For many of us in America, Europe and beyond, Star Wars is a right of passage through which each child and adult alike must wander. It has led to a world in which phrases such as "Use the force" and "I am your father"are recognized by disparate people the world over. I can imagine there is hardly a developed country on this fair Earth which does not contain a significant number hardcore Star Wars fans.
Except perhaps China. You see, the original Star Wars trilogy was never actually released in China.
Why Didn't the Original Trilogy Release in China?
During the late 1970s, the country was still reeling from the 'Cultural Revolution' - a mass revolutionary campaign designed to end the perceived backwardness of traditional Chinese culture and industry. The social, political and economic effects of the Cultural Revolution meant epic space-romps were not exactly high on the agenda at the time, while there was also mass Chinese suspicion of American produced culture.
Watch the original Star Wars 1977 cinema trailer (with Darth Vader's blue lightsaber) below:
The Original Trilogy Will Now Make Its Debut
However, things have now changed, as Disney has announced it plans to release the Star Wars original trilogy in China for the first time at the Shanghai International Film Festival. Of course, there is a sound business logic behind this move, as it will work to hopefully promote the upcoming sequel, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, to Chinese audiences. Kerwin Lo, vice president and general manager of Walt Disney Studios China, told AFP News:
This will be the first-ever theatrical screening of the original trilogy in China. The huge buzz and excitement generated is going to be great for the Star Wars franchise and the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Unfortunately, the films are not being rolled out across the entire country, which means many Chinese Star Wars fans might miss the chance to see it on the big screen.
Many Have Actually Seen the Prequels Before the Original Trilogy
Of course, this will not be the first time Star Wars has ever been seen in China. Following its theatrical release elsewhere, Chinese cinephiles could watch the adventure from a galaxy far, far away on bootleg and pirate copies. However, the lack of widespread home entertainment technology meant this probably also occurred much later than in other countries. Due to this, the newer Star Wars prequel trilogy is often much more recognizable to Chinese audience members than the original one - which also seems like a crying shame.
Hopefully this limited viewing will persuade curious potential Star Wars fans to seek out the original trilogy before Star Wars: Episode VII arrives in theaters internationally on December 18th.