It’s hard to imagine sometimes that the very first Star Wars film – what’s now known as “Episode 4: A New Hope” – in the Star Wars series was released in 1977, nearly 40 years ago. I was at the opening night in London.
Before that, though, I’d read the book, the novel written by George Lucas according to the book’s title page, that became the movie. In fact, the paperback copy I read (and still have – see some pics of it in the gallery on this page) is described as a film tie-in and contains some 16 pages of colour photos from the film itself.
In the intervening years, I went to the cinema and saw every subsequent episode. I acquired VHS cassettes of the original trilogy, then DVDs; then DVDs of the prequels; then Blu-Rays of everything. Twice. I’m clearly a dream for the merchandising and marketing folk at 20th-Century Fox. And obviously a huge fan of the stories.
And so we come to 2015 and the highly-anticipated release of a new chapter in the ongoing story that opens worldwide on Friday December 18. If the enormous quantity of reporting, commentary and opinions you see everywhere online are anything to go by, “Episode 7: The Force Awakens” is set to be spectacular and a worthy continuation of the Star Wars saga.
Whenever the original trilogy gets broadcast again on TV, or I pull out one of the Blu-rays and watch one again, I often think of the story as told in the novel I read. The simplicity of it, the innocence almost, that makes the story so universal, so compelling. And it’s a story that’s been told in many guises in different cultures over the ages, as the blurb on the back of the paperback describes it:
Luke Skywalker Challenged the Stormtroopers of a Distant Galaxy on a Daring Mission – Where a Force of Life Became the Power Of Death!
Farm chores sure could be dull, and Luke Skywalker was bored beyond belief. He yearned for adventures out among the stars – adventures that would take him beyond the furthest galaxies to distant and alien worlds.
But Luke got more than he bargained for when he intercepted a cryptic message from a beautiful princess held captive by a dark and powerful warlord. Luke didn’t know who she was, but he knew he had to save her – and soon, because time was running out.
Armed only with courage and with the light sabre that had been his father’s, Luke was catapulted into the middle of the most savage space-war ever…and he was headed straight for a desperate encounter on the enemy battle station known as the Death Star!
The Greatest SF Movie Ever from 20th Century Fox
I can see clearly how this story captured imaginations worldwide. And it’s definitely a description worthy of a film that rejuvenated the space opera genre.
Whether “The Force Awakens” will contain and continue the essence of Luke Skywalker’s story remains to be seen. But I am pretty sure it will be a heck of a movie experience – the trailers and TV spots are quite awesome (be sure to watch full screen!).
Plus, Disney undoubtedly will have ensured all that needed to happen during production did, given they spent over $4 billion acquiring Lucasfilm and all rights to the Star Wars franchise in 2012. Quite a lot at stake here.
With less than a month to go before release, now’s a really great time to watch the original trilogy (and the prequels if you feel like it) before you go and see the new one. Remind yourself of the pause point from the beginning in 1977. There are good ways to do that.
Nearly 40 years on from the original Star Wars, the moviemakers called upon a veritable arsenal of experience, talent and incredible special effects to tell a new chapter in a continuing story that awes and amazes. And epic, majestic music by John Williams. Can’t wait!