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"Actually these are the droids you are looking for."

- W.J. Flywheel, Webporium Curator

STAR WARS A NEW HOPE

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy . . . .

Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) is a 1977 American science fiction film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars saga, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Alec Guinness. David Prowse, Anthony Daniels, Peter Cushing, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew co-star in supporting roles.

The plot focuses on the Rebel Alliance, led by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and its attempt to destroy the Galactic Empire's space station, the Death Star. This conflict disrupts the isolated life of farmhand Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) who inadvertently acquires a pair of droids that possess stolen architectural plans for the Death Star. When the Empire begins a destructive search for the missing droids, Skywalker agrees to accompany Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) on a mission to return the Death Star plans to the Rebel Alliance and save the galaxy from the tyranny of the Galactic Empire.

Star Wars was released theatrically in the United States on May 25th, 1977 and received 10 Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. It was selected to become part of the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in its first year of opening as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"; at the time, it was the newest film to be selected, and it was the only film from the 1970s to be chosen. The film's soundtrack was added to the US National Recording Registry 15 years later. Today, it is often regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, and is also, alongside The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, considered by many to be one of the most important films in the history of motion pictures.

This was the movie that spawned a multi-billion dollar business empire and made Lucas arguably the most successful movie maker in history. But its chances of success seemed slim indeed when it was initially released. After production problems and budget over-runs, Fox had considerable trouble booking the movie with distributors, and opened it in 43 theaters only after threatening to pull The Other Side of Midnight from many of those venues. What happened next has passed into box office legend. Lines around the block on opening weekend soon became lines around the block across the nation as the movie stayed at the top of the charts for most of the Summer. Re-releases over the next 5 years generated more business, and the 20th anniversary release in 1997 set new boxoffice benchmarks.

Elements of the history of Star Wars are commonly disputed, as George Lucas's statements about it have changed over time. Lucas has said that it was early as 1971, after he completed directing his first full-length feature, THX 1138, that he first had an idea for a space fantasy film, though he has also claimed to have had the idea long before then. Originally, Lucas wanted to adapt the Flash Gordon space adventure comics and serials into his own films, having been fascinated by them since he was young. In 1979, he said, "I especially loved the Flash Gordon serials... Of course I realize now how crude and badly done they were... loving them that much when they were so awful, I began to wonder what would happen if they were done really well."

At the Cannes Film Festival in May following the completion of THX 1138, Lucas was granted a two-film development deal with United Artists; the two films were American Graffiti, and an untitled Flash Gordon-esque space fantasy film. He pushed towards buying the Flash Gordon rights. He said:

"I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn't obtain the rights to the characters. So I began researching and went right back and found where Alex Raymond (who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers) had got his idea from. I discovered that he'd got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books. I read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science-fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905. That was the first story in this genre that I have been able to trace. Jules Verne had got pretty close, I suppose, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet. A whole new genre developed from that idea."

Director Francis Ford Coppola, (who accompanied Lucas in buying the Flash Gordon rights), recounted in 1999, "[George] was very depressed because he had just come back and they wouldn't sell him Flash Gordon. And he says, 'Well, I'll just invent my own.'" Lucas envisioned his own space opera and called it The Star Wars. During this period, Lucas went to United Artists and showed them script for American Graffiti, but they passed on the film, which was then picked up by Universal Pictures. United Artists also passed on Lucas's The Star Wars concept, which he shelved for the time being. After spending the next two years completing American Graffiti, Lucas turned his attention to The Star Wars.

Lucas began writing in January 1973, "eight hours a day, five days a week", by taking small notes, inventing odd names and assigning them possible characterizations. Lucas would discard many of these by the time the final script was written, but he included several names and places in the final script or its sequels. He revived others decades later when he wrote his prequel trilogy. He used these initial names and ideas to compile a two-page synopsis titled Journal of the Whills, which told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a "Jedi-Bendu" space commando by the legendary Mace Windu. Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand, Lucas then began writing a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars on April 17th, 1973, which had thematic parallels with Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress.

After United Artists declined to budget the film, Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz presented the a 14-page story treatment to Universal Pictures, the studio that financed American Graffiti; however, it rejected its options for the film because the concept was "a little strange", and it said that Lucas should follow American Graffiti with more consequential themes.

The Star Wars concept was not well received. Because of the film's space setting, it was viewed as a science fiction film, which drew relatively low numbers at the box office. Science fiction films of the 60s and 70s were generally stories of apocalyptic views of death and destruction, rather than uplifting coming of age stories.

Lucas said, "I've always been an outsider to Hollywood types. They think I do weirdo films." According to Kurtz, Lew Wasserman, the studio's head, "just didn't think much of science fiction at that time, didn't think it had much of a future then, with that particular audience. Science fiction wasn't popular in the mid-'70s... what seems to be the case generally is that the studio executives are looking for what was popular last year, rather than trying to look forward to what might be popular next year... Although Star Wars wasn't like that at all, it was just sort of lumped into that same kind of [science fiction] category."

