In 1980, a friend of my parents said they had seen, "The Empire Strikes Back" and that it was an excellent movie. I was 9 years old at the time and so one summer evening, they took me to see it. I was blown away, sitting in between my father and mother. I would look to the skies at night wondering about other worlds and if a real Luke and Leia existed somewhere. I collected the toys. The Kenner action figures, the Darth Vader collectors case, the Dagobah playset, the Tauntaun. I also bought some of the Hoth Micro Collection. I caught up with "Star Wars" for its rerelease in 1981. And I patiently waited for May 25, 1983. "Return of the Jedi" didn't come to my hometown on that day, so my mother drove me and my younger siblings to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to watch it at one of those big old theatres. The seating capacity was about 1000 people. Big theatre. My family sat near the back. I chose a seat closer to the front. In the lobby, they were selling the Official Collectors Guide for "Return of the Jedi" as well as buttons from the movie.
I remember how excited I was when I saw the first photos from "Jedi". Several months before the movie came out, there were pictures from it in "Starlog" magazine.
They whetted my appetite. What new adventures were to be had for my heroes? On that summer evening in 1983, I found out. I was then 12. I bought the soundtrack that same day before I saw the movie.
But most of my questions about "Jedi" had been answered before I went to see it on opening day. How was it that I knew all the major plot points of said pic before its release? Well, I had ordered the "Return of the Jedi" full-color storybook from my school a few weeks prior. I figured the book couldn't come out until the movie was released. Imagine my suprise when around May 20, my name was called by the teacher. He had the "Jedi" storybook for me. I was shocked. I looked at some of the pictures, but I didn't want to read much of the text. That would spoil things. Hours went by. Finally, I relented. So, sitting on my front porch, I read the children's storybook. It didn't reveal everything, just most of it. It was like talking to God. I was finally learning the answers to the questions I had been carrying around for years. Han was rescued. Yoda died. Vader was Luke's father. Vader died, but found redemption. I felt somewhat guilty for having read it, but to have the secrets of the universe ready to be revealed to you, that I could not resist. I just couldn't wait. I was still excited to see the movie, however, to see things actually transpire on screen and, thankfully, there were some scenes in the movie that weren't in that storybook, such as Anakin joining Yoda and Obi-Wan at the end of the movie. The next day was my last of elementary school and, needless to say, my childhood would soon be ending.