Star Wars (1977 Movies)
Director:- George Lucas
Producer:- Gary Kurtz
Written by:- George Lucas
Music by:- John Williams
- May 25, 1977
Country:- United States
Budget:- $11 Million
Box office:- $775.4 Million
The galaxy is in the midst of a civil war. Spies for the Rebel Alliance have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire‘s Death Star, a heavily armed space station capable of destroying an entire planet. Rebel leader Princess Leia has the plans, but her ship is captured by Imperial forces under the command of the evil Darth Vader. Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory of an astromech droid, R2-D2, along with a holographic recording. R2-D2 flees to the surface of the desert planet Tatooine with C-3PO, a protocol droid.
The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While cleaning R2-D2, Luke accidentally triggers part of Leia’s message, in which she requests help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. The next morning, Luke finds R2-D2 searching for Obi-Wan, and meets Ben Kenobi, an old hermit who lives in the hills and reveals himself to be Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan tells Luke of his days as one of the Jedi Knights, former Galactic Republic peacekeepers with supernatural powers derived from an energy called The Force, who were all but wiped out by the Empire. Contrary to his uncle’s statements, Luke learns that his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight. Obi-Wan tells Luke that Vader was his former pupil who turned to the dark side of the Force and killed Luke’s father. Obi-Wan then presents to Luke his father’s weapon – a lightsaber.
Obi-Wan views Leia’s complete message, in which she begs him to take the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan and give them to her father for analysis. Obi-Wan invites Luke to accompany him to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force. Luke declines, but changes his mind after discovering that Imperial stormtroopers searching for C-3PO and R2-D2 have destroyed his home and killed his aunt and uncle. Obi-Wan and Luke hire smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee first mate Chewbacca to transport them to Alderaan on Han’s ship, the Millennium Falcon.
Upon the Falcon‘s arrival at the location of Alderaan, the group discovers that the planet has been destroyed by order of the Death Star’s commanding officer, Grand Moff Tarkin, as a show of power. The Falcon is captured by the Death Star’s tractor beam and brought into its hangar bay. While Obi-Wan goes to disable the tractor beam, Luke discovers that Leia is imprisoned aboard, and with the help of Han and Chewbacca, rescues her. After several escapes, the group makes its way back to the Falcon. Obi-Wan disables the tractor beam, and, on the way back to the Falcon, he engages in a lightsaber duel with Vader. Once he is sure the others can escape, Obi-Wan allows himself to be killed. The Falcon escapes from the Death Star, unknowingly carrying a tracking beacon, which the Empire follows to the Rebels’ hidden base on Yavin IV.
The Rebels analyze the Death Star’s plans and identify a vulnerable exhaust port that connects to the station’s main reactor. Luke joins the Rebel assault squadron, while Han collects his payment for the transport and intends to leave, despite Luke’s request that he stay and help. In the ensuing battle, the Rebels suffer heavy losses after several unsuccessful attack runs, leaving Luke as one of the few surviving pilots. Vader leads a squadron of TIE fighters and prepares to attack Luke’s X-wing fighter, but Han returns and fires at the Imperials, sending Vader spiraling away. Helped by guidance from Obi-Wan’s spirit, Luke uses the Force and successfully destroys the Death Star seconds before it can fire on the Rebel base. Back on Yavin IV, Leia awards Luke and Han with medals for their heroism.
- Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: a young man raised by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, who dreams of something more than his current life and learns the way of a Jedi.
- Lucas favored casting young actors who lacked long experience. To play Luke (then known as Luke Starkiller), Lucas sought actors who could project intelligence and integrity. While reading for the character, Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely, and he was selected instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in the Brian De Palma-directed Carrie (Lucas shared a joint casting session with De Palma, a longtime friend).
- Harrison Ford as Han Solo: a cynical smuggler hired by Obi-Wan and Luke to take them to Alderaan in his ship, the Millennium Falcon, co-piloted with Chewbacca.
