people of my generation I grew up with the Star Wars franchise (1977-1983. It ends there, right?) as the single most defining pop culture event of youth. I did not, however, feel any particular need to have it as a continuing Force (heh) in my life, afterwards. By the time I was a teenager I had already moved on to the collected works of dramatic actresses as The Single Most Satisfying Form of Entertainment. So I'm kind of amazed still that in any given month on the internet you can find dozens of new articles or tumblr items or deviant art sketches or nsfw riffs or ANYTHING at all about the franchise. It just doesn't stop... even after George Lucas tried to kill it cluttering up the beautifully sparse frames of the originals with merciless revisionism and CGI accessorizing.

Yet despite my lack of continued love for the franchise to end all franchises (or, more accurately, the franchise to start all franchises -- that's all we get now!) I will admit that Luke & Leia still have a very special place in my adult heart. 

More on Padmé & Darth's twins after the jump...

I don't actually remember seeing Star Wars in the movie theater (though I know my parents took us because my brother's remember it) but I do have very distinct memories of seeing Empire Strikes Back (1980). We were late to the theater (this was always my mom's fault. sorry mom!) and arrived just as Luke was being shoved inside a dead beast. I even drew a comic about it several years ago in a series on summer movies, indicating that it's just about my only memory of 1980.

Other vivid Luke & Leia moviegoing memories...

 

  • EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (the cartoon above plus...)
  • Leia's sad dramatically lit face while Han Solo sank into his carbonite freeze.
  • "Luke I am your father"
  • Luke all sweaty on Dagobah with Yoda as living backpack.
  • RETURN OF THE JEDI
  • "Somehow I've always known"... then why were you kissing last time, Leia!!!???
  • The anticipation about Leia's hairdos... what shapes would the braids make this time? (I was obsessed with braids as my big sister had long hair (often braided) and I worshipped her.)
  • Wondering if I'd be able to see changes in Mark Hammill's face, a face to which I was quite attached. (He had a car accident right after filming Star Wars with some reconstructive surgery but for whatever reason I wasn't cognizant of this until Return of the Jedi came out and I think I misunderstood and thought it had just happened. I kept thinking "Yes, yes, it IS different!".
  • Leia's weirdly catatonic line readings which suddenly made sense to me later as a teenager while reading Carrie Fisher's first novel "Postcard from The Edge" (yes, I read every subsequent book she wrote). Now I can LOL but at the time I was like "Why is Carrie Fisher suddenly a bad actress?"
  • My Return of the Jedi ticket so shredded in my hands while waiting in the impossibly long lines that I was worried the ticket taker wouldn't let me in and everyone BUT me would see it.
  • The cheering that followed with the introductory shots of each main character.
  • One of my girlfriends going on and on about how cute Mark Hamill's butt was after leaving Return of the Jedi.  I was scandalized. 'NO, I DID NOT NOTICE!' went my (retroactively imagined?) paranoid protest but I do remember loving the the new black costume.
  • My bedroom wall plastered with Return of the Jedi stills and posters (with the gold bikini and the Ewoks -- I'm so ashamed! -- featured most prominently)

 

Carrie Fisher and her stand-ins. Thousands upon thousands of geeky women would don their gold bikinis from 1983 onward.

Michael wisely told us to let go of Star Wars in an early "Burning Questions" column, this one. But I couldn't let this twins series end without a big childhood nostalgic hug to Mark & Carrie.

When did you first see the Star Wars movie? If so what's your most vivid childhood memory from any of them?

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Reader Comments (21)

Nathan, do you have siblings?

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

The first Star Wars movie I ever saw was The Phanton Menace (a little too young for the original trilogy I'm afraid). My most vivid memory of that day was going to see the movie with my sister and mom, who had both never seen a movie in the theatres. We went to see it a month after it had come out; I remember us being the only ones in the theatre, as well as my mom sneaking in a huge bag of homemade popcorn (don't judge!).

As for the movie itself, I remember enjoying it immensely, especially laughing at the CGI hijinks of Jar-Jar Binks. Of course it's barely watchable now, even moreso after viewing the original trilogy, but I'll still always cherish that memory of my mom and sister getting a huge kick out of watching a movie on the silver screen for the first time.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

MDA: Episode One is "unwatchable"? There's MUCH worse stuff, even if there isn't more disappointing stuff. (Examples from 1999 include: Girl, Interrupted, Dudley Do-Right and the painfully manipulative Bicentennial Man.)

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

There are many obvious and substantial flaws in The Phantom Menace, but I think the years long backlash has gone way too far the other way in diminishing the film's rep. The speed pod race is a great action set piece, and Lucas orchestration of the climactic, intercut battles is borderline masterful (it certainly looks that way compared to the crap that passes for most blockbuster filmmaking these days). Folks really need to stop throwing the baby out with the bath water.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

4rtful -- obviously i have a sister (given that she's mentioned in this article ;)... but i have two brothers too. I'm the youngest.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I still remember the first time I bought Star Wars home from the video store and watched it with my Mom. To this day, it is still the only movie that I re-watched almost immediately (as in, the next morning). I thought it was just the greatest thing ever. But I remember being confused as to why Leia ended up with Han Solo:

"But Luke's the hero! He's supposed to get the princess!"

"But they can't get together, they're..." Mom stopped herself. "Oh wait, that happens in the next movie."

"THERE'S A SECOND ONE?!?!?!?!?"

And then Mom proceeded to spoil the rest of the trilogy for me.

