[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B005HNV2OS][/pullquote] In 1977 the cultural world was shaken to its foundations by a film that changed the zeitgeist for summer blockbusters, science fiction and even entertainment as whole. George Lucas, a man notoriously anti-studio, took a risk. It was a big risk. He had an idea for a science fiction space opera that drew influences from sources as diverse as Japanese samurai, Buddhist teachings and the moon landing. The result of this mixture of styles is one of the most recognisable film franchises and brands in the world today. That franchise is Star Wars.
On the outer-rim planet of Tattooine, young orphaned farm-hand Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) receives a hidden message left in a droid by the mysterious and beautiful Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). He seeks out enigmatic, hermit Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and discovers that he was actually once one of the mythical Jedi Knights who used to fight alongside Luke’s father Anakin. Together the two men join smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and go off to rescue the Princess from the evil clutches of Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones).
Star Wars (later retrospectively changed to Star Wars: Episode IV “ A New Hope) was a revelation. Adults and children alike fell in love with the grand scale of a galaxy far, far away. It introduced a slew of new actors into the mainstream, whilst cashing in on the name value of veteran British performers like Peter Cushing and Alec Guiness. It’s become such a movement that fans of the series have created an identity of their very own, being both obsessive and full of love for the material. Even with the universally accepted disappointment of the prequel trilogy, the Star Wars Universe continues to be talked about and loved by millions of people.
It is almost impossible to give a fair and unbiased review of a film like this, because you’re either a fan or you’re not. But it should be noted that the acting is excellent, the music (by John Williams) is bombastic and incredible and the plot fizzes along at speed whilst taking time to let you get to know the characters and the world they live in. In fact, so successful is the series at creating the varying planets and destinations that the extended universe continues to provide content for writers the world over.
The story-telling is epic in the very sense of the word and Lucas clearly took great joy in creating a mythology that draws on Akira Kurosawa’s samurai, every world religion, the science fiction and Western serials of the 1950s and 60s and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero Has 1000 Faces. Everything fell into place for him and he was suddenly the brains behind a behemoth hit. It went on to spawn 5 official live-action sequels, a host of animated and spin-off material and is one the first films that many people will list at the top of their favourite films of all time.