Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Original "Star Wars" Still Powerful

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 67 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Star Wars (1977)
Running time: 121 minutes (2 hours, 1 minute)
MPAA – PG
WRITER/DIRECTOR: George Lucas
PRODUCER: Gary Kurtz
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gilbert Taylor (D.o.P)
EDITORS: Richard Chew, Paul Hirsch, and Marcia Lucas
COMPOSER: John Williams
Academy Award winner

SCI-FI/ACTION/ADVENTURE/FANTASY

Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, James Earl Jones (voice), Phil Brown, and Shelagh Fraser

Star Wars is a 1977 epic science fiction film, specifically a space opera, which is a genre of science fiction literature. For a time, Star Wars was the highest grossing film in movie box office history (when not adjusted for inflation). I believe that the film’s special effects (revolutionary for its time) and narrative purity (how straightforward the plot and story were) are two of the main reasons the film was so popular and had broad audience appeal. Star Wars may be entertainment and escapist entertainment, at that, but there are elements, ideas, and characters that ring true and feel familiar to the viewer.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away a young farm boy, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), joins the rebellion against an evil galactic empire. It starts when his Uncle Owen (Phil Brown) buys two druids, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), sent by a rebel leader, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), with a message and coded information to an old Jedi Knight, Ben/Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness).

Luke joins Obi-Wan, and with the help of a rakish smuggler, Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and his hairy compatriot, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), they embark on a mission to rescue the princess. But waiting for them is the Empire’s most dangerous weapon, the Death Star, and its most fearsome thug, Darth Vader (David Prowse with James Earl Jones providing the voice), and Luke is in for the fight of his young life.

Much has been made of Star Wars since its appearance in the summer of 1977; the story behind the film’s production and how it almost never made it to the big screen is a popular part of Hollywood film lore. Star Wars officially ushered in the era of the blockbuster film, as its box office take set the standard by which studios judged a film’s success. The film’s special effects, though seemingly dated, were considered a landmark achievement in the late 70’s and inspired SFX artist to reach higher.

In terms of art, Star Wars is a great film no matter how you cut it. The story is simple and straightforward, but it also hits on many mythological themes that resonate with audiences from diverse backgrounds. It’s the ultimate popcorn movie – a fantastic time at the cinema. Fun to watch and occasionally heart-stopping, Star Wars is epitome of the matinee movie’s promise of thrills and chills. When the lights in the theatre dim, Star Wars begins and takes you on an extraordinary journey to another place and time.

10 of 10

NOTES:
1978 Academy Awards: 7 wins: “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration” (John Barry, Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley, and Roger Christian), “Best Costume Design” (John Mollo), “Best Effects, Visual Effects” (John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune, and Robert Blalack), “Best Film Editing” (Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, and Richard Chew), “Best Music, Original Score” (John Williams), “Best Sound” (Don MacDougall, Ray West, Bob Minkler, and Derek Ball), and “Special Achievement Award” (Benjamin Burtt Jr. for sound effects, for the creation of the alien, creature and robot voices); 4 nominations: “Best Actor in a Supporting Role” (Alec Guinness), “Best Director” (George Lucas), “Best Picture” (Gary Kurtz), and “Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen” (George Lucas)

1979 BAFTA Awards: 2 wins: “Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music” (John Williams) and “Best Sound” (Sam Shaw, Robert R. Rutledge, Gordon Davidson, Gene Corso, Derek Ball, Don MacDougall, Bob Minkler, Ray West, Michael Minkler, Les Fresholtz, Richard Portman, and Ben Burtt); 4 nominations: “Best Costume Design” (John Mollo), “Best Film,” “Best Film Editing” (Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas, and Richard Chew), and “Best Production Design/Art Direction” (John Barry)

1978 Golden Globes: 1 win: “Best Original Score - Motion Picture” (John Williams); 3 nominations: “Best Director - Motion Picture” (George Lucas), “Best Motion Picture – Drama,” “Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role” (Alec Guinness)

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