Back to the Future, Star Wars Edition!

10th of February 2012 marked the release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace 3D here in Norway. 501st Legion Nordic Garrison was head of security ahead of the 2100 show here in Trondheim’s Nova 1 Cinema. It was here I saw the midnight premiere of ‘Crystal Skull’, and many other movies. Such great memories, and Episode I was no expection.

What really surprised me was the small number of people who showed up for the film. I can understand that a release of an old Star Wars movie might not be as appealing as a brand new episode, but no matter what, in my opinion, no matter if it’s 2D or 3D; a Star Wars movie was made to be a cinematic experience. And it is in the cinema you get to experience ‘the whole package’ of visuals and audio that Star Wars represents. My only concern now is that both Lucasfilm Ltd. and 20th Century Fox make enough profits to be able to convert the rest of the Saga into 3D for future releases. After seeing Episode I in 3D, I know I want to see the rest of the saga as well.

Now, turn on your Flux Capacitors; we’re heading back in time to the very year of 1999 to see how the situation was back then!

1999 in film features movies such as Disney’s Tarzan, Pixar’s Toy Story 2, The Matrix, American Beauty and Fight Club. However, Episode I was no doubt the one which got the most media and public attention. Back in ’99, the public excitement about a new Star Wars coming out must have been quite an experience. The internet was still in its infancy, and the release of Episode I represented a new way of spreading the buzz using this new technology which we all today take for granted. “The Star Wars Countdown” site was a great example of this.

The Star Wars countdown site for Episode I from 1999.

The official Star Wars site was also using the internet for sharing news to fans. I can briefly remember following a few videos on the web with Ahmed Best as a host, showing some nice behind the scenes featurettes from the official website. Good memories!

And here is ITavisens Episode I article from 1999.

The Official Star Wars.com anno 1999.

Aftenposten article from 1999 describing the Episode I queue outside Colosseum Cinema (Largest THX Cinema in the world), featuring Lars Undli who was my SFO (After-school-activity teacher).

Being 11 at that time (I was quite familiar with the world of Star Wars). To me (at that time), ESB was the least appealing movie of the trilogy, ANH was and have always been a favorite, with ROTJ on a close second place. I don’t remember much about all the media attention surrounding Episode I at that time, and I am quite sure my parents didn’t know about anything the release at all. However, that very early morning after the midnight premiere (if I recall correctly), we drove my aunt to “Vigelandsparken”, which is next to the world’s largest THX Cinema “Colosseum Kino” in Oslo. By pure coincidence, we spotted the advertisement signs outside the cinema, and got the very very early morning tickets. From what I recall, breakfast was included(!). By doing a bit detective work, I found out from the following article from Aftenposten back in 1999, that Episode I was shown around the clock in Norway the 3 first days of its first release. Talk about good luck!

Aftenposten article from 1999 describing that Episode I was to be shown 24/7, at least in Oslo.

Episode I was shown 24/7 in 3 days in a row between 20-22 August 1999, the first time in Oslo cinematic history.

There is no doubt that this movie was going to be special. To me, Episode I was a real ‘door opener’. Being exactly 11 years old when it premiered, and having not seen many movies at all at the cinema, Star Wars Episode I just blew me away, as being the first Star Wars movie I saw on the silver screen, and probably one of my earliest and best movie memories, it brought my Star Wars fandom to a new record height (If I only had the original tickets, it would have been such a great souvenir)!

I must admit that my experience of the movie was a lot more different than now. To be honest, I can’t say I remember much of Jar Jar at all. To me, young Padawan apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi was my biggest hero, and I totally fell in love with Queen Amidala. The Naboo Star Fighter was and is still among one of my favorites. And all the creatures and droids, gosh, it’s hard to even describe the impact that movie had on me. I am sure that Episode I affected me the same way as the original “Star Wars” did with kids back in ’77.

The Naboo Starfighter, a great example of Episode I conceptual design by Doug Chiang.

Doug Chiang, the conceptual artist for Episode I was my absolute inspiration at that time and I was dreaming of becoming a conceptual artist myself, working with both 2D and 3D-design. My absolute best childhood memories must’ve been from when I got the Obi-Wan costume package with the glowing lightsaber with retractable blade, jedi-robe and belt. When being 11 years old, dressing up like that just transformed your total scope of reality. Nowadays, you just feel like a fanboy in a costume, but back in ’99, I felt just like Obi-Wan. And I cried when my parents refused to buy me the official Star Wars Episode I PC Game, but after a bit of nagging, they gave in. BEST GAMING EXPERIENCE EVER, lemme tell you that.

To me, Episode I brings a lot of great childhood memories. It is an experience I’ll never forget. While the original trilogy has been with me all the time, Episode I represents my earliest Star Wars cinematic experience. Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I’ll have to catch another show of Episode I.

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