Monday, February 19, 2007


Lots of positive awesome comments/feedback to my audiocast! Thanks kids! I will be doing more, and promise to entertain ya more next time instead of sounding so wooden/boring.

I love the History Channel, and last night Sunday, dey was showing Star Wars: Empire of Dreams, which is also available on the Special Edition DVDs. Fascinating documentary indeed man! George Lucas faced almost insurmountable hurdles trying to make his first film and amazing vision come to life. It really was quite an uphill battle; one he finally conquered through lots of hard work.

Making the original Star Wars sometime back in the 70's was difficult to say the least. He had the script in mind since the early 70's and was pretty clear on his story, but it was hard to sell it to any major studio at the time. Many of them wanted nothing to do with this oddball tale about planets, strange creatures, and special effects. Hollywood at the time was more interested in realistic dramatic motion pictures. A graduate of USC Film School, George was determined and finally ran into Alan Ladd Jr. who had just become the head of 20th Century Fox. Thanks to Alan, Lucas got the green light to begin making his idea into a film. Lucas had so much in his head, he had to compress the story to make at least one film, and more if the first one even succeeded. Casting the movie was difficult, and Lucas finally settled on then unknown but charismatic actors, except Sir Alec Guinness who was to play Obi-Wan Kenobi and was already known in the film world.

Casting was his first issue, then came the filming locations in strange parts of the globe, problems with the strange props, and how to create special effects for a movie unlike any that had ever been made before. Industrial Light & Magic was born thanks to Star Wars after much trial and error during the making of that movie. Hard to fucking believe man! WHAT AN ASTOUNDING ACHIEVEMENT that we now take for granted, since ILM now is the standard in Hollywood visual effects filmmaking.

The actors had to work without many of the special effects, sounds, and music found in the final product, which made it quite weird for them. Lucas started going over budget, the studio was getting restless, but slowly and through lots of stressful heartache, the picture began to take shape. John Williams, the brilliant film composer that Spielberg had used in Jaws, added an even greater grandiose orchestral touch to an already revolutionary motion picture.

Star Wars: A New Hope premiered on May 25, 1977 in only about 40 theaters around the country. Its initial reception by the public was a roaring success and the film naturally expanded to more movie houses. It became one of Hollywood's greatest blockbusters in film history; with or without adjusted grosses for inflation, it stands as the second biggest moneymaking film ever. The actors, production crew, and Lucas especially, received the redemption they truly deserved for working on a project they almost gave up on and felt would probably fail. The film won six Oscars for sound, visual effects, and the musical score among many others. Star Wars was an international phenomenon, a film that literally changed the way movies were made forever. Lucas even went on to "invent" the idea of film merchandising as we know it and made most of his enormous wealth on shirts, action figures, and other products associated with his galactic world.

Obviously, the original 1977 Star Wars spawned the even greater sequel and what many consider the best of them all, The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 with a bigger budget and more dramatic dark storyline, and the playful and fun Return of the Jedi in 1983. Then of course came the Special Edition re-releases in the late 1990's, the mediocre but still tolerable prequels in the early 2000's, and the ensuing DVDs which continue to fuel and saturate the market with all that is Star Wars. Lucas will continue to milk this cash cow with upcoming 3-D versions of his original films. That should be interesting and continue to add to his current 2 billion dollar plus fortune.

Lucas was right in letting unknown but great dramatic directors work on sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but made a big mistake in directing his most recent prequels. Indisputable technical marvels, but the characters in those were just not as interesting or connected to the audience like the original cast were. Let's face it, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford were just terrific. Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman were decent, but I found myself not caring for them much and there was some real horrible cheesy love scenes that George should have never directed! And Jar Jar Binks? Nevermind! UGH!

Regardless, the Star Wars franchise has proven one of, if not the greatest and most successful in cinematic history. Thank you George for your most entertaining and amazing genius. I will forever remember the original trilogy the most; going to the theater as a kid with my brothers and friends, staring in awe at the screen at what seemed an almost impossible and fantastic world to even imagine.

Darth Vader used to creep me out by the way. Honest. So tame now, but back then, MAN!

It's all about James Earl Jones' voice and that dark costume worn by David Prowse baby!

Some silly funny spoofs:


Scot said...

My uncle (only 12 years older) saw the original Star Wars 25 times in the theater. 25. No joke. He also got kicked out of school for bringing a dummy grenade to school, so what's he know?

Gavin Elster said...

If you get a chance please read the original script Lucas wrote for STAR WARS.(its all over the web) Its a wonder the thing was made in the first place. The first draft is so confusing and hard to follow. The second and third revisions are even worse. Lucas would omit characters/situations in the revised scripts and then refer to them as if you are supposed to know who/what they are.

He was very lucky to find a friend in Alan Ladd Jr. Laddy believed in him. Laddy was the only one who did.

There is a fan documentary out there called DELETED MAGIC. You should see that. (another web thing) It reconstucts STAR WARS to the original shooting script using behind the scenes footage and DELETED SCENES. Its pretty amazing to see how it could have been. It shows how the film was re-edited to add tension. The final battle has Luke trying three times to blow up the deathstar. Its a trip!

Gavin Elster said...

just a little note about Lucas and tie-ins. He didn't "invent" the concept of merchandising. If that were the case there wold be no such thing as Corgi Aston Martin DB5's from Goldfinger. Nor would there be Star Trek dolls or Wonka chocolate bar makers. He did in fact take a huge gamble that the movie tie ins would turn a profit at all. In fact when he pitched the idea to toymakers just before the movie was released to only 40 screens in the U.S. all of them turned him down. All but one. Kenner. (where are Kenner toys now?) Kenner accepted the contract but not in time to make toys for the christmas rush that year so they created an amazing concept the I.O.U. they sold certificates with the promise of mailing you the first Star Wars figures to be created direct to your door sometime in the spring. (the first figures were Luke Chewie Leia and R2D2 which were mailed to you in a crappy white cardboard box.) So he didn't invent the tie in but simply got lucky. Come on. The figures are a bit underwhelming. Tiny 4" figures with little to no articulation. God I'm a geek.

Crazy Eddie said...

I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm a Star Wars afficionado by any means, so all I can say is that it's amazing how Lucas did overcome lots of these hurdles and managed to produce a legend with a capitol L...

Time to get laid...