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What made this the hugely successful triumph it was? Was it casting,
music, imagination, ingenuity, or luck?
I remember opening day at the theaters. I was old enough to remember every scene, every character, every nuance of this film; having committed it to memory forever, as if I would never again be able to see this beloved, instantly loved masterpiece.
I also remember that the HIT factor of this movie was so unexpected that you had to wait literal MONTHS to get the action figures promised on the cereal boxes. The pieces were still in the manufacturing process and we had to settle for coupons promising our toys in a few months. I wound up seeing this in the theaters a grand total of 36 times; much to my mother's dismay. She loved the movie as I did, but felt I was obsessed. Today, thirty years later, sitting here writing this review, I realize how right she was. I'm still obsessed with this movie, and with the subsequent movies which followed. I wait in great anticipation for Episode 3. I'm a fan, and I don't care what other people say about Episodes 1 & 2. I don't even mind the "prequel" factor, as the situation at the time, dictated to Lucas which movies he would do first.
See, I remember the studios saying to him that he had to choose from the three central climactic books, and trash the rest, or just trash the whole idea. He didn't exactly "sell out," he did what he had to do to get his movie...his vision...out there for us to see and experience. I admired his decision then, and I admire it now. Episodes 1-3 are being filmed now, because Lucas had the clout, the money, and the patience to give us his vision...his complete vision and not just the three center books of a 9-book series. I realize that now, there are dozens of books, but at the time, there were nine. And while most of us were happy with Episodes 4-6 and would not have missed 1-3 and 7-9, I personally am so very glad he has taken it upon himself to give us his full vision. I have enjoyed each and every installment with the same sense of awe and joy as I did this one.
The casting was the first triumph for this cinematic milestone. Ford is a charismatic and magnetic personality and portrayed Han with a professionalism that you'd expect from more seasoned actors. Sir Alec Guiness is an absolute joy as Obi Wan. His casting was precise and excellent in that part. Carrie Fisher portrayed Leia in a way that, up until then, had never been experienced. Most "princess" types before her were whining, whimpering, little snots who were incapable of anything beyond tripping and twisting their ankle in times of peril, while Fisher portrayed her character as a bold, brazen, yet sophisticated and educated woman who was aware of her surroundings and capable of defending herself and her realm with the utmost authority.
And Mark Hamil. He was perfectly cast as the whining little boy who wanted more, but was afraid to reach for it. He grows up quite well on film in these three installments, and endears himself to the audience so much the more for it. But a cast member who is almost always left out of these reviews is Peter Mayhew. Chewbacca. His character, as a supporting character to Han's, was exemplary. It's not easy portraying a walking carpet, yet holding the attention, admiration, and love of virtual millions. I am VERY happy about his being cast as Chewy in Episode 3. Couldn't happen to a more deserving...or capable...fellow. Bravo! And James Earl Jones's voice being used as the voice of Darth Vader, was pure genius. His commanding voice haunted the dreams of countless thousands of star-struck children for generations to come. I also have to say that this movie would not have had the charm it does had it not been for Anthony Daniels' C3P0. He is a gift and a joy.
The musical score by John Williams featured in this masterpiece was one of the contributing factors. But honestly, this movie's success was such a total surprise to everyone, including Lucas, that nothing could prepare the world for the aftermath of having witnessed this bona fide legend, first hand.
The story itself; replete with sub-plot after sub-plot, rich in dialog and detail, was beyond anyone's greatest expectations. Everyone, including Lucas, expected this movie to fail. It is a timeless classic, which I will not repeat here. There are too many movie reviews giving full details of the plot, and I won't be redundant beyond what I have already said.
However, that being said, there are a few points I would like to make concerning the symbolism of this endeavor. The Force is a metaphor for the psychic abilities with which we are all born. It was also a metaphor for hope and faith, dedication and commitment to the greater state of being. The Empire is said to have been a metaphor for the Germanic Nazi "storm troopers." While the Rebellion is said to have been symbolic of (what would later become) the NATO forces who defeated them.
And then there are the effects. The effects were, in 1977, so awesome; so creative; so ahead of their time, as to ensure this movie's vast success for the next forty years. George Lucas enjoys an almost god-like status among sci-fi/fantasy fans worldwide.
This movie does not rate a rating. Usually, when I say that, it is because the movie is so bad, or disappointing that I don't have the heart to rate it.
But in this case, it far surpasses any 10/10 rating I could give it.
The Fiend :.