Lucas explained in 1977 that the film is not "about the future" and that it "is a fantasy much closer to the Brothers Grimm than it is to 2001". He added: "My main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind my generation had. We had westerns, pirate movies, all kinds of great things. Now they have The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak. Where are the romance, the adventure, and the fun that used to be in practically every movie made?"

There were also concerns regarding the project's potentially high budget. Lucas and Kurtz, in pitching the film, said that it would be "low-budget, Roger Corman style, and the budget was never going to be more than, well, originally we had proposed about 8 million, it ended up being about 10. Both of those figures are very low budget by Hollywood standards at the time."

Lucas disliked the studio system, as his previous two films American Graffiti and THX 1138 were both reedited without his consent. Still, aware that there was no way around it and after Walt Disney Productions rejected the project, he pursued Alan Ladd, Jr., the new head of 20th Century Fox, and in June 1973 completed a deal to write and direct the film. Although Ladd did not grasp the technical side of the project, he believed that Lucas was talented. Lucas later stated that Ladd "invested in me, he did not invest in the movie." The deal gave Lucas $150,000 to write and direct the film.

Since commencing his writing process in January 1973, Lucas had done "various rewrites in the evenings after the day's work." He would write four different screenplays for Star Wars, "searching for just the right ingredients, characters and storyline. It's always been what you might call a good idea in search of a story." By May 1974, he had expanded the film treatment into a rough draft screenplay, adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a general by the name of Annikin Starkiller. He changed Starkiller to an adolescent boy, and he shifted the general into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarfs. Lucas envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills. He based Chewbacca on his Alaskan Malamute dog, Indiana (whom he would later use as namesake for his character Indiana Jones), who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car.

Lucas began researching the science fiction genre by watching films and reading books and comics. His first script incorporated ideas from many new sources. The script would also introduce the concept of a Jedi Master father and his son, who trains to be a Jedi under his father's friend; this would ultimately form the basis for the film and, later, the trilogy. However, in this draft, the father is a hero who is still alive at the start of the film.

Lucas completed a second draft of The Star Wars in January 1975, making heavy simplifications and introducing the young hero on a farm as Luke Starkiller. Annikin became Luke's father, a wise Jedi knight. "The Force" was also introduced as a mystical energy field. This second draft still had some differences from the final version in the characters and relationships. For example, Luke had several brothers, as well as his father, who appears in a minor role at the end of the film. The script became more of a fairy tale quest as opposed to the action-adventure of the previous versions. This version ended with another text crawl, previewing the next story in the series. This draft was also the first to introduce the concept of a Jedi turning to the dark side: the draft included a historical Jedi who became the first to ever fall to the dark side, and then trained the Sith to use it. Impressed with his works, Lucas hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of certain scenes around this time. When Lucas delivered his screenplay to the studio, he included several of McQuarrie's paintings.

A third draft, dated August 1st, 1975, was titled The Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. This third draft had most of the elements of the final plot, with only some differences in the characters and settings. The draft characterized Luke as an only child, with his father already dead, replacing him with a substitute named Ben Kenobi. This script would be re-written for the fourth and final draft, dated January 1st, 1976, as The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. Lucas worked with his friends Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck to revise the fourth draft into the final pre-production script. 20th Century Fox approved a budget of $8.25 million and the positive reception of American Graffiti afforded Lucas the leverage necessary to renegotiate his deal with Alan Ladd, Jr. and request the sequel rights to the film. For Lucas, this deal protected Star Wars' unwritten segments and most of the merchandising profits.

Lucas finished writing his script in March 1976, when the crew started filming. He said, "What finally emerged through the many drafts of the script has obviously been influenced by science-fiction and action-adventure I've read and seen. And I've seen a lot of it. I'm trying to make a classic sort of genre picture, a classic space fantasy in which all the influences are working together. There are certain traditional aspects of the genre I wanted to keep and help perpetuate in Star Wars." During production, he changed Luke's name from Starkiller to Skywalker and altered the title to The Star Wars and later Star Wars. He would also continue to tweak the script during filming, including adding the death of Obi-Wan after realizing he served no purpose in the ending of the film.

For the film's opening crawl, Lucas originally wrote a composition consisting of six paragraphs with four sentences each. He said, "The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you're not using too many words that people don't understand. It's like a poem." Lucas showed his draft to his friends. Director Brian De Palma, who was there, described it: "The crawl at the beginning looks like it was written on a driveway. It goes on forever. It's gibberish." Lucas recounted what De Palma said the first time he saw it: "George, you're out of your mind! Let me sit down and write this for you." De Palma helped to edit the text into the form used in the film.

Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO didn’t emerge fully formed in 1977, George Lucas had help from storyboard artists like Alex Tavoularis, Joe Johnston, and Ivan Beddoes. Tavoularis says about this original Darth Vader drawing, "The snout was different than in the movie. I think my drawings of Darth Vader were scarier than the final designs."

