Before it landed the title of a bona fide cultural phenomenon, Star Wars was just a regular movie. The first installment of George Lucas’ space epic premiered in 1977 and fast became one of the most financially successful films of all time. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, won seven, and has now grossed nearly $800 million worldwide. It also launched the careers of stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and the late Carrie Fisher.
In the decades since, Star Wars has become one of the most celebrated franchises in cinematic history. It spawned two sequels, both of which were critically and commercially successful, as well as a prequel trilogy toward the turn of the century, and a sequel trilogy that kicked-off 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In between, there have been TV special, comic books, video games, action figures, and just about as many Star Wars-inspired relics as you could dream.
40 years later, it’s tough to imagine — or remember, as the case may be — what it would’ve been like to watch Star Wars unfold on the big screen for the very first time. But thanks to an old YouTube video that’s now circulating on Reddit, you can hear the reaction for yourself. The three-minute clip comes from Homer Thompson, who made it in 2015 based off of an audio recording that was previously uploaded online. The audio was from William Forsche, who wrote:
“This audio was recorded in 1977 when my mother took me to see Star Wars (for the second time). Hearing her laugh and cheer with me and the rest of the audience is absolutely priceless to me.”
That cheering and applause can be audibly heard in the video is a testament to Star Wars’ instant magnetism. But it is also a testament to the power of the film’s climactic moment, and the revolutionary special effects that not only helped sell Luke’s triumphant destruction of the Death Star, but also the return of a certain scoundrel. The effects still hold up today. In fact, watching the above clip — especially with the audience’s reaction — you’d be hard-pressed not to get goosebumps when Han Solo comes swooping in.
The fact that the audio clip is circulating again is a clear indication that Star Wars‘ status as a cultural mainstay isn’t likely to be challenged anytime soon. As the current box office domination of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (and the aforementioned The Force Awakens) can attest, George Lucas’ little story of a galaxy far, far away is as popular as ever.