Star wars made epic fantasy real. For a generation of people it has defined what the cinema experience is meant to be. Today it is probable that pc games will offer a deeper and more satisfying entertainment solution, but for pure visual and aural pleasure, mixed with basic emotional manipulation, there has never and will never be a better example of cinema than when star wars appeared over 25 years ago. When you think of star wars, you must remember what else was happening at the time. In America, the war in Vietnam had been lost. In the U.K economic disaster was occurring(a 3 day working week, and the army collecting rubbish). It was almost like the two most technically advanced countries in the world were going backwards. Star wars let everybody escape from that reality and reach for a future that was uncertain but ultimately good.
There's not much to say about this movie this is *THE* movie that changed it
It's my favourite movie, and not only among the quadrilogy, among all movies; it has everything that can be great in a movie, great characters, great story, great sights, great special effects (they don't show 23 years) and a mythological background that made us dream for decades now, and that'll keep us dreaming for a long, long time. Maybe the characters I liked most in this one are Old Obi-Wan Kenobi, wonderfully portrayed by Alec Guinness, and Han Solo, Harrison Ford's first important role, they're both great.
Not to mention John Williams' wonderful score, without of it, the movie wouldn't have been this great it's a perfect mix, that's what it is!
I can never pick a favorite movie because different movies have
different effects. Goodfellas is my favorite drama. Face/Off is my
favorite actioner. But when it comes to pure amazement, nothing beats
Star Wars. We are introduced to a whole other universe with different
creatures, different lifestyles, and different history. We are dropped
in the middle of an intergalactic war between an empire and a rebellion
that has raged for years and left the universe in ruin. It was the most
fascinating thing to see when i was eleven, but to this day i am still
a Star Wars nerd.
The cast of characters includes some of the coolest, funniest, and most tragic in film, and the actors who play them fit seamlessly into this new universe. Alec Guiness is flawless as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi on the run from the evil Empire. Harrison Ford is awesome as Han Solo, a smuggler and thief who helps the gang rescue the princess. But the my favorite character of all time is Darth Vader. Not only is he the coolest bad guy, but we learn in later films why he is evil and start to feel sympathetic for him. Not to mention that badass booming voice that can make ordering a pizza sound threatening.
This was not only the beginning of the best movie series ever, but it was the beginning of my love for movies. George Lucas is a genius for being able to come up with a great story and an incredible backdrop for what was supposed to be a flop, but turned into one of the best films ever.
In respect to the many kids of the seventies. I rated this movie as one of the greatest movies ever made. I was thirteen and enjoyed this fantasy getaway more than I could count. Like many other kids of the seventies you left reality before walking into the theatre and escaped into the adventure once the reels begin rolling. It provided the special effects and excitement a kid was looking for. Even today when I watch this movie on VHS I recall those times. Whenever I get the chance to watch it I feel like that eager thirteen year old over and over again. I hope the new movies will meet the same expectations of kids of this decade and the next.
Here begins the greatest cinematic epic of all time, and arguably one
of the greatest stories ever told. Originally conceived as a serialized
popcorn movie in the manner of the old action movies that Lucas grew up
with, Star Wars surpassed even George's keen and bombastic imagination
to become a central part of movie history.
There are countless tales of the making of this movie; how Lucas never believed he would get the chance to complete the series, how it spawned an industry and made the name of nearly everyone who touched it a household word. But what that does not reveal, nor do the much diminished prequels, is the sheer joy and excitement these movies generated.
It was a once in a lifetime experience. You could feel it from opening day, earlier if you paid attention to such things. We had never seen anything like it, and we are not likely to again.
This episode finds young Luke Skywalker yearning to leave the agrarian life he has with his aunt and uncle, and chase after adventure as his friends before him have already done. And what adventure there is. The galaxy is in the grip of a massive rebellion against a tyrannical and oppressive empire, but on Luke's home planet, it's something you only dare speak of in a whisper.
Along come two robots, "Droids" for short, who inadvertently involve Luke in a stellar attempt to contact an old wizard named Ben Kenobi, who lives in the caves near Luke's home.
The rest is history, and there isn't a person alive in the civilized world who doesn't have at least some awareness of the epic story that unfolds. Luke's rise from adolescent obscurity on Tatooine to a leading role in the greatest struggle of all time is told with humor, action, adventure, and always a sense of story that is unmatched on the screen or on the page.
With the completion of the prequel trilogy, these films are enjoying a renewed popularity among a generation that never saw the films on the big screen, and the theatric revivals are almost guaranteed. Go. Get some popcorn. And may the Force be with you.
Though now known as "Episode IV-A New Hope," for many of us, namely
those of us who first saw this exhilarating entertainment in theaters
back in '77, this will always be the first "Star Wars." We will always
think of it as just "Star Wars" - plain & simple, no pretensions, no
aspirations to deep film-making or high art. This is where we first met
them all: Luke, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi (old 'Ben'),
Chewbacca, the 2 robots C3PO & R2D2 and, of course, Darth Vader. They
were instant pop culture icons; you got the sense you'd seen them
before somewhere, but were sure this wasn't possible. But they'd been
there before in our minds. We'd read about them constantly in science
fiction novels and short stories - tales of outer space civilizations,
of spaceships zooming through asteroid belts, of exotic-looking aliens
hanging around space ports. We'd dream about them at night and try to
imagine ourselves in their midst; up until then, we could only imagine
such things - there were no projected images to realize such dreams.
