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the Star Wars Saga

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Darth Maul
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« Reply #45 on: July 22, 2007, 05:12:03 pm »



Directed by George Lucas
Produced by Gary Kurtz
George Lucas
(executive)
Written by George Lucas
Starring Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Peter Cushing
Alec Guinness
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Gilbert Taylor
Editing by Richard Chew
Paul Hirsch
Marcia Lucas
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) May 25, 1977 (USA)
December 27, 1977 (UK)
Running time 121 min. (original)
125 min. (Special Edition)
Country USA
Language English
Budget $11,000,000
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Darth Maul
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« Reply #46 on: July 22, 2007, 05:13:11 pm »

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, originally released as Star Wars, is a 1977 science fantasy film written and directed by George Lucas. It is among a handful of the most successful films of all time and is generally considered one of the most influential as well.

The film is set about 19 years after the formation of the Galactic Empire; construction has finished on the Death Star, a weapon capable of destroying a planet. After Princess Leia, a leader of the Rebel Alliance, receives the weapon's plans in the hope of finding a weakness, she is captured and taken to the Death Star. Meanwhile, a young farmer named Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, who has lived in seclusion for years on the desert planet of Tatooine. When Luke's home is burned and his aunt and uncle killed, Obi-Wan begins Luke's Jedi training as they attempt to rescue the Princess from the Empire.

Inspired by films like the Flash Gordon serials and the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, as well as such critical works as Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Lucas began work on Star Wars in 1974. Produced with a budget of US$11,000,000 and released on May 25, 1977, the film became one of the most successful of all time, earning $215 million in the United States and $337 million overseas during its original theatrical release, as well as winning several film awards, including 10 Academy Award nominations. It was re-released several times, sometimes with significant changes; the most notable versions were the 1997 Special Edition and the 2004 DVD, which were modified with CGI effects and recreated scenes.

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« Reply #47 on: July 22, 2007, 05:14:34 pm »



Darth Vader and his stormtroopers board the Rebel Corellian Corvette Tantive IV
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« Reply #48 on: July 22, 2007, 05:15:11 pm »

An opening crawl reveals that the galaxy is in a state of civil war. The Rebel Alliance has stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a space station capable of annihilating a planet. Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan has possession of the plans, and before she is captured by the Empire, she hides them, along with a holographic recording into a "droid" named R2-D2. The small droid escapes with his humanoid partner C-3PO to the surface of the desert planet Tatooine below. On Tatooine, the droids are captured by Jawas, who sell them to moisture farmer Owen Lars and his nephew, Luke Skywalker. While Luke cleans R2-D2, he accidentally triggers part of a holographic message, in which Princess Leia requests the help of "Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Later, R2-D2 escapes, causing Luke and C-3PO to go out after him. Along the way, they meet the "old wizard" Ben Kenobi, who reveals himself to be Obi-Wan. He takes them back to his hut and tells of his days as a Jedi Knight, and explains to Luke about a mysterious energy field called "the Force". He also tells Luke about his father, Anakin Skywalker, gives him his father's lightsaber, and tells him that Anakin had been "betrayed and murdered" by Obi-Wan's former pupil, Darth Vader. Obi-Wan then views Princess Leia's message, in which she begs him to take R2-D2 and the Death Star plans to Alderaan, where her father will be able to retrieve and analyze them. Obi-Wan asks Luke to accompany him to Alderaan and to learn the ways of the Force. After discovering that his home has been destroyed and his aunt and uncle killed by Imperial stormtroopers, Luke agrees to go with Obi-Wan to Alderaan, and to learn to become a Jedi like his father. At the seedy Mos Eisley Spaceport, the group finds a smuggler named Han Solo, who agrees to transport them on his ship, the Millennium Falcon. Attacked by stormtroopers as they board the ship, they make a hasty escape and prepare for a hyperspace leap to Alderaan.

Meanwhile, Leia has been imprisoned on the Death Star and has resisted interrogation. Grand Moff Tarkin, the Death Star's commanding officer, destroys her home planet of Alderaan as a means of demonstrating the power of the Empire's new weapon. The planet's destruction is felt by Obi-Wan aboard the Millennium Falcon while he is instructing Luke about the Force. Arriving at the coordinates for the planet, they are bombarded instead by rubble from the explosion. Following a TIE Fighter toward what appears to be a small moon, they are captured by the Death Star's tractor beam. Using hidden compartments to surprise Imperial stormtroopers and donning their armor as disguises, Han and Luke escape to a command room to wait while Obi-Wan attempts to disable the tractor beam. While they are there, R2-D2 discovers that Princess Leia is scheduled for termination. Han and Luke stage a rescue on the cell block, but are forced into a garbage chute when their escape route is cut off. Making their way back to the Millenium Falcon, their path is cleared by the spectacle of a lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and his former master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Warning the dark lord that he will become "more powerful than you can possibly imagine", the old Jedi allows himself to be struck down as the others escape toward a hidden rebel base. A beacon hidden aboard the ship allows the Empire to track their route.

