Vintage Review: The Story of Star Wars
In the late 1970s, long before the advent of a new-fangled technological terror called the VCR, there were very few ways to relive a movie-going experience once the film had left the theater. (Of course, back then we did have something today's instant gratification culture often lacks - we called it "imagination"). So, you can understand the dilemma of having just seen the most revolutionary film of the day and not being able to buy it or rent it, let alone download or stream it. Thankfully, there was an alternative - the LP. I don't recall the occasion for receiving The Story of Star Wars LP, but I do remember wearing out the grooves on that precious piece of vinyl. Much more than a simple soundtrack, The Story of Star Wars was an abridged audio version of the film, including the score, the cast dialogue and the film's sound effects, blended with a narrator - very much in the vocal style of Vincent Price - helping to bridge gaps and give context to the action. I cannot overstate how important this is, as the LP's successor (The Story of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) is a profoundly different experience because of a change in narrator. (Check out the Vintage Review of ESB next week). The LP also included a full-color booklet with images from the film.
The recording begins with the Fox Fanfare (Oh, how we miss thee...) and then a baritone reading of, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a great adventure took place..." (After so many listenings of the record, it's no mistake I still begin every bedtime story for my daughter with that quote.) The narrator continues to read the opening crawl and then the listener is then treated to roughly 45 minutes of Star Wars bliss. The beauty of this album is that it didn't tether me to a video of the film, but enabled me to freely act out the scenes by myself, or with the various action figures, while the action played in the background. Make no mistake, this was a highlight of my childhood.
Rummaging through my mother's attic more than twenty years later, I came upon a box labeled "Star Wars." Opening the dust covered box was a mix of fear and hope that proved to be a Five-(Death)Star trip down Memory Lane. And there, propped up against the left side of the box, next to the Star Wars Hamilton Plate Collection, was my beloved LP.
Thankfully, the technology of the 1970s had survived long enough for me to be able to digitize the recording and place it on our family's iPod. And, since my daughter clamors to listen to it when she's playing with her Star Wars action figures and Disney princesses, I suppose it's fair to say the circle is now complete.
5/5 Nostalgia 4/5 Overall (because it's abridged and not a double-album set)
EDITOR'S NOTE: Vintage Review is a regular feature discussing and reviewing iconic Star Wars merchandise from the 1970s and 1980s. Vintage Review blends nostalgia with the critical eye of a collector. If there's a piece of vintage Star Wars merchandise you'd like to see featured, let us know by commenting below!