Friday, June 8, 2012

#662. Star Wars (1977)

Directed By: George Lucas

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher

Tag line: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Trivia:  Alec Guinness always recalled the experience of making the movie as a bad one, and consistently claimed that it was his idea to have his character killed in the first film

As a kid, I had Star Wars memorabilia in just about every corner of my room, from the ships (my favorite was the Millennium Falcon) to the hundreds of Kenner-manufactured figurines. The Star Wars universe was an enormous part of my adolescence, and from the looks of it, the fans of this timeless series are only getting younger!

Star Wars was the first film released in what has easily become the most successful franchises in motion picture history. Now referred to as Episode IV: A New Hope (thanks to the 3 prequels), Star Wars is the story of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), an orphan raised by his Aunt (Shelagh Frasier) and Uncle (Phil Brown) on the remote desert planet of Tatooine. 

Luke knows very little about his father, except that he was once a member of the Jedi Knights, the masters of a powerful energy known as The Force and, at one time, the guardians of the universe. 

That is, until the Jedi were overthrown by the evil galactic empire. 

To restore peace to the galaxy, a small rebel army has stolen the plans to the Empire’s lethal new space station, the Death Star. Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), herself a leader of the rebellion, was returning with with these plans when her ship was intercepted by an Imperial cruiser. 

She s taken prisoner by Darth Vader (David Prowse, with the voice of James Earl Jones), the Empire’s most fearsome agent, yet before her capture, the Princess hid the plans inside a droid, which escaped in a shuttle and landed on Tatooine. The droid, R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and its companion C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) eventually find their way to Luke. 

With the help of former Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) and a wisecracking space pirate named Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Luke intends to rescue the princess and deliver the plans to the rebel base, all while learning the lost art of the Jedi.

It’s a simple story of good vs. evil, one that's been told thousands of times before (maybe even thousands of times since). Yet the staying power of Star Wars lies not in the tale, but the telling. Never before had audiences seen special effects this spectacular, and even if they’re now somewhat easy to duplicate, the magic of watching a huge spaceship fly overhead has never been quite as awe-inspiring. 

Everything about Star Wars was done on a grand scale. As villains go, Darth Vader is a step above your typical movie nemesis; part-man/part-machine, yet 100% evil. In addition, the film features alien races from hundreds of worlds, incredible spaceships that leap from one end of the galaxy to the other in the blink of an eye, and a magical force watching over our heroes. 

This ‘simple’ story known as Star Wars has, over the years, become something much more substantial.

Unlike most movies that are decades old, the fan base for Star Wars has actually grown younger. Kids today, some of whose parents were in preschool when this film was first released, are as knowledgeable of the Star Wars universe as the series’ oldest and wisest fans. Both my sons are full-fledged fanatics, and own as many toys as I once had, if not more. 

Some things may have changed over the years (tThe white-clad Storm troopers, the army of the Empire, somewhere along the line became known as Clone troopers), yet the hold these movies have on our culture has never diminished. Star Wars has gone beyond mere entertainment to achieve a greater cultural significance. 

Like Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars promises to be around for a long, long time.

1 comment:

hurdygurdygurlCANADA said...

BEST FILM EVER and perfect for children!