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It remains one of my most thrilling visits to the movies. I had seen clips for this upcoming science fiction film, Star Wars, on Creature Features (in the San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU). I wasn’t impressed. It was just a little scene inside a space ship and that ape creature’s make-up wasn’t nearly as impressive as what was done for Planet of the Apes.
But our family took a vacation to see relatives in Colorado and one of my cousins told me I had to see this film. He had already bought the soundtrack album, which I thought was a rather strange thing to do, not knowing I’d soon do the same. Soon, I was sitting by him in a movie theater in Colorado Springs. As that John Williams surged, words drifted over my head and soon huge spaceships. I had never experienced anything like it. And I love it.
Soon the camera took us inside that rebel ship. It was being invaded. A huge masked man, all in black including a grand black cape boarded the ship. “Scary” didn’t begin to describe him. In the film, he was an underling to greater forces, but it was difficult to imagine who Darth Vader could possibly answer to. Who could be even more dreadful than this Sith Lord? When Vader escaped the explosion of the Death Star, it was frustrating and exciting. Multiple viewings of the film led to discussions with friends, “Will there be a sequel? Darth Vader has to come back.”
And come back he did. With the most unexpected paternity announcement in the history of cinema. Frankly, I was a little disappointed with the character’s softening in Return of the Jedi, but I was touched by his final moments.
Who has had such an amazing, intimidating physical presence on the screen? Maybe Karloff as the Monster. Maybe.
And now Darth Vader has died again. The voice of Vader, James Earl Jones, is still with us. But the body, Dave Prowse, has died. Rest in Peace, dark lord.Published in