George Lucas recruited many conceptual designers, including: Colin Cantwell, who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to conceptualize the initial spacecraft models; Alex Tavoularis to create the preliminary conceptual storyboard sketches of early scripts; and Ralph McQuarrie to visualize the characters, costumes, props and scenery. McQuarrie's pre-production paintings of certain scenes from Lucas's early screenplay drafts helped 20th Century Fox visualize the film, which positively influenced their decision to fund the project.

The film was ambitious as Lucas wanted to create fresh prop prototypes and sets (based on McQuarrie's paintings) that had never been realized before in science fiction films. He commissioned production designers John Barry and Roger Christian to work on the production sets. Christian said that Lucas "didn't want anything [in Star Wars] to stand out, he wanted it [to look] all real and used. And I said, 'Finally somebody's doing it the right way.'"

Lucas described a "used future" concept to the production designers in which all devices, ships, and buildings looked aged and dirty. Instead of following the traditional sleekness and futuristic architecture of science fiction films that came before, the Star Wars sets were designed to look inhabited and used. Barry said that the director "wants to make it look like its shot on location on your average everyday Death Star or Mos Eisly Spaceport or local cantina." Lucas believed that "what is required for true credibility is a used future", opposing the interpretation of "future in most futurist movies" that "always looks new and clean and shiny." Christian supported Lucas's vision, saying "All science fiction before was very plastic and stupid uniforms and Flash Gordon stuff. Nothing was new. George was going right against that."

The designers started working with the director before Star Wars was approved by 20th Century Fox. For four to five months, in a studio in Kensal Rise, England, they attempted to plan the creation of the props and sets with "no money". Although Lucas initially provided funds using his earnings from American Graffiti, it was inadequate. As they could not afford to dress the sets, Christian was forced to use unconventional methods and materials to achieve the desired look. He suggested that Lucas use scrap in making the dressings, and the director agreed. Christian said, "I've always had this idea. I used to do it with models when I was a kid. I'd stick things on them and we'd make things look old."

According to Christian, the Millennium Falcon set was the most difficult to build. Christian wanted the interior of the Falcon to look like that of a submarine. He found scrap airplane metal "that no one wanted in those days and bought them". He began his creation process by breaking down jet engines into scrap pieces, giving him the chance to "stick it in the sets in specific ways". It took him several weeks to finish the chess set (which he described as "the most encrusted set") in the hold of the Falcon. The garbage compactor set "was also pretty hard, because I knew I had actors in there and the walls had to come in, and they had to be in dirty water and I had to get stuff that would be light enough so it wouldn't hurt them but also not bobbing around". A total of 30 sets consisting of planets, starships, caves, control rooms, cantinas, and the Death Star corridors were created; all of the nine sound stages at Elstree were used to accommodate them. The massive rebel hangar set was housed at a second sound stage at Shepperton Studios; the stage is the largest in Europe.

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Retro Costumes from the Fabulous Fifties at BowlingShirt.com!

In 1975, Lucas formed his own visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) after discovering that 20th Century Fox's visual effects department had been disbanded. ILM began its work on Star Wars in a warehouse in Van Nuys, California. Most of the visual effects used pioneering digital motion control photography developed by John Dykstra and his team, which created the illusion of size by employing small models and slowly moving cameras.

George Lucas tried "to get a cohesive reality" for his feature. However, since the film is a fairy tale, as he had described, "I still wanted it to have an ethereal quality, yet be well composed and, also, have an alien look." He designed the film to have an "extremely bizarre, Gregg Toland-like surreal look with strange over-exposed colors, a lot of shadows, a lot of hot areas." Lucas wanted Star Wars to embrace the combination of "strange graphics of fantasy" and "the feel of a documentary" to impress a distinct look. To achieve this, he hired the British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. Originally, Lucas's first choice for the position was Geoffrey Unsworth, who also provided the cinematography for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Unsworth was interested in working with the director, and initially accepted the job when it was offered to him by Lucas and Kurtz. However, he eventually withdrew to work on the Vincente Minnelli-directed A Matter of Time (1976) instead. Lucas called up for other cinematographers, and eventually chose Taylor, basing his choice on Taylor's cinematography for Dr. Strangelove and A Hard Day's Night (1964). On his decision, Lucas said: "I thought they were good, eccentrically photographed pictures with a strong documentary flavor."

Taylor said that Lucas, who was consumed by the details of the complicated production, "avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture." He also "took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia." During production, Lucas and Taylor (whom Kurtz called "old-school" and "crotchety") had disputes over filming. With a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the film himself. His lighting suggestions were rejected by an offended Taylor, who felt that Lucas was overstepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions, sometimes even moving lights and cameras himself and Taylor refused to use the soft-focus lenses and gauze Lucas wanted after Fox executives complained about the look.

