Star Wars (1977)
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Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Kenny Baker, James Earl Jones, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Phil Tippett, Phil Brown, Shelagh Fraser, Jack Purvis, Alex McCrindle, Eddie Byrne, Drewe Henley, Denis Lawson, Garrick Hagon, William Hootkins, Angus MacInnes, Jeremy Sinden, Don Henderson, Richard LeParmentier, Rick Baker, Scott Beach, Maria De Aragon, Rusty Goffe, Reg Harding, Christine Hewett, Joe Johnston, Derek Lyons, Rick McCallum, Marcus Powell, Shane Rimmer, Peter Sumner, John Sylla, Malcolm Tierney, Burnell Tucker, Morgan Upton, Larry Ward, Bill Weston, Tim Condren, Kim Falkinburg, Ted Gagliano, Alf Mangan, Roy Straite, Hal Wamsley
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Bright Shining Star
Favorite Movie Quote: "You can strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
When we say it's the year 2008 it goes with an unspoken A.D.; after the death of Jesus Christ (whoever you believe him to be). For me, born in 1974, I mark film history in my head from my first memories until now. At the tender age of three, my first memories are of playing with Star Wars action figures. Even though I saw The Empire Strikes Back before I saw Star Wars, between my action figures, books, bed sheets, underoos, older brother (who had seen it), coloring books, etc. I was pretty well versed in the lore. I have no memories of a world pre-Star Wars, and as a student of film history as well as personally, it seems to me to be a bookend to the beginning of the current era of film.
So as it goes, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a Galactic Empire, headed by the legendary Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones), gives chase to the out-gunned, out-manned, out-everythinged Rebel Alliance, led by the crusading Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). Vader and his nameless, faceless Stormtroopers trash Leia's ship looking for the technical blueprints to their ultimate weapon, the Death Star, a massive space station with enough firepower to detonate an entire planet. However, the Princess uploads the data into robotic Swiss army knife R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), accompanied by his effeminate talk-box C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), and shoots them out an escape pod.
The two droids soon find themselves in the company of galaxy-class whiner Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who shortly thereafter hooks up with old bad-ass Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and two mercenary smugglers, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his growling throw-rug, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). For freedom, Christmas, and puppies they set out to get the critical plans into the hands of the Rebel Alliance only to get sidetracked when their destination is punked by the Death Star. Our motley band of misanthropes then must escape the sphere of fear (since they accidently have brought the plans back to their original owners) and make good on the quest's original goal.
While its content was not so different from things that had come before, writer/director George Lucas did package everything in an original way while also raising the bar on what could be accomplished in film with special effects, revolutionary at the time and still adequate even today. There are those that try to poo poo its historic and continued success - and those people can giggle that Annie Hall won Best Picture that year in one of film history's greatest injustices - but in the end it was certainly Lucas who laughed last; in fact if you are quiet enough in Marin County (home to Lucas' own real world empire) you may even still hear him laughing today.
Though there is certainly some nostalgia regarding my various Star Wars memories, the charm of the film for me - and the entire original trilogy - is the great sprawling epic pitting two clearly defined adversaries against one another. Through their actions in Star Wars, there's no room for debate about whether or not Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin (the best of Peter Cushing) are evil; they may stand for order, but they lost sight of a reasonable cost long before they blew apart a planet on a whim. That our heroes - the greatest of which is a woman I might add - stand against this tyranny is inspiring even in the face of an ultimate death weapon with a somewhat silly Achilles heel.
I also think that Star Wars is a more complex film than most people realize, working on several levels and multiple subtle character arcs. Credit should be paid to any story that can breach generations in its own time as well as over time. I loved Star Wars as a kid for the blasters and starship battles, but when I stopped being a child, I put away such childish things (sort of). My interest in Star Wars shifted when I was about 17 when I watched the trilogy again and started to appreciate it on a completely different level.
As an adult, Star Wars still featured the fantastic elements of absolute good and clearly defined evil, but there were rich, universal themes - as exists in all good science fiction material, and that I couldn't give a crap about as a kid - about what it means to be a true hero, sacrifice, friendship, hatred, love, and - above all - forgiveness.
Star Wars may not be your cup of tea, but it's perfectly constructed and relatively timeless. What's more, it captured the imagination of the entire human race. Young, old, male, female, this country or that, it drew interest from every quarter and not only made a fat bag of money but became part of the public consciousness.
Sorry if you weren't a part of it.
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|The Alpha Craig|
Jul 29, 2008 3:55 PM
|It was the first movie I ever saw at 2 years old (in the last run in Seattle theaters.)|
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