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« Reply #49 on: July 22, 2007, 05:16:05 pm »



Darth Vader prepares to gun down a Rebel starfighter during the Trench Run

After landing on Yavin IV's moon, the Death Star plans are analyzed by the Rebel Alliance and a potential weakness is found, one which will require the use of single-man fighters to slip past the Death Star's formidable defenses. Luke joins the assault team while Han collects his reward for the Princess' rescue. The attack proceeds as planned, but suffers heavy losses without a successful torpedo hit on the small thermal exhaust port which would create a chain reaction. During Luke's run, Darth Vader engages the Rebels in ship-to-ship combat, but is sent flying out of control by the sudden re-appearance of the Millennium Falcon. Guided by the voice of Obi-Wan, Luke shuts off his targeting computer and "uses the Force" to fire the successful shot which destroys the Death Star seconds before it could attack the Rebel base. At a grand ceremony, Princess Leia awards medals to Luke and Han for their heroism in the battle.

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« Reply #50 on: July 22, 2007, 05:17:37 pm »

Production

During post-production on his previous film, American Graffiti, Lucas repeatedly discussed the concept of a "space opera" with producer Gary Kurtz.[1] In May 1973, Lucas had prepared a 14-page story outline for distribution among film studios. Because of its outer space setting, the story was viewed as science fiction, an unpopular genre at the box office. Lucas later proposed that terms like "space fantasy" or "science fantasy" better fit the story.[1] He brought the outline to Universal Studios and United Artists; both rejected the project. Lucas disliked the studio system because his previous two films, American Graffiti and THX 1138, had been re-edited without his consent.[2] Still, aware that studios were unavoidable, he pursued Alan Ladd, Jr., the head of 20th Century Fox. 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, [but] he did not invest in the movie."[1]

Lucas finished a draft of the screenplay in May 1974. As the draft developed, the characters evolved significantly. Early in development, Luke Skywalker's character changed from a 60-year-old general to a member of a family of dwarfs;[1][3] the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, was envisioned as a large, green-skinned monster with gills.[3] Chewbacca was inspired by Lucas' Alaskan malamute dog, Indiana, who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car.[3] The Force, a mysterious energy field, was initially conceived as the Kyber crystal, a "galactic holy grail."[4][1] The completed script was too long for one movie; however, Lucas refused to condense it. Instead, he expanded the first third of it into one movie and left the rest for two future films, effectively creating the original Star Wars trilogy.[5][1]

Lucas hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of certain scenes during screenwriting. When Lucas delivered his screenplay to the studio, he included several of McQuarrie's paintings.[6] 20th Century Fox approved a budget of $8,250,000; American Graffiti's positive reviews allowed Lucas 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
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« Reply #51 on: July 22, 2007, 05:19:15 pm »



A storyboard panel depicting Imperial stormtroopers searching for R2-D2 and C-3PO

In 1975, Lucas founded the 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 motion control photography, which creates the illusion of size by employing small models and slowly moving cameras. Model spaceships were constructed on the basis of drawings by Joe Johnston, input from Lucas, and paintings by McQuarrie. Lucas opted to abandon the traditional sleekness of science fiction by creating a "used universe" in which all devices, ships, and buildings looked aged and dirty.

When filming began on March 22, 1976 in the Tunisian desert for the scenes on the planet Tatooine,[10] the project faced several problems.[11] Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to a rare Tunisian rainstorm, malfunctioning props, and electronic breakdowns.[12] When actor Anthony Daniels wore the C-3PO outfit for the first time, the left leg piece shattered down through the plastic covering his left foot, stabbing him. After completing filming in Tunisia, production moved into the more controlled environment of Elstree Studios, near London.[12] However, significant problems, such as a crew that had little interest in the film, still arose.[1][12] Most of the crew considered the project a "children's film," rarely took their work seriously, and often found it unintentionally humorous.[13] Actor Kenny Baker later confessed that he thought the film would be a failure. Harrison Ford found the film "weird," in that there was a Princess with buns for hair and what he called a "giant in a monkey suit" named Chewbacca. Ford also found the dialogue difficult, saying "You can type this ****, George, but you sure can't say it."
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« Reply #52 on: July 22, 2007, 05:20:19 pm »



