Volume 90, Issue 72

Friday, January 31, 1997

big stick


The galactic legend returns

Gazette file photo
A LOOK OF CONFIDENCE BEFORE STEPPING INTO THE TRASH. Luke, Lei and Han dash through the Death Star, shooting storm troopers before taking a dive in a less than pleasant resort of garbage

In the summer of 1977 a movie emerged from the creative genius of George Lucas that has yet to be outdone. The beginning of a trilogy, Star Wars marked a new venture for films in general that was cherished by the masses, giving young and old something that now marks a major point in our past.

In 1991 Lucas began leaking news of the new
Star Wars trilogy, a series of three films which will immortalize the histories of famous Star Wars characters like Anakin Skywalker, Ben Kenobi and Han Solo. While this new series has not been given a definite release date, Lucas has chosen to appease the masses by releasing digitally-enhanced versions of the original films.

As a means of marking the 20th anniversary of this incredible collection of films – which re-opens today with added footage and enhanced visual effects –
Gazette Entertainment researched its archives and found two articles from the summer of 1977 which were written as reviews of the original masterpiece.

By Geoff Creighton

Star Wars has come to London. Most people will already know this, for few films have ever received the pre-release hype and acclaim of this space fantasy.

Time gave it a six-page colour spread and called it the year's best film. Most reviewers have followed suit. OK, I admit it's a great film. Star Wars is without a doubt the most visually exciting, innovative movie this side of the Tau Ceti subcluster. It is also unbridled, mindless fun.

But mindless nonetheless.

The story, as any person semi-conscious in the last few weeks will know, concerns the good guy rebels, under the tutelage of Alec Guiness as a guru-surrogate of some sort, fighting the insidious evil of Peter Cushing and the Galactic Empire.

Simply, the plot is dumb. Not that this is inherently bad – to the contrary, it makes Star Wars fine family fare.

But how can one call it the best film of the year?

It is all form, but no content. Imagine poor Robert Altman, for example, watching his probing study Three Women eclipsed by a comedy team of androids.

This is not to denigrate writer-director George Lucas. The man certainly knows his science fiction. Years ago, I recall being one of the six people in North America to bother seeing THX1138, his first film. This latter effort was a low budget, hard core sci-fi thriller. Its obvious cheapness was overcome by fine acting and a credible script. Perhaps Lucas is trying to ease the public into science fiction gently. Perhaps the planned sequel to Star Wars can couple its technical virtuosity with the artistic integrity of THX1138.

Now that would be the best film of the year.

By Syk Otic

Forget the stories in Time and the like saying Star Wars is the best thing that ever happened to science fiction. Forget they said the special effects were wondrous. It isn't true.

Star Wars is a hell of a lot better than that. It is everything Star Trek should have been and wasn't. And for a trekkie, that isn't easy to say.

The plot is not particularly intricate, it doesn't have to be. Bad guys develop the ultimate weapon of terror. Beautiful and intelligent girl gets plans of said weapon so Good Guys can find a way to destroy it. Bad Guys capture girl but she hides plans. Good Guys, including Innocent, Wide-Eyed Orphan Boy with a grudge, rescue Girl. Happy Ending, but Number One Bad Guy may not be dead.

The execution is impeccable. The fancy weapons, the space ships, the intelligent machines, the dog-fights; they all seem so natural, so real. The ground vehicle seems to have been taken right off a lot; as is, no safety check. And there is one of the toughest bars I've ever seen, even in Thunder Bay.

The androids are such characters that mechanical intelligence seems more than that of some people I know. And R2-D2's third leg seems oddly phallic the way he flips it around.

The distinction between good and evil is not too hard to make. The bad guy, Lord Darth Vader, wears black. Luke Skywalker, the good guy, wears white. The wise old man, Ben Kenobi (played by Alec Guiness), has a laser sword of Tide-white; Vader's sword is blood-tinged. We even have a mercenary who has to decide where his faith lies.

Some of the ideas seem to be borrowed from the Dune Trilogy. Young Boy Hero, father murdered, Evil Empire, a dry, arid planet he comes from to destroy the empire, fierce natives in still suits, giant sandworms, a totally believable blend of high technology and old ways, an ancient, martial religion the boy becomes proficient in. And apparently (hopefully) two sequels at least. Come to think of it, Lucas would probably be the only director who could pull off a movie version of Dune if he wanted to.

The movie will be in town for months or should be.

Gazette file photo
WAITING AT THE LOCAL LAND SPEEDER STOP. C-3PO and R2-D2, everyone's favourite pair of droids, strike a pose in the deserted world of Lucas

To Contact The Popped Culture Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997