Written by Richie Pepio
During the 124 days before the release of The Last Jedi, I’m reviewing all 124 minutes of the theatrical version of
The Empire Strikes Back. Join me and together we will watch Star Wars….
This is 40:00. So we've made it to 2017 and thus it's been 40 years since the original Star Wars came out. Sure, George Lucas has always publicly played it cool when it comes to his creation. Although his story about the making of the series is always changing - he wrote the Star Wars trilogy as one screenplay that he split into three movies, he intended to make a series of 9 movies, he meant to make 12 movies, he always planned on stopping at 6 movies. The only real constant through these 40 years of blockbuster madness is that nothing is constant. And just as Star Wars shows us a galaxy where everything is possible, anything can happen to the world that Lucas built. Disney does seem to be cracking down on their crown jewel, as seen by the regular hiring and regular firing of directors.
But let's face it, we live in a magical time. Whether you love or hate Disney's new installments of the franchise, high quality Star Wars content is hitting the cineplex faster than a beer run to Kessel.
As covered in a 1977 TIME Magazine issue around A New Hope's initial release, Lucas basically predicted Star Wars' future. Although he wasn't the greatest at foretelling his own plans for sequels, he hit the nose on the PIT Droid when predicting the future business model... The LA Times recounts it for us:
'"I think of this as a movie Disney would have made when Walt Disney was alive.” Chatting while watching rushes, Lucas feels the need to explain. 'I call it space opera. That’s a genre that’s been around a long time, in the books of Burroughs and Heinlein, but never really done on film. What I attempted was science fiction without the science. I wanted an engaging Saturday matinee movie, but not camp or parody. And not a heavy intellectual trip like ‘2001.’ Think of this as ‘The Sting’ in outer space.”
Lucas was always a guy with lofty ideas - and once upon a time those big dreams included more than just pushing the boundaries of CGI. One of his more interesting plans was to hand off the reins of the series to his filmmaking friends. Spielberg could direct a rollicking space-adventure. De Palma could try his hand at a screwed up Sci-Western. Coppola could toy with a Hutt family epic. But it was not to be. After the stresses and budgetary nightmares of Empire, Lucas went with a director he could control and steered the unwieldy Star Wars ship toward its conclusion with Return of the Jedi. But it's fascinating to imagine what a series of space movies controlled by topnotch late-70's storytellers could have achieved, in a time before studio honchos knew how to exert total creative control over their franchises. And before Lucas became one of them himself.
Navigating through 70's Hollywood is just as dangerous as finding a way out of this asteroid field. Han prefers to fly deeper into the chaos. And it works.
What's still remarkable about this whole 37-year-old sequence is the utter complexity of it all. Just watch the side-by-side comparison of storyboards and footage in the video up top. Entirely made of blue screen and models, there's barely a black box or a dark outline in sight. Sure the explosions look a bit washed out in this theatrical edition and the TIE Fighters (pictured directly above) go from full-sized models to half-assed animations for a split second before colliding with the canyon walls. But each frame has so much going on that, as mentioned in Minute 39, some of the distant asteroids were literally potatoes. AND IT DOESN'T MATTER!
With all that's going on around them, it's gotta be stressful for our heroes. Even Threepio has a "HE LEFT US" moment.
Best Performance by a Human: Jumpy Leia reactions to exploding rocks.
Best Performance by a Non-human: Blithering C-3P0 holding onto Chewie for dear artificial life.
Best Line: Han's "I'm going to get closer to one of the big ones." To which Leia and Threepio respond: "Closer!?"
Rating: 39 out of 40 years of Star Wars.
This was originally posted on Mindctrlaltdel.tumblr.com