Friday, August 29, 2014

12. Star Wars (1977)

Code-name: C3PO

Writer/Director: George Lucas

Composer: John Williams
Type: Dramedy, Sci-fi Space Adventure


Luke Skywalker- Mark Hamill
Princess Leia- Carrie Fisher
Han Solo- Harrison Ford
Chewbacca- Peter Mayhew
Obi-Wan Kenobi- Sir Alec Guinness
R2D2- Kenny Baker
C3PO [human-cyborg relations]- Anthony Daniels
Darth Vader- (person) David Prowse (voice) James Earl Jones
Commander Tarkin- Peter Cushing

Notable Awards and Nominations:

OSCAR- Best Art Direction
OSCAR- Best Costume Design
OSCAR- Best Sound
OSCAR- Best Film Editing
OSCAR- Best Visual Effects
OSCAR- Best Original Score
OSCAR- Special Achievement Award- Ben Burtt (for creating alien, creature, robot voices and sound effects)
nomination-OSCAR- Best Picture
nomination-OSCAR- Best Director- George Lucas
nomination-OSCAR- Best Original Screenplay- George Lucas
nomination-OSCAR- Best Supporting Actor- Alec Guinness
Golden Globe- Best Original Score- John Williams
nomination-Golden Globe- Best Director- George Lucas
nomination-Golden Globe- Best Supporting Actor- Alec Guinness
nomination-Golden Globe- Best Picture- Drama
Grammy- Best Album of Original Score written for TV/Movie- John Williams
Grammy- Best Instrumental Composition- John Williams
Grammy- Best Pop Instrumental Performance- John Williams
nomination-Grammy-Album of the Year- John Williams


A long time ago... okay, not really

On one of their first dates, my dad took my mom to see "Star Wars"... and he'd regretted it ever since :P to be fair, though, he will set through the movies with us anyway

It's probably her biggest obsession, which turned out to be contagious. But I also got her hooked on "Twilight" and other YA books and adaptations, so I guess we're even ;)


[I feel sorry for anyone who hasn't experienced "Star Wars"... but if you've been around for a couple decades, you seriously should have no excuse at this point
Potential Minor Spoilers Ahead]

"A long time ago in a galaxy far far away..."

Rebel forces are fighting against the Evil Galactic Empire. Among these rebels, Princess Leia of the planet Alderaan. After obtaining secret plans that could dismantle the empire's greatest weapon, The Death Star, she is captured by Darth Vader, but not before giving the plans to the droid R2D2. Together with his counterpart C3PO, the two droids take an escape pod, landing on the desert planet Tatooine.

After coming into the possession of Luke Skywalker, R2D2 quickly departs to find Obi-Wan Kenobi per Princess Leia's request, Luke and C3PO with no choice but to follow. Obi-Wan enlists Luke to come with him and hires smuggler Han Solo and his co-pilot Chewbacca to transport them and the droids to Alderaan. Meanwhile, throughout this journey, Obi-Wan starts to instruct Luke in the ways of The Force, to become a Jedi knight.

For so many, this movie (and its sequels) is all about its memorable characters.

Luke Skywalker has been living with his aunt and uncle this whole life and by this point, all of his friends have left to join the Rebels. Like many future heroes, he wants to trade his present circumstances in for a new destiny. He's eager to learn, but clearly has a lot of maturing to do.

Princess Leia was probably cinema's first sassy princess. Before her inevitable capture in the opening sequence, she at least attempts to take control of the situation beforehand. She also takes charge during her rescue and gives Han Solo a run for his money. It's also hard to forget her iconic "bagel" hairstyle.

Han Solo is our loveable scruffy-looking ("who's scruffy looking?".. sorry, wrong "Star Wars" movie) scoundrel. Between this movie and "Indiana Jones," my mom fell in love with Harrison Ford. Windows (Jay Baruchel) from "Fanboys" boasted the fact Harrison Ford played both these roles made him the best actor of all time.

Going by this film alone, we learn he's a smuggler working for galactic gangster Jabba the Hutt who lives life on his own terms. He's also not a bad pilot. It's also to his credit that when he claims he wants out of the main action, he always comes through where it counts. He commands the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca, a Wookie that happens to be his best friend. They'd been together for so long that Han Solo understands him (hmm... makes me wonder if the people behind "Guardians of the Galaxy" drew inspiration from that for the relationship between Rocket and Groot).

Obi-Wan Kenobi will probably go down as one of the best mentors in the history of movies. He's someone you can respect without question, something that can also be said about his portrayer, Sir Alec Guinness. Rumor has it that the other actors were on their best behavior when he was on set. As for the rest of the time... let's just say they were more relaxed.

We have the dynamic duo of droids. R2D2 being the optimist to C3PO's worrywart pessimist, a staple throughout the Star Wars film series.

