Celebrating Great Films

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Star Wars

Star Wars#12 at time of writing.

Star Wars. You had to be there.

I don't doubt that for teenagers in 1977, it was an absolutely mind-blowing experience. It's ambitious, and peppered with iconic (and very parody-able) moments. The universe is thoroughly imagined. But, well, it's not actually very good is it?

I avoided seeing Star Wars until I was at University in 2000, and predictably it didn't live up to the hype. It starts off promisingly enough, but then there's an interminable series of arid scenes on the desert planet and it doesn't get much better from there.

The acting is horrible, the story is unoriginal, it has plot holes big enough to drive the Millennium Falcon through, and the dialogue is beyond silly. That's not to say it wasn't an important film. Most know that Industrial Light and Magic was formed to do the special effects for Star Wars, thereby ushering in the age of the special effect driven movie.

The special effects were mind-blowing at the time, and so was the marketing. George Lucas may be a hack director, but he is a master of marketing. Star Wars was the first film to successfully create a line of merchandise and toys. And they sold like gangbusters, even though the first action figures were an empty box with an IOU inside!

I'm sure I'm being unfair. But there are certainly more than 11 better films. For one, Raiders of the Lost Ark was twice as good. Mind you, Empire Strikes Back was a vast improvement, and Temple of Doom was rubbish.

Having said all that, I remember enjoying Flash Gordon on Betamax when I was a kid, and that's a fucking awful film.

Flash Gordon vs Star Wars

Believe it or not, several Star Wars characters are derived from Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress. George Lucas acknowledges this in the first conference room scene on the Death Star. Just as an Imperial Officer is saying the line "...the Rebel's hidden fort..." he is telekinetically strangled by Darth Vader, shutting him up before he can say the full title.

Shame that Carrie Fisher did a Judy Garland and ended up addicted to drugs and wishing that she had turned down the film that made her famous.

For interest, here's a review from 1977. And for fun, here's the Star Wars Kid. This trailer made me laugh as well - why wasn't Fanboys released in the UK?

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