Following our interview with Dale Lloyd of Viva VHS, Chris Cooper looks back at his VHS memories…
I have a slightly different take on this. My strongest and one of my most cherished memories of VHS is more about what came with the movie and the experience than either the film itself or the cassette.
The recording in question was of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, or as I knew it back then, just plain Star Wars. I was very young, around 5 or 6, and we didn’t have an official copy. My Star Wars was recorded from the television, and more specifically Channel 3. See, this was back when there were 4 channels kids! I have no idea who recorded it, as my parents were not at all technically minded, but I am forever thankful.
VHS tapes were full of wonders. The pause that made everyone in the film look as though they were dancing. The changing pitch as the tape got near the start or end, and the game of seeing if you could hold fast forward just long enough to get where you wanted to go. It all added up.
My Star Wars however, contained the wonderment that was late 80s/early 90s commercials!
These breaks, for Guinness, building societies and electric companies, became as much a part of the viewing experience as mouse droids and weapons for a more civilised age. I’d lie down on my stomach in front of the tele with my Brothers (giving ourselves neck ache!), and we’d take it all in. Not only did we get watch an awesome film many, many times, but out experience of it was specific to us.
Ultimately, the time came when the Special Editions were released, in the awesome gold Darth Vader box(which I still own!). So the tape was retired and ultimately lost in the sands of time. Funny thing is it took us ages to get used to not having those breaks in the film! It had become so engrained that the change was jarring.
For me it’s odd. We all love to moan that George Lucas tampered too much with the original films and should have just left them alone, but I can’t help but be more miffed that for all the tinkering he did do, he didn’t put the sodding commercials back in for me.