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Star Wars

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Star Wars

Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill
Director: George Lucas
Rated: PG
RunTime: 124 Minutes
Release Date: May 1977
Genres: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action, Classic

*Also starring: Peter Mayhew, Denis Lawson, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, David Prowse, Anthony Daniels

Review by Walter Frith
4 stars out of 4

It would be ludicrous to tell the world anything about the plot of 'Star Wars'. The 1977 film which won six Academy Awards, the most of any film that year (Sound, Film Editing, Art Direction/Set Decoration, Costume Design, Original Score, and Special Visual Effects) has returned and Special Edition refers not only to its restoration but also its enhancement. What beat it out for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay? 'Annie Hall', Woody Allen for 'Annie Hall', and Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman for 'Annie Hall'. Alec Guinness (who turned down the role of Obi-Won Kenobi several times before Lucas convinced him to take it) was edged out for Best Supporting Actor by Jason Robards for 'Julia'. It actually is the recipient of seven Oscars as a special achievement award for Sound Effects was given to Benjamin Burtt, Jr. for the creation of the alien, creature and robot voices but this was a non-competitive category. George Lucas and 20th Century Fox have invested millions (most reports indicate $10-15 million) to re-mix the original mono soundtrack which originally appeared in the credits in 1977 as D OLBY SYSTEM - making movies sound better for stereo and digital sound at that but the analog mix can still be differentiated from today's technology. Dolby Stereo movies actually hit screens in 1978 with 'Superman' and 'The Deer Hunter' being two classics with that new technology and 'The Deer Hunter' won the Oscar for sound that year. The 'Star Wars' negative has also been cleaned up (although the print that I viewed had some colour contrast problems). It isn't quite twenty years since 'Star Wars' hit the big screen. It actually debuted in May of 1977 but they are doing the right thing by re-releasing it now because from May of 1997 right through to the fall, we will be bombarded with multi-blockbuster hits such as the fourth 'Batman' movie and Steven Spielberg's sequel to 'Jurassic Park'. 'The Empire Strikes Back' is due for re-release on February 21st and 'Return of the Jedi' finishes off the space western trilogy with re-release on March 7th. There is approximately four and a half minutes of new footage included this time in 'Star Wars' with a conversation between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Jabba the Hut who looks smaller than he appeared in 'Return of the Jedi' and since it is a computer enhanced Jabba this time, he moves much more quickly than 'Jedi's' Jabba who was slower because he was a puppet. Actually, a super puppet :-) The other additional scene has Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) talking to one of his star fighter buddies before the climax occurs which is the attack on the Death Star. So much for the additions. As for the enhancements, there are scenes from the first movie that have background additions such as flying objects, live action creatures and new laser effects from the weapon known as the 'blaster'. Purists have complained that Lucas should never have tampered with the original but as someone who has seen the film over 50 times, I had no problem with it and I think they've done a good job to keep the film above date and it does stand up remarkably well twenty years after the fact. Endless imitations followed 'Star Wars' and most of them flopped ('Battlestar Galactica', 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century' and 'Flash Gordon') but 'Star Wars' was a revolutionary contribution to society's pop culture and influenced other outer space creations such as the return of the 'Star Trek' series which went from the small screen to the big one, the invention of the 'Alien' series, 'E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial', and no doubt today's 'The X-Files' which is arguably the best program on television for its combination of Earthly crime, outer space connection and paranormal activity. 'Star Wars: Special Edition' is a grand opportunity for everyone to enjoy it all over again and for a new generation to experience a wonder which will remain just as strong in 2077 as it does today.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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