"Forbidden Planet" from 1956 came close, and then there were the "Star
Trek" and "Lost in Space" TV series, both hampered by dime store
budgets and cheesy sets. We ate 'em up since there was nothing else.
Then Lucas made it real.
I remember when I first got wind of the upcoming movie, to open in May of 1977, I think. I saw the first publicized poster and bought the novel adaptation. On the poster, a young man stood with some light sword raised, a princess at his feet, numerous spaceships flying all over the place. I was in my mid-teens and felt the first pulse of building excitement as I realized all those fantastic tales I'd been reading the past few years were going to come alive on the big screen for me. It didn't disappoint. Luke Skywalker, who stood in for all the boys pretending to be on a galactic adventure, gets swept away from his mundane desert home smack dab into the middle of an honest-to-gosh galaxy-wide civil war! The strength of the narrative is / was amazing. There are no slow spots and you can't wait for the next scene during the entire experience; and, experience is the better description for it, rather than just 'movie.' You can't wait, for example, for the moment when Luke actually meets the princess; what will happen then? It's a textbook case of an exciting narrative and what I believe makes this superior to all the sequels (knowing that many feel "The Empire Strikes Back" is superior - I must disagree).
The one character you really can't wait to see again is the ominous Vader, naturally. The instant he steps into view during the first few minutes of the story, you just know this is the ultimate villain. This is the baddest of the bad, the coolest of the cool, the supreme uber-evildoer of the entire galaxy. You just know it by his stance, by his attitude, and by the electric chill that runs through your frail form as he steps down the corridor, moving into the annals of film history with one fell swoop. You can't wait to see what he does next, what nefarious action will send someone or some planet to its doom. Sure, he seems under the control of Tarkin (Cushing) here and later, the Emperor, but you just know he's simply biding his time until he takes over the whole damn universe. There is no precedent for Vader, and nothing close to him after. He's at his best here where there's still much mystery attached to his dark frightful form, a minion of Satan and Nazi stormtroopers all rolled into one.
This was also the movie-experience which catapulted Harrison Ford (Solo) into superstardom. He seems almost childish here, not really straining to create a character, and it's this flip charm that makes it work, against all odds. He really does appear to have stepped out of the pages of some juvenile space opera, laser guns blazing, all snide remarks and foolhardy bravado. But he also becomes the older brother figure to Luke, who cannot carry the story by himself. Hamill, whose movie career began & ended with Luke, epitomizes the center of destiny for a galaxy. Both humble and arrogant, he's perfect in the role. Fisher's main surprise is that she's not all sugar and sweet as one would expect of a princess. These three characters evolved in the next two films, but they were always at their best here, icons given life for a short period - but also forever in film. The same could be said for Alec Guinness as Kenobi, a first class act all the way. You almost believe this elderly warrior could topple an empire, given enough time. Unless he runs into Vader...
When you ask casual movie fans (read: any of my friends) what their
movie is, you might get an answer like this: "Uh..I dunno...Jurassic Park
was cooler than the first... but Gladiator had people getting their heads
cut off... and Scary Movie rocked, man... that movie is so funny." So
the hell do they mean? Well, beats me. Not too long ago, we were having a
"philosophical" conversation about movies, when the subject came to Star
Wars and the quels. (Pre and se.) We were arguing which one was the best.
One of my friends said, "Well, I gotta admit, the first one is a classic,
but the prequel has its moments." I swear a tear came to my eye. I never
thought I'd have this kind of conversation with one of my friends.
My point here is that Star Wars is a classic even to people who don't know Casablanca from Scooby Doo. It has everything you could possibly want: action, romance, midgets, cool creatures, quotable dialogue, midgets in bear suits, a great score and many more midgets. (Seriously, though, I don't mind midgets.) All this in a non-violent, non-racy, perfect-for-your-wee-ones package.
For those of you who haven't seen this movie (yes, all 20 of you. I'm watching you.) I'll describe the plot. Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is a young man who lives with his uncle and aunt on a desert planet. See. Luke's parents are dead. One day, as Luke is... outside, something crashes and he checks it out. It turns out there were two robots in there, namely C-3P0 and R2-D2. They have a message to give to some guy named Obi-Wan Kenobi (which turns out to be Alec Guiness!) from Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Luke goes off to find old Ben, who lives close to his uncle. Old Ben gives Luke a long story about how his father was a Jedi and he will be one too, etc. When they come back, Luke's uncle and aunt are dead and now, he's not safe. So Luke and Ben and the robots head to Nar Shadaa, a hole, basically. There they meet up with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his big, uh, ape-like thing called a Wookie.