Originally, Lucas envisioned the planet of Tatooine, where much of the film would take place, as a jungle planet. Gary Kurtz traveled to the Philippines to scout locations; however, because of the idea of spending months filming in the jungle would make Lucas "itchy", the director refined his vision and made Tatooine a desert planet instead. Kurtz then researched all American, North African, and Middle Eastern deserts, and found Tunisia, near the Sahara desert, as the ideal location.

When principal photography began on March 22nd, 1976 in the Tunisian desert for the scenes on Tatooine, the project faced several problems. Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to malfunctioning props and electronic breakdowns. Moreover, a rare Tunisian rainstorm struck the country, which further disrupted filming. Taylor said, "you couldn't really see where the land ended and the sky began. It was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur." Given this situation, Lucas requested for heavy filtration, which confused Taylor, who said: "I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean... But George saw it differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused." This difference was later settled by 20th Century Fox executives, who backed Taylor's suggestion.

Filming began in Chott el Djerid, while a construction crew in Tozeur took eight weeks to transform the desert into the desired setting. Other locations included the sand dunes of the Tunisian desert near Nafta, where a scene featuring a giant skeleton of a creature lying in the background as R2-D2 and C-3PO make their way across the sands was filmed. When actor Anthony Daniels wore the C-3PO outfit for the first time in Tunisia, the left leg piece shattered down through the plastic covering his left foot, stabbing him. He also could not see through his costume's eyes, which was covered with gold to prevent corrosion. Abnormal radio signals caused by the Tunisian sands made the radio-controlled R2-D2 models run out of control. Kenny Baker, who portrayed R2-D2, said: "I was incredibly grateful each time an [R2] would actually work right." After several scenes were filmed against the volcanic canyons outside Tozeur, production moved to Matmata to film Luke's home on Tatooine. Lucas chose Hotel Sidi Driss, which is larger than the typical underground dwellings, to shoot the interior of Luke's homestead. Additional scenes for Tatooine were filmed at Death Valley in North America.

After completing two and a half weeks of filming in Tunisia, the cast and crew moved into the more controlled environment of Elstree Studios, near London. Difficulties encountered in Tunisia were assumed to cease; however, due to strict British working conditions adhered to on set, a new problem arose: filming had to finish by 5:30 pm, unless Lucas was in the middle of a scene. The interiors were shot in London due to its proximity to North Africa and because of the availability of top technical crew at Elstree Studios. The film studio was the only one of its kind in England or America that could cater nine large stages at the same time and allow the company complete freedom to use its own personnel. Despite Lucas' efforts, his crew had little interest in the film and did not take the project seriously. Most of the crew considered the project a "children's film", rarely took their work seriously, and often found it unintentionally humorous. Actor Baker later confessed that he thought the film would be a failure. Harrison Ford found it strange that "there's a princess with weird buns in her hair", and he called Chewbacca a "giant in a monkey suit".

Filming at Elstree Studios became another problem for Taylor; the sets John Barry made "were like a coal mine", as the cinematographer described. He said that "they were all black and gray, with really no opportunities for lighting at all." To resolve the problem, he worked the lighting into the sets by chopping in its walls, ceiling and floors. This would result in "a 'cut-out' system of panel lighting", with quartz lamps that could be placed in the holes in the walls, ceiling and floors. His idea was supported by the Fox studio, which agreed that "we couldn't have this 'black hole of Calcutta'". The lighting approach Taylor devised "allowed George to shoot in almost any direction without extensive relighting, which gave him more freedom." In total, filming the scenes in England took 14 and a half weeks.

The moon Yavin 4, which acted as the rebel base in the film, was filmed in the Mayan temples at Tikal, Guatemala. Lucas selected the location as a potential filming site after seeing a poster of it hanging at a travel agency while he was filming in England. This inspired him to send a film crew to Guatemala in March 1977 to shoot scenes. While filming in Tikal, the crew paid locals with a six pack of beer to watch over the camera equipment for several days.

Lucas rarely spoke to the actors, who felt that he expected too much of them while providing little direction. His directions to the actors usually consisted of the words "faster" and "more intense". Kurtz stated that "it happened a lot where he would just say, 'Let's try it again a little bit faster.' That was about the only instruction he'd give anybody. A lot of actors don't mind, they don't care, they just get on with it. But some actors really need a lot of pampering and a lot of feedback, and if they don't get it, they get paranoid that they might not be doing a good job." Kurtz has said that Lucas "wasn't gregarious, he's very much a loner and very shy, so he didn't like large groups of people, he didn't like working with a large crew, he didn't like working with a lot of actors."