A traditional underground building in Matmâta, Tunisia, was used as a set for Luke's home on Tatooine
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« Reply #53 on: July 22, 2007, 05:21:01 pm »

Lucas clashed with Director of Photography Gilbert Taylor, whom producer Gary Kurtz called "old-school" and "crotchety."[1] Moreover, with a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the film himself. His camera suggestions were rejected by an offended Taylor, who felt that Lucas was over-stepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions. Lucas eventually became frustrated that the costumes, sets and other elements were not living up to his original vision of Star Wars. He 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."

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. After production fell two weeks behind schedule, Ladd told Lucas that he had to finish production within a week or he would be forced to shut down production. The crew split into three units, led by Lucas, Kurtz, and production supervisor Robert Watts, respectively. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.[1][12]

Star Wars was originally slated for release in Christmas 1976; however, delays pushed the film's release to summer 1977. Already anxious about meeting his deadline, Lucas was shocked when his editor's first cut of the film was a "complete disaster." After attempting to persuade the original editor to cut the film his way, Lucas replaced the editor 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 with Lucas' friend Martin Scorsese. Richard Chew found the film had an unenergetic pace; it had 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; whoever finished first moved on to the next.[1]

During production, 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.[1][12] Post-production was equally stressful due to increasing pressure from 20th Century Fox. Moreover, Mark Hamill's face was injured in a car accident, which made reshoots impossible.[12]

Meanwhile, ILM was struggling to achieve unprecedented special effects. The company had spent half of its budget on four shots that Lucas deemed unacceptable.[12] Moreover, theories surfaced that the workers at ILM lacked discipline, forcing Lucas to intervene frequently to ensure that they were on schedule.[1] 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.[1]

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." 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 tank implanted with a microphone.[15] Lucas never intended to use the voice of David Prowse, who portrayed Darth Vader in costume, because of Prowse's English West Country accent. He originally wanted Orson Welles to speak for Darth Vader. However, he felt that Welles' voice would be too recognizable, so he cast the lesser-known James Earl Jones.[16] Nor did Lucas intend to use Anthony Daniels' voice for C-3PO. Thirty well-established voice actors, such as Stan Freberg, read for the voice of the droid. According to Daniels, one of the major voice actors recommended Daniels' voice for the role.[1][3]

When Lucas screened an early cut of the film for his friends, among them directors Brian De Palma, John Milius and Steven Spielberg, their reactions were disappointing. Spielberg, who claimed to have been the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film,[1] 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, Alan Ladd, Jr. and the rest of 20th Century Fox loved the film; one of the executives, 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.[1] Although the delays increased the budget from $8 million to $11 million, the film was still the least expensive of the Star Wars saga.

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« Reply #54 on: July 22, 2007, 05:21:52 pm »

Releases

Charles Lippincott was hired by Lucas' production company, Lucasfilm Ltd., as marketing director for Star Wars. Because 20th Century Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing T-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Stan Lee, Roy Thomas and Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. Wary 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 Wednesday before Memorial Day: May 25, 1977. However, few theaters ordered the film to be shown. In response, 20th Century Fox demanded that theaters order Star Wars if they wanted an eagerly anticipated film based on a best-selling novel titled The Other Side of Midnight.[1]

The film became an instant success; within three weeks of the film's release, 20th Century Fox's stock price doubled to a record high. Before 1977, 20th Century Fox's greatest annual profits were $37,000,000; in 1977, the company earned $79,000,000. Although the film's cultural neutrality helped it to gain international success, Ladd became anxious during the premiere in Japan. After the screening, the audience was silent, leading Ladd, Jr. to fear that the film would be unsuccessful. He was later told that, in Japan, silence was the greatest honor to a film. Meanwhile, thousands attended a ceremony at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt.[1] Although Star Wars merchandise was available to enthusiastic children upon release, only Kenner Toys—who believed that the film would be unsuccessful—had accepted Lippincott's licensing offers. Kenner responded to the sudden demand for toys by selling boxed vouchers in its "empty box" Christmas campaign; these vouchers could be redeemed for the toys in March 1978.[1]

In 1978, at the height of the film's popularity, Smith-Hemion Productions approached Lucas with the idea of The Star Wars Holiday Special. The end result is often considered a failure; Lucas himself disowned it.[17]

The film was originally released as—and consequently often called—Star Wars, without Episode IV or the subtitle A New Hope. The 1980 sequel, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, featured the episode number and subtitle in the opening crawl. When the original film was re-released in 1981, Episode IV: A New Hope was added above the original opening crawl. Although Lucas claims that only six films were ever planned, representatives of Lucasfilm discussed plans for nine or 12 possible films in early interviews.[18] The film was re-released theatrically in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1997.

