Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 8 - 13 Things I Love About the "Star Wars" Saga

1 - Thirty years ago this month, "Star Wars" was released as a risk for 20th Century Fox. No one had any faith in it, including the main actors who had been given percentage points in the merchandising. This was a way to keep their salaries down in order to use the available funds for the groundbreaking special effects George Lucas' team was making up as they went along.

I was 12 years old when I stood in that line-up with my family, unaware my life would change the moment the opening credits burst with their trumpet fanfare onto the screen.

The impact that one low-budget independent film has made on Hollywood is immense. The merchandise tie-ins, the summer blockbuster and the big heroic happy ending (this was a resurgence of nostalgia at the time, as films in the late 70's tended toward gritty realism and ambiguity, as in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Network".)

2 - George Lucas

In "It's a Wonderful Life" terms, where would we be if there had been no George?

A high-fidelity sound reproduction system for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, gaming consoles, and car audio systems.

Visual effects company responsible for most of what we enjoy today in films like "The Chronicles of Narnia" and "Pirates of the Caribbean".

The summer movie blockbuster began in the summer of 1977 with the May release of "Star Wars".

3 - The opening title sequence of the film. It was a very operatic, breathtaking, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck raising transportation into a world as far away from the everyday as you could dream up.

4 - The film score of John Williams. I sat with the double album soundtrack for hours and hours, reading his liner notes explaining the different themes he'd written for each character or major story theme. I closed my eyes and identified every time the themes would emerge.

5 - The opening sequence, where a rebel ship heads for the planet in the distance. Then rumbling from what seemed like all sides, before the days of intricately-placed multiple speakers, an Imperial Star Destroyer chased the rebel ship, gliding over our heads for an impossible 10 seconds or so. I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore.

6 - Lightsaber duels! I live for heart-pounding sword fights, so lightsaber duals really do it for me.

The first time I saw the 3-person fight in "Phantom Menace" I thought I might explode from bliss. The 100% commitment of the actors as combatants, coupled with the chill-inducing choral theme still fills me with an unmatched thrill. I'll always remember the reaction of the man sitting behind me when Darth Maul's second blade extended. On opening day no one knew about it yet. The 2nd blade appeared and he said, "Oh my God," with the tone of voice suggesting he could now die a happy man.

7 - The final battle between Obi Wan and Anakin. I'd been picturing it since I read the backstory in "American Cinematographer" magazine all those summers ago. I love Obi Wan's emotional pain and the gruesome level of no-holds-barred in this all-important sequence.

8 - The Master and Apprentice relationship. This moves me in real life. I find it very evident in the arts. There is a lot of mentoring that goes on in dance, acting, writing, filmmaking, singing, playing instruments - you name it. I can always sense the hands reaching through time, passing on the knowledge from one generation to the next.

9 - Luke Skywalker.

My tween crush!

10 - Han Solo

The reluctant hero.

11 - Princess Leia

What a refreshing female screen presence!

12 - Obi Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor is one of my favorite actors. When I found out he'd be playing the younger Obi Wan, I couldn't believe my luck! I truly admire his efforts to tie his mannerisms and performance to those of Alec Guinness. Really bridges the two sets of films.

The tragic story arc for his character really draws me in. Who knew Obi Wan would end up being so integral to the saga?

13 - Qui-Gon Jin

Liam Neeson is another favorite actor. I love his flawed character here. His stature, his belief in Anakin and the loyalty he inspires in Obi Wan is very touching.

I always like the way Liam Neeson holds his blades like a bat. Gives his opponent the sense that he's about to clobber him.

Or cleave him in two...


annette said...

Okay, big confession time. I haven't seen Star Wars. I know, how is that possible? It's on my someday list.

We have a friend who is a dead ringer for George Lucas. I'll have to show you his photo sometime.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

AWESOME list!! And so true; nice job.

I wish the Tour Manager would get a job at ILM, but he doesn't do what they need. *sigh* It'd be SO COOL to be part of that whole magic.

As for Princess Leia... she was a major role model of mine. Bad hair and all.

Happy TT!

julia said...

Annette, it's a good thing I didn't know this about you earlier... But now it's too late, we're already friends.

Yes, please show me the George lookalike. My sister has always had a major crush on George.

Susan, if your husband worked for ILM, that would be so freakin' fantastic!! It's never too late to acquire some new skills.

SushiBoy said...

Great 13, Happy 30th Star Wars!

littlebirdblue said...

I love it! Absolutley fabbo. Thank you for including the newer films, too: Ewan McG is SO the cutest thing on wheels.

annette said...

LOL Glad I didn't blow my chance to be your friend by revealing that flaw about myself.

But I do want to watch it. Honestly. :-) Along with a whole list of other movies. My hubby is going away for the next couple of weeks, so maybe I'll pass the time by watching some of those movies. It'll be my own private film fest. :-)

Miss Frou Frou said...

Great TT - will confess I prefer Ep 4-6 over 1-3, partly as I just wanted to smack the child Anakin... whiny brat.

Leia and Hans romance is my kind of romance, snarky, snarly, smart and clever.

Samantha Lucas said...

This is a wonderful, wonderful list!!

A series of movies that changed a generation. Gotta love them. I can't even imagine how amazing it would be to be a part of something this big and permanent. :)

Akelamalu said...

I love Star Wars. Harrison Ford - OMG I loved him, but not since he took up with the stick insect.

Kelly said...

I can't believe it's been 30 years. Wow. Although I have to say, the three prequels just didn't do the first triology justice. It was good to see how things got to that point of where Star Wars started, but if it hadn't been for Ewan McGregor (one of my faves too as you know!) I'm not sure I would have hung in there for all three movies.

Christine said...

Going to see Return of the Jedi was my 8th birthday present from my parents. It left such a huge impression on me as a kid. These are still my favourite movies.

Ann(ie) said...

I think it's ironic that Carrie Fischer got out of acting and started writing novels after the whole Star Wars thing.

julia said...

Ann(ie), Carrie Fisher actually is more known these days as a Script Doctor Extrodinaire in Hollywood. Check her out in the series "On the Lot" airing currently. Young filmmakers vie for a $1,000,000 deal. Sweet!!

Anna J. Evans said...

I need to go see Star Wars....all of

It's been so long since I've watched them and you did such a wonderful tribute!


anna j evans

L^2 said...

OMG What a fantastic TT! Love it! :-)

Thanks for visiting my list.

Ann said...

Cool list. Thanks.

Tink said...

I love Star Wars, almost as much as I love Star Trek! ;-)
Thanks for visiting my blue moon TT!

Anonymous said...

Happy 30th birthday, Star Wars! It's hard to believe it's been that long ago, *whew*. I enjoyed your list!

Happy TT, and thanks for visiting my blog!

Karina said...

You would think that as a fan of all things sci-fi, I'd be a huge Star Wars fan, but I lived in Portugal when the original came out, so I missed it, and have never seen a single Star Wars movie...I know, I know, shame on me. I swear, one of these days, I will watch them all...

Angela/SciFiChick said...

I think my number one reason would be Han Solo!
Great list.

Lesley said...

This is a great list! And the Star Wars 30th Anniversary cake is priceless. hehehe

gabriella hewitt said...

What an awesome TT you put together. YOu really pulled me back in time. I remember when Star Wars came out. My parents went first, then came home and said you have to go see this. They took my brother and I.

It really was a phenomenal moment in film and had a tremendous impact on the movies that came out afterwards. The special effects, sound, and so on grabbed the viewer from the start.

Happy TT and thanks for stopping by.

Sans Pantaloons said...

I was there; I even bought a Light Sabre. I was twenty years young.