Star Swarm - The experts speak do you agree?-part 2
STAR WARS affects different people in different ways. Last issue we brought you the reactions of a number of outstanding individuals (out standing in long lines like the rest of you).
Now FM’s famous photographer of the mon-stars leads off with his opinion, followed by those of other important people in the film & fantasy industry, including STAR TREK’s popular Lt. Sulu, George. Takei.
Walt Daugherty calls STAR WARS “Flash Gordon with a doctorate,” and he should know whereof he speaks as he has probably seen 90% of all sci-fi, fantasy & gothic films made in the USA, having been active in the field for over 40 years. He is at present Curator of the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum.
R2-D2 + C-3PO + OBI-WAN KENOBI = BLOCK BUSTER FORMULA
If anyone had ever approached me with the idea that by combining fragments of Buck Rogers, Errol Flynn swashbucklers, Jack Armstrong, the Tin Man of Oz, Bug-Eyed Monsters, Laurel & Hardy, Wyatt Earp, World War II dogfights and the idea the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys, they could come up with a GREAT motion picture, I would have said that ihey were out of their minds. One man not only came up with this idea, but also with a 12-page outline convinced the powers-that-be at 20th Century-Fox that it was feasible and, practical, and then proceeded to do the impossible. George Lucas is that man. Then with two years put into the script and three years of production with its myriad problems, he hit the Silver Screen with a real blockbuster . . . STAR WARS.
Lucas brought together two established stars—Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing— along with several basically screen unknowns for his cast. Then by drawing from the talents of over 70 fine technicians and five scientific companies he produced a film of sci-fi-fantasy that boggles the mind and dazzles the eyes.
In two hours and two minutes full of sheer delight he literally and actually takes us out of this mundane world into the far reaches of space. What a relief to leave the everyday politics, inflation, murder, mayhem and the thousand and one shocks which “all flesh is heir to" and escape into a fantastic space opera. In three travelling paragraphs at the film's beginning Lucas sets the complex plot, then lets each character, human, monster and mechanical introduce themselves without taking a third of the film to develop and analyze their psychological backgrounds before getting into the story.
Most of his technical talent was drawn from graduates of the schools of “A Clockwork Orange" “2001”, “Silent Running”, Dr. Strangelove", “Thunderball”, and “King Kong”. Their talents combined with that of many other top film-magic personnel pulled together a fast moving and well-jelled piece of film wizardry. With over 300 cannibalized model kits, odd bits of sound from over 30 languages, spinning sabers which reflect black light with over 200 times normal brilliance, 363 special effects (“2001” is reported to have only about 35), and 900people with actors ranging from 3 feet 8 inches to 7 feet tall, a space spectacular evolves that tingles the senses as no other film has ever done.
Among the numerous innovations introduced by Lucas, I cite just two. First, instead of the environmental norm for most pictures of the future or outer space being represented as clean, neat and hospital-sterile, all of his scenes appear as if they were shot on location on several planets, with that everyday used-car appearance including dented robots, burned and seared space ships ... if you will, an ecologically run down universe. Secondly, where practically all futuristic or other-world films create only one alien or enemy monster or good guy, Lucas brings together a vast array of creatures, aliens, humans, androids and robots, and they all work (no pun intended).
It is a must-see film that I would rate in the ten best in sci-fi cinema history. A real escape from the tensions of everyday life without the usual “message” shoved down our throats.
One last thought: when you leave the theater at night and stare up into the star-studded sky into the outer reaches of space and shudder as you recall that Darth Vader is still there somewhere ready to attack again, fear not, for . . . and I say this FORCE-fully . . . “Obi-Wan Kenobi still lives!”
GEORGE TAKEI (rhymes with Okay) is a very serious gentleman with deep concerns for the present and the future. Whether on Earth or among the Stars, he has the welfare of humanity very much at heart—as you will discover when you read his reaction to STAR WARS:
STAR WARS is the most preposterously diverting galactic escape and at the same time the most hideously credible portent of the future yet.
Photo: GEORGE TAKEI (STAR TREK'S SULU)
While I thrilled to the exploits that reminded me of the heroics of Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, Burt Lancaster as the Crimson Pirate and Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, I was at the same time aghast at the phantasmagoric violence technology can place at our disposal. STAR WARS raised in my’ mind the question—do we indeed have a future?
It seems to me what George Lucas has done is to masterfully guide us on a journey through space and time and bring us back face to face with today's reality. STAR WARS is more than science fiction, I think it is science fictitious reality.
Just yesterday, June 7, 1977, I read that the United States will embark on the production of a neutron bomb—a bomb that will kill people on a gigantic scale but will not destroy buildings. A few days before that, I read that the Pentagon is fearful that the Soviets may have developed a warhead that could neutralize ours that have a capacity for that irrational concept overkill to the nth power. Already, it seems we have the technology to realize the awesome special effects simulations that we saw in the film.
