This essay is from Edward Harrison
Published on August 18, 2001
A Look At All Things Star Wars
A long time ago, in an imagination far, far away, a story was born that would change the movie industry forever. This, of course, was Star Wars. It all began with the release of 'A New Hope' back in the 70s. The story was captivating, the soundtrack masterfully created, and the visuals were unbelievable. George Lucas and his team of creative minds tried techniques that had never been tried before, and achieved something that makes most filmmakers either admire, or envy him. He created a movie that stands up to the movies of today in almost every respect. Most notably, visually.
Back in the 70s, computer graphics were non-existent, let alone realistic, and yet Lucas managed to create a movie that isn't laughably unrealistic to look at today. People were amazed by the spectacular space battles, laser beams, and glowing light sabers the characters fought with. Little did they realize though, that these light sabers were painstakingly drawn onto the rolls of film. With a lot effort and a definitive vision, he created a masterpiece. More accurately, he created a phenomenon.
Then came 'The Empire Strikes Back', with its legendary battle against the frame-by-frame-animated ATAT walkers, a city in the clouds, and a twist to the story. It was a film that definitely lived up to is predecessor, and kept the world in suspense waiting for the conclusion.
A few years later, the conclusion came, and it was everything it was hoped to be. Lightning fast chases through thick forest, more fire fights than you can poke a stick at, and an epic confrontation of good and evil made this instalment as much a masterpiece as the first two. George Lucas changed the movie industry forever with his mind-blowing trilogy, and that was before the technology was available to make it easier.
But that was then, this is now. How does the world of Star Wars fit into the world of today? When George Lucas created the original Star Wars movies, he created episodes four, five and six of his six-part epic, and he realized that with today's technology, he could re-master and improve the originals, and create the first three to complete the saga. So that's exactly what he decided to do.
Fans went into frenzy, setting up websites, spreading rumours and building up the hype. Every one of them held their breath, eagerly awaiting the movie that would begin the saga, 'Episode I: The Phantom Menace'.
When the movie was released recently, there was quite a bit of disappointment. Episode I was a good movie, and worthy of the Star Wars legacy. But far too much hype had been created, expectations were far too high, and no one would have ever thought that there could be a character as irritating as the infamous 'Jar-Jar Binks' in a Star Wars movie. This doesn't mean it wasn't a best seller, since it was, and there were still those exciting Star Wars moments, like the pod race and the two on one light-saber battle against Darth Maul, the phantom menace. Some fans were disappointed simply because they set their hopes too high.
Now there is a new problem. Just days before writing this article, George Lucas announced on the official Star Wars website that the title for Episode II will be "Attack of the Clones". This 'cheesy' name, as it is often called, has caused fan petitions, requesting that Lucas Film change it, to pop up all over the Internet. Lucas is obviously trying to capture the atmosphere of the original movies, and when you think about it, names like 'The Empire Strikes Back' are almost as 'cheesy'.
The fact of the matter is that die hard fans, who learn every last bit of terminology and history of the fictional universe, think they know Star Wars better than it's creator. They have their own pre-conceived ideas about how the new movies should be, rather than trusting Lucas to use his own creativity to finish what he started. Nevertheless, the fan community still grows, and the Star Wars flame is far from extinguished. The same fans that were disappointed by Episode I eagerly await its sequel, which has begun production in Australia.
The Star Wars universe stretches far beyond the boundaries of six movies, however, with thousands of 'expanded universe' comics, novels and, more recently, computer games. Star Wars games have been taking console and PC gamers by storm since the technology existed for them to be created, and every one of them is created either completely by, or with a lot of influence from, Lucas' own computer game company, Lucas Arts.
The company is possibly as well known for it's classic adventure games as it is for it's Star Wars games, but it's the Star Wars games that get all the publicity. This is somewhat unfortunate for the more recent games, such as the strategy games 'Rebellion' and 'Force Commander', which have been fairly good games, but have not lived up to the expectations of quality craving fans. Lucas Arts has been accused of "milking the franchise" by mass-producing mediocre games for economic purposes only. Once again, the fans are expecting a little too much out of every product, and quickly forget the games like 'X-Wing' and 'Tie-Fighter' that revolutionized space combat games.
Star Wars, with all its sequels, prequels, novels, comics and games, continues to capture the imaginations of millions each year. The phenomenon is far from over.