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Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004)

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An in-depth making of documentary about the original Star Wars trilogy, covering the productions of the three films and their impact on popular culture.

Writer:

Ed Singer
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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Clotworthy ... Narrator (voice)
Walter Cronkite ... Himself - Journalist
George Lucas ... Himself - Filmmaker
Steven Spielberg ... Himself - Filmmaker
Irvin Kershner ... Himself - Director
Howard G. Kazanjian ... Himself - Producer (as Howard Kazanjian)
Gary Kurtz ... Himself - Producer
Leo Braudy Leo Braudy ... Himself - Professor and Cultural Historian, University of Southern California
Bill Moyers ... Himself - Journalist (archive footage)
Carrie Fisher ... Herself - 'Princess Leia Organa'
Gareth Wigan Gareth Wigan ... Himself - Former Production Executive, 20th Century Fox
Alan Ladd Jr. Alan Ladd Jr. ... Himself - Former Studio Chief, 20th Century Fox
Ralph McQuarrie Ralph McQuarrie ... Himself - Conceptual Artist
Richard Edlund ... Himself - Cameraman, Miniature and Optical Effects
Steve Gawley ... Himself - Model Maker
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Storyline

This documentary chronicles the making of the original Star Wars trilogy from start to finish. We get some background on George Lucas' start in the business and then continue with the making of Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). The visual/special effects and financial problems are explained as well as casting, editing, scoring and releasing the films with tons of archival footage and interviews with plenty of cast & crew members. Written by Rhyl Donnelly

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 September 2004 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Império dos Sonhos: A História da Trilogia Star Wars See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader physically in most scenes of the original Star Wars trilogy, was not interviewed for this documentary, and is only briefly featured through archive footage. This was due to his strained relationship with Lucasfilm and George Lucas in particular (due to an incident for which the actor was unfairly blamed), which also led to Prowse subsequently being banned from attending official Star Wars fan conventions. See more »

Goofs

During a segment on merchandising for the original Star Wars, pictures of Princess Leia dolls wearing 'space fashions' are shown. However, this clothing line never made it into production. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: Lucas, meanwhile, was up to his neck in malfunctioning props, electronic breakdowns, and other production woes. "Star Wars" was already struggling to stay on schedule. The only silver lining was that after Tunisia, the production would be moving to a more controlled environment: Elstree Studios outside London. The stages at Elstree were among the largest in the world, and the sets, now finished after months of construction, were just as impressive. And for the first time, the entire "Star Wars"...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

After the credits there is a final outake of General Dodonna (Alex McCrindle) saying "and may the force go with you". See more »

Alternate Versions

A shorter, 90-minute version of this documentary aired on the A&E Channel September 12th 2004. See more »

Connections

Features American Graffiti (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

Star Wars: Main Title
(uncredited)
Composed by John Williams
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User Reviews

Albeit full of itself and avoiding any serious dissent, this is mostly a fascinating look at the making of the three films
3 January 2005 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

For the release of the three original (albeit updated) films in the Star Wars series, this documentary was provided as the main extra on a fourth DVD. Starting with the difficult production of Star Wars and looking at the completely unexpected success it turned out to be, we examine the making of the two sequels, the puppets, the effects and the actors with recollections and insight from cast and crew.

At the start of this documentary it appeared to be heading down a very bad road where it looked at the national mood at the time the original film was being produced; it appeared to be suggesting that the film itself was a major event and was some sort of saviour of the world! Now, the influence and knock-on effect of Star Wars in the film industry is undeniable but if the documentary was going to be just a big love-in then I would have struggled to finish it. Fortunately the film manages to move away from this for the majority and the slight tone of awe and respect afforded to the films can perhaps be forgiven. Likewise the film avoids any significant dissent aside from some of the crew acknowledging that they didn't share Lucas' vision or like the film they were making (but admit they were wrong); but it brushes over things like Guinness' dislike for even the finished film and the cold direction by Lucas and never lets anyone ever share stories that could come across as damaging.

However, outside of these minor complaints the documentary is an impressive look at the films in a mostly very interesting and honest way. Back stories, personal memories, personal experiences, onset trouble and footage from the production all combine to produce a story that is very interesting and full of nuggets to the point where I could easily sit and watch it again. Of course you probably need to be a Star Wars fan to care about such things but, considering this was provided as a companion to the three films, then it is more than likely playing to a friendly crowd. The involvement of so many of the cast and crew is a real bonus but I would have liked a bit more from some of them – for example I would have liked to hear something from Prowse, considering he thought he was a central character only to find himself totally dubbed out of the film! Lucas himself is a bit full of his own self-importance and the documentary does get better with Empire and Jedi because his contributions are reduced to make way for the other directors.

The film touches on Phantom Menace but wisely says nothing of it. In fact the documentary does shed light on why Menace may have failed as a film – at one point in the writing of Star Wars, one contributor says that the Force had to be carefully written to be present but to never be too serious or heavy or it would suck the fun out of the film. This made me smile because I believe that the weight of self-importance is a major reason that Menace is lacking in entertainment value. Overall this is an impressive documentary that looks at so many issues that it will be difficult to be bored by it – sound effects, visual effects, writing, production, casting, marketing, development, studio pressures and so on – it is a must for fans and it puts to shame many of the ten minute "making of" featurettes that pass for documentaries on some dvds.


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