Director: George Lucas
Original Release: 1977
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Star Wars has been the center of my pop culture universe from the first time I saw the original film on the big screen. I was four years old in 1977. I am willing to admit, 36 years on, that certain elements of the movie do not hold up so well now. The visual effects have all since been eclipsed, of course, though I think the explosions are still pretty impressive. The acting is generally underwhelming and the editing at times comically poor. However, there is one area in which the original Star Wars trilogy stands alone in the history of cinema. No other movie uses music and sound so effectively. As far as I'm concerned, it's not even close. R2's bleeps and bloops, Vader's breath and Chewbacca's roar are every bit as iconic as images of the Millenium Falcon or Imperial Stormtroopers. The most crucial sound effect of all was John Williams's incomparable musical score.
It's nearly impossible to avoid superlatives when discussing the music of Star Wars. The horn blast that opens the film is, in my humble opinion, one of the two greatest musical moments in all of film (I'll share the other one in a few weeks). The dead silence of the "long time ago" screen explodes into blaring fanfare as the title comes into view. I have watched Star Wars movies dozens of times and that moment, shared by all of them, never gets old.
Star Wars is the perfect movie for demonstrating leit motif, a musical theme used to represent a character, setting or idea. Luke has his theme. Leia has hers. Even the droids get one. Any fan worth his or her salt can hum a few bars of the Cantina band's tune. Interestingly, Han Solo does not have a theme. Oh well. He nearly managed to steal the show without one.
Only Walt Disney has been nominated for more Academy Awards than John Williams. For the world's most decorated composer, the first Star Wars film score was the greatest triumph. Williams won his third Best Score Oscar for the movie in addition to a Golden Globe, three Grammys, a BAFTA and a Saturn. In total, Williams has won five Best Score Oscars. At age 81, he shows few signs of slowing down, either, with three Academy Award nominations in just the past two years.
- In one DVD release, Lucas included the original theatrical versions of the first three Star Wars movies along with the ones with all of his later, completely unnecessary edits. I'm very glad I snatched them up when I had the chance as the originals are the only versions of the films my daughter has ever watched.
- Our Girl was impressed by how many of the lines I knew by heart and at one point while we were watching, I looked over and saw that she was working on memorizing them herself! Rolling her eyes, My Wife said, "You must be so proud." Like you wouldn't believe, dear.
- Why Star Wars Is Vitally Important
- Chewbacca: A Lost Opportunity
- Posts about the old Marvel comics here, here and here.