Then we have our villain, Darth Vader. With deep booming voice and imposing presence, how can one not be intimidated? Not to mention he has a whopping 12 minutes of screen time in this first film of the series. Perhaps this was George Lucas's homage to many great villains of cinema: the less we see of them and what they do with that minimal screen time, the more we fear them.
Additional CommentsI don't remember when I first saw "Star Wars." I do know it was the unedited original version and it was on TV. When they re-released it with all the edits, we saw it in theaters for the re-release and it was pretty awesome. This is one of those great movies simply made for the theatrical experience. Those who saw it in the 70's for the first time, it must have been the biggest nerdgasm ever. For that time, the special effects had have been mind-blowing because their likeness had never been seen before.
The one negative that fanboys take away from the "special edition"... it erased the fact that "Han shot first" (citing his Mos Eisley cantina showdown with Greedo). Don't believe me? Look up footage from Jon Favreau at the San Diego Comic-Con promoting "Iron-Man" and listen for the cheers when he says "Han shot first."I know quite a bit of "Star Wars" trivia, but there's just too much for me to go into. Besides, my mom probably knows more since she's also read a lot of residual fiction the movie generated.

In my Greek Mythology class, we actually rewatched the movie because we were studying heroic journeys in myth and how George Lucas paid homage to them with the film.

John Williams is a regular collaborator of Steven Spielberg's, producing the best movie scores in the business. His "Star Wars" score with the London Symphonic Orchestra is probably my favorite cinematic source ever... and I can't quite explain why. It is just so epically awesome. It also has a great range of emotions that fits perfectly with every scene, almost like it's its own character in the film.

I won't go into all the sequels and prequels because that'd make this entry longer than it needs to be. But my mom and I saw the prequels in theaters the weekend they came out.

Homages and parodies are pretty much endless.

The best homage I can think of was "Fanboys," which I reviewed very early on in this countdown.
Sure, it might a gross stereotype that all Star Wars fans are men that never grew up, still live at home in their parents' garages (sorry, carriage houses) and quote the movies on a regular basis... but so what? The project was obviously done with love.
And "Spaceballs" as well

[I highly doubt anyone has paid any huge attention to my countdown, but those who have should have seen this entry coming based on those two films... by coincidence, the "Austin Powers" movie I included spoofed a "Star Wars" quote in a moment that goes from serious to mocking in record time]
As for parodies...
Robot Chicken has done all kinds of stuff regarding Star Wars, most is pretty ridiculous. Three sketches come to mind for me:
1) Emperor Palpatine talking to Darth Vader after the first Death Star exploded and more or less spends most of the exchange laughing at him to anyone else listening
2) the Mos Eisley scene where Luke gets into trouble with some locations and we see the subtitles for the creature that gets his arm cut off by Obi-Wan... let's just say they misinterpreted his grunting in the movie
3) [my favorite] George W. Bush has a dream that he becomes a Jedi Knight, does a few Jedi mind tricks, defeats Abraham Lincoln at the Memorial ("That'll teach you, George Washington!") and after he wakes up, he gets Tacos
...heck, I like it so much I got the link to share it.

Then Family Guy got a hold of it....

Some of it is pretty funny, so much so that we got all the DVDs.
But there are still some issues:
1) other than the fact Cleveland is one of Peter's best friends, why he plays R2D2 instead of Lando Calrissian is beyond me, as is the fact Lando is played by Mort the pharmacist in black face when he'd already played a character in Episode IV
2) poor Meg! only got two small parts as creatures and no lines
3) casting Mr. Herbert the elderly gay pedophile as Obi-Wan does the late Alec Guinness a GROSS injustice... and don't get me started on the Dirty Dancing theme "I've Had the Time of My Life" being his last farewell to Luke :facepalm:

The best part, though, has to be Stewie as Darth Vader. If anything, it might appease the fanboys that were turned off by the end of Episode III.

And apparently there's also a secret war going on between Seth McFarlane and Seth Green... listen to the commentary in Luke & Darth Vader's final lightsaber fight, it's pretty vicious.

As for the whole Star Wars vs. Star Trek thing... all I gotta ask is why Star Wars fans don't have a cute nickname like Trekkies to call themselves?

Just saying...

Coming Next Week

first, gotta say a few words for Richard Attenborough.

I only knew him as Mr. Hammond in the "Jurassic Park" movies, Kris Kringle in the Mara Wilson remake of "Miracle on 34th Street."
Also one of those great actors who took a turn in the director's chair and did a pretty damn good job of it. "Gandhi" starring Sir Ben Kingsley earned him Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. He also directed Robert Downey Jr. in "Chaplin," his first truly respectable role that earned him his first Oscar nomination.

Which brings me to #10 on my countdown: my favorite Charlie Chaplin film.
Again, I say I put this list together a couple years ago, but I couldn't ask for a better lead-in than paying tribute to one of Hollywood's last great figures.

RIP Lord Attenborough

EDIT: Relevant nonetheless, apparently I forgot how to count backwards...
I am up to ELEVEN... which got me forever hooked on reading and watching book-to-movie adaptations

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