A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away; thus starts the most ambitious and amazing science-fiction saga ever made, thanks to filmmaker George Lucas.
Star Wars came out in 1977 and completely changed the film industry as we now know it today. It revolutionized special effects and created the summer movie season (before than the studios thought that the general movie going audience wanted to spend their summer outdoors instead of at the movies).
Star Wars tells the story of a simple farm boy named Luke Skywalker who leaves his small home farm on the planet Tatoinne and is trust into the threshold of the rebel alliance by Obiwan Kenobi who trains him to become a Jedi and learn of The Force in order to save the galaxy and defeat the evil empire lead by Darth Vader.
Thirty-eight years after it’s release, Star Wars is still as relevant as it was in 1977. Even more so, since after Disney purchase LucasFilm more Star Wars films are coming starting with The Force Awakens (December 2015) and the anthology film called Rogue One (2016).
The characters are all an important part of why Star Wars succeeded. They’re flawed and for some even considered unredeemable. Luke Skywalker (who was originally supposed to be called Luke Starkiller in the early drafts) is arguably one of the greatest on-screen heroes to ever hit the big screen. Mark Hamill is wonderful as Luke. He’s a bit whiney at first and unsure of what his destiny is, but as the story progresses he is without a doubt the heir of the Jedi. His character has an arc and he is without a doubt the greatest hero in cinema history.
Han Solo is one of the greatest characters ever created. He’s a scoundrel. A smuggler. He’s cocky, sure of himself, and a mercenary when we first meet him in the cantina of Mos Eisley. He cares only about himself and how much he’s going to get paid. Harrison Ford delivers one of the best performances of all time and completely inhabits the character of Han Solo. And of course, he is with his long time companion Chewbacca, played by Peter Maywhew. Although Chewie doesn’t speak basic, he is such a great character because he is ever so loyal to Han (According to old Star Wars lore, in the old Expanded Universe, author A.C. Crispin wrote a trilogy of books cycling the adventures of young Han Solo and explained how he saved Chewbacca from slavery back when he was an imperial pilot working for the Empire. Chewie swore him a life debt, which is unbreakable for a Wookie).
Leia Organa, the leader of the rebellion, is one of the strongest female characters in cinematic history. Carrie Fischer plays her role perfectly, considering how young she was (seventeen years old at the time, Carrie was the youngest cast member of the three, with Harrison being thirty five and Mark Hamill being eighteen).
Alec Guinness has become immortal in the role of Obiwan Kenobi, mentor of Luke Skywalker who teaches Luke the ways of The Force. It is clear that George Lucas got inspiration from Gandalf the White while he was writing the early drafts, but Alec has made his character his own even though rumor has it Guinness got sick and tired of being associated with Star Wars. Alec Guinness was probably the most professional actor on set, even if he thought that being in Star Wars was a terrible career decision and that it was ridiculous from the start. Despite that, he always gave his all and took his work seriously even more seriously than Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill as a matter of fact.
But the two standouts that could have been awful if done terribly wrong is C3PO and R2D2, which are the comic relief of Star Wars. CRPO, masterfully played by Antony Daniels, is such a frightful droid and is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. The first act of this movie could really have crumbled if the two droids hadn’t been so believable and feel like real characters since the entire first 20 minutes is all about the droids.
And last but not least, the greatest villain of all time, Darth Vader, whom is voiced by James Earl Jones and played by David Prowse. Vader is such an awesome and terrifying villain. He is shrouded in mystery, we know next to nothing about him except that he killed Luke Skywalker’s father (something that the prequels completely destroyed. George Lucas ruined Darth Vader and made him a winy brat, but more on that later).
Darth Vader is a ruthless and merciless villain even if he takes order from Admiral Tarkin (If you want to find out why Vader takes orders from Tarkin, read the new Star Wars novel entitled Tarkin written by James Luceno). Watching these two disagree on each other’s philosophies “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force” is another thing that made Star Wars so brilliant. Grand Admiral Tarkin was a great Star Wars villain, and doesn’t get enough recognition for being the ultimate douche of the universe for destroying an entire planet with the Death Star.
George Lucas, has gotten a lot of crap for the prequels and he deserved it, but he was a masterful director when he was not surrounded by a bunch of yes men and didn’t have an unlimited budget and brought us nearly the whole prequel trilogy in a shallow green-screen environment. For Star Wars, he used what he had and there we’re a million things that went wrong but somehow it all worked out even if Lucas was never completely satisfied with the end result (He re-released the special editions in theaters since his son had never seen them on the big screen with added material that contradicted his work in the first place. Too Lucas, the prequels are better than the originals and believes that they aren’t as complete as the prequels which is impossible to believe but it is what it is. Even to this day, he keeps adding and replacing stuff that don’t need to be changed).
The special effects we’re groundbreaking for it’s time and still hold up today. The opening scene, with the Star Destroyer attacking the rebel’s spaceship, is mind-blowing and started the tradition of starting every movie of the original with a shot of the gigantic Star Destroyer. The sound effects are so freaking fantastic. The sound of blasters, light-sabers, Tie Fighters, X-Wings have all become iconic at this point. The John Williams score is one of the best scores of all time. The binary sunset scene is one of my personal all time favorites.
In the end, Star Wars is a story about redemption. The characters are what makes Star Wars so great. They are instantly relatable and are ultimately flawed. None of them are perfect. Not even Luke Skywalker, who will fail miserably in The Empire Strikes Back. These heroes all got something in their past that makes them tick, which eventually makes them human beings. Star Wars is a movie that changed the industry forever, that revolutionilized cinema, and boy did the sequels top it in every way imaginable.
Favorite characters: Luke, Han, Leia, Ben Kenobi
Favorite quote: These are not the droids you’re looking for.
Favorite scene: The binary sunset.