Star Wars

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Cover of the 2004 DVD widescreen release of Star Wars Trilogy.
Note: This article deals with the science fiction saga, not the American Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

For the original Star Wars film, see Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Star Wars is a science fiction film saga and fictional universe created by American director George Lucas. The original Star Wars movie (Episode IV) came out on May 25th, 1977. The earlier set of Star Wars movies (Episodes IV, V, and VI) are renowned as classics of cinema, and were some of the first "summer blockbusters" ever made. Episodes I, II and III were released in 1999, 2002 and 2005 respectively. All six movies are among the top 50 highest grossing films of all time.[1] In 1984 and 1985, two spinoff movies to the original trilogy (Episode IV, V, and VI) were made featuring the Ewok characters seen in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. An animated film called Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released in 2008. In 2012, George Lucas sold the franchise to Disney, which plans to make three more movies [2] Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a release date of December 2015, making it second film (the first being The Clone Wars) and the first in the main series, to not be released in May.

Main Films

Other Films

Television Series/Films

  • Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
  • Caravan of Courage (1984)
  • The Battle for Endor (1985)
  • Droids (1985-1986)
  • Ewoks (1985-1986)
  • Clone Wars (2003-2005)
  • The Clone Wars (2008-2014)
  • Rebels (2014-Current)

Development of the Monomyth

George Lucas built on the idea of the monomyth - a dominant mythic structure that resounds strongly with the human psyche - in structuring his narrative. He consulted closely with Joseph Campbell, author of the book, "Hero of a Thousand Faces," in his utilizing of the monomyth structure for the movie. In Star Wars (now known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), the reluctant hero is Luke Skywalker, the teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the archetype villain Darth Vader.

Fan Films

There have been many short films created by Star Wars Fans. One major website is www.fanfilms.com; which contains many fanfilms including TROOPS, The Essense of The Force, The Jedi Hunter, the Pink Five trilogy, Revelations, and Ryan Vs. Dorkman 1 and 2. One major high-quality fan based movie is I.M.P.S: The Relentless; which can be found at www.impstherelentless.com, and is the first chapter of a future full-length, chapter-based movie based on the Imperial Starship Relentless and her crew.

Expanded Universe

Since the success of the film franchise, Lucasfilm has licensed a number of novels, comic books, and video games that take place in the Star Wars universe, otherwise known as the Expanded Universe (EU). Hundreds of novels and comics and dozens of video games have been, and continue to be produced. Although these spin-off media often take place before, after or inbetween the films, some take place in "alternate realities." A major focus of the EU is to feature characters not on-screen or only briefly shown in the films. All officially licensed works are considered canon, except in places where they contradict the films. There are also two cartoon series and three TV movies, two about the Ewoks and the Star Wars Holiday Special, which represented a secularized version of Christmas for Wookiees known as "Life Day." The last has been disowned by Lucas due to its incredibly poor quality, however an animated sequence from the special featuring Boba Fett was released as an easter egg on the Star Wars Blu-ray collection.

Of note is Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the only part of the Expanded Universe to reach the big screen.

After the franchise was bought out by The Walt Disney Company, a new expanded universe was established, with the old one being designated as "Legends" material.

Prequel Trilogy

From 1999-2005, George Lucas released Episodes I, II, and III of the Star Wars saga. Although released after the original films, they take place prior to them. The films tell the story of Anakin Skywalker, from being discovered on Tatooine, his Jedi training, his role in the Clone Wars, and ultimately, how he becomes Darth Vader. The films have been met with mixed reaction. Out of the three, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is generally considered the best of the prequels.

The Franchise

The Star Wars film series and its expanded universe has been a large revenue producer. As of 2005 the Star Wars franchise has produced over $20 billion[3]. With the release of the expanded universe series it has increased.