Special Edition

After ILM used computer generated effects for Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Lucas concluded that digital technology had caught up to his original vision for Star Wars.[1] As part of Star Wars' 20th anniversary celebration in 1997, A New Hope was digitally remastered and re-released to theatres, along with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, under the campaign title The Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. The Special Edition versions contained visual shots and scenes that were unachievable in the original release due to financial, technological, and time restraints; one such scene involved a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt.[1] Although most changes were minor or cosmetic in nature, some fans believe that Lucas degraded the movie with the additions.[19] For instance, a controversial change in which Greedo shoots first when confronting Han Solo has inspired T-shirts brandishing the phrase "Han Shot First."[20]


DVD release

A New Hope was released on DVD on September 21, 2004 in a box set with The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc of supplemental material. The movies were digitally restored and remastered, and more changes were made by George Lucas.

The DVD features a commentary track from George Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. The bonus disc contains the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, three featurettes, teaser and theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries, an exclusive preview of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a playable Xbox demo of the LucasArts game Star Wars Battlefront, and a "Making Of" documentary on the Episode III video game. The set was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc "limited edition" boxed set without the bonus disc.

The trilogy was re-released on separate two-disc Limited Edition DVD sets from September 12, 2006 to December 31, 2006; the original versions of the films were added as bonus material. Controversy surrounded the release because the unaltered versions were from the 1993 non-anamorphic Laserdisc masters, and were not retransferred with modern video standards.


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« Reply #55 on: July 22, 2007, 05:23:47 pm »



The parting shot of the film, showing most of the major characters. From left to right: C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew)
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« Reply #56 on: July 22, 2007, 05:24:32 pm »

Reaction

Star Wars debuted on May 25, 1977 in 32 theaters, and proceeded to break house records, effectively becoming one of the first blockbuster films.[22] It remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. Some of the cast and crew noted lines of people stretching around theaters as they drove by. Even technical crew members, such as model makers, were asked for autographs, and cast members became instant household names.[1] The film's original total U.S. gross came to $307,263,857, and it earned $6,806,951 during its first weekend in wide release. Lucas claimed that he had spent most of the release day in a sound studio in Los Angeles. When he went out for lunch with his then-wife Marcia, they encountered a long queue of people along the sidewalks leading to Mann's Chinese Theatre, waiting to see Star Wars.[12] The film became the highest-grossing film of 1977 and the highest-grossing film of all time until E.T. The Extraterrestrial broke that record in 1982. (With subsequent rereleases, Star Wars reclaimed the title, but lost it again to James Cameron's 1997 blockbuster Titanic.) The film earned $797,900,000 worldwide, making it the first film to reach the $300 million mark.[23] Adjusted for inflation it is the second highest grossing movie of all time in the United States, behind Gone with the Wind.[24]

In a 1977 review, Roger Ebert 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."[25] Vincent Canby 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."[26] Pauline Kael of The New Yorker criticized the film, stating that "there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism," and that it had no "emotional grip."[27] Jonathon Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader stated, "None of these characters has any depth, and they're all treated like the fanciful props and settings!"[28] Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix said "Star Wars is a junkyard of cinematic gimcracks not unlike the Jawas' heap of purloined, discarded, barely functioning droids."[29] Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic also responded negatively, noting, "His work here seems less inventive than in THX 1138."[30] According to rottentomatoes.com, of the 54 critical reviews of the film provided on that site, 51 responded favorably (95% of the reviewers), stating in consensus that "the action and special effects are first rate."[30]

