May The Force Be With You – guest post by Paula Roe
Hey, everyone! Did you know it’s been 35 years since the very first Star Wars zapped into our cinemas? THIRTY-FIVE YEARS! Yep, good ol’ 1977. The reason I’m telling you this (and no, it’s not to make you feel old :wink:) it’s because this year Lucasfilms are issuing all six movies as Blu-ray, plus rolling them out in chronological order in 3D, starting with the Phantom Menace this month. A money grab? Possibly. But as a huuuuge fan from way back (yeah, not too way back. Oh, hang on, I did see the original three times at the cinema :-S ) I am going to be front and centre for every one, up to the very last – Return of the Jedi – in 2015.
Now, for those of you too young, too sheltered or just plain uninterested (what the…?!) Star Wars not only launched the career of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher (let’s not mention poor Mark Hamill, who nonetheless did pretty well as a cameo Simpsons character), but also the cinematic genius of George Lucas.
I am a purist – don’t care too much for the prequels (even though I queued for hours for The Phantom Menace tickets for its first Australian midnight screening), absolutely LOVE the original three (in order: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). It includes the best and biggest themes of popular storytelling – action, humour, romance, a hero, an evil villain, an anti-hero (played by Harrison Ford at his yummiest. 😀 ). And lightsabers.
Princess Leia was the first time I’d seen a take-charge heroine on the big screen. Before Buffy was even a twinkle in Joss Whedon’s eye, Leia was shooting at storm troopers, blasting holes in the Death Star and giving sass to bounty hunters. She was gorgeous, feisty and got things done. AND she was a princess!
Star Wars also gave rise to one of the most recognisable theme songs ever, two most-often repeated lines in cinema (“looks like we’ve got company” and “I got a bad feeling about this.”), fan fiction, parodies and decades of pop culture references (including “may the Force be with you” and “I am your father”.) It spawned a very lucrative merchandising offshoot (books, action figures, apparel and the most brilliant Lego sets EVER). The original trilogy have been listed in stacks of ‘best movies ever’ lists and the special effects were years ahead of their time. Not to mention Princess Leia in her metal slave bikini that launched heaven knows how many boy’s fantasies!
After Star Wars was released in 1977, I had to wait three more years for The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. But hey, it was worth the wait because it had more sexy Han Solo, plus a charming Lando Calrissian, played by a devilishly charming Billy Dee Williams. Empire also was my first encounter with the cliff hanger (poor Han trapped in carbonite) and I had to wait ANOTHER THREE YEARS to see Return of the Jedi in 1983! (I will never forgive you for that, George Lucas. Also, Jar Jar Binks). Of course, at that time I was fourteen, full of rampant teenage girl hormones, so of course I had a serious lust for Han Solo. EVERYONE had a lust for Han Solo, who is pretty much the ultimate bad boy: “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid.” (You can see more of Han Solo’s awesome quotes here.) Pretty sure I’m not spoiling anything by telling you Leia and Han fall for each other 😀 My heart still goes pitty-pat even now, watching that gorgeous romantic scene between him and Leia when he tells her “there aren’t enough scoundrels in your life.” ::sigh:::
So just in case your Star Wars trivia is lacking, here’s a list of my best:
- George Lucas nearly didn’t get the funding to make the first movie, even after his success with American Graffiti.
- He held onto the merchandising rights, instead of giving them to the studio (because the studio believed it’d flop anyway). Huh. Wish I’d kept that cinema promo booklet instead of cutting it up for a school project – would be worth hundreds today 😦
- When they were filming Return of the Jedi, it was code named “Blue Harvest” so they didn’t have rabid fans invading the set on location. They even had Blue Harvest promo caps and t-shirts made. And yes, that’s the title of the Family Guy parody.
- The scenes on the desert planet Tatooine were actually filmed in Tunisia
- The Return of the Jedi was originally called “Revenge of the Jedi”, and there were even promo stickers and letterhead made (which are now worth lots of money). But George Lucas thought ‘revenge’ did not accurately reflect the Jedi way, so he changed it
- People actually list “Jedi” as their religion preference on census forms 😯
So now it’s your turn. Did you see Star Wars at the cinema? What’s your most memorable scene? Or have you not witnessed the glory yet? (in which case, what are you doing reading this blog?? Go and rent them! You can also read all about the phenomena and more trivia on Wikipedia)
When Paula’s not obsessing about Star Wars (and building the most awesome Lego sets to go with it), she writes books. Her latest, Bed of Lies, is out in the States this month, also available on e-book. Check her website for details.