Friends, until the release of Star Wars in 1982 to the home market on the likes of VHS, LaserDisc, Betamax, CED VideoDisc, and even the European based Video 2000 videocassette, the only way to enjoy the first entry in the original trilogy was to catch it in theaters in limited re-release engagements. As I understand it there were four times that the original Star Wars returned to theaters, with the first being in ’78 and then the following year, as well as in ’81 and then for the last time on August 13th of 1982.
But to the point of this article, the Star Wars fans who were lucky enough to have access to a Super 8 film projector in 1977 could enjoy selected scenes released by Ken Films to the home market. There were three versions of Super 8 reels offered to the public by Ken Films, black and white as well as silent, a color edition with no sound, or color with the addition of sound. The scenes offered on the Super 8 reels were of Luke Skywalker being told about his Father and the ways of the Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. Then followed by Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Luke, plus R2-D2 and C-3PO making their escape from the Death Star. Concluding with the thrilling TIE Fighter attack on the Millennium Falcon as they make good their escape to the rebel base on Yavin 4.
With the popularity of Star Wars it will probably not surprise you to learn that the Super 8 reels sold very, very well indeed. So much so that Ken Films produced two more reels of selected scenes afterwards that were twice the length of their initial offering, resulting in about half an hour of 1977’s Star Wars when all was said and done.
The reason for this article is that the other day before I went to work at the arcade, I received a message from Gary Burton, not only a fellow author on this site but the chief technician at the Arkadia Retrocade. Gary asked if I might be able to come in just a little earlier than normal because he had picked up something at an antique store that he felt I would get a kick out of. That turned out to be something of an understatement as he powered up his 1973 Kodak Moviedeck 435 film projector and showed me the 1977 black and white Star Wars reel he had picked up earlier in the week. While possessing no sound, the scenes did provide subtitles so that the viewers could make sense of the highly abridged story of the classic 1977 film.
In closing out this article, there was one other way to enjoy Star Wars at home back in ’77, and that was thanks to the excellent film cartridges and viewer released by Kenner. However if you would like to see the black and white Ken Films version of Star Wars for yourself, I found this copy that was uploaded on YouTube.