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Throughout 2020, the Fantha Tracks team have looked back 40 years to 1980 and the release of The Empire Strikes Back on Fantha Tracks Radio and in articles on the site. Today, Matt Bell remembers his first encounter with the greatest of all sequels.

My earliest memory of The Empire Strikes Back is it being on TV on Christmas Day one year in the late-80’s. I remember it being a much hyped event in itself, at least among my friends at school, with “are you watching The Empire Strikes Back On Christmas Day”  chatter going on for weeks in advance.

With all the excitement of Christmas Day,  we missed the beginning. When we realized, we turned the TV on and it was just at the beginning of The Battle of Hoth. “It’s OK, we’ve just missed the opening crawl” exclaimed my Dad. We quickly popped a tape in our top-loading Betamax video recorder and hit the record button. This Betamax copy, taped off TV then became my copy of The Empire Strikes Back,  and I watched it repeatedly.

Years later with our Betamax now retired, I no longer had the Star Wars trilogy on video. New digitally remastered editions had been released on VHS in the run up to Christmas 1994, so I asked my Uncle Tony to buy me one of them for Christmas, with the intention of buying the other two myself with my Christmas money. Christmas day came and my Uncle Tony not only bought me one, but to my amazement all three films on VHS!

On Boxing Day I sat down to watch them in my room. When I got to Empire I read the opening crawl for the first time, missing from my previous taped Betamax copy; the camera pans down to a Star Destroyer and then to the planet Hoth. As I continued watching I was thinking “Where are the AT-AT’s”? Imagine my surprise to find out there was almost 25 minutes of the film before the Battle of Hoth that I’d never seen before!

Receiving the Star Wars trilogy on VHS for Christmas that year reignited my passion for Star Wars (not that it had waned too much to be honest) that still continues today.

And what did I end up spending my Christmas money on that year, now that I no longer had to buy the remaining two films myself? Well, after watching the trilogy on Boxing Day that year for the first time in a few years I suddenly wanted to know what happened after Return of the Jedi. The next day I went down to a local bookshop called Bookworm and purchased The Glove of Darth Vader by Paul Davids and Hollace Davids and took my first steps into the Expanded Universe. I’ve been a passionate fan ever since.

Glove of Darth Vader / The Lost City of the Jedi / Zorba the Hutt's Revenge (Star Wars) by Paul Davids (1997-01-01)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Paul Davids;Hollace Davids (Author)
  • 10/26/2020 (Publication Date) - Barnes Noble Books (Publisher)
Matt Bell
Matt’s fandom continued to grow even more with the Star Wars resurgence of the 90’s. Reading the Expanded Universe and West End Games supplements, playing the LucasArts computer games and being active in fan groups and forums since the early days of the Internet. Matt began to write his own Star Wars reference books and character guides. Today his collecting focus is on Star Wars literature and items from the 90’s.