RELEASED 1977 RUNTIME 121 MIN LANGUAGE ENGLISH DIRECTOR GORGE LUCAS SCREENPLAY GEORGE LUCAS STARRING MARK HAMILL, HARRISON FORD, CARRIE FISHER, ALEC GUINNESS, PETER CUSHING, ANTHONY DANIELS, DAVID PROWSE, KENNY BAKER, PETER MAYHEW, JAMES EARL JONES MUSIC JOHN WILLIAMS
Now, let’s get to the good stuff!
In case you didn’t know already, Star Wars was released in May 1977 and tells the story of a Luke Skywalker, an adopted farm boy, who gets drawn into an epic adventure of good vs evil.
The Empire has developed the Death Star, a giant space station which is capable of destroying an entire planet. With it they terrorize and ultimately control the entire galaxy. But a group of rebel forces has obtained secret plans of how to destroy the Death Star and try to deliver it to their main hideout. But the delivery doesn’t go as planned and now it is up to Luke Skywalker and his odd company to bring the plans to the Rebel base and stand a fight against the Empire.
To get something out straight off the bat. This movie is called Star Wars! Not Episode IV, not A New Hope, but simply Star Wars, as it was released 1977. The addition of Episode IV and A New Hope came afterwards in 1997 to be exact, when George Lucas has altered the classic trilogy for the first time (with numerous times to follow). Also, there was no Episode IV: A New Hope within the opening crawl. It simply began with “It is a period of civil war.”
I will talk about the unaltered version of the movie, just so you know. Han shot first god dammit! Actually, he was the only one who shot.
Btw. These unaltered versions of the Classic Trilogy are not available in good quality on DVD or Blu-Ray. So, if you want to know where I got the HD editions from, just google Star Wars Despecialized and thank me in the comments section.
Where shall I start? This movie is one of the most influential pieces of cinema ever made and arguably started the most significant franchise in our Pop culture. The term blockbuster was created by this movie because the lines at the movie theaters were so long they spun over several blocks.
Fun trivia: At first the movie was only released in a few cinemas because nobody wanted it. They thought it was a guaranteed flop until masses of sci-fy nerds started to line up at the few cinemas it was available to watch and “busted” the blocks. So after a week pretty much every cinema in the country bought the movie and the madness took off.
So, what makes this movie so great?
It’s the simplicity. It’s a story of good vs evil where the bad guys are overly bad and the good guys are overly good. It is clear who is on which side and that makes it speak to every generation, from kids to adults. Everybody can follow it with ease.
It’s the characters. Every single one of our heroes is interesting in its own way and very distinguishable from the rest.
Our protagonist Luke Skywalker is a simple farm boy, adopted because his parents died (apparently) and tries to break out from his generic life and follow his dreams. As the viewer it’s very easy to identify with him because he personifies the desires of most of us. We care about him and want him to succeed.
We also have Obi Wan Kennobi, the wizard type character who mentors our hero through the story.
Then there is Princess Leia, a strong female leader of the rebellion who is strong minded and knows what she wants. She doesn’t take crap from anybody and will always speak her mind.
We have a gang of rogues. Han Solo, a ruthless smuggler/mercenary who is selfish and wants to get the most out of any situation he is confronted with and his loyal companion Chewbacca, a tall furry alien which they call the Wookies. He is a capable co-pilot and technician and will never leave his friends behind. He also doesn’t speak but growls and reminds of a big dog. Maybe that’s why we love him so much because the bond between him and Han Solo reminds us of how we feel about our favorite pet.
Finally, we have our comic relief characters – two droids, the one an overly critical humanoid called C3PO and his not so loyal partner R2D2, a small stubborn tin like robot that drives on wheels and communicates with beep sounds.
Here you have it. Every single character is interesting. I could point at any of them and claim why he would made my favorite character.
But no story comes without the villains. The reason why the story works so well is because just as our heroes, our villains are super interesting and super evil 🙂
The main one being Darth Vader a once human turned into machine and former Jedi knight who is outranked by Gov. Tarkin. While Darth Vader is a more hands on bad guy who will not retreat from any fight, Tarkin is a ruthless puppeteer who will do anything to prove that he is the boss and most evil in the room.
VISUAL EFFECTS AND SOUND
With just the characters the movie would be already great. But it’s the special effects who really take it over the edge.
Back in the day there was no company that would specialize in visual effects. George Lucas basically had to form his own group of specialist-nerds who eventually would form into ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), the leading visual effects company today.
The effects they created for Star Wars were mind blowing at the time and still hold up today. Note, it’s all miniature models and hand craft. I would argue that a lot of these effects still look more real than most of CGI today. A lot of CGI tends to be overblown with details and forces some impossible camera angles which make it hard to convince the viewer that the stuff he watches is real. But, if you build it in reality, first you tend to only concentrate on the essentials and, second, there is no need for convincing because it is actually there. You can (theoretically) touch it, you can smell it, it is there standing in front of you.
These visuals are being accompanied by spectacular sound effects and music by John Williams that can tell a story by itself.
Of course no movie is good without a great script. As I said, it’s a very simple script, but it’s executed perfectly and has some of the most imaginative sets you could ever imagine. Just take the…
… trench run f.ex. Who would have come up with the idea to have a chase-like space battle with starships inside a mechanical canyon on the surface of a giant space station? Genius! That’s where George Lucas excels as a filmmaker – his imagination! It also comes through in the cantina sequence where we have all these different aliens of different world having a good time inside an old dusty bar. Just a simple set piece that tells us so much about the world we are in.
And how could we not talk about the lightsabers? Another genius idea by George Lucas and cooler than any gadget in any media ever. I don’t think there is any person on this planet who wouldn’t like to own his own lightsaber.
Star Wars is maybe my second favorite movie of all time behind (take a guess). I watched it probably over 50 times and still watch it at least twice a year together with the other two in the trilogy of course. It is such a simple story, but executed in the most imaginative way possible. Sure, you could criticize the…
…lightsaber fight between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan. But I don’t mind it because the fight is not the important thing here, but the conversation between Vader and Obi-Wan. It gives us information about their relationship, while still leaving enough mystery to keep us guessing. It has depth and furthers the story and makes it easy to forget that these characters are actually fighting.
I think it is a perfect movie and, therefore, you finally have the first piece of evidence why I am such a huge Star Wars fan and why you should be too! 🙂