In 1977, an amazing movie came out. The story took place long ago in a galaxy far, far away. I remember clearly seeing it at the Uptown Theater in Washington, D.C. The place had a big screen (big even for that time). The Uptown was (and is) a grand old theater in the manner of the Golden Years of cinema.
So when the curtains parted and the lights went down, the credits for Star Wars (for it was simply Star Wars then) rolled in that way that would forever be associated with the film. Like a trademark opening, complete with the thunderous soundtrack by John Williams.
On top of which, when the ginormous Imperial ship roared into view, the effect was overwhelming to the point where it seemed that G-forces flattened me against the seat back. Certainly, the hairs stood up on my neck.
At this point, is there anyone who doesn’t know the story of Star Wars (the original, before the sequels, prequels, new fancy special-effects, director’s cuts, and Rogue edition)? About the two droids and Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi (the only character (other than C3PO) with a British accent who isn’t with the Evil Empire—hmm …?), who talked Luke into looking for Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher, who had braided headphones for hair), after his aunt and uncle died in a scene oddly reminiscent of one from The Searchers.
Obi-Wan, of course, introduces Luke to the ways of the Jedi Knights. He gets him a light saber, explaining that his dad was a Jedi, but chose the “dark side”. Basically, Obi-Wan teaches Luke Jedi 101 (or the introductory course required for taking the advanced version that Yoda gives—but that’s not until the (first) sequel).
Then there’s Han Solo—the nonbeliever who’s only in it for the money. With his trusted wookie (described by Princess Leia at one point as a “walking rug”), Han Solo is like the Rick Blaine from another planet.
The movie is all about the Hero’s Journey. It’s about Good versus Evil (in capital letters). The Evil, of course, being the Empire, as personified in Darth Vader (played by the voice of James Earl Jones in a rather asthmatic fashion and the body of poor David Prowse, who had the most thankless role in the film).
Well, George Lucas threatened promised that Star Wars would be the first in a nine-film series of prequels and sequels, but who knew he’d actually follow through on that plan?
Star Wars is not only a fantastic film, but it has led to an extraordinary merchandising franchise legacy for George Lucas.
And, on that note, happy Star Wars Day!
And May the Fourth be with you! 🙂