Star Wars: Original TrilogyThe "Original Trilogy" is comprised of the three original releases of the Star Wars films, known to fans as Episode IV (A New Hope), Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back), and Episode VI (The Return of the Jedi). This section of the website will also have news and information on the "Special Edition" versions of the original film and their availability in consumer formats for home viewing.
The Appeal of Star Wars
Why all the hoopla over a movie?
Many pundits have attributed the success of Star Wars to the fact that it is "good, pure, fun escapism, offering the viewer a two-hour plus vacation from the strains and troubles of his or her everyday problems". While everyone's Star Wars experience will be different, and every fan will love to move to a different extent and for different reasons, the purely "escapism" explanation seems to be a bit thin, at least for me. There are plenty of other fun movies and events offering "escapism" from the rat race, but the rare few of these generates the kind of devotion and expectation that the Star Wars films have achieved. While I believe that there certainly is an "escapism" element to any great Science Fiction, Fantasy, or even any regular dramatic entertainment form in general, and to the Star Wars phenomenon in particular, it is the escapism element that merely serves to transport us to an emotional place where our minds are open, our souls are cleansed, and our innocence is revealed so that the art's creator can have a clean palette on which to present his emotional colors. I would imagine that George Lucas knew that fact at a high level... hence his setting of the films "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." For those moviegoers who have already had an affinity for the types of images, stories and characters as are displayed in Star Wars, the overall effect of all this light and sound played upon a large screen, from the opening music and imagery to the final, heroic developments, is to transport the viewer into that completely innocent state, giving Mr. Lucas a clear straight shot deeply into our hearts and souls, exposing purely the great emotion and drama and truth contained in his "simple story of good vs. evil." Star Wars is about fictional characters in a fantasy universe, but it is also about each and every one of us and the choice of lives we lead. We are all Luke Skywalker, whether we realize it or not. And on May 19th, I believe, we will realize that we are also all Darth Vader.
The appeal of Star Wars for me has always been the conflict and turmoil suffered and overcome by it's characters. At it's heart, the story of a boy forced to make the tough decisions and come to terms with his place within the grand scheme of things... and more importantly, to face his fears and choose what his destiny is to be in the face of what he believes to be right and wrong, black and white, good and evil. During the course of our lives, we all have choices to make, some small, some life changing; and it is how we make these choices and deal with their results and consequences that makes the human experience an involving and exciting process. Star Wars, in true mythological fashion, presents these ideas in a deeply emotional and heartfelt way. The goal of most dramatic entertainment, it might be argued, is to touch and move and change the impressions of the viewer in some subtle way. Where Star Wars succeeds, for those fans who are tapped into the imagery and ideas presented, these changes are profound.
Of course, propelling this story along is one helluva great villain (with a great wardrobe)... and by the end of the original trilogy, our understanding of this villain is turned completely topsy turvy, giving us great insight into to possibilities and dangers inherent in the human quest for spiritual fulfillment.
Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi followed the rise of our hero Luke Skywalker... finding his way along a dangerous path and surviving the deep temptation of dark bliss as represented by Darth Vader. The story was told in such a way (dramatically and visually) as to bring the audience along on every step of Luke's emotional and rough journey. By the end of the series, Darth Vader has become more than just a plot-driving an evil villain, and at the end we learned that Vader himself was once on this very same path, but fell victim to its consuming ways, becoming only a deformed shell of his human self in the process.
Now we get to go back and explore the path that young Anakin Skywalker followed, how it is reflected by the one that his offspring was destined to face, and why he singularly and spectacularly failed to live up to the expectations of those who had placed their hopes in him. The Star Wars saga will be transformed into an epic story embracing the rise, fall, and redemption of one man who held the fate of a galaxy in his hands. Just the way our world was turned upside down by the revelations presented in Empire, I anticipate that this is about to happen again with the release of Phantom Menace and the episodes to follow. And although I knew the basics of the storyline for quite some time (pretty apparent to most students of mythology, apparently); I haven't truly held anything other than the generalized great anticipation of a typical Star Wars fan with the carrot of a new film dangled in front of him until the release of the two recent trailers for the film. Only after did the full wave of overwhelming excitement and nausea hit me upon contemplating exactly the types of deep revelations might be in store with the coming of these new films. I expect that the Star Wars universe is about to change me. Again.
