Friday, June 08, 2007
May the Force be with you!
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
The Return of the Jedi
The Phantom Menace
The Attack of the Clones
The Revenge of the Sith
Directed by: George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Frank Oz, Anthony Daniels
SOME thirty years ago, in 1977, the first Star Wars film A New Hope was released with an intergalactic bang. They rest, as the cliché goes, is history. Here’s reliving the magic of Star Wars.
George Lucas’ double-trilogy, the six-part extraterrestrial saga of a ‘galaxy far, far away’ is the story the movie myths are made of. The films not only gave the science-fiction fantasy genre the biggest boost it could ever get, it also change the way we approach a film. Everything was possible with Star Wars and still is. The never-ending vistas, the numerous planets, the awe-inspiring spacecrafts, the governments and social systems, and the inhabitants of these planets, human and animals and everything in between — it was a world of magical proportion, the Middle Earth of science.
And in 1977, the incredible success of Star Wars — seven Oscars, $461 million in US market and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide — began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. The efforts had paid off, especially if you look at the success of first three films. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were overnight stars. Even a renowned actor like Alec Guinness later becomes popular as Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi. Such was the influence of Star Wars!
Soon the film was a bona-fide pop culture phenomenon. Over the years it has spawned five more feature films, five TV series and an entire industry’s worth of comic books, toys, video games and other products. Two big-screen sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Return of the Jedi (1983), featured much of the original cast and enjoyed the same success —both critical and commercial — as the first film.
In 1999, Lucas stretched back in time for the fourth installment, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, chronologically a prequel to the original movie. Two other prequels, Attack of the Clones (2002) and Revenge of the Sith (2005) followed. The latter Star Wars movies featured a new cast — including Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen —and have generally failed to earn the same amount of critical praise as the first three films. They continue to score at the box office, however, with Revenge of the Sith becoming the top-grossing film of 2005 in the United States and the second worldwide.
What’s so special about Star Wars? First, the gizmos! Even today some of the props used in the film looks futurists. Can you ever beat that tube-like light sabers? Second, this is a story of a political world order, the struggle between democracy and fascism, the eternal war between good and the evil.
But above all what makes Star Wars special is the father and son story, the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader aka Anakin Skywalker.
Both the trilogies end with Anakin Skywalker’s death, in the first, it’s the end of Darth Vader and return of democratic rule and in the next, it’s the symbolic death of Anakin Skywalker, when he chooses to take the side of the dark force. In both the trilogy again, it’s the search of a son for his father. In earlier one, Luke hopes against hope to turn his father to the side of goodness, whereas in the later one, Anakin searches for a father he never had.
Finally, the film is about the choices we make, between good and evil and the price we pay for it. Now, that’s one theme in art that never goes out of fashion.