Ladd offered Lucas some of the only support from the studio; he dealt with scrutiny from board members over the rising budget and complex screenplay drafts. Initially, Fox approved $8 million for the project and after requests that the budget had to be more, the executives got a bit scared. Lucas and his crew pulled together new budget figures while the production fell behind schedule and Ladd told Lucas he had to finish production within a week or he would be forced to shut down. The budget was now at about 9.8 million and the crew split into three units, with those units led by Lucas, Kurtz, and production supervisor Robert Watts. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.

The cast attempted to make Lucas laugh or smile, as he often appeared depressed. At one point, the project became so demanding that Lucas was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and was warned to reduce his stress level. Post-production was equally stressful due to increasing pressure from 20th Century Fox. Moreover, Mark Hamill's car accident left his face visibly scarred, which restricted re-shoots.

Star Wars was originally slated for release on Christmas 1976; however, its production delays pushed the film's release to summer 1977. Already anxious about meeting his deadline, Lucas was shocked when editor John Jympson's first cut of the film was a "complete disaster". According to an article in Star Wars Insider No. 41 by David West Reynolds, this first edit of Star Wars contained about 30–40% different footage from the final version. After attempting to persuade Jympson to cut the film his way, Lucas replaced him with Paul Hirsch and Richard Chew. He also allowed his then-wife, Marcia Lucas, to aid the editing process while she was cutting the film New York, New York (1977) with Lucas's friend Martin Scorsese. Richard Chew found the film to have a lethargic pace and to have been cut in a by-the-book manner: scenes were played out in master shots that flowed into close-up coverage. He found that the pace was dictated by the actors instead of the cuts. Hirsch and Chew worked on two reels simultaneously.

Jympson's original edit contained a large amount of footage which differed from the final cut of the film, including several alternate takes and a number of scenes which were subsequently deleted to improve the narrative pace. The most significant material cut was a series of scenes from the first part of the film which served to introduce the character of Luke Skywalker. These early scenes, set in Anchorhead on the planet Tatooine, presented the audience with Luke's everyday life among his friends as it is affected by the space battle above the planet; they also introduced the character of Biggs Darklighter, Luke's closest friend who departs to join the Rebellion. Chew explained the rationale behind removing these scenes as a narrative decision: "In the first five minutes, we were hitting everybody with more information than they could handle. There were too many story lines to keep straight: the robots and the Princess, Vader, Luke. So we simplified it by taking out Luke and Biggs". After viewing a rough cut, Alan Ladd likened these Anchorhead scenes to "American Graffiti in outer space". Lucas was looking for a way of accelerating the storytelling, and removing Luke's early scenes would distinguish Star Wars from his earlier teenage drama and "get that American Graffiti feel out of it". Lucas also stated that he wanted to move the narrative focus to C-3PO and R2-D2: "At the time, to have the first half-hour of the film be mainly about robots was a bold idea."

Meanwhile, Industrial Light & Magic was struggling to achieve unprecedented special effects. The company had spent half of its budget on four shots that Lucas deemed unacceptable.

Moreover, theories surfaced that the workers at ILM lacked discipline, forcing Lucas to intervene frequently to ensure that they were on schedule. With hundreds of uncompleted shots remaining, ILM was forced to finish a year's work in six months. Lucas inspired ILM by editing together aerial dogfights from old war films, which enhanced the pacing of the scenes.

During the chaos of production and post-production, the team made decisions about character voicing and sound effects. Sound designer Ben Burtt had created a library of sounds that Lucas referred to as an "organic soundtrack". Blaster sounds were a modified recording of a steel cable, under tension, being struck. The lightsaber sound effect was developed by Burtt as a combination of the hum of idling interlock motors in aged movie projectors and interference caused by a television set on a shieldless microphone. Burtt discovered the latter accidentally as he was looking for a buzzing, sparking sound to add to the projector-motor hum. For Chewbacca's growls, Burtt recorded and combined sounds made by dogs, bears, lions, tigers, and walruses to create phrases and sentences. Lucas and Burtt created the robotic voice of R2-D2 by filtering their voices through an electronic synthesizer. Darth Vader's breathing was achieved by Burtt breathing through the mask of a scuba regulator implanted with a microphone.

In February 1977, Lucas screened an early cut of the film for Fox executives, several director friends, along with Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin of Marvel Comics who were preparing a Star Wars comic book. The cut had a different crawl from the finished version and used Prowse's voice for Darth Vader. It also lacked most special effects; hand-drawn arrows took the place of blaster beams, and when the Millennium Falcon fought TIE fighters, the film cut to footage of World War II dogfights. The reactions of the directors present, such as Brian De Palma, John Milius, and Steven Spielberg, disappointed Lucas. Spielberg, who claimed to have been the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film, believed that the lack of enthusiasm was due to the absence of finished special effects. Lucas later said that the group was honest and seemed bemused by the film. In contrast, Ladd and the other studio executives loved the film; Gareth Wigan told Lucas: "This is the greatest film I've ever seen" and cried during the screening. Lucas found the experience shocking and rewarding, having never gained any approval from studio executives before. The delays increased the final budget to $11 million.

