Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (Episodes IV, V, VI)

Star Wars: The Original Trilogy (1977-1983)
     In honor of Star Wars Day, I decided to review all three of the original films as I said I would in my January vlog. I, like many people, grew up with Star Wars. The first film came out in the the 1970's and really, no one was expecting anything great from it.  At the time it was a crazy idea and George Lucas was going into technological places that no one had ever explored before. Yet, it seemed that people were desperate for fairy tale/western in outer space. The films of the 70's were dark, gritty, violent and really didn't promote the idea of good overcoming evil. And that was probably why Star Wars was such a hit. It was just a story about the bad side, the good side, a bunch of unlikely heroes and a galaxy that was worth saving. 

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Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

     The galaxy is at civil war. The Galactic Empire has ruled for too long and their tyranny is being threatened by the Rebel Alliance. One of these rebels, nineteen year Princess Leia, a leader in the alliance, finds herself a hostage on the enemy Death Star and held by the notorious Darth Vader and his master, known as The Emperor. In a desperate attempt, Leia, relays a message to an old friend to rescue her and programs it into her astromech droid, R2-D2. R2 and his companion, C-3PO manage to escape, but find themselves on the desolate sand dunes of the planet of Tatooine where they end up in a droid sale. 

     R2 and 3PO are bought bought a kindly farmer, Owen Lars and hands them over to his nephew, Luke Sywalker. Luke dreams of getting off the farm and becoming a Rebel pilot, but his overprotective uncle holds him back. While Luke loves his uncle (and aunt), he is desperate to escape his sheltered world. When he finds Leia's message on R2, everything changes.

      Soon, Luke and the droids come across the soft spoken hermit, Ben Kenobi or Obi-Wan Kenobi, a former Jedi . He tells Luke of his father, who was once also a Jedi Knight and a great pilot named Anakin Skywalker, but was killed by Darth Vader shortly after Luke was born. Intrigued by this, Luke wants to get the droids back to Leia and rescue her, but when he returns home, he finds everything in ruins and his aunt and uncle killed, by the people trying to track down the droids. Left with no one, but his small band of friends, Luke leaves home and begins his training with Ben who teaches him how to become a Jedi.

     Luke, Ben and the droids become hunted by the Empire and must get off of Tatooine. So, they strike a bargain with a space pirate, Han Solo, and his Wookie companion, Chewbacca, to shuttle them off the planet in his ship the Millennium Falcon. Han himself needs money to pay off a great deal of debts to the notorious gangster, Jabba the Hutt. He gets his chance when Luke convinces him to help save Leia when they arrive secretly on the Death Star.

     After a daring escape (which becomes some of the most memorable moments in Star Wars history), Han and Luke rescue the feisty princess who immediately gets an instant dislike of Han and the feeling is mutual. Meanwhile, Ben Kenobi faces off with Darth Vader, who kills him right in front of Luke. Although broken by the death of this strange, but brave old man, Luke doesn't have time to grieve, because he is immediately recruited by the Rebel Alliance to pilot an extreme mission to destroy the Death Star once and for all. 

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Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
      Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, Luke receives a cryptic message from Ben or Obi-Wan Kenobi when he is wounded on the desolate planet of Hoth. Ben tells him to seek Yoda, a great Jedi master who will help Luke complete his training. After Luke is rescued by Han, he sets off to the Dagobah system to find this mysterious Yoda. 

     When Luke reaches the Dagobah system, which is nothing but a swamp, he finds a small, curious and annoying green creature. Annoyed to no end by him, Luke eventually finds out this is the great Yoda. In a matter of a few days, Yoda trains Luke, but it is much more difficult than Luke thought. Still haunted by Ben's death and wondering about who is father is, as well as distracted by his friends, the Force is hardly strong with him. Luke hatred of Darth Vader is unrelenting and something inside of him begins to burn when he thinks of the machine that killed his father and mentor. Yet, everytime he wants to give up Yoda and Ben (in a somewhat spirit form) tell him to return. 

     Meanwhile, Han and Leia are trying to deal with their conflicting feelings for one another. And things don't get easier when they are both sent on a mission together and spend their time fighting, kissing and fighting some more. When they become targeted by the Empire, they find safety in Cloud City, a refueling station, led by Lando Calrissian, an old friend of Han's. Leia doesn't trust Lando and her feelings prove to be true when they find that Darth Vader has struck a deal with Calrissian (under threat of Cloud City's destruction) to bring Han in to return to Jabba in carbon freeze. 

