Friday, 12 July 2013

Life before Star Wars. There really was one.

Jimmy Carter, Sonny & Cher, Frost/Nixon, Annie HallLaverne and Shirley: America at 
the time Star Wars was released in 1977

A few facts about the world into which Star Wars arrived in 1977.

It was released in the US on Wednesday May 25, showing on only 32 screens, rising to 43 by the weekend.

Jimmy Carter’s presidency was still new.

TV audiences were being gripped by David Frost’s interviews with ex-President Richard Nixon.

In the news, 105 children and five teachers had been taken hostage by South Moluccans islanders in Holland.

Movie theaters were showing:

Ai no Korida
The Eagle Has Landed
Audrey Rose
Demon Seed
Annie Hall
Cross of Iron
The Car
Smokey and the Bandit.

Television was showing:

The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sonny and Cher Show
The Little House on the Prairie
Happy Days
Laverne and Shirley
Charlie’s Angels
Gemini Man
Starsky and Hutch
Sanford and Son.

The number one US single was 'Sir Duke' by Steve Wonder and the number one album was Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.

James Callaghan, The Professionals, A Bridge Too Far, Doctor Who, Wings: Britain at the time Star Wars was released in 1977 

Star Wars was released in London’s West End on December 27 1977.

James Callaghan was the Labour Prime Minister.

A strike by firefighters was continuing over the Christmas holidays. Bread supplies were returning to normal after an overtime ban by bakery unions. Half of the RSPCA’s inspectors were preparing for their own overtime ban.

London cinemas were showing:

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Goodbye Emmanuelle
The Other Side of Midnight
The Deep
A Bridge too Far
The Rescuers
Slap Shot

British TV was showing:

The Bionic Woman
Washington: Behind Closed Doors
One Man and His Dog
Mind Your Language
The Professionals
General Hospital
Doctor Who
(the serial The Sunmakers had just finished; Underworld was about to begin)
Jim’ll Fix It
Starsky and Hutch
The Good Old Days

The number one British single was 'Mull of Kintyr'” by Wings. The number one album was the K-Tel compilation Disco Fever.
I mention all this because I think it's important to remember that Star Wars was a film of the 1970s. No amount of digital tinkering can disguise that fact, and who would want to? (Well, apart from George Lucas, say.) You can't comprehend how important it was unless you understand that it was released into a world very different from today's. And one of the main differences is the total absence back then of any other movies like Star Wars.
The day before Star Wars: what
was playing at my local cinema

I was 10 when the film came out, and my most recent pop culture obsessions up to that time had been Starsky and Hutch and Planet of the Apes. I enjoyed Star Trek, which seemed to be shown every morning during the school holidays, and I had periods when I loved Doctor Who.

But I had never seen a science fiction film at the cinema. In fact, I'd seen very little that wasn't Disney. Nothing had prepared me for an experience like Star Wars – and for the obsession which just one viewing of the film was about to inspire.

If you're a first generation fan, what do you remember of life before Star Wars? What film or TV interests did you have before then, and did Star Wars eclipse them forever? Please subscribe and comment.

1 comment:

john white said...

It's true Darren, there was nothing really for sci if fans in the cinema. I'd seen King Kong, a Sinbad movie and The Land that Time Forgot. Those were the closest! SPACE 1999 and Man from Atlantis were lifesavers as was the pretty dated Star Trek.

I do remember being fascinated by the Cross of Iron ad in the newspaper cinema pages at that time. WWII and Warlord comic was still the biggest thing for me and took up most of my drawing time and comic production.

After SW hit me, lasers very much took over from machine guns!