Portrayal of religion

George Lucas has stated that he came up with the idea of "The Force" as he wanted to promote a vague idea of hollow Hollywood-style spirituality without referencing any recognizable religion. Despite this, the depiction of the philosophy and beliefs of the Jedi seem to be a way to promote eastern mysticism (in particular Buddhism) and undermine Christianity in the movie's western audience.[4] This is typical of the New Age movement's tendency to use parts of different religions willy-nilly without any structure of sense, and shows the influence of Lucas growing up in 1960's California, which he had briefly referenced in an interview regarding his film Red Tails. Lucas is strongly liberal and actually describes himself as a "Buddhist Methodist".[5]

Controversy

Similar to other works, Star Wars fell under some controversy at some points. When covering Return of the Jedi in Empire of Dreams, George Lucas admitted that he based the Ewoks on the Vietnamese National Liberation Front, otherwise known as the Viet Cong, while implying that the Galactic Empire was intended to be based on America's involvement in the Vietnam War.

Miscellaneous

Star Wars became forever linked to politics when a missile-defense plan, devised under the Reagan administration, was nicknamed Star Wars. Attempts to bring back such a system are still referred to by this name.

Special Editions

In recent years, Star Wars has become infamous for it's re-releases, as well as edits to the film that have been met with heavy criticism from fans. In 1997, in honor of the 20th anniversary of A New Hope, the Original Trilogy was released in theaters, with a film being released each month from January to March. Later that year, the trilogy was released on VHS. It was during this release of the original films that the alterations began. Some of the most infamous changes include Jabba the Hutt being added to A New Hope, which was created from a deleted scene in which Jabba was played by an actor. The same scene also included a cameo from Boba Fett, who first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back. Out of the 1997 re-releases, The Empire Strikes Back received the least amount of changes. In Return of the Jedi, the music from Jabba's palace was changed, as was the ending of the film. The scarlacc scene was altered as well, with a CGI beak being added. The original ending featured the song called "Yub Nub", with just the celebration on Endor. The 1997 version would feature a new song, as well as celebrations occurring on Bespin, Tatooine, and Coruscant, even though Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was still two years away from release.

In 2004, the Original Trilogy was released on DVD for the first time, eight months before the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. These release featured even more changes. In A New Hope, Jabba's appearance was altered to look more like he did in Return of the Jedi. In The Empire Strikes Back, the scene in which Darth Vader talks to the Emperor was altered. Elaine Baker, who played the Emperor, and Clive Revill, who provided the voice, were replaced with Ian McDiarmid. McDiarmid played the Emperor in Return of the Jedi as well as the Prequel Trilogy. The way the Emperor looks in The Empire Strikes Back is similar to his appearance in Revenge of the Sith. Out of the three original films, Return of the Jedi has the most notorious changes. The first was the inclusion of Naboo in the ending, as well as a Gungan saying "Wesa Free!" The second was Sebastian Shaw, the actor who played Anakin Skywalker as a force ghost being edited out and replaced with Hayden Christensen. The reason being that he "died as a jedi" in Revenge of the Sith, hence why he looks the same.

2011 saw the entire saga released on Blu-Ray. Like the 2004 releases, these films also had significant changes. The first was the inclusion of rocks in the small cave that R2-D2 was hiding in when they were found by Obi-Wan Kenobi. Like 2004, Return of the Jedi, once again, had the most talked about changes. The first was that the eyes of the Ewoks could now blink. The second, and most controversial, was when Darth Vader screamed "No!" right before throwing the Emperor down the Death Star shaft. This set also saw alterations to the prequels. In The Phantom Menace, the puppet Yoda was replaced with a CGI model used in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, many fans hoped this would mean a release of the Original Unaltered Trilogy. However, the rights to A New Hope permanently belong to 20th Century Fox, while the rights to the Prequel Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi revert to Disney in the year 2020.

See also

References

  1. http://imdb.com/boxoffice/alltimegross
  2. http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/10/30/disney-buying-tar-wars-maker-lucasfilm-for-405b/
  3. http://www.forbes.com/2005/05/12/cx_ah_0512starwars.html
  4. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.05/lucas.html?pg=3
  5. http://www.adherents.com/people/pl/George_Lucas.html