In 1989, the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress selected the film as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" film.[31] In 2006, Lucas' original screenplay was selected by the Writers Guild of America as the 68th greatest of all time.[32] The American Film Institute (or AFI) listed it 15th on a list of the top 100 films of the 20th century;[33] in the UK, a poll created by Channel Four named A New Hope (together with its successor, The Empire Strikes Back) the greatest film of all time.[34] The American Film Institute has named Star Wars and specific elements of it to several of its "top 100 lists" of American cinema, compiled as a part of the Institute's 100th anniversary celebration. These include the 27th most thrilling American film of all time;[35] the thirty-ninth most inspirational American film of all-time;[36] Han Solo as the fourteenth greatest American film hero of all time and Obi-Wan Kenobi thirty-seventh on the same list.[37] The often repeated line "May the Force be with you" was ranked as the 8th greatest quote in American film history.[38] John Williams' score was ranked as the greatest American film score of all time.[39]

Star Wars won several awards at the 1978 Academy Awards, including Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, which went to John Barry, Norman Reynolds, Leslie Dilley and Roger Christian. Best Costume Design was awarded to John Mollo; Best Film Editing went to Paul Hirsch, Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew; John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune and Robert Blalack all received awards for Best Effects, Visual Effects. John Williams was awarded his third Oscar for Best Music, Original Score; the Best Sound went to Don MacDougall, Ray West, Bob Minkler and Derek Ball; and a Special Achievement for sound effects went to Ben Burtt. Additional nominations included Alec Guinness for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, George Lucas for Best Screenplay and Best Director, although it did not win Best Picture, which went to Annie hall.[40] At the Golden Globe awards, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness), and Best Score. It only won the award for Best Score.[40] It received six BAFTA nominations: Best Film, Best Editing, Best Costume, Best Production/Art Design, Best Sound, and Best Score; the film won in the latter two categories.[40] John Williams' soundtrack album won the Grammy award for Best Album of an original score for a motion picture or television program,[40] and the film was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.[40] In 1997, the MTV Movie Awards awarded Chewbacca the lifetime achievement award for his work in the Star Wars trilogy
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« Reply #57 on: July 22, 2007, 05:25:21 pm »

Cinematic influence

Star Wars has influenced many films and filmmakers since its release.[41] It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures. The film was one of the first films to link genres—such as space opera and soap opera—together to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon.[41][8] Finally, it shifted the film industry's focus away from personal filmmaking of the 1970s and towards big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.[41][1]

Actor Michael Shanks cited Star Wars as an influence on many battle scenes from the television series Stargate SG-1 namely "Fallen."[42] Joss Whedon's Serenity features several references: the spaceship Serenity, influenced by the Millennium Falcon; a "used future" where vehicles and culture are obviously dated; and clothing for its own evil empire.[43] After seeing Star Wars, director James Cameron quit his job as a truck driver to enter the film industry. Other filmmakers who have said to have been influenced by Star Wars include Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Kevin Smith and John Singleton.[8] Scott, like Whedon, was influenced by the "used future" and extended the concept for his science fiction horror film Alien. Jackson used the concept for his production of the Lord of the Rings trilogy to add a sense of realism and believability.[8]

Critics of Lucas have blamed Star Wars for "ruining" Hollywood by shifting its focus from "sophisticated" and "relevant" films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall to films about "spectacle" and "juvenile fantasy."[44] Peter Biskind complained for the same reason: "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."
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« Reply #58 on: July 22, 2007, 05:26:08 pm »

Lucas shared a joint casting session with long-time friend Brian De Palma, who was casting his own film Carrie. As a result, Carrie Fisher and Sissy Spacek auditioned for both films in each other's respective roles.[46] Lucas favored casting young actors without long-time experience. While reading for Luke Skywalker (then known as "Luke Starkiller"), Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely and was selected instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in Carrie.[1][47][48] Lucas initially rejected the idea of using Harrison Ford, as he had previously worked with him on American Graffiti, and instead asked Ford to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors and explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and cast him instead of Kurt Russell, Burt Reynolds, Nick Nolte,[48] Christopher Walken, Billy Dee Williams and Perry King.[46][49][1] Virtually every young actress in Hollywood auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Terri Nunn,[50] Jodie Foster[46] and Cindy Williams.[1] Carrie Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds of weight for the role. Aware that the studio disagreed with his refusal to cast big-name stars, Lucas signed veteran stage and screen actor Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi.[1]

Additional casting took place in London, England, where Mayhew was cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. Lucas immediately turned to Gary Kurtz, and requested that Mayhew be cast.[51] Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO after he saw a McQuarrie drawing of the character; struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face, he instantly wanted to help to bring the character to life
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« Reply #59 on: July 22, 2007, 05:27:05 pm »

