#13 Star Wars

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”
Blue Letters in Space

Didn’t I just watch the terrestrial version of this last night?

Yes, Star Wars was basically the same movie as The Searchers, only without all the racism. And it was in space! This of course leads me to ask, is it okay that Star Wars is a story that has been told a million times before? Of course it is. The beautiful thing about art is that it builds upon itself. Did Fight Club suck because Sybil came first? Of course not. Star Wars’ story of “girl gets captured, boy finds out, boy adopts some sidekicks, boy faces near impossible odds, and boy emerges victorious” is certainly not a new story, but that doesn’t really matter. What is important about this movie is the way the story is told.

Granted I am more familiar with the 1997, purist killing, digitally enhanced special editions, than the originals, the fact does remain, what George Lucas was able to accomplish with this film was amazing. Visually it was unlike anything that had ever been seen, or would be seen for quite sometime. And more importantly it created a world that allowed viewers to completely lose them selves, much like Lord of the Rings, or Star Trek.

It is amazing how certain films are able to capture the imaginations of so many people, and Star Wars, perhaps more than any other film, succeeds in doing this. That is what this film did right, but there is plenty that it did wrong. Lucas is a terrific producer, and his vision for the film, although quite cluttered, was brilliant. Lucas’s failure however, can be found in his in-experience as a director. I will undoubtedly take a massive amount of flack for saying this, but some of his faults are too obvious not to point out.

The acting in this movie is not particularly good, a problem that I attribute to Lucas’s inexperience as a director, as Harrison Ford, Mark Hammil, and Alec Guiness, have all proven themselves to be formidable actors. This example is echoed by the seemingly bad acting in the prequel trilogy in which, Hayden Christensen, Natlie Portman, Ewan Macgregor, Liam Neeson, and Samuel L. Jackson, all appear to be amateurs reading unpolished lines. None of these actors could be considered bad actors, not when their full catalogue of work is looked at, yet they all seem to stumble over the clumsy guidance, and the inarticulate writing of their puppet master George Lucas.

This brings me to my next problem with the movie, the writing. Frequently Ford had to change lines in the film that were easy to write, but difficult to say. Alec Guiness even claims to have asked to be killed off in the first movie, due to the terrible working conditions and trashy dialogue. Lucas claims that Guiness’s claims are false, but the fact that Guiness did claim this says something about Lucas as a director.

Strangely though, even with all these faults, I really love this movie, it’s great. There are many explanations as to why I love this movie. Maybe because I watched it as a kid, and acting and dialogue were not as important as adventure and light sabers, the faults have been overlooked. I do not think this is the case though.

Apparently while the film was in production, Lucas instructed the props department to roll R2 units in sand, chip them with a saw, and hammer dents into them. This is why the film is so great, the flaws. Anything negative about this movie only serves to better it in the end. Corny dialogue allows us to focus on the amazing visuals. Made-up words and goofy looking aliens create a unique world capable of completely capturing the imagination. And most importantly, dirty, broken props, create a world that is tangible. Unlike most sci-fi movies, where everything is clean, bright, and foreign, Star Wars is dirty and raw. Tantooine is a place that we as viewers can believe exists. The heroes get dirt on their clothes, and they aren’t afraid to drop the stoic emotions normally reserved for sci-fi characters and just be funny. Even more important, they are relatable. Despite the fact that the heroes of Star Wars are not in fact human, they are easier to relate to than many science fiction characters that do come from our planet.

Star Wars is a classic that will be loved for generations to come. It needs the bad props, terrible puppets, corny dialogue, and played out story line, because these things are what make it so good. You have to take these bad things with a grain of salt because, as Lucas proved with his prequels, perfect and clean, is not always a good thing.

Greedo shot first.

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