Star Wars in Review: ‘Star Wars’
Finally, we get to the good stuff…
Director: George Lucas
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guiness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones
Plot: When Princess Leia of the Rebellion is captured by the Empire her distress message is found by farm boy Luke Skywalker, who comes to the rescue along with mysterious hermit Ben Kenobi and smuggler Han Solo.
Review: If you’ve managed to function the internet to the point that you’ve found this website and opened this article you are aware of Star Wars, and are no doubt familiar with the massive following it has inspired. What is it about this movie that people connect with? To put it plainly – it’s the simplicity of it. There’s a very basic formula that gets used in traditional story telling. The reluctant hero against an insurmountable evil, wise mentor, princess in need of rescue and a rebel sidekick. Not that this is a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination…this is a tried and true formula and relocating it to a new setting is a great idea.
Plenty of geeks (and cinephiles in general) often complain about the intervention of studios in productions such as this, and this is one of few examples of that process working for the best. Anyone familiar with Lucas’ original concept of a complicated political based story with such characters as Mace Windy and a seven feet tall green fish headed Han Solo will attest to the fact that someone needed to guide him through this one. By stripping the long, impossible to follow epic down to a simple narrative with familiar characters we’ve been given a movie that everyone can enjoy.
The casting plays a huge part in the success of the movie. Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher may not have had the careers that Harrison Ford went on to have, yet it’s hard to imagine anyone else for the parts of the pure but angsty youth and strong, hard nosed dignitary. Ford defined his career by playing the rugged bad boy hero and most people know Guiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Almost all the characters have become ingrained in the public consciousness as modern representations of classic fairy tale archetypes.
Another defining aspect of the film is the bold and original artistic design. From the farms of Tatooine to the clinical whiteness of the Stormtroopers, everything in the movie looks fantastic. The Death Star is particularly brilliant, being an imposing and clever concept. This creates a strong setting for the quick banter and edge of the seat quality action sequences.
The special effects are note-worthy, but that doesn’t really matter any more since Lucas has done away with the ground breaking work (developed by a team of visionaries whose efforts apparently meant dick to the director) to replace them with cold, less realistic computer effects. That’s why I cling to my theatrical editions for future viewings.
Whilst a classic, there are a few problems. It’s corny on a dangerous level, some of the dialogue is trite and Hamill’s brat schtick can get irritating, but it’s a great ride to be on.
Score: EIGHT outta TEN