Where were you Memorial Day weekend 1977?

Let me paraphrase Wolfman Jack and ask you: where were you in ’77?  More specifically, where were you Memorial Day weekend 1977?

Well, I asked that question of a Cuban friend, and he said that he was in Cuba trying to figure out how to get out of the island. Then I realized how lucky I was in comparison. I was here to enjoy a new movie and he was down there struggling with the dictatorship.

We remember this weekend the 47th anniversary of Star Wars. In my mind, the movie was OK, but the return on the investment was really something else, as we see here:

Inspired by films like the Flash Gordon serials and the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, as well as such critical works as Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Frank Herbert’s Dune books, Lucas began work on Star Wars in 1974. 

Ground-breaking in its use of special effects, this is considered to be among the most successful—and most influential—films of all time. Produced with a budget of US$11,000,000 and released on May 25, 1977, the film became one of the most successful of all time, earning $215 million in the United States and $337 million overseas during its original theatrical release, as well as winning several film awards, including 10 Academy Award nominations. 

It was re-released several times, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions were the 1997 Special Edition and the 2004 DVD, which were modified with CGI effects and recreated scenes. It was re-released in the Blu-ray format in September of 2011. 

The film was selected to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of its National Film Registry. The film was selected in 1989, the program’s first year in existence.

It was also a marketing bonanza.  Every boy wanted to be Luke Skywalker and every girl for sure Princess Leia.  Nobody was talking about “gender roles” back then.  Maybe things were simpler or people had more common sense.

By fall, young people were dancing to a disco version of the theme song by Meco!  By the way, Meco was Domenico Monardo, who once played in the Cadet Band at West Point. It still sounds cool today.

Who would have believed any of this on that Memorial Day weekend of 1977, when the movie was being promoted?  I certainly didn’t, and most of you probably didn’t, either.  On second thought, this is the U.S. and wonderful and amazing things happen here.

May the force be with you!

PS: You can listen or watch Canto Talk..

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