There's a lot more plot to this movie, and I would pass the limit of 1000 word before I could explain it all. The fact of the matter is, there'S a lot of backstory to this movie. There's probably more backstory to this movie than there is to your LIFE. (Don't feel bad...) I used to be a fanatic. I used to know everything there was to know about Star Wars. And you will notice that I didn't start my review by saying I was blah blah blah in 1977. Why is that? Because, I wasn't at all in 1977. I saw every movie in its special edition form, in 1997. I had seen the movies on TV before, but they never held my attention. Until they were re-released. Just type in Star Wars in a search engine. You'll see that this movie has a rabid following and a detailed history to boot.
The acting here is not what's important. It's about on the same level as old adventure films of the 30's and 40's except for a few notable exceptions (Guiness, Ford and a few supporting actors). What makes this movie exceptional is the whole spectacle that unfolds. This is never boring, rarely violent and always a treat to watch. All the creatures, all the characters, all the action scenes, all of this movie is basically perfect. People criticize it as being a kids' movie, as being just stupid mindless action. Well, you guys are right. But that's what this movie was set out to be, that's what it is and that's why I like it.
Lucas borrowed from Kurosawa and Ford to make this movie, and consequently, many have borrowed from his work. This movie deserves to be borrowed from. It shaped American cinema, it shaped the way people think about "action-adventure" movies, it spawned dozens of books, two sequels, one prequel, two TV movies, comic books, action figures and legions of fans. If you haven't already seen this... Well ,you probably haven't seen much anyway, so rent this. If you have seen this, watch it again. I think I will. 10/10
The masterpiece, the legend that made people, like myself stand in line for two hours at ten at night for the midnight show. People coming out of the theater were telling us,"You will not be sorry, it was fantastic, you will not believe it." The first shot of the star destroyer coming across the face of Tatooine provoked loud gasps of awe from the audience. My big brother looked over at me and said," I told you." In 1977, this was not a movie; this was a cultural event that enveloped the entire country. In our city, only the Westgate with its 1100 seat cinema had the honor of showing the movie. They had showings starting from 11 AM to Midnight. Whenever you drove by, there were lines out to the street. The movie, after a thunderous opening, takes the time to develop the main character Luke. The scene of him looking longingly at the two suns with William's music captured the quintessence of youth; the wish to go out there and accomplish something blended with anxiety that time was passing us by. What a scene!! It captured Luke's restlessness that spoke to all the young people in the audience. This is the greatness of the work; the development of Luke. Notice, unlike Guardians Of The Galaxy we do not simply jump into mindless action: Lucas took the time to make us get to know and care about Luke. It gives it its depth.
Even Solo is drawn with greater depth than modern movies. We get Greedo trying to shake him down, his open contempt for Obi Wan and his patronizing "Kid" addressed to Luke derisively. We cannot see Chewie's expression but even his grunts sound like they are laughing at Luke also. Lucas knew where he was going with Luke and he purposely draws him as a pathetic, ingenuous, bumbling dolt at the first. Contrast to his entrance in Jedi, look how far the characterization has come. This is the core of why this trilogy worked and the prequel did not. In the prequels, there simply is not characterization. The cast here will not win any acting awards, besides Guiness, but there is development of characters. This is the point of Luke's humiliation at the Cantina with Kenobi forced to bail his dumb butt out. Lucas wants us to see his development. Even at the end of the movie, Kenobi fires those torpedoes not Luke, he tells Luke to just turn off the computer and use the Force. This, by the way, is what Kenobi meant by,"You can't win Darth, if you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
While I prefer Empire, this has the best ending of any movie in the history of film. The audiences I was in, people stood and cheered for five minutes when this ended. The timing, the surprise of Solo's intervention, the explosion and the victorious procession: what great writing. It ends with a thunderous crescendo of victory that will lift even the most jaded, world weary person to their feet. It has been forty years now; I still love the movie as much now as I did as that little boy staring up in awe at the screen. We all wanted to be Luke; his nobility was a model to my generation and it molded me into the protector of my family for twenty years. Never underestimate the power of the modeling of good.
Star Wars is a movie that has had great social impact, a fact that has often gone unnoticed. A harbinger of a changing mood within the United States, Star Wars was one of the few movies rated General that was released in 1977. Where movies had for a decade been depicting ever more dark topics (Taxi Driver, The Exorcist) Star Wars was a lighthearted adventure. While some may decry the move back to swashbuckling from social comment, I for one celebrate the fact that Star Wars made it possible for families to go to movies together once again.
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