AFI #13 – Star Wars

Star Wars

1977

Directed by George Lucas

Netflix says… Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) guides intrepid Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on a valiant bid to save the captured Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones). With his trusty droids and smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Skywalker must also destroy the Galactic Empire’s all-powerful weapon: the Death Star. George Lucas cemented his status as a pop-culture legend with this classic battle between good and evil.

Oh, George Lucas… What have you created?

This is, without a doubt, one of the greatest movies of all time. Why it’s not ranked higher with the AFI, I have no clue. Next time they update the list, they should throw out trash like Citizen Kane to make room for this one closer to the top.

Okay, that was harsh. Citizen Kane isn’t trash. But it certainly isn’t the best movie of all time. But why am I wasting time talking about that. I’ll get there eventually. For now, let’s focus on a good movie.

The timing of this is great. I recently read From a Certain Point of View, which is a collection of 40 short stories which detail scenes from Star Wars from the points of view of minor, background characters or characters that weren’t introduced until subsequent stories. It’s kind of fascinating to go back and watch the movie knowing how those characters were reacting to the events of the film.

I’m not sure what makes Star Wars such an amazing bit of cinema. I mean, it’s not as if George Lucas is actually this master storyteller. Most of the things we know about the story, they kind of just made up as they went along. Star Wars was supposed to be a one and done story. There was no trilogy until it became a hit at the box office. Originally, Darth Vader was not (SPOILER ALERT) Luke Skywalker’s father. When Obi-Wan says that Vader killed Anakin Skywalker, he meant it. Originally, Leia wasn’t meant to be Luke’s twin sister. The sister was supposed to be someone else to be introduced in Return of the Jedi (I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere… I could be wrong on that one). But it definitely wasn’t supposed to be Leia. Why would they kiss in Empire Strikes Back? So we could all look back and think ewww!? I don’t think so.

Aside from not having a J.K. Rowling-esque plan for the entire saga from page one, he also steals from pays homage to tons of previous movies and serials like Flash Gordon and the films of Kurosawa. Indiana Jones does the same thing. Oh, and Lucas only made Willow because he couldn’t get the rights to make Lord of the Rings. Watch that again and notice all the similarities. I have no explanation for Howard the Duck. Let us never again speak of it.

Luke bugs me. I mean, I get it. He’s the hero and all. But after Obi-Wan dies, he just keeps on moping around. “I just wish Ben were here.” Dude. An old man you barely knew died. Leia’s entire planet was blown up. Perspective, kid!

Anyway… Star Wars just strikes a chord. Somewhere along the way, George Lucas stumbled into this amazing space opera that made him a gajillionaire and a household name. Original or not, it’s an incredible story that has stood the test of time. It set the stage for an entire universe of stories that Disney can now explore to its heart’s content, laughing all the way to the bank.

And I haven’t even mentioned the music. Honestly, I could probably watch the entire thing with no dialogue and only John Williams’ amazing score.

I may find it hard to believe, but I’m sure there are a handful of people in the civilized world who haven’t seen Star Wars. If that’s you, start with this one. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch these movies in episode order. Watch them in release order. It’s very important. Though, I guess it’s not that important if you’ve read this entire post and have seen where I gave away one of the biggest spoilers in cinematic history.

PS – Han shot first. Han shot, only. You hear that, Lucas?! Stop with this special edition crap!

PPS – Dear Disney, please release non-special editions of the original trilogy on Bluray. Thank you. Sincerely, all of fandom.

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