- Lucas initially rejected casting Ford for the role, as he “wanted new faces”; Ford had previously worked with the director on American Graffiti. Instead, Lucas asked the actor 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, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Billy Dee Williams (who later played Lando Calrissian in the sequels), or Perry King (who later played Han Solo in the radio plays).
- Many young actresses in Hollywood auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Amy Irving, Terri Nunn (also a singer), Cindy Williams, Karen Allen, and Jodie Foster. Foster, for one, turned down the role because she was already under contract with Disney and working on two films at the time. Carrie Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds for the role.
- Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin: Governor of the Imperial Outland Regions and commander of the Death Star.
- Lucas originally had Cushing in mind for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Lucas believed that “his lean features” would be better employed in the role of Grand Moff Tarkin instead. Lucas commended Cushing’s performance, saying “[He] is a very good actor. Adored and idolized by young people and by people who go to see a certain kind of movie. I feel he will be fondly remembered for the next 350 years at least.” Cushing, commenting on his role, joked: “I’ve often wondered what a ‘Grand Moff’ was. It sounds like something that flew out of a cupboard.”
- Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi: an aging Jedi Master and former mentor of Darth Vader who introduces Luke to the Force.
- Lucas’s decision to cast “unknowns” was not taken favorably by his friend Francis Ford Coppola and the studio. Lucas needed an established actor to play the important Obi-Wan Kenobi character. Producer Gary Kurtz said, “The Alec Guinness role required a certain stability and gravitas as a character… which meant we needed a very, very strong character actor to play that part.” Before Guinness was cast, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (who starred in Akira Kurosawa‘s The Hidden Fortress) was considered for the role. According to Mifune’s daughter, Mika Kitagawa, her father turned down Lucas’ offers for Kenobi and Darth Vader because “he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai… At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride.” Guinness was one of the few cast members who believed that the film would be successful; he negotiated a deal for 2% of the one-fifth gross royalties paid to George Lucas, which made him quite wealthy in later life. He agreed to take the part of Kenobi on the condition that he would not have to do any publicity to promote the film. Lucas credited him with inspiring the cast and crew to work harder, saying that Guinness contributed significantly to the completion of the filming. Harrison Ford said, “It was, for me, fascinating to watch Alec Guinness. He was always prepared, always professional, always very kind to the other actors. He had a very clear head about how to serve the story.”
- Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO; he has said that he wanted the role after he saw a Ralph McQuarrie drawing of the character and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot’s face. Initially, Lucas did not intend to use Daniels’ voice for C-3PO. Thirty well-established voice actors read for the voice of the droid. According to Daniels, one of the major voice actors, believed by some sources to be Stan Freberg, recommended Daniels’s voice for the role.
- Kenny Baker as R2-D2: an astromech droid who is carrying the Death Star plans and a secret message for Obi-Wan from Princess Leia.
- While Lucas was filming in London, where additional casting took place, Baker, performing a musical comedy act with his acting partner Jack Purvis, learned that the film crew was looking for a small person to fit inside a robot suit and maneuver it; Baker, who was 3 feet 8 inches (1.12 m) tall, was cast immediately after meeting George Lucas. He said, “He saw me come in and said ‘He’ll do’ because I was the smallest guy they’d seen up until then.” He initially turned down the role three times, hesitant to appear in a film where his face would not be shown and hoping to continue the success of his comedy act, which had recently started to be televised. R2-D2’s recognizable beeps and squeaks were made by sound designer Ben Burtt and Lucas imitating “baby noises”, recording these voices as they were heard on an intercom, and creating the final mix using a synthesizer.
- Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: a 200-year-old Wookiee, Han Solo’s sidekick, and first mate of the Millennium Falcon.
- Mayhew learned of a casting call for Star Wars, which was filming in London, and decided to audition. The 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m) tall actor was immediately cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. He said, “I sat down on one of the sofas, waiting for George. Door opened, and George walked in with Gary behind him. So, naturally, what did I do? I’m raised in England. Soon as someone comes in through the door, I stand up. George goes ‘Hmm [looked up].’ Virtually turned to Gary, and said ‘I think we’ve found him.'” He was actually eligible for either of the two roles: Chewbacca or Darth Vader. He chose the former because he wanted to play a hero; British actor David Prowse took the other. Mayhew modeled his performance of Chewbacca after the mannerisms of animals he saw at public zoos.
