Star Wars (1977)

Star Wars (1977), written, produced and directed by George Lucas.

Aka Episode IV: Dullest Title in History.

Galactic imperial consolidation plans are temporarily halted by the tattered remnants of the old aristocracy, led by a mystical whiney boy hero. Dratted droids driven to desperate denouement.

One upon a time in a galaxy far far away, science fiction films were relatively rare. It was with considerable pleasure that we opening night fans saw the arrival of this ambitious epic tale that would grow in the telling. We were further gratified that its stupendous success opened the Hollywood floodgates for even more SF movies in a tide that has not yet receded.

Our appreciation was mixed with considerable chagrin. Of all the diverse shelves in the SF library, George Lucas picked the space opera, a form that flourished in the 1930s. That became the meaning of SF for generations after and practically all Hollywood could ever envision: spaceships, rayguns, evil empires, princesses and plucky boy heroes. SF movies did not become much like written SF, at least of the sort I had been reading. "It's not about the special effects!" we would tell everyone. "It's about the ideas and a sense of wonder." Well, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't.

The key to the Star Wars success: America had been through a rough patch and movies were serious, sober and critical of anything a viewer might want to feel good about. The one-two punch of this film and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) changed everything. Both were retro-adventures hearkening back to a more guilt-free time where you could just shoot the bad guys without worrying about their history of colonial exploitation or national aspirations. Fun was back.

For me the pleasure of this one comes from memories of when I enjoyed it more. It's still fun, although the dialogue, originally meant to be antiquely humorous and exciting, is becoming painful. I note how the energy kicks up to a new level when Leia is rescued and we have the gang all together. It's also when the movie gets sillier, with Han chasing stormtroopers down the hall. Lucas's revisions are still jarring but I've stopped caring.

John Williams score; you may remember it.

We opening-nighters outlined a sequel where Darth Vader would be Luke's father.

Available on Blu-ray.