I was 6 or 7 and my grandmother took my brother and I to the Star Wars premier, or a preview screening at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, London. She had been in the film business since the 1930s so had been given tickets probably from the cinema, studios or someone else involved.
I remember the neon display outside the building with space ships shooting each other in sequence, going into the theatre and it being a big event - each seat had a programme on; landscape format full colour, 20 or so pages with lots of stills etc. My brother did a project on UFOs at school and cut his up, not sure what happened to mine.
It’s difficult to remember what made the big impressions on me then, and what came after from future viewings but I do know that the sand guys and stormtroopers confused me - I didn’t know if they were monsters, humans or robots inside.
I was also confused as the programme had photos that weren’t in the film, one particular one I was fascinated by was a close-up of a dinosaur head in the desert. Maybe someone can post a link to this?
Anyway, I was really eager to tell everyone at school the next day as everyone was talking about it. I said I’d seen it and immediately got knocked back with “don’t lie, it’s not out yet!” and there was nothing I could do to persuade them. I didn’t know that I had seen a special showing!
The figures were the hottest thing that the toy shops had since Action Man. I had an R2-D2 and a Darth Vader, and I also had a ‘no-brand’ light sabre knock-off which cost £1 or thereabouts.
When I first went to The Empire Strikes Back I was in France on holiday with my best friend and his mum. The visuals were enough to keep us occupied until I saw it again as the double bill (when Star Wars gained its subtitle ‘A New Hope’ (it was decades before geeks started calling it ANH!) but I do remember Luke calling “Earr-doo! Earr-doo!” while looking for his squeaky tin-can friend on that jungle planet.