She did conveniently leave out the Darth Vader part, but I was so anxious to see the other two movies as soon as she told me they existed that I pestered her to tell me what happened. The Luke & Leia thing blew my mind. But not as much as the BIG reveal at the end of Empire. We actually had to pause and rewind the movie because I threw a little fit about how Darth Vader was lying, that there was no way it could possibly be true, and my dear, patient Mother kept assuring me that it was, in fact, the truth.

PS - Nathaniel, did you purposely give your mother Maleficent's horns in that cartoon?

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I was born way too late to catch the original trilogy in theatres too, but luckily I did get to watch it before the Phantom Menace came out.
I was pretty young. I think I was still in elementary school, when my little brother (who must have been 8 or something) convinced our mom to buy him a boxed VHS set of the Original trilogy. I don't actually remember my initial reaction to the movies but I do remember thinking that the ewoks were really cute.
I also remember watching the Phantom Menace in theatres, and my mom being upset that Liam Neeson died. lol

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMel

I didn't read the article, I'm just reacting to every other piece being about twins.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

The first time I saw a full Star Wars movie was in January of 1997, when the Special Edition of A New Hope came out. I had seen a little bit of ROTJ on The USA Network in November of '96 but this was the first one I'd ever seen in full - on the big screen no less - and I was blow away (I can't remember much about going to see it but I do remember wanting to see Empire immediately after)!

From that point on, I was a major Star Wars fan and I even - stupidly - put "May The Force Be With You" in quite a few of my close friend's autograph books when I graduated from Junior High School in 99. I still love the saga to this day but I have to admit that I've never seen the "original" original trilogy. I've seen all six films multiple times but I've never seen Episodes 4-6 before the changes (which I hope I can rectify at some point).

My most vivid memories of Star Wars fandom would have to be getting the VHS set of the SE in August of 97 and waiting in line to see the midnight showing of Sith. I literally watched that VHS set every weekend that year, which makes me surprised that the tapes didn't turn into dust by now (I still have the set).

As for the Midnight screening of Sith, it was the first midnight showing I'd ever been to, so seeing people dressed up and waiting on this block stretching line was a very new experience for me. It was also interesting in that I got into a pretty deep discussion with someone about the LOTR films while I was waiting (we talked about the prequels as well but that's not very surprising, is it?).

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

I saw Star Wars when I was in first grade. I remember the experience vividly, I was so impressed with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Not so much with Han Solo.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

I was 19 when it was released. On a visit home for Memorial's Day weekend in 1977 my sister insisted that I had to see this new movie that just opened. You bet!

Oh my. I fell in love. I saw it over 20 times that summer (that's when movies had staying power). I had to take every friend and acquaintance who had NOT seen it YET (What was wrong with these people!). I had to go see it again by myself multiple times too. What a movie blast.

When Empire Strikes Back was released I was third in line at the same theater I'd first seen Star Wars (now named Star Wars: A New Hope -- sheesh): the Cine Capri in Phoenix, which was one of those BIG one-screen cinemas. It's now torn down, but will hold a fond place in people's memories as THE PLACE to see the Star Wars films.

By the way, any time the original three films are shown in a theater, I am compelled to go see them again. My viewing count is high (30? 40? viewings), but I can't resist the films' lures even in my 50s.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin in Flagstaff

/4rtful. i was jut going to say. I also mentioned my brothers in this piece. CLEARLY SOMEONE ISN'T READING ;() lol. and also sigh. it's work to write a blog!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Volvagia: I said barely watchable, which is different than unwatchable, with the context being that it was barely watchable when compared to the original trilogy. The movie itself does have it's strengths (some great action sequences and great performances from Neeson and McGregor) but overall isn't a good movie. And of course there is much worse stuff out there, but I never said it was a terrible movie.

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

OFF-TOPIC: today is the birthday of the greatest actress ever, Gena Rowlands. She is 82!

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

It's "No. I am your father" not "Luke. I am your father."

June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

I was nine or ten when they re-released it for the 20th anniversary. My dad is a big Star Wars fan (although he doesn't look it) and he took me to see all of them. The jeepney ride home felt different after those screenings, in a good way.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

This article was a fun walk down memory lane for me. It's also a relief to see that I'm not the only, ahem, mature reader you've got. I thought everyone would go on about seeing the originals on dvd or something.

I remember seeing the first movie in theaters at least a couple of times (once during the summer and then I think it was my birthday party event in November). Empire Strikes Back- I was 9 years old but somehow my parents let me and my older brother wait on line at the Astor Plaza in Manhattan starting at like 6 in the morning to see the very first public screening in New York. That was super exciting. My brother and I liked it so much that we stayed to see it again.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAR

I saw the original Star Wars when it came out in the 1970s at The Grand Rex in Paris. It seated 3000 people and it was full. The Grand Rex had fake Romeo and Juliette type buildings on the side walls, and the ceiling was a sky of stars, with clouds that rolled by, like planetarium. When they did the space scenes, the screen blended in with the ceiling, so it was as if you were in an open air amphitheater like a Coliseum watching spaceships zip around for your entertainment. What glorious fun.

June 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranother mature reader

Watched the first one in Carmel, CA. Somewhere around 3rd grade, when it first came out. My best pal had a job at the only theater around showing it. I lived in a nearby city and would spend weekends with him. We would clean the auditorium between shows and watch the film over and over and over. He could recite the dialog along with the film, down to R2's bleeps and squawks.

Favorite memory: Luke's "O-face" after he launched his torpedoes down the Death Star's tight little exhaust port...

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikeInSanJose

...That shoulda been "7th grade"...

June 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikeInSanJose

Which movie did Carrie Fisher's line readings suddenly turn catatonic?

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermatt

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