“You came in that? You’re braver than I thought.”
The Scoop: 1977 PG, directed by George Lucas and starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher
Tagline: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Summary Capsule: A farmboy, a smuggler, a hermit, a very hairy man and two annoying droids team up to save a princess and protect the galaxy. Some assembly required.
Rich’s rating: The original sci-fi success story. Nuff said.
Rich’s review: Now, I’m pretty sure that this review will probably only be second to Poolman’s third nipple (he doesn’t like to talk about it) in the category of “most superfluous and un-necessary thing in the history of creation,” yet here I am doing it anyway. Why? Because I’m a completist nerd who can’t stand the fact that we’ve got a posted review of every other Star Wars film but not the first one? Or lazy journalism (because seriously who amongst us couldn’t ramble on inanely about Star Wars and easily fill a few pages without having to actually, you know, do any research or actual work)?
I leave that for you to decide, dear reader. I’ve got some important rambling to do.
In my life, out of everyone I’ve ever met with whom I’ve had a conversation regarding films, I know of only one person who hasn’t seen Star Wars. One. In twenty-some years. If that’s not an indication of quite how entrenched into our culture this film has become, I don’t know what is. It’s everywhere. From an early age kids have already mastered the art of sounding like Darth Vader by cupping their hands over their mouths and breathing heavily. I suspect that by the year 2025 the evolution of the Star Wars phenomenon will have reached such a point that children still in the womb will have the script of the film genetically encoded into their very brains.
It’s impossible to deny the impact this film has had, but in many ways, the original film has somehow been lost behind a stream of toys, games, sequels, cartoons, books, Legos and Han/Luke slashfiction that is quite simply not recommended unless you want your mind reduced to a recoiling puddle of horror and disgust. It kind of lurks in the corner, reminding everyone that it’s there while at the same time not really being important enough any more to command the attention of people who would much rather slice each other up online playing Jedi Academy than actually watch the film.
So, is it actually worth all the fuss that people have caused over it? I mean, it’s nearly 30 years old now (isn’t that a scary thought?). Will it still stand up to scrutiny in this modern world of “a film’s not cool unless 33,427 different things have exploded within its allotted running time”?
Now I’m not even going to bother with a plot summary here; if you’ve seen the film, you don’t need it. If you haven’t, chances are you’re not going to watch it anyway, and you’re just reading this because you’re bored and you just finished reading all the instructions on the back of your cereal boxes and this was next on your priority list for entertainment. Besides, the summary capsule above pretty much has me covered, so I’m not going to waste any more of my time or yours.
What I am going to talk about is “Will you enjoy watching Star Wars the film”? The answer to that question depends on which of these five arbitrary categories (which I just invented because it’s Friday afternoon and I’m so hopped up on work fatigue, boredom and more caffeine than is likely to be good for you) you fall into:
Category One is the Star Wars Fan Who Lives for the Franchise: It’s Star Wars. Of course you’re going to enjoy it. You’re going to enjoy it just as much, if not more, as you enjoyed it the other 12 times you watched it this month. In fact, you’re probably watching it right now, aren’t you? That’s what I thought.
Category Two is the Star Wars Fan Who Liked the Movies But Has Seen Them Too Many Times: Ok, part of Star Wars are still going to get your heart beating like they did when you were nine and you saw it the first time. But chances are your tolerance for Luke whining about Power Converters or Luke whining about wanting to go to the academy or Luke getting beat up by Tusken Raiders is pretty close to zero. So you use the wonders of VCR fast forward or DVD chapter selection to get the viewers cut of Star Wars which includes all the nice action bits with none of the dull talking.
Category Three is the Person Who Saw Star Wars Once as a Kid and Kinda Liked It Then: If you kinda liked it back then, chances are the film itself – a nice pacey action film with lots of special effects which are pretty ahead of their time – combined with the nostalgia rush will be easily enough to give you full enjoyment for your movie going experience. I think this category will easily be the one who gains the most enjoyment out of re-watching or watching the film.
Category Four is the Person Who Hasn’t Seen It Before, But Has No Expectations: For the three people in the whole world this category applies to, you’ll probably get as much out of it as the Category Three people; sure, you don’t get the nostalgia rush or relieving the time you first saw it on Christmas Day 1984, but since you haven’t seen it before it should be all fresh and new to you. However, I suspect that a lot of people who would be in this category have been corrupted by the hype to slot neatly into…
Category Five, the Person Who Hasn’t Seen It Before But Has Been Told It’s Better Than Any Single Activity Of Your Choice, Including Stuff With Girls/Boys (delete as applicable): Hype can be a terrible thing, and for first time Star Wars viewers it might really put you off the film once you sit down to watch it. Now don’t get me wrong, Star Wars was revolutionary in 1976 when sci-fi didn’t really exist as a film genre, but by today’s standards it’s not much better than, well, standard. Sorry. So if you can ratchet down your expectations to Category Four levels, chances are you’ll get a lot more out of it than expecting it to radically change your life for the better. For that, you need my Self Help Tape, available from the MutantStore for just $299.99.
