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Star Wars Movie Review

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Star Wars: A New Hope

1977, 1997 (Special Edition) – George Lucas –

Writer and co-producer George Lucas directed this amazing space adventure about a farm boy from the planet Tatooine who gets caught up in a great interplanetary war. This was Lucas' second big success after the innovative American Graffiti. Using astonishingly realistic special effects that revolutionized the industry, Star Wars built on and went way beyond the tradition of science-fiction movies. Fortunately, these marvels are not the only good thing about this film. The story pulls its own weight, and under superb direction from Lucas, story and special effects come together to form an unforgettable adventure. “I researched kid's films,” Lucas later remarked, “and how they work and how myths work.” Lucas credits mythologist Joseph Campbell with the core inspiration. Borrowing freely from various film genres, Lucas changed the movie business with Star Wars.

Rejected by Universal, Lucas took his idea to Fox, which finally gave him the green light. “Nobody thought it was going to be a big hit,” Lucas told Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. “I kept doing more research and writing scripts. The problem in something like this is you are creating a whole genre that has never been created before.” Eventually, Star Wars was made for a paltry $8 million, with Lucas receiving approximately $100,000 in up-front salary.

When Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) buys a pair of runaway droids, he suddenly becomes involved in a war between the evil Galactic Empire and a resistance known as the Rebel Alliance. The droids are carrying secret plans for a weapon of mass destruction being built by the Empire. They also contain a message for an old hermit named Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), who is one of the last members of a sacred cult called the Jedi. Kenobi will become a leader, teacher, and mentor for young Luke, because Luke is destined to become one of the greatest Jedi knights as he matures. Luke's adventures take him to save Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), a captive of the Empire and a leader in the Rebel forces. To do this, he teams with renegade smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford). With Han's sidekick Chewbacca, a furry and lovable man/beast, they blast into the heart of the Empire, hoping to make it in time and forming a friendship that will keep them together for future adventures.

This film is one of the best-loved classics and box-office smashes because it not only has all the action of a sci-fi thriller, but it also includes themes of love, growing up, and (in a very obvious way) the conflicts between good and evil. The script also supplies a wealth of comedic interludes. It is a fun movie to watch and keeps you on the edge of your seat with its battle scenes and starship races. Hamill, Fisher, and Ford make a great trio filled with energy and chemistry. One rare surprise is the amazing number of creatures and alien scenery that the movie contains. Just watching unimportant action in various spaceports is a treat. Industrial Light and Magic, led by special effects supervisor John Dykstra (who had worked for Douglas Trumbull on 2001: A Space Odyssey) created the 365 amazing photographic effects, which won an Academy Award. Dykstra built a special optical camera, the Moviola, for the miniature shots. The editing, which was also Oscar-honored, was done by the director's then-wife, Marcia, and Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew. Reportedly it took Marcia Lucas more than eight weeks to cut the battle sequence. The magnificent sound track by John Williams is also enduring and memorable. Overall, Star Wars is one of those great moments in entertainment that can be watched again and again by every generation that discovers it.

Cast: Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa), Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin), Alec Guinness (Ben Obi-wan Kenobi), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), David Prowse (Lord Darth Vader), Phil Brown (Uncle Owen Lars), Shelagh Fraser (Aunt Beru Lars), Jack Purvis (Chief Jawa/Praying Mantis (Kitik Keed'kak)/Power Droid EG-6), Alex McCrindle (General Dodonna), Eddie Byrne (Commander Willard), Drewe Henley (Red Leader) Screenwriter: George Lucas Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor I Composer: John Williams Producer: Gary Kurtz for Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 121 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1978: Art and Set Decoration, Costumes, Effects, Film Editing, Original Score, Sound; Nominations: Director (George Lucas), Picture, Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness), Screenplay; Golden Globe Awards, 1978: Score; Nominations: Director (George Lucas), Picture, Supporting Actor (Alec Guiness); Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards 1977: 10 Best Films of the Year; National Board of Review Awards 1977: 10 Best Films of the Year; People's Choice Awards 1978: Film Budget: $8M. Box Office: $461 million (to date).

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