If you have for Force it...

Movie: Star Wars
Year: 1977
Director: George Lucas
Starring: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness

I went into this movie knowing very little about it. I'd seen a couple of Ralph McQuarrie's pre-production paintings in Starlog magazine and a short article in Newsweek. But a friend had seen a trailer and read other things about it so we took a 54 mile drive to the nearest theater that was showing it opening weekend.

From the moment we startled when the music started until the lights came up at the end, we were gobsmacked.

Today's audiences can't quite grasp what it was like. We'd never seen anything like it. Prior to that, we'd had 2001: a space odyssey and Silent Running but the ships weren't as fast moving and dynamic as those in Star Wars.

On the drive home, neither of us could say a word for the first 25 miles. Then we couldn't shut up about it! And people have been talking about this movie for over 40 years now.

The Flaws

To be fair, there are quite a few. But these are the ones most noteworthy to me because they didn't take multiple showings for me to notice.

When the ships move across the screen, each one has a little rectangle around it. I know this was part of the matte process used to isolate the ships from the blue screen. It's subtle but noticeable.

Even at the age of 17, I'd worked with enough camera gear to recognize that Luke's lightsaber was a slightly modified Graflex flash unit. It wasn't even cleverly disguised.

When the stormtroopers enter the control room where C-3PO is hiding, the trooper on the right smacks his head on the door. It makes an audible thud. The door height to forehead height ratio was 1 to 1.

Luke may be a good pilot but his grammar could use some brushing up. When his Uncle Owen tells him they'll submit his application to the academy, Luke complains that is "a whole 'nother year." That one always sets my teeth on edge.

When one of the X-wing ships was hit, the pilot is told to eject. To where? They're about to blow up the Death Star so it's not like they can circle around to pick him up later.

Why These Flaws Don't Matter

Despite its very simple story and the now cringeworthy budding romance between Luke and Leia, the story holds up really well. It's the classic hero's quest. The story had been told before but never on a scale of this magnitude.

When George Lucas revisited this film and "fixed" the special effects and missing footage, fans were furious and have clamored for a Blu-Ray release of the original film, warts and all. We want to see it as it was when we fell in love with it on a late spring evening in 1977.

Lucas forgot a famous adage: if it ain't broke, dont' fix it.

Star Wars was never broke.

Incidentally, am I the only person who wants to know more about this academy Luke wanted to attend?

Comments

  1. Agree with everything, except -- there is room for both the original version *and* the one with added/corrected footage. As a special FX Geek, I love that it's possible to go back and make the visuals better. Always will.

    But that doesn't mean you remove the original from availability. Do BOTH. There was a special DVD released several years back that had 4 different versions of the original Blade Runner on it, including a special Director's Cut. *That's* the way to do it...!

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    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right. There IS room for every version. And I really wish Disney/Lucasfilm/Whoever can make it happen would do so.

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