I think that about covers it. For those who are interested, I’m definitely a Category Two Star Wars watcher.
Before I finish I should probably touch on the fact that there are roughly 17 different versions of this film floating around in various formats. Is there a ‘best’ one to watch? I don’t think so. I like the original, because that’s what I’m used to, but if you don’t have that kind of nostalgia baggage hanging over your head then the cleaner, more modern looking Special Edition or Remastered Special Edition or George Lucas Needs More Cash Ultra Magic Edition will serve just as well. The differences are pretty minor, and really only make a difference to the Category One people out here (hi there!).
Justin’s rating: Chewie is my Co-Pilot
Justin’s review: Whenever the topic of conversation among geeks comes around to the question of “Which is the best Star Wars film?” I’ve yet to hear someone stick up for the granddaddy of the series, Mr. Star Wars: A New Hope. Of course, back in the day before pre-titling these movies with “Episode” and post-titling them with pulp fiction gibberish (“Revenge of the Phantom Empire Jedi Clones”), this was simply: Star Wars.
Going back to what I was saying, this just isn’t the favorite of many, because Empire and Jedi pushed the series further with better characters, plot, special effects and an alien race related to squid. “It’s a trap! Release the space ink pouches!”
Back in the ’80s, my brothers and I watched Star Wars constantly, and it threatened to wear out the VHS tape (For those “special” people in our readership who have no idea of what VHS is, just think of them as the video equivalent of 8-Track tapes — better?). Of course, that also meant I grew up with the impression that every fifteen minutes, Luke and Han and Curly Buns were so exhausted from outrunning the evil Empire that they’d have to take a break and let Snuggles fabric softener and Tab soft drinks have their say. Yes, we watched a lot of movies taped straight off of TV, but that only added to the charm. And also to the psychiatrist bills come ten years from then.
If you grew up with Star Wars, then you know it by heart. That’s the way it is. As silly and brash of a film that this is, it’s enormous fun to quote along with it. Lucas didn’t make a classic masterpiece with Star Wars — not in my opinion at least — but he did make one of the most watchable, entertaining movies of all time. How can you not love a film where someone gets their arm chopped off in a bar by the end of Act One, where one of our main characters refuses to do the right thing until he gets his paycheck, where the bad guys prove themselves excellent marksmen in the first ten minutes and then crappy ones for the rest of the three films, where our main villain gets away with mouth breathing and wearing a cape (so passé), where princesses get tortured, where planets get exploded, where there’s a fat spaceship pilot named “Porkins,” where everyone looks like they’re going to a 1970s pajama party, where we find out that even evil empires have to deal with waste management, and where there’s claymation monster chess going on?
Only here, baby. Only here.
So for those planning a Star Wars party, here’s Justin’s friendly interactive A New Hope game:
- Whenever the characters hug each other, shout “HUG PARTY!” and hug your friends.
- When that dumb Stormtrooper hits his head on the blast shield doors, slap your forehead and go, “D’oh!”
- Whenever Luke whines, join him and whine out loud, “Mooooom! I wanna go to Tashi Stationnnnnnn!”
- Whenever C3PO does or says something pointless, kill a robot nearby.
- Whenever someone uses the Force, drink milk from a cup across the room using 15 connected silly straws.
- Whenever a Y-Wing or X-Wing pilot says something brave and then immediately dies, salute the screen with respect.
- Most of the Stormtroopers are left-handed. That is because of how the weapons are constructed. Their weapons are based on a real weapon, where the magazine is on left side of the weapons. This construction caused it to hit the troopers in the chest. Therefore they have to switch grip of the weapon, which made them look left-handed.
- Though the only thing Chewbacca can say from start to finish is a Wookiee growl, he has the last line in the film.
- Most of the crowd watching the heroes receive their medallions are cardboard cutouts.
- When the storm troopers enter the room where C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding, one of them bumps his head on the door, complete with sound effects.
- Han and Luke “transfer” Chewbacca from cell block 1138, a reference to Lucas’ earlier film THX 1138. “THX-1138” was going to be the serial number of the guard with the faulty transmitter on the Death Star, but this was changed.
- Peter Mayhew worked as an orderly in a Yorkshire hospital prior to being cast as Chewbacca.
- Stunt doubles were not used for the scene in which Luke and Leia swing to safety. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill performed that stunt themselves, shooting it in just one take.
- When the film was re-released in theatres after it became so successful, the Daffy Duck cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953) was run preceding the feature at the request of George Lucas.
- This is the only film in the series where David Prowse did the lightsaber fighting on his own; he was doubled in the sequels because he kept breaking the poles that stood in for the blades. This switch might explain why Vader pivots on his feet in this film, but not in the others.