      When Luke begins to feel his friends agony through the Force, he immediately comes to their rescue, against the wishes of Ben and Yoda. Luke finds Leia, Chewie and the droids and help them escape with Lando, but finds himself face to face with Darth Vader. With what small training Luke has, he confronts Vader, but he isn't strong enough and loses a hand to Vader's skill. However, when Vader has a chance to kill Luke, he doesn't take it. He wants Luke to join him and come to the Dark Side and then reveals to Luke that he is his father. Luke is horrified at this revelation and refuses. His refusal to join leaves him for dead, but he manages to contact Leia through the force and they return to rescue him. 

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Episode VI - Return of The Jedi (1983)
Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

       Return of The Jedi begins with the rescuing of Han Solo from Jabba's palace thanks to a brilliant heist all orchestrated by Luke and involving Leia, Lando, the droids and Chewie (I call it the Skywalker Six Plan). However, the Empire begins to rebuild its once fallen Death Star and sets it's shield reflector station on the Moons of Endor, a heavily forested planet inhabited by the the adorable, but primitively fierce Ewoks. Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie and the droids are all commissioned to go to Endor, while Lando (now a general) flies the Millennium Falcon (much to Han's despair) to lead a group of Rebel pilots to destroy the new Death Star. 

      Before Luke gets his orders to go, he returns to the Degobah system to finish his training with Yoda as well as get answers on his father's identity and how he became Vader. However, Yoda dies before he can finally give Luke his answers. Ben Kenobi returns and finally tells Luke the truth as well as inform Luke that he has a sister, who is in fact Leia. While Luke is confused, the idea that Leia is his sister brings a sense of comfort and peace. Also, Luke begins to believe that Vader's act of mercy in not killing him shows that there is good in him. His former hatred now gone, he is determined to bring his father back from the Dark Side.

      When Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and the droids reach Endor, they are found by the Ewoks who treat the men with hostility, Leia with kindness and believe that C-3PO is a god of sorts. Eventually, they win the Ewoks trust and they agree to aid the Rebels in destroying the shield generator system. Luke soon senses that Vader is now on Endor and leaves to find him, but is stopped by Leia. Luke then tells her that they are brother and sister. Leia takes this news with incredible calm and says that she felt she always knew.  

      While the Ewoks and the Rebels battle the Empire, Luke returns to his father and insists that there is good in him, that he can change and he wants him to leave the Dark Side. However, the Emperor's hold on Vader is unrelenting and Vader refuses Luke's wishes. So, they battle it out, much to the Emperor's delight and as Luke gets stronger, Vader grows weaker, but neither one of them will kill. Furious, the Emperor takes his diabolical rage out on Luke and tortures him unmercifully. Luke begs his father to help him. Finally, Vader finally gives in to good and saves his son by killing the Emperor. 

     The Rebels manage to capture the shield generator and Lando and the Rebel pilots destroy the Death Star. Before the Death Star is destroyed, Luke and his father have one final moment of clarity with one another and Vader thanks Luke for rescuing him. As his father dies in his arms, Luke's fear and rage dispense, knowing that even though he could not save his father's life, he did save his humanity. Luke returns to the celebratory party with his friends and has an unexpected meeting with the spirit forms of Yoda, Obi-Wan and his father as he was meant to be. 

The Emperor dead and the Empire defeated; Han and Leia's love finally made public and Luke Skywalker now a Jedi Knight, the galaxy continues to move on as these unlikely heroes of pirates, princess and pilots become legends. 

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Star Wars: The Original Trilogy
     Everyone needs a story that they can believe in. The story of an incredible evil that is defeated by an ultimate good. That is what Star Wars gave to the 1970's and still does that today. While the stories may be a little bizarre and border on predictable, the hold that Star Wars has on people is that we can see ourselves in it's wide array of characters. We all have elements of both the good and the bad and Star Wars take those everyday elements and make them tangible and real in its characters.

      The heroes are not perfect, they are flawed all of them from Luke on down, but that doesn't stop us from admiring them. It's the imperfections that make them so personable to the audience. The villains are ultimate evil, yet Star Wars proved that there can be redemption even in the darkest of hearts. That love is (and always will be) stronger than any evil. And it's these themes that are universal and generational and that is why Star Wars continues to impact people today.


  1. You know, I think you're really onto something with your assessment that the reason the first Star Wars movie was so hugely popular was not just the mind-blowing special effects, but the message of hope, of good triumphing over evil. The '70s were messed up, and I've recently realized I like very, very few '70s movies, mostly because they are by and large bleak and depressing. Great observation!

    1. Thank you : ) My mom said she remembering going and seeing the first film and thought it was the stupidest movie ever made!


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