Star Wars (1977) – George Lucas


The 101 Sci-Fi movies from this point on will, for the majority be movies I’ve seen, and in a lot of cases probably own, but I’m looking forward to revisiting them as the list brings them to me.

I’ve spoken about Star Wars on these pages before, the first time i saw it, my memories of it, so i wont rehash that now.

But it can honestly be said that this movie changed popular culture. The special effects were revolutionary, cameras had never whipped and panned with spaceships that had previously appeared on-screen, the universe had a lived-in look, something else that hadn’t been seen before and it brought the quest myth into the space age.

luke_skywalkerLuke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is a farmboy on the desert planet, Tatooine. After he comes into possession of two runaway droids, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) he delivers a hologram message from a beautiful princess, Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), to an elderly wizard, Ben Kenobi (Alec Guiness), who fought in the Clone Wars. Joining them on their adventure is the roguish smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his furry copilot, the wookie Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

They have to rescue the princess from the evil Darth Vader (David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones) and Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) and then lead an attack on the impressive battle station called the Death Star.

The space battles are tightly paced and edited, Lucas used old WWII films cut together to show crew of special effects geniuses, in the newly minted Industrial Light and Magic what he wanted.

And of course, how can you talk about Star Wars and not mention the symphonic brilliance of John Williams? Having seen the film so many times, and knowing every part of the film by heart, I can’t hear any of the score now without hearing the dialogue in my head. It’s sweeping, majestic and heroic. It also helps ground the film in a reality we know, while showing us all these strange and wonderful images, these amazing escapades, the music is instantly relatable, and you can’t help but be swept up in it.

falconThe special effects and sound, and sound design on the film does everything to help create a whole universe, there is motion and life everywhere. One could simply close one’s eyes, and just listen to all the sounds you can hear in the film, and believe me, I’ve done it.

Star Wars is high fantasy, it is a science fiction fairy tale, and perhaps that is why it still resonates with viewers today.

I can no longer watch the movie objectively, I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve seen it (like most kids of my generation), much like Jaws, this movie is comfort food for me, and I can just throw it on in the background and enjoy it.

But in 1977, it was something else,it was something more. It was an event. It truly did change everything. It’s taken for granted now, but back then, it shook everything up.

By using myths and classic films as inspiration, like Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress and the Flash Gordon serials, Lucas was able to tap into the collective subconscious and put a familiar story on the big screen in a completely new and jaw-dropping way.

Today it’s just a classic movie, but in the summer of ’77 nothing like it had been seen before, earning it a place in the hearts of millions, and a well deserved place on the 101 Sci-Fi movies list.

How many times have you seen it?


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