- George Lucas had not originally intended to use Anthony Daniels’s voice for the voice of C-3PO. He only changed his mind after a suggestion by Stan Freberg, one of the actors considered for Anthony Daniels’s replacement. Anthony Daniels’s voice was altered in post-production.
- When 20th Century Fox attempted to distribute the film in the U.S., fewer than 40 theatres agreed to show it. As a solution, Fox threatened that any cinema that refused to show Star Wars would not be given the rights to screen the potential blockbuster The Other Side of Midnight (which ended up grossing less than 10% of what Star Wars did).
- According to an interview with George Lucas, originally Luke was a girl, Han Solo was an Alien, the wookiees were called Jawas, and R2-D2 and C-3PO were called A-2 and C-3.
- The lightsaber sound effect is a combination of the hum of an idling 35mm movie projector and the feedback generated by passing a stripped microphone cable by a television.
- James Earl Jones supplied the voice of Darth Vader, but specifically requested that he not be credited as he felt he had not done enough work to get the billing. (He does receive billing in the 1997 “Special Edition”.) David Prowse was supposedly extremely annoyed at not being told that his voice would be dubbed.
- C-3PO was originally scripted as a “used car salesman” type, and designed after the robot from Metropolis (1927).
- The Tatooine scenes were filmed in Tunisia. There is a town in Tunisia called “Tatahouine”. Some of the interiors of Luke’s house were filmed in a hotel in Tunisia, but the exterior is an actual home in the village of Matmata, where caves and craters have been inhabited for a long time.
- According to the exhibit at the Smithsonian, the sound of a TIE fighter is created by combining the squeal of a young elephant with the sound of a car driving by on a rain-slicked highway.
- The language spoken by the Jawas was created by recording speakers of the African Zulu language and electronically speeding it up. Greedo’s language is the Peruvian Indian language Quechua, played backwards. (George Lucas would later feature Peruvian Indians again in Raiders of the Lost Ark).
- The original name of the main character in this film was Luke Starkiller. It was changed to Skywalker on the first day of filming. All early drafts of the script still bear the name “Starkiller”.
- I (Justin) used the award ceremony theme as the recessional music at my wedding and it worked AWESOME!
Princess Leia: It seems like you’ve managed to cut of our only escape route.
Han Solo: Maybe you would like it back in your cell, your highness?
Obi-Wan: I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [influencing the stormtrooper’s mind] You don’t need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.
C-3PO: Master Luke, sir. Pardon me for asking, but what should R2 and I do if we’re discovered here?
Luke: Lock the door.
Han Solo: And hope they don’t have blasters.
C-3PO: That isn’t very reassuring.
[comm is blinking, Han hits the button]
Han Solo: Uh, everything’s under control. Situation normal.
Voice: What happened?
Han Solo: Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you? [winces]
Voice: We’re sending a squad up.
Han Solo: Uh, uh, negative. We had a reactor leak here now. Give us a minute to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous.
Voice: Who is this? What’s your operating number?
Han Solo: Uh… [shoots comm, mutters] Boring conversation anyway. [shouting] Luke, we’re gonna have company!
Han Solo: Where did you dig up that old fossil?
Luke: Ben is a great man.
Han Solo: Yeah, great at getting us into trouble.
Darth Vader: I’ve been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I met you I was but the learner. Now, *I* am the master.
Obi-Wan: Only a master of evil, Darth. [lightsabers clash]
[R2-D2 and Chewbacca are playing the holographic game aboard the Millennium Falcon]
C-3PO: He made a fair move. Screaming about it can’t help you.
Han Solo: Let him have it. It’s not wise to upset a Wookiee.
C-3PO: But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a droid.
Han Solo: That’s ’cause droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.
C-3PO: I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: let the Wookiee win.
Han Solo: Look, Your Worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me.
Princess Leia: It’s a wonder you’re still alive. [Pushing past Chewbacca] Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way?
Han Solo: No reward is worth this.
Han Solo: Wonderful girl. Either I’m going to kill her or I’m beginning to like her.
C-3PO: Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overweight glob of grease.
Princess Leia: Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.
Governor Tarkin: Charming to the last. You don’t know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life.
Obi-Wan: Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.
Darth Vader: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Obi-Wan: That’s no moon. It’s a space station.
Han Solo: Well, you can forget your troubles with those Imperial slugs. I told you I’d outrun ’em. [Nobody is listening] Don’t everyone thank me at once.
Han Solo: Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
Leia: General Kenobi: Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.
Luke: How did my father die?
Obi-Wan: A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil, helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi knights. He betrayed and murdered your father.
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Leia: The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.
Han Solo: Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy.
Princess Leia: Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?
Leia: You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.
Han Solo: Hey, Luke… may the Force be with you.
Han Solo: Not a bad bit of rescuing, huh? You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.
If You Liked This Movie, Try These:
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
- The Last Starfighter
I would argue that Beta was the video equivalent of eight tracks.
The idea of Stan Freberg voicing Threepio is an interesting one to say the least.
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