The political scene of STAR WARS is that of government by force and power, of revolutions based on some unfathomable grievance, survival through a combination of cunning and luck and success by the harnessing of technology—a picture not very much at variance from the political headlines that we read today.
And most of all, look at the people; both the heroes in the film and the reaction of the audience. First, the heroes; Luke Skywalker is a pretty but easily led youth. Without any real philosophy to guide him, he easily falls under the influence of a mystical old man believed previously to be an eccentric hermit. Recognize a 1960's hippie or a 1970's moonie? Han Solo has a philosophy coupled with courage and skill. His philosophy is money. His proficiency comes for a price — the highest. Solo is a thoroughly avaricious mercenary. And the Princess, a decisive, strong, self-confident and chilly woman. The audience cheered when she wielded a gun. In all three, I missed qualities that could be called humane —love, kindness, yes, 1 missed sensuality. I also missed a sense of ideals and faith. In this regard the machines seemed more human. They demonstrated real affection for each other and an occasional poutiness. They exhibited a sense of fidelity and constancy. The machines were humanized and the humans conversely seemed mechanical.
.As a member of the audience, I was swept up by the sheer romantic escapism of it all. The deering-dos, the rope swing escape across the pit, the ray gun battles and especially the swash buckle with the ray swords. Great fun!
But I just hope that we weren't too intoxicated by the escapism to be able to focus on the recognizable. I hope the beauty of the effects didn't narcotize our sensitivity to violence. I hope the people see through the fantastically well done futuristic mirrors to the disquieting reflection of our own society. I hope they enjoy STAR WARS without being “purely entertained".
VERNE LANGDON is the resident Makeup Maestro of FM who has given us so many enlightening features in the past on the past-masters of filmic facial alteration.
He was the last man to make up Boris Karloff.
And was responsible—for which we are all eternally grateful—for persuading The King to transcribe the Decca album, An Evening with Boris Karloff & His Friends.
“Poe with Pipes” . . . “The Vampyre of the Harpsichord” . . . “The Phantom of the Organ”—these classic eerie albums are of Lang-don’s doing . . . and fright fans’ undoing.
He authored “Thin Monster Captured”, an interview with John Carradine, in FM 41.
Was involved in makeups for PLANET OF THE APES and the Monsterama Show at Universal Studios.
Lucky attendees at the First Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention still shudder at the memory of James Warren turned* into the Frankenstein Monster before their bugged-out eyes by the makeup magic of Verne Langdon.
Verne now gives us an unusual viewpoint on STAR WARS—and hang onto your putty noses, it’s an unexpected one!
George Lucas has said “/ think of this as a movie Disney would have made when Walt Disney was alive." Aside from a Shaggy Dog-type Chewbacca, I cannot share Mr. Lucas's view of the property.
Photo: VERNE LANGDON
To my way of thinking, Walt Disney wouldn't have troubled himself. Not to say SW isn't a biggie— quite the contrary. 2001 shrinks to insignificance by comparison, and FLASH GORDON almost (but not quite) sinks quickly in the West. But for all the hoopla, not to mention soaring box office figures and mile-long lines of moviegoers, this epic is just cowboys & Indians swathed in Reynolds Wrap. Don't tune me out yet. . . hear this: the effects in all departments are superb—animation, costume design, sets, makeup, music, locations—in fact, downright brilliant! And, in an industry which all-too-often cuts corners in these utterly essential categories, I bow to all the dedicated craftsmen for their expertise, and to Lucas & Fox for spending money where money should be spent. But it should only be a matter of time before the estate of L. Frank Baum cries “plagiarism!" against all parties for renaming Dorothy “Luke" and substituting a computer, robot and ape-man for the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion.
Someday they will erect a Statue of Literature in the Harbor of Long Beach near Hollywood, and she will bear the inscription near her feet “Give me your tired, your poor, your bungled scripts yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming story lines, send these — the lifeless— tempest-tossed to me; I will lift my golden lamp beside the story editors. ”
STUART J. BYRNE had his first scientification story published in Amazing Stories in 1935. He is the author of the magazine novels “Colossus”, “Colossus II” & “Colossus III”.
The pocketbook Thundar, the paperback Starman.
A translator of the Perry Rhodan (Peacelord of the Universe) series.
Scripter of the scenitifilm DOOMSDAY MINUS 5.
Altogether he’s had several million words of sci-fi published in America, Germany, Holland and elsewhere in the world. Under his own name and his well-known pen name John Bloodstone.
He is a kaleidoscope of concepts, a volcano of volumes & a cascade of ideas. His idea of STAR WARS is:
The keywords are: kilometer stone, landmark, breakthrough. Forget the phenomenal public response and the landslide box office impacts. When many a sophisticate comes back at four dollars a copy to stand in those two-hour lines for the fourth and fifth round, it's time to seek out the causes.
