Local notables talk about the franchise's lasting impressions. Readers: Share your favorite memory in the comments.
Jake Rudh, Transmission DJ, host of First Avenue's Cantina Dance Party: "I was a bit too young to see the original showing of 'Star Wars' in theaters, but I definitely remember the next Halloween. My cousin Doug and I both wore horribly strong-smelling vinyl costumes. He was Vader and I was Yoda. The mouth holes were just big enough to cut your tongue on and create a steam facial from your own breath. Later, I spent every quarter I had on the action figures and video arcade games. I also turned my BMX into a Speeder Bike. I generally say Molly Ringwald was my first crush, but who am I foolin'? Princess Leia in 'Jedi' was where it all started."
Will Alexander, YA author, winner of the National Book Award: " 'Empire' led to my first conversation about special effects. While I understood that Mark Hamill was an actor just pretending to be Luke Skywalker, I thought he had willingly volunteered to lose his hand for his art. I also understood that lightsabers were real. I knew this because I spotted something that looked exactly like a lightsaber hilt at the hardware store. I demanded one and promised to carefully mow the lawn with it. No luck. Instead I had to content myself with a plastic, yellow lightsaber toy. Not blue. Not red. Yellow. A travesty."
Miss Shannan Paul, Twin Cities comedian, co-host "Your Geek Show" podcast: "The first movie I remember my mom taking me to was 'Star Wars Episode IV.' I was too young to care a lot about the story, but I knew I wanted to hang out with the droids, ride in the Millennium Falcon and that I really, really, really wanted a lightsaber. Growing up in Arizona, the desert planet of Tatooine didn't seem that far away. I was disappointed that we didn't have two suns to set in the distance or land speeders. I thought Luke was lucky that he got to live in the cool desert when ours was so boring. Plus, thanks to Luke, I learned that sometimes your whining is totally justified. I would have wanted to hang out at Tosche Station, too."
Ward Sutton, cartoonist, "Sutton Impact": "I would not stop bugging my parents to take me to this movie as soon as possible. We went to see it at the now-defunct St. Louis Park theater on a Sunday night, thinking that might be an easy time to get in. Not so. We got there early but the screening was already sold out. I had to lobby hard to get my parents to allow us to go to the late show. My parents must have gotten a whiff of the buzz for this thing and agreed. We bought tickets, then went to have dinner at the Lincoln Del restaurant to kill time. I could hardly eat, I was so excited."
Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota Timberwolves: "The first time I saw it, I must have been around 13. I just loved it because it was real action. My first 'Star Wars' toy was the lightsaber. I got it from my parents for the holidays so that was one thing we really used. Me and my brother used to act like we were Jedis and use those lightsabers against each other. I didn't hurt him, but our parents were always like, 'You guys be careful with that.' "
Jonathan Palmer, executive director, Hallie Q. Brown Community Center: "When I was 7, my friend and I wanted to be Luke. It wasn't until adulthood that I found out Luke wasn't the one the girls liked. It was Han. I was dumbfounded. Now, at 45, married with two daughters, I understand. Han was daring and roguish with just enough arrogance. How can a guy running through the swamp with a muppet on his back compete with a guy who coolly says, 'I know,' in response to a declaration of love when he's about to be frozen in carbonite?"
Joan Vorderbruggen, artist, "Made Here" arts coordinator for Hennepin Theatre Trust: "When 'Star Wars' came out, I was pretty little with two older brothers who were huge sci-fi dorks. I remember being extremely annoyed at how much they loved it, so I decided I was against it and to this day dismiss it like the emotionally stunted 5-year-old I was. I do totally remember the jazz club scene. It was the first time I wanted to party down with musically talented aliens."
Michael Sanders, executive director of the Bakken Museum: "Within a couple of weeks of the original release in 1977, almost every game my friends and I played was "Star Wars"-related. All of the toys and action figures were absolutely necessary. We would play for hours, battling Stormtroopers and TIE fighters and the evil Lord Vader with our ragtag band of Rebels. The film was my first memorable exposure to the science-fiction genre, which has been a favorite ever since. It helped to foster a broader interest in science that has lasted throughout my life."
Neal Justin and Kristin Tillotson