The Empire Strikes Back debuted in theaters on May 21, 1980.
I might not have been there on 5/21/80, but I was certainly there no later than mid-June of 1980.
I was part of the original Star Wars generation. I also recall seeing the first one with my dad in the summer of ’77.
In May 1980 I was a little shy of 12 years old. I was starting to become an adolescent, with preteen interests (playing sports, girls). But I was nevertheless captivated for two full hours by The Empire Strikes Back.
The original Star Wars trilogy was simply fun. These movies had no social consciousness or message (at least none that I could discern). These were swashbuckling tales filled with daring heroes and memorable villains, set in outer space.
I’ve seen most of the Star Wars movies made in more recent times–starting with The Phantom Menace (1999). I don’t hate them, but they aren’t as good as those first three. Not even close.
There is a time to continue with something, and there is a time to quit while you’re ahead. The Star Wars franchise should have ended with the film after The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi (1983).
I’ve seen all three of the original trilogy movies so many times that I now take the events in them for granted. But when they first came out, they were breathtaking (especially on the big screen), and nearly perfect (as close to perfect as a work of art can get, that is.)