Cinematic and literary allusions

According to Lucas, the film was inspired by numerous sources, such as Beowulf and King Arthur for the origins of myth and world religions.[1] Lucas originally wanted to rely heavily on 1930s Flash Gordon film serials; however, Lucas resorted to Akira Kurosawa's film The Hidden Fortress and Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces because of copyright issues with Flash Gordon.[53][54] Star Wars features several parallels to Flash Gordon, such as the conflict between Rebels and Imperial Forces, the "wipes" between scenes, and the famous "opening crawl" that begins each film. A concept borrowed from Flash Gordon—a fusion of futuristic technology and traditional magic—was originally developed by one of the founders of science fiction, H.G. Wells. Wells believed the Industrial Revolution had quietly destroyed the idea that fairy-tale magic might be real. Thus, he found that plausibility was required to allow myth to work properly, and substituted elements of the Industrial Era: time machines instead of magic carpets, Martians instead of dragons, and scientists instead of wizards. Wells called his new genre "scientific fantasia."[55][56][57]

Star Wars was influenced by the 1958 Kurosawa film The Hidden Fortress; for instance, the two bickering peasants evolved into C-3PO and R2-D2, and a Japanese family crest seen in the film is similar to the Imperial Crest. Star Wars borrows heavily from another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo. In both films, several men threaten the hero, bragging how wanted they are by authorities. The situation ends with an arm being cut off by a blade. Mifune is offered "twenty-five ryo now, twenty-five when you complete the mission." whereas Han Solo is offered "Two thousand now, plus fifteen when we reach Alderaan." Lucas' affection for Kurosawa may have influenced his decision to visit Japan in the early 1970s, where he borrowed the name "Jedi" from jidaigeki (which in English means "period dramas," and refers to films typically featuring samurai).[58][57][59]

Lucas also drew inspiration from J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy series The Lord of the Rings. Obi-Wan Kenobi is similar to the Wizard Gandalf, albeit in differing fashions, and Darth Vader resembles the Witch-king of Angmar in that both are the chief servants of a higher evil power and dress in black. Luke watches the duel of Obi-Wan and Vader from across a chasm as Frodo witnessed the duel between Gandalf and the Balrog; both feature their respective blue and red melee weapons. There are numerous other similarities between the two works.[60]

Tatooine is similar to Arrakis from Frank Herbert's book Dune. Arrakis is the only known source of a longevity drug called the Spice Melange; Han Solo is a spice smuggler who has been through the spice mines of Kessel. Lucas' original concept of the film dealt heavily with the transport of spice, although the nature of the material remained unexplored. In the conversation at Obi-Wan Kenobi's home between Obi-Wan and Luke, Luke expresses a belief that his father was a navigator on a spice freighter. Other similarities include those between Princess Leia and Princess Alia (pronounced [ə.ˈliː.ə]), and between Jedi mind tricks and "The Voice," a controlling ability used by Bene Gesserit. In passing, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are "Moisture Farmers"; in Dune, Dew Collectors are used by Fremen to "provide a small but reliable source of water."[61][62] Frank Herbert says that, during production of the Dune film, he calculated the odds of points of similarity between Star Wars and Dune being a coincidence. The results came out as greater than the number of stars in the galaxy-to-one against.[63]

The Death Star assault scene was modeled after the 1950s movie The Dam Busters, in which Royal Air Force Lancaster bombers fly along heavily defended reservoirs and aim "bouncing bombs" at their man-made dams to cripple the heavy industry of the Ruhr. Some of the dialogue in The Dam Busters is repeated in the A New Hope climax; Gilbert Taylor also filmed the special effects sequences in The Dam Busters.[64][59] In addition, the sequence was partially inspired by the climax of the film 633 Squadron directed by Walter Grauman.[65]

The opening shot of Star Wars, in which a detailed spaceship fills the screen overhead, is a nod to the scene introducing the interplanetary spacecraft Discovery One in Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier big-budget science fiction film influenced the look of A New Hope in many other ways, including the use of EVA pods, hexagonal corridors, and primitive computer graphics. The Death Star has a docking bay reminiscent of the one on the orbiting space station in 2001.[66] The film also draws on The Wizard of Oz: similarities exist between Jawas and Munchkins, the main characters disguise themselves as enemy soldiers, and Obi-Wan dies, leaving only his empty robe in the same fashion as the Wicked Witch of the West.[67][68] Although golden and male, C-3PO is inspired by the robot Maria from Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis. His whirring sounds were speculated to be inspired by the clanking noises of the Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz.
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