With less than a week to go until the release of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, we are going to take look at what nEoFILM thought of the saga so far. Yesterday, it was the Prequels, today were all about the Original Trilogy.
All have been posted before but as nEoFILM gives way to its equally epic celebration of the one of cinema’s greatest sagas, I thought that a little context may be helpful before Thursday…
1977 (Theatrical Version (“STAR WARS”) (DVD)
1977/1981 (Theatrical Re-release (“A NEW HOPE”) (VHS & Laserdisc)
1977/1997 (Special Edition) (VHS & Laserdisc)
1977/1997/2004 (Enhanced Special Edition) (DVD)
1977/1997/2004/2011 (Blu-ray Enhanced Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
DIRECTOR: George Lucas
May Contain Spoilers!
Is there really much left to say about Star Wars, seriously? This is the most famous Science Fiction film of all time and well deserved too. The simple story of a farm boy from the planet Tattoine who finds himself embroiled in an inter-galactic conflict, or Star Wars, as it were, is handed brilliantly. The pacing is good and a firm step into the 1980’s in terms of action and special effects, let alone away from the more dour 70’s era of realism and slow burn pacing.
But Star Wars is somewhat derivative, sourced from The Seven Samurai (1954) and The Dam Busters (1955) to name but two, and with The Lord Of The Rings flanking them both, does this film really deserve the adoration of so many? Yes, it does. Just because it can be said that Lucas was very liberal with his homages to other men’s work, does not mean that this was not one of the grandest productions ever put on to film; boasting state of the art special effect, a real cinematic vision and a story of pure heart and spirit.
In this galaxy far, far away, good and evil exist, where shades are grey are almost no existent; redemption is a way of life and murdering Stormtroopers and anyone associated with the Galactic Empire is perfectly acceptable. The death toll in this U rated film is astronomical, with the Death Star obliterating the peaceful planet of Alderaan and the Death Star itself being destroyed with all hands by the well placed Proton Torpedo delivered by Luke Skywalker. Millions were left dead.
But, there’s no blood, no gratuitous violence, just the bad guys getting it at every turn,Obi-Wan’s death and Uncle Owen and Aunt Buru’s smouldering remains not withstanding, this was palatable for kids. The film has true universal appeal and unlike its prequels, is aimed at everyone and not just the children who are being market for with the endless supply of toys and merchandise.
But even after 35 years, Star Wars’ still impresses, with pure spectacle, excitement and fun. But even the endless “Upgrades” from Lucas himself fails to destroy the magic, though it would nice to see them as they were originally released on Blu-ray, and my views on Lucas’s lack of respect for Star Wars are well documented (see The Raping Of Star Wars By George Lucas).
Star Wars is a classic, pieced together from other classics to create something legendary; the phenomena which even after 35 years, is still going strong. Lucas may well have failed to recreate the success of this one, but that certainly does not detract from this gem.
1980 (Theatrical Version) (VHS & DVD)
1980/1997 (Special Edition) (VHS & Lasredisc)
1980/1997/2004 (Enhanced DVD Edition) (DVD)
1980/1997/2004/2011 (Enhanced Blu-ray Edition) (Blu-ray)
The template for modern cinemas love affair with sequels. “The Godfather: Part 2” proved that a sequel could surpass the first but this introduced the audience to something different.
Darker, different and unpredictable whist maintaining the magic that made “Star Wars” a hit, this lifted the saga from being just a sci-fi blockbuster to new heights as a movie iconoclast.
Nothing is safe after this. Sequels need not be more of the same but expansive and ground-breaking. Without this you might not have Terminator 2 (1991), or The Dark Knight (2008).
The story is advanced concisely as is the universe as a whole. Then, there’s the twist, let alone the cliffhanger ending. Ground-breaking cinema is something to behold and here we have one of the best examples.
Unfortunately these heights would never again be reached with the Star Wars saga, but this should stand tall as a tent pole as to how we do that…
A MUST SEE!
1983 (Theatrical Version) (VHS, Laserdisc & DVD)
1983/1997 (Special Edition) VHS & Laserdisc)
1983/1997/2004 (Enhanced DVD Special Edition) (DVD)
1983/1997/2004/2011 (Enhanced Blu-ray Special Edition) (Blu-ray)
DIRECTOR: Richard Marquand
May contain spoilers!
This is often thought of as the weakest of the original trilogy, and whilst I would agree with that, that’s not to say that it is bad. The phenomenon which had begun with“Star Wars”, six years earlier was about to conclude, or so we thought, with Jedi.
The first film had pioneered the technology and concepts of which to present and achieve such a franchise in the 1970’s and ’80’s, and “The Empire Strikes Back” is still the benchmark for part twos, but where this film falls down is that it has sacrificed narrative quality for Lucas’ realisation that he could finally do what he wanted, without any hindrance from studios or production limitations.
He had the best of best in visual effects with his Industrial Light and Magic, and he had a vision which had remained unrealised in the previous two films, such as the so called failed Cantina scene in “Star Wars”, which is presented here, only this time in the walls of Jabba’s palace.
The first half I believe, is George Lucas’ real film. Monsters and Muppets, pure fantasy as our heroes wrap up the events of the previous film, and make their daring escape from Jabba the Hutt. The second part is almost a separate film, focusing quite rightly on the Empire and the destruction of the second Death Star. But this plot is very matter of fact, and has no real charm or heart, just epic visuals and a theatrical sense.
Meanwhile, Han Solo and Princess Leia are leading a rebel assault on the forest moon of Endor, populated by the most annoying Muppets of all… the dreaded Ewoks! The Ewoks must be one of cinema’s greatest misjudgements, the first real misstep in Lucas’ handling of the “Star Wars Saga”; but with the prequels and the constant tinkering with the originals, this was to be the thin end of the wedge.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plot elements revolving around the Muppets which I liked, such as the nature vs. technology metaphor, but that does not excuse the Ewoks and nothing ever will! But elements such as the Speederbike chase and the final battle, all of it, the final Vader/Luke dual, the assault of the Death Star itself, and even the ludicrous Ewok assault, are excellent, visually stunning and exiting and it is enough to save this film from being bogged down by the bad.
And like I said, the money grabbing, almost narratively illiterate George Lucas has damaged and defamed his franchise with his constant tinkering, firstly with the Special Edition in 1997, and then with his Enhanced Special Edition in 2004 for the DVD release.
Lucas is a visionary and has done so much for the film industry and we should be grateful but in the end, he needs to stop milking this franchise, stop pretending that it is never finished, when he has finished it THREE times now and realise that the best of the original trilogy was directed and written by other people, all of which display more talent. Lucas is not a good director but he is a good producer and he has brought this franchise to the screen and the movie industry is better for it. But the Special Editions bring nothing important to the mix, with the exception of the finale, which does carry more scope that 1983 original.
Overall, the weakest of the “Star Wars Trilogy” is a fair assessment and at its worst, it’s still leagues above any entry in the prequels, even the Episode III, which is the closest to this high standards of this series.