Star Wars is our first look at George Lucas’s remarkable, fully-imagined future in which the fighters for good, relying on the force of righteous belief, battle the overwhelming power of an evil empire. If that sounds simplistic, it is only simple in the way that mythology makes for sharply drawn, dynamic drama.
We enter in the middle of a nine-film cycle, when a captured princess (Carrie Fisher) on the empire’s Death Star sends a last-ditch plea embedded in her comic duo of robots, R2D2 and C3PO, to former Jedi Knight, Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) to come to her defense.
The robots are sold for scrap on a desert planet to a farmer and his nephew (Mark Hamill), who discovers their message. This leads to a fateful encounter with Guinness through which he learns of his heroic patrimony and his future role. Hamill and the robots link up with intergalactic mercenary Ford and his skeptical Wookie to rescue the princess. The astonishing effects created demand for high-tech spectacle and lifted Hollywood’s use of technology to a higher level, yet they never outshone the dialogue and the characterizations of the actors.
Through ubiquitous merchandising (another Star Wars innovation), sequels, and rerelease of the original in special video editions and theatrically, Star Wars has become accepted as our modern mythology.
George Lucas was originally slated to direct Apocalypse Now (1979) for Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope studio, but by the time the financing was confirmed Lucas had already begun work on Star Wars and had to back out of the project.
Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture; Best Director; Best (Original) Screenplay.
Cast: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Dave Prowse (Darth Vader), James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader)
Director: George Lucas
Producer: Gary Kurtz
Director of Photography: Gilbert Taylor
Editors: Richard Chew, Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas
Composer: John T. Williams
Screenwriter: George Lucas
Production Designers: John Barry, Leslie Dilley, Norman Reynolds
Costume Designers: Ron Beck, John Mollo
Special Effects: Rick Baker, John Dykstra
USA / Twentieth Century Fox / 121 minutes / 1977