- David Prowse as Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones): A Sith lord, second in command of the Galactic Empire, who hopes to destroy the Rebel Alliance.
- Lucas originally intended for Orson Welles to voice Vader (after dismissing using Prowse’s own voice due to his English West Country accent, leading to the rest of the cast nicknaming him “Darth Farmer”). After deciding that Welles’ voice would be too recognizable, he cast the lesser-known James Earl Jones instead.
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 Records also released The Story of Star Wars that same year, a narrated audio drama adaptation of the film utilizing some of its original music, dialogue, and sound effects. The American Film Institute‘s list of best film scores ranks the Star Wars soundtrack at number one.
The film was originally released in 1977 with the title “Star Wars“. The subtitles Episode IV and A New Hope were only added to the opening crawl in subsequent re-releases. Accounts differ as to when this designation was first added; some date the change at the theatrical re-release of April 10, 1981, while others place it much earlier at the re-release in July 1978. The retroactive addition of these subtitles was intended to bring the film into line with the introduction to its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1980 bearing the designation “Episode V”. It is uncertain if the introduction of an episodic naming convention was an indicator of Lucas’s original intent, or if this was simply a later redraft of the narrative. According to some accounts, Lucas has claimed that he was discouraged by Twentieth Century Fox from using an episode number on a new film because it would confuse audiences. Gary Kurtz has stated that he and Lucas had originally considered using an episode number for Star Wars to emulate the chapter numbering used in the 1936 Flash Gordon installments, but they were uncertain whether they should designate it Episode III, IV or V. However, some of Lucas’s early script drafts bear titles such as “The Adventures of the Starkiller (Episode One): The Star Wars” (1975) or “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as Taken from the Journal of the Whills: Saga One: Star Wars” (1976). The Revised Fourth Draft of the script dated January 1975 acquired the subtitle “Episode IV – A New Hope – from the Journal of the Whills” when published in the 1979 book The Art of Star Wars.
In 2010, George Lucas announced that all six previously released Star Wars films would be scanned and transferred to 3D, with a corresponding theatrical release. The Phantom Menace was the first of these films and saw its theatrical release in 2012. However, due to The Force Awakens, Lucas delayed the releases of the rest of the saga. While both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith 3D versions were screened at the 2013 and 2015 Star Wars Celebration, Lucas never released the original trilogy in 3D before Disney bought the franchise in December 2012.
Star Wars remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. The film earned $1,554,475 through its opening weekend ($6.14 million in 2016 dollars), building up to $7 million weekends as it entered wide release ($27.7 million in 2016 dollars). 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 ($869 million in 2016 dollars). Star Wars entered international release towards the end of the year, and in 1978 added the worldwide record to its domestic one, earning $410 million in total. Reissues in 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982 brought its cumulative gross in Canada and the U.S. to $323 million, and extended its global earnings to $530 million. 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. In total, the film has earned $775,398,007 worldwide (including $460,998,007 in North America alone). Adjusted for inflation, it has earned over $2.5 billion worldwide at 2011 prices, making it the most successful franchise film of all time. According to Guinness World Records, the film ranks as the third-highest-grossing film when adjusting for inflation; at the North American box office, it ranks second behind Gone with the Wind on the inflation-adjusted list.
In its May 30, 1977 issue, the film’s year of release, Time magazine named Star Wars the “Movie of the Year”. The publication claimed it was a “big early supporter” of the vision which would become Star Wars. In an article intended for the cover of the issue, Time‘s Gerald Clarke wrote that Star Wars is “a grand and glorious film that may well be the smash hit of 1977, and certainly is the best movie of the year so far. The result is a remarkable confection: a subliminal history of the movies, wrapped in a riveting tale of suspense and adventure, ornamented with some of the most ingenious special effects ever contrived for film.” Each of the subsequent films of the Star Wars saga has appeared on the magazine’s cover.
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-conceptgenre 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, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, 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”.