Name That Trauma :: Reader Patrick J. D. on Darth Vader Rides the Subway

use the metro card force!

Hey there —

So, back in the ’80s we had a show in Chicago on PBS called IMAGE UNION. A fantastic show that played independent films and videos. This was serious avant-garde stuff – some narrative, some abstract – but always interesting. Especially if you were obsessed with film making as I was during my childhood.

So, one of the shows played this really crazy film. It had a funky, 16mm, New York, whimsical tone.

It tells the story of little boy sitting at the front of a subway train (I’m guessing in NYC.) He’s staring out into the moving darkness in front of him as lights whiz by. And then the film starts to cut in quick shots of Darth Vader. As the train gets faster and faster, the images of Darth Vader come more rapidly. The train stops and the little boy gets off on the platform. He starts to run because….Darth Vader is now chasing him through the crowd in the train station. As Vader closes in on him, he grabs him. The boy turns to realize… it’s just his mother. Apparently, she was waiting to pick him up in the platform.

I swear, I’m not making this up. And doing a Google search for “Darth Vader + independent films” comes up with a bazillion fan films, but not this one. It has to be late ’70s, early ’80s.

Maybe someone in Traumaland has a lead.


Patrick J. D.

P.S. – A quick Metafilter search came up with another person asking for a similar video.

use the metro card force!

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Thanks for the traumafession Patrick J.D.! Sadly, I have no idea as to what the short film is you are referring to; however, I did pilfer the above images from the below ImprovEverywhere short. (Hey, it was either that or this BLONDIE video and I.E. won out.) Does anyone remember the source of Patrick‘s trauma? Use the force and sound off in the comments!

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11 years ago

I’ve seen this! It was on HBO all the time when I was a kid – the whole idea was that the lights in the subway looked like stars passing by at a certain angle.

Somebody looking for it here as well:

I’ll keep looking around, see what I can find.


Andrew Ross
10 years ago

I remember seeing this in grade school on an old reel projector. The teacher saved that for when we were good to reward us with a treat. That image of Vader on the train platform came to me the other day and now I can’t stop wondering what the name of the film is. Would love to know!