(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing trailer clips and screenshots from Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope)
Doug (vo): It's arguably the most popular film of several past generations: Star Wars. What can you say about a franchise as huge as this?
(A clip from the trailer for Return of the Jedi, showing the Ewoks attacking the Imperial Stormtroopers, is shown. Posters for the Ewoks television series and the TV movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure are shown next)
Doug (vo): Well, I can say I was introduced to it by the Ewoks. Yep. The Ewoks cartoon is what got me into watching these movies. Actually, even that's not even true. The Ewoks cartoon got me into watching the Ewoks movies that went to TV, then that got me into watching the actual movies.
(Back to clips and stills of A New Hope)
Doug (vo): The reason I bring this up is that I didn't really have much hype for it. Nobody said, "This is a cinematic masterpiece! It's one of the greatest movies ever made! It's phenomenal!" Granted, I did see images from it all over the place, but, for the most part, I discovered it myself. And like a lot of people, I not only greatly enjoyed it, but found great value in just how many levels it entertained on. Kids could watch it, adults could watch it. You could tune in for the action or read into the symbols, admire how new it is, but also cheerfully paying homage to, laugh and cheer, while also analyzing what a very detailed mythos it is.
Doug (vo): The story, as I'm assuming, most of you know, is about an evil Empire that's taking over the galaxy and wants to finish off the last of the Rebellion. A rebel spy named Princess Leia hides the plans to destroy their newest weapon called the Death Star, with two droids named R2-D2 and C-3PO. They come across a farmboy named Luke and a magical hermit named Obi-Wan. They realize they have to get these plans to the rebels, so they come across a pilot named Han Solo and Chewbacca. On their way, they get snagged by the evil Empire led by the sinister Darth Vader, and end up trying to rescue the Princess while also destroying the evil weapon before it destroys them.
Doug (vo): Okay, so what can I say about this film that everybody hasn't said before? Well, for one, it's not perfect, which I know doesn't sound shocking nowadays, but for a time before the Internet, that was something you almost never said. Everybody loved Star Wars and thought frame by frame was just the ultimate masterwork. But, as much as I love it, you gotta admit some of it's pretty corny. Actually, a lot of it, but in the best way. The acting, at times, can be a little hokey. Remember Princess Leia's weird British accent, or Luke's ear-gratingly whiny voice, or Solo's constant complaining? Yeah, watch it again and tell me you don't pick up on some of this. On top of that, some of the dialogue can be pretty lame, like when Leia tells the villain she should've noticed their foul stench when she was brought on board. Um...snap? There's also a billion plot threads that don't make sense, but I kind of let those go because, eh, it's fantasy, and that's never what the focus of fantasy really is. The magic doesn't lie into details, but in how many different ways it can speak to you, as well as several generations. And that's what Star Wars does really well.
(The characters are shown)
Doug (vo): As cliched and hokey some of these characters can be, we all relate to them. The wide-eyed Luke Skywalker, the cynical Han Solo, the wise master teacher, the villain with a past.
(Images and posters of other movies are shown)
Doug (vo): It really is clever in how much it takes from certain stories, from fairy tales to folklore to Kurosawa to Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey), and even Flash Gordon. In fact, a lot from Flash Gordon. Throw in the special effects of 2001 but mixed with the pacing of, say, a James Bond movie at the time, and you have something that was very unique.
(Back to showing footage and images of Star Wars)
Doug (vo): It explains all the areas you want to know about and keeps vague the areas you don't want to know about. The Force is a perfect example of that. It's the magic energy that flows through us all and can help people if they know how to use it. That can be anything. It can be religion, it can be Taoism, it can be the power of God, it can be the power of the mind. There's so many ways you can interpret it. The beauty of the film is in its simplicity. But with that said, there is a lot of detail in the techniques. The effects at the time were groundbreaking and done for not a very big budget. It just took a lot of time, energy and devotion, as well as pretty good actors interacting off another. For as simple as these archetypes are, and, yeah, sometimes as awkward as they can be, you still connect with them very quickly.
(The villain of the movie, Darth Vader, is shown)
Doug (vo): We don't know much about Darth Vader yet, but by God, James Earl Jones' voice gives him such a history. You can tell this is a guy who means business because he's been through a lot, and all of that just comes through the voice. And the seriousness that everybody takes this dialogue, that a lot of other people would kind of see as silly, adds a surprising credibility to this world, a world that creates an environment that both seems very simple but somehow complex at the same time. Sure, it's silly, but it's endearing, and puts a lot of thought in the areas that you want to put a lot of thought into, as a lot of good myths do. Is it one of the great myths? I don't know if I can go that far. I'd still say probably check out a lot of the traditional ones to get an idea of what great storytelling is. But for the film industry at the time, and even you could kind of argue today, you don't really see that many myths, at least, not new ones, and not one that captures so many of the important elements so creatively and with such fun.
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): Yeah, I know, I guess I'm saying what everybody says about this movie, but I can't help it. It's good. I really enjoyed it as a kid and I really enjoy it now. Okay, I can't quite join the group and say it's one of the greatest things I've ever seen, but it has definitely left an impact on me and for the right reasons. For me, it was a gateway to other myths, an introduction to simple storytelling that can lead to vast worlds, and I appreciate it greatly for that. I see its flaws, but the stuff that's good is just too clever to overlook. I don't know if it's the stroke of a creative artist or a jumbled mess that accidentally turned out something great, but it's a lot of fun to both watch and analyze. I can see why they show it at film classes and analyze it here and there. Is it overplayed? Sure. Do we praise it too much? Probably. But it's a great starting point for opening up to more great stories. So grab your lightsaber, get in your X-wing, and may the Force be with you.
(The Star Wars title is shown, before showing a scene of the Millennium Falcon taking off into hyperspace)