With the project $2 million over budget, Lucas was forced to make numerous artistic compromises to complete Star Wars. Ladd reluctantly agreed to release an extra $20,000 funding and in early 1977 second unit filming completed a number of sequences including exterior desert shots for Tatooine in Death Valley and China Lake Acres in California, and exterior Yavin jungle shots in Guatemala, along with additional studio footage to complete the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence. Lucas had planned to rework a confrontation scene between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt in Mos Eisley Spaceport by compositing a stop-motion animated model of Jabba to replace the actor Declan Mulholland, but with time and money running out, Lucas reluctantly decided to cut the scene entirely. The sequence was later re-instated in the 1997 Special Edition with a computer-generated version of Jabba.

On the recommendation of his friend Steven Spielberg, Lucas hired composer John Williams. Williams had worked with Spielberg on the film Jaws, for which he won an Academy Award. Lucas felt that the film would portray visually foreign worlds, but that the musical score would give the audience an emotional familiarity; he wanted a grand musical sound for Star Wars, with leitmotifs to provide distinction. Therefore, he assembled his favorite orchestral pieces for the soundtrack, until Williams convinced him that an original score would be unique and more unified. However, a few of Williams' pieces were influenced by the tracks given to him by Lucas: the "Main Title Theme" was inspired by the theme from the 1942 film Kings Row, scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold; and the track "Dune Sea of Tatooine" drew from the soundtrack of Bicycle Thieves, scored by Alessandro Cicognini.

In March 1977, Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to record the Star Wars soundtrack in 12 days. The original soundtrack was released as a double LP in 1977 by 20th Century Records. 20th Century Fox released The Story of Star Wars that same year, which adapted the film and presented it as a narrated story with music, dialogue, and sound effects from the original film. The American Film Institute's list of best film scores ranks the Star Wars soundtrack at number one.

Lucasfilm hired Charles Lippincott as marketing director for Star Wars. As 20th Century Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing T-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation, and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. A fan of science fiction, he used his contacts to promote the film at the San Diego Comic-Con and elsewhere within science fiction fandom. Worried that Star Wars would be beaten out by other summer films, such as Smokey and the Bandit, 20th Century Fox moved the release date to May 25th, the Wednesday before Memorial Day. However, fewer than 40 theaters ordered the film to be shown. In response, the studio demanded that theaters order Star Wars if they wanted the eagerly anticipated The Other Side of Midnight based on the novel by the same name.

Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25th, 1977, in fewer than 32 theaters, and eight more on Thursday and Friday. Kurtz said in 2002, "That would be laughable today." It immediately broke box office records, effectively becoming one of the first blockbuster films, and Fox accelerated plans to broaden its release. Lucas himself was not able to predict how successful Star Wars would be. After visiting the set of the Steven Spielberg directed Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed, and felt Lucas's Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade 2.5% of the profit on each other's films; Spielberg took the trade, and still receives 2.5% of the profits from Star Wars.

Fox initially had doubts if Star Wars would emerge successful. The Other Side of Midnight was supposed to be the studio's big summer hit, while Lucas' movie was considered the "B track" for theater owners nationwide. Fearing that the film would fail, Lucas had made plans to be in Hawaii with his wife Marcia. Having forgotten that the film would open that day, he spent most of Wednesday in a sound studio in Los Angeles. When Lucas went out for lunch with Marcia, they encountered a long line of people along the sidewalks leading to Mann's Chinese Theatre, waiting to see Star Wars. He was still skeptical of the film's success despite Ladd and the studio's enthusiastic reports. While in Hawaii, it was not until he watched Walter Cronkite discuss the gigantic crowds for Star Wars on the CBS Evening News that Lucas realized he had become very wealthy (Francis Ford Coppola, who needed money to finish Apocalypse Now, sent a telegram to Lucas's hotel asking for funding). Even technical crew members, such as model makers, were asked for autographs, and cast members became instant household names; when Ford visited a record store to buy an album, enthusiastic fans tore half his shirt off.

The film was a huge success for the studio, and was credited for reinvigorating it. Within three weeks of its release, 20th Century Fox's stock price had doubled to a record high. Prior to 1977, 20th Century Fox's greatest annual profits were $37 million, while in 1977, the company broke that record by posting a profit of $79 million.

Although the cultural neutrality of the film helped it to gain international success, Ladd became anxious during the premiere in Japan. After screening the film, the audience was silent, leading him to fear that the film would be unsuccessful. Ladd was later told by his local contacts that, in Japan, silence was the greatest honor to a film, and the subsequent strong box office returns confirmed its popularity.

When Star Wars made an unprecedented second opening at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 3rd, 1977, after William Friedkin's Sorcerer failed, thousands of people attended a ceremony in which C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt. At that time Star Wars was playing in 1,096 theaters in the United States. Approximately 60 theaters played the film continuously for over a year and in 1978 Lucasfilm distributed "Birthday Cake" posters to those theaters for special events on May 25th, the one-year anniversary of the film's release.

