Friday, May 25, 2007

The Force is Strong in This One!

Seriously, after staring at this for a while, it looked like the ghost of Alec Guinness was hovering before before me for a good minute afterward.

Here are the instructions, as accompanying this drawing in my 1979 Star Wars Luke Skywalker's Activity Book, published by Random House:

"Luke knows that the Force will keep Obi-wan Kenobi alive forever. You, too, can feel Kenobi's presence. Just stare at the white dot on his picture for about 50 seconds. Try not to let your eyes wander. Then blink them quickly and look at a blank wall. Who's there?"

Today, as you may have heard, is the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Star Wars. The theater where it played its longest run in the US, the Westgate in Beaverton, was not too far from where I live now; alas, it was torn down last fall.

Although my love for the episode IV and V movies has not stood the test of time, I won't denigrate them here. I'll just fondly remember waiting on line with dad, playing with the toys for hours on end, and being inspired to make The Empire Spits Up.

TESU was the Super 8 reel that pals Jeff, Mike, Chris and I filmed one arduous day in 1981. I don't think we got far into the story, which, I believe, was simply the actual plot of The Empire Strikes Back with minor embellishments. I spent hours working on ape make-up for my approximation of Chewbacca. I had a fantastic, early-seventies makeup kit which you used to make rubber gorilla appliances. I've looked for it on the internets, but to no avail. For all the intensive work, I'm on screen for about two seconds. I also puppeteered a rubber Yoda (the one put out by Kenner), my work mostly consisting of nodding and ear-waggling as he sat in a tiny rocking chair.

Jeff directed, of course--it was, after all, a "Twentieth Century Jeff" production. I only recall him playing a guy who says "Fire!" Chris played Han Solo, and Mike played Luke, who in one scene activates his light saber only to find he was holding the hilt upside-down. Thus, via jump-cut, the blade suddenly appears down between his legs, nearly vaporizing his nuts. I don't remember much else, other than that the string-suspended X-Wing looked surprisingly cool flying around. And it was a warm day, of that I'm certain, as I was sweating like a constipated Sumo wrestler in my monkey get-up.

I wish I had pics to show you. Well, maybe someday you'll see the whole thing on YouTube. I know, I can't wait either!


Blogger MO'SH said...

Yeah, we were really talented. Why didn't we get famous?

Sat May 26, 07:33:00 PM 2007  
Blogger JGerardi said...

As best as I can remember we got to about Dagobah with the Yoda puppet and realized we had no clue how we could translate the rest of the film and gave up. The remainder of the reel was a heated game of kill the guy with the ball. I remember showing the film with full taped musical score to the class in Miss Butler's room, which I am sure was a big hit with the ladies.
About a year or so ago, Aint It Cool News reported on this group of kids who filmed a shot by shot recreation of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It sounded fascinating, and the whole project took them close to a decade to finish. Spielberg has even seen it. The AICN guys had a screening of it and it was supposed to be fantastic. Made me think of our film and our attempt at making a prequel to Raiders which I destroyed by exposing the film when I flipped it in the camera. (BTW, our plot for that film was Indy hunting down the Holy Grail, one of my Mom's flower bowls, which Lucas somehow found out about and stole for the third Raiders film).

Tue May 29, 11:49:00 AM 2007  

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