Star Wars on Home Video
While you can now enjoy the Star Wars Special Edition series at home, in a version that has been remastered and released on VHS and on a THX certified laserdisc set with Dolby Digital sound, it appears that we will have a long wait before any of the Star Wars series appears in the new high quality DVD format. Although the new format has gathered great acceptance among consumers, and Twentieth Century-Fox has recently joined the rest of the major studios in releasing films on the DVD format, Star Wars is not yet available in this great high-quality format, though it is one of the most requested DVD issues since the format debuted.. Rumors are rampant, although it currently appears, according to comments made by George Lucas and other Lucasfilm staff, that the new or original movies will not be released on DVD until after the final episode of the first trilogy (i.e. "Episode III") is complete. At that time, the entire series is likely to be issued all at once on DVD, which will occur sometime in the year 2006! Yikes! Apparently, George wants to take the time to ensure that the DVD release is flawless, and that the DVD technology is mature enough to support the highest quality and featureset possible. Rumor has it that when the series is finally released, there will be additional changes to the original trilogy, reflecting George's ultimate vision for the movie, including changes that he was unable to accomplish for the "Special Addition" re-release... including the possibility of digitizing the entire three films to take advantage to take advantage of the new editing and special effects technology available to him during the creation of Episode I. Not much is know about what he specifically has in mind, but in response to complaints from Star Wars and DVD fans everywhere concerning the long wait, a source at Lucasfilm said only: "When you see the final package on DVD, you will realize that it was worth the wait."
For information, studio news, and rumors about the DVD format and upcoming releases (including the latest Star Wars gossip!) visit The Digital Bits homepage at www.thedigitalbits.com.
The video and laserdisc release of the Special Edition movies were accompanied by a special re-release of the classic Star Wars spoof "Hardware Wars"! A short comedy film that was originally shown as a trailer before feature films, this clever short contains all of your favorite Star Wars characters (almost) in a high tech, special effects laden extravaganza. The re-release has been updated with new scenes and the addition of updated, computer generated graphics to commemorate the changes made to the original movies in the Special Editions.
Star Wars Fan Club
The Official Star Wars Fan Club is now being run by Paizo Publishing.
Members get 8 issues of The Star Wars Insider, full of interviews, art, and information about Star Wars and other Lucasfilm projects; 4 issues of Bantha Tracks, a special insert inspired by the original 1970's era fan newsletter; and a membership kit that includes items such as card, posters, a figurine, and other exclusive collectible memorabilia.
Star Wars Links
There's plenty of other Star Wars related info available on the web. You may also be interested in the official site for Lucas's THX theater sound quality program at www.thx.com, which explains the program and lists THX authorized products. You can even order THX branded merchandise!
For a really unique fan created animated version of the original Star Wars, visit Simon Jansen's "Asciimation" site at www.asciimation.co.nz. This unusual creation has been a highlight of my web finds, delighting everyone who has paid it a visit. Although as yet incomplete, the incredible effort and artistry that Simon has put into his creation is extremely enjoyable.
When you finally get bored surfing the web, try the official Jar-Jargonizer website at www.hit-n-run.com/jarjar.html. Type in a URL, and the Jar-Jargonizer will translate your favorite pages into the officially spoken dialect of the Gungun people.
If you are an adult and you just can't get enough Darth Maul, visit Siubhan's Sith Academy website at www.siubhan.com/sithacademy. Here you will find fan written stories of covering many aspects of the dark apprentice's early days of training, from learning to drive a car and getting his first pet, to his stint on jury duty and his first encounter with the Tele-Tubbies. Along the way, he finds lots of opportunities to put that twit Obi Wan in his place.
Finally, don't forget The Emperor's Star Wars Message Board at http://www.starwarsboard.com/, to keep in touch with a core group of dedicated and enthusiastic Star Wars fans. Originally formed as an aid for "official" communication of news and details concerning the various "Line Up" events for the release of Episode I, the board has grown to become one of the friendliest true "communities" on the internet, full of intense discussion and speculation as to the deeper meaning to be found in Star Wars, as well as friendly chit chat, gossip, and deeply forged friendships that begin with a common interest but grow to be much, much more.
All pages, images and info © Copyright 1997 - 2009 David W Creighton.
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