The film was originally released as Star Wars, without "Episode IV" or the subtitle A New Hope. The subtitles were added starting with the film's theatrical re-release on April 10th, 1981. After ILM used computer-generated effects for Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park, Lucas concluded that digital technology had caught up to his original vision for Star Wars. For the film's 20th anniversary in 1997, Star Wars was digitally remastered and re-released to movie theaters, along with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, under the campaign title Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition.

The Special Edition contained visual shots and scenes that were unachievable in the original release due to financial, technological, and time constraints; one such scene involved a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt. The process of creating the new visual effects for Star Wars was featured in the Academy Award-nominated IMAX documentary film, Special Effects: Anything Can Happen, directed by Star Wars sound designer, Ben Burtt. Although most changes were minor or cosmetic in nature, some fans believe that Lucas degraded the film with the additions. A particularly controversial change in which a bounty hunter named Greedo shoots first when confronting Han Solo has inspired T-shirts brandishing the phrase "Han Shot First". The lego recreation below of this controversial scene proves once and for all that Han shot first.

Star Wars required extensive restoration before Lucas's Special Edition modifications could be attempted. It was discovered that in addition to the negative motion picture stocks commonly used on feature films, Lucas had also used internegative film, a reversal stock which deteriorated faster than negative stocks did. This meant that the entire printing negative had to be disassembled, and the CRI (color reversal internegative) portions cleaned separately from the negative portions. Once the cleaning was complete, the film was scanned into the computer for restoration. In many cases, entire scenes had to be reconstructed from their individual elements. Fortunately, digital compositing technology allowed them to correct for problems such as alignment of mattes, "blue-spill", and so forth.

Over the years George Lucas has re-released Star Wars a number of times, incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks, and added scenes.

Though the original Star Wars was selected by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress in 1989, it is unclear whether a copy of the 1977 theatrical sequence or the 1997 Special Edition has been archived by the NFR, or indeed if any copy has been provided by Lucasfilm and accepted by the Registry. While the agency has a mandate to register films for preservation, it has no authority to secure its selections from authors or copyright holders.

Star Wars remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. The film earned $1,554,475 through its opening weekend, building up to $7 million weekends as it entered wide release. It replaced Jaws as the highest-earning film in North America just six months into release, eventually earning over $220 million during its initial theatrical run. The film remained the highest-grossing film of all time until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial broke that record in 1983. Following the release of the Special Edition in 1997, Star Wars briefly reclaimed the North American record before losing it again the following year to Titanic.

The film was met with critical acclaim upon its release. In his 1977 review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "an out-of-body experience", compared its special effects to those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and opined that the true strength of the film was its "pure narrative". Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "the movie that's going to entertain a lot of contemporary folk who have a soft spot for the virtually ritualized manners of comic-book adventure" and "the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made." A.D. Murphy of Variety described the film as "magnificent" and claimed George Lucas had succeeded in his attempt to create the "biggest possible adventure fantasy" based on the serials and older action epics from his childhood. Writing for The Washington Post, Gary Arnold gave the film a positive review, writing that the film "is a new classic in a rousing movie tradition: a space swashbuckler." However, the film was not without its detractors: Pauline Kael of The New Yorker criticized Star Wars, stating that "there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism", and that it had no "emotional grip".

The original Star Wars trilogy is considered one of the best film trilogies in history. Lucas has often stated that the entire trilogy was intended to be considered one film. However, he said that his story material for Star Wars was too long for a single film, prompting Lucas to split the story into multiple films. Lucas also stated that the story evolved over time and that "There was never a script completed that had the entire story as it exists now [in 1983] ... As the stories unfolded, I would take certain ideas and save them ... I kept taking out all the good parts, and I just kept telling myself I would make other movies someday." In early interviews, it was suggested the series might comprise nine or twelve films.

Star Wars launched the careers of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher. Ford, who subsequently starred in the Indiana Jones series (1981–2008), Blade Runner (1982), and Witness (1985) after working on the film, told the Daily Mirror that Star Wars "boosted my career", and said, "I think the great luck of my career is that I've made these family movies which are introduced to succeeding generations of kids by their families at the time it seems appropriate."

The film has spawned a series of films consisting of two trilogies (including the original film), and an extensive media franchise called the Star Wars expanded universe including books, television series, computer and video games, and comic books.

The film also spawned the Star Wars Holiday Special, which debuted on CBS on November 17th, 1978 and is often considered a failure; Lucas himself disowned it.[ The special has never been aired after its original broadcast, and it has never been officially released on home video. However, many bootleg copies exist, and the special has consequently become something of an underground legend.

