I was 10 years old and in primary school in ’77 and wasn’t a science-fiction fan at all. My best mate told me he’d seen this new movie with his mum called Star Wars, and he was raving about it. I was very ambivalent about it, but then all the other kids at school started saying the same thing. I asked my mum to take me, so we went into the city one day to get some tickets and all of the screenings were sold out. We eventually got into a screening, and because they were trying to pump through as many screenings as they could in a day, there were no ads, no trailers - the lights just went off, the curtains opened and the movie started – bang!
What struck me most was the opening crawl and the ship flying in from overhead - it just blew me away.
By the time I went back to school after the weekend we’d all seen it, and suddenly we were all Star Wars experts - or so we thought. At the time there were no magazines or action figures or anything to spark our memories, so we were all just trying to remember the film the best we could. We’d talk about how they made it, and whether they used real aliens or not. We started coming up with our own stories and writing comics, some of which I’ve still got. Soon we were playing Star Wars games at school, with some of us being rebels and some of us being Imperials. All we’d do is shoot each other - “peow peow peow!” It just took over, and whenever we could get back to the cinema to watch the film again, we would.
I saw it a total of six times back then. It was like an obsession, and you’d get withdrawal symptoms. I’d want to remember certain bits, so I’d think “I’ll see it this time to just concentrate on the lightsaber duel.” Slowly the magazine and souvenir booklets came out, and we just tried to learn everything we could about the film. I eventually got the ‘Escape From Death Star’ board game, and we couldn’t play that enough - owning it was a big deal.
In art class at school we all started making little X-wings and TIE fighters. The film was a constant topic of conversation. I remember two kids in the playground arguing over whether or not Chewbacca was a real alien - there was a rumour going around that they used real aliens from outer space. So one kid says, “He’s not an alien!” and the other kid says, “Yes he is - did you see any zippers?” The other kid goes “No I didn’t… he’s a real alien!!!” We all believed it, too. We’d always get stuff wrong - for ages I’d misheard ‘Darth Vader’ and thought he was called ‘Earth Raider’! It was a good time to be a fan because we were basically the target audience, being 10 years old.
As time went by, a lot of people’s fandom dropped off, but mine didn’t - if anything, it increased. I’ve now been to Skywalker Ranch, and as part of the Star Walking fan club we’ve run Star Wars conventions and panels. The best part about it, though, is the people you meet and the friends you make. You can talk about Star Wars with them as much as you want, and they'll always get what you're saying!