Star Wars and its ensuing film installments have been explicitly referenced and satirized across a wide range of media. Hardware Wars, released in 1978, was one of the first fan films to parody Star Wars. It received positive critical reaction, went to earn over $1 million, and is one of Lucas's favorite Star Wars spoofs. Quark was a short-lived 1977 sitcom that parodied the science fiction genre. Mel Brooks's Spaceballs, a satirical comic science fiction parody, came out in 1987 to mixed reviews. Lucas permitted Brooks to make a spoof of the film under one restriction: no action figures. Contemporary animated comedy TV series Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and The Simpsons have produced episodes satirizing the film series.

Many elements of the film have also endured presence in popular culture such as the iconic weapon of choice of the Jedi, the lightsaber The expressions "Evil empire" and "May the Force be with you" have become part of the popular lexicon. A pun on the latter phrase has led to May 4th being regarded by many fans of the franchise as an unofficial Star Wars Day. To commemorate the film's 30th anniversary in May 2007, the United States Postal Service issued a set of 15 stamps depicting the characters of the franchise. Approximately 400 mailboxes across the country were also designed to look like R2-D2.

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his book The Great Movies, "Like The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, Star Wars was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after." It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures. The film was one of the first films to link genres together to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon. Finally, along with Steven Spielberg's Jaws, it shifted the film industry's focus away from personal filmmaking of the 1970s and towards fast-paced, big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.

Filmmakers who have said to have been influenced by Star Wars include James Cameron, Dean Devlin, Gareth Edwards, Roland Emmerich, John Lasseter, David Fincher, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, John Singleton, and Kevin Smith. Scott, Cameron, and Jackson were influenced by Lucas's concept of the "used future" (where vehicles and culture are obviously dated) and extended the concept for their films, such as Scott's science fiction films Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), Cameron's acclaimed sequel Aliens (1986) and his earlier breakthrough film The Terminator (1984). Jackson used the concept for his production of The Lord of the Rings trilogy to add a sense of realism and believability. Christopher Nolan cited Star Wars as an influence when making the 2010 blockbuster film, Inception.

Some critics have blamed Star Wars, as well as Jaws, for ruining Hollywood by shifting its focus from "sophisticated" films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall to films about spectacle and juvenile fantasy. One such critic, Peter Biskind, complained, "When all was said and done, Lucas and Spielberg returned the 1970s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet of European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-1960s Golden Age of movies... They marched backward through the looking-glass." In an opposing view, Tom Shone wrote that through Star Wars and Jaws, Lucas and Spielberg "didn't betray cinema at all: they plugged it back into the grid, returning the medium to its roots as a carnival sideshow, a magic act, one big special effect", which was "a kind of rebirth".

Little Star Wars merchandise was available for several months after the film's debut, as only Kenner Products had accepted marketing director Charles Lippincott's licensing offers. Kenner responded to the sudden demand for toys by selling boxed vouchers in its "empty box" Christmas campaign. Television commercials told children and parents that vouchers within a "Star Wars Early Bird Certificate Package" could be redeemed for four action figures between February and June 1978. Jay West of the Los Angeles Times said that the boxes in the campaign "became the most coveted empty box[es] in the history of retail." In 2012, the Star Wars action figures were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

The novelization of the film was published in December 1976, six months before the film was released. The credited author was George Lucas, but the book was revealed to have been ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, who later wrote the first Star Wars expanded universe novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978). The book was first published as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker; later editions were titled simply Star Wars (1995) and, later, Star Wars: A New Hope (1997), to reflect the retitling of the film. Marketing director Charles Lippincott secured the deal with Del Rey Books to publish the novelization in November 1976. By February 1977, a half-million copies had been sold.

Marvel Comics also adapted the film as the first six issues of its licensed Star Wars comic book, with the first issue dated May 1977. Roy Thomas was the writer and Howard Chaykin was the artist of the adaptation. Like the novelization, it contained certain elements, such as the scene with Luke and Biggs, that appeared in the screenplay but not in the finished film. The series was so successful that, according to Jim Shooter, it "single-handedly saved Marvel". In 2013, Dark Horse Comics published a comic adaption of the original screenplay's plot.

Lucasfilm adapted Star Wars for a 24-page read-along children's book-and-record set released in 1979.

A radio drama adaptation of the film was written by Brian Daley, directed by John Madden, and produced for and broadcast on the American National Public Radio network in 1981. The adaptation received cooperation from George Lucas, who donated the rights to NPR. John Williams' music and Ben Burtt's sound design were retained for the show; Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) reprised their roles as well. The radio drama featured scenes not seen in the final cut of the film, such as Luke Skywalker's observation of the space battle above Tatooine through binoculars, a skyhopper race, and Darth Vader's interrogation of Princess Leia. In terms of Star Wars canon, the radio drama is given the highest designation (like the screenplay and novelization), G-canon.

Which Star Wars movie was filmed entirely in the studio?

Star Wars: Episode I
Star Wars: Episode II
Star Wars: Episode III
Star Wars: Episode IV

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General-Star Wars

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