What were the magic ingredients? Special effects? Opticals? Scope and movement? Certainly all of these, but “2001", “Logan's Run" and “Future World" delivered rich servings of these elements also. What else provided the golden touch? Was it some rare catalyst in the combination of producer Gary Kurtz and writer-director George Lucas, pushing through a high-blaster heavy-hardware production for under $10 million, no matter what the unique problems of screen portrayal? Was it the story, the novel characterizations, the happy mixture of monsters, androids and humans, the straightforward adventure in the classical myth-format of hero-in-cyclic-return-from-the-dreaded-region, replete with a male version of the fairy godmother? Was it the veteran delivery of Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing (expertly tight-roping over obvious chasms of cliche and parody), or the welcome freshness of such younger talents as those of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and. Harrison Ford? Undoubtedly all of these were contributing factors, but at first glance a greater essence eludes us —and it will continue to elude the imitators of STAR WARS in the future, unless they get the “point".
As an SF writer I know that I and my peers wouldn't have dared to either write or script this story as a bid for any major production. Editors, writers and reviewers in the genre might in fact consider it as an Exhibit A of all the forbidden cliches in the book—the D.I.D. (damsel in distress), the B.E.M.s (bug-eyed monsters), the stereotyped heroics and villainies and even the subtle touch of S.A.S. (sword and sorcery). . .All of these ingredients are precisely the standard no-nos which have relegated countless stories and scripts to the garage or cellar, ever since the first sophistications began to appear in SF during the 1940s and 1950s. (The story outline of STAR WARS was rejected by United Artists and Universal, and it was a borderline orphan at Fox.) This is to cast no aspersions whatsoever on brother Lucas. The most caustic and self-righteous purist among SF reviewers would have to applaud both the book and the picture for its characterizations and often simplistic charm, which derives its main appeal from being uncontrived and in achieving its frank objective of straight entertainment (like “Love Story" and “The Sound of Music"). In fact it was the “unsell" that sold.
However, the hidden breakthrough here is something else. Three vital principles are involved. One of these returns to an old but oft-forgotten axiom: that which becomes cliche in one generation may be fresh discovery in another. Kurtz and Lucas evidently placed their bets on this one. And they were so right.
But the second principle could possibly have escaped Lucas himself. He either adhered to it consciously in this production, or he tapped it intuitively. SF writers have always suppressed a full expression of their future visions (on the screen) because of the longstanding technical and financial limitations involved. “Too much hardware" was always a frequent objection from wary studios or producers. Modern techniques in opticals, miniatures and laboratory wizardry have overcome many of these hurdles. There are also techniques available which haven't yet been exploited, and no doubt other developments along these lines will open wider avenues for the dream-makers in general. What all this boils down to is that STAR WARS has proved a very vital point: the true vision of the future and the awesome scope of life potential in the universe may now be delivered. (We have only begun.) the audiences enjoy this picture objectively for all the other reasons given, but on a subjective level they are drawn to it repeatedly because it opens a very real window on the prophetic vision of the SF mind. There is a disturbingly convincing reality here as one sees and feels the imperious might of a gigantic space battleship or a moon-sized power plant which is capable of destroying entire planets. Some of the “fiction” recedes as we perceive in those vicious energy beams or in those breathtaking miles of lighted satellite windows the frightening yet wondrous potential of human or humanoid intelligence.
So STAR WARS keynotes the breakthrough. Many a previously suppressed vision of Tomorrow will be inhibited no longer. In that vision will be seen what these present audiences are also responding to: an upbeat view of what we can become—and herein lies the third principle. I think STAR WARS makes its impact by helping us to escape the downbeat. The non-vision of our over-emphasized iniquities has surfeited the spirit with ennui. Sex, hate, crime and violence have synthesized a reject-able self-image. The world today seems to be bogged down in an atmosphere of Death, Doom and Destruction. But people in general have a deep down optimism, a feeling that, in a better Tomorrow, the pessimistic “reality" of Today will prove to have been a false reality.
In STAR WARS the door swings wide to more valid horizons long-held in reserve, and to a larger dimension of ourselves as a species. The barriers have been removed, thanks to pathfinders Gary Kurtz and George Lucas.
GEORGE PAL, just back from being a Guest of Honor at the Science Fiction Exposition in Tucson, could only be caught on the phone for a breathless quote:
As I always said, SPECIAL EFFECTS is as big a star as anyone in the business.
George will be pulling all stops out for the Special Effects in his future projects, which include IN THE DAYS OF THE COMET & TIME MACHINE II.
KRIS NEVILLE has written 3 acknowledged sf classics:
“Old Man Henderson.''
In addition he’s pleased the public with such paperbacks as The Unearth People, The Mutants, Invaders on the Moon, Mission: Manstop & Peril of the Star Men.
9 years in the writing, he has just completed a collaboration with his wife Lil, a monumental quarter of a million word Novel of Ideas (“about 4000 of them,” he says) called THORSTEIN MACAULAY.
Neville’s idea about STAR WARS differs radically from most. If you disagree with his reaction, let us have your letters.
STAR WARS is a space opera. The space opera is a well-defined subgenre of sci-fi. There are two types.
Photo: George Pal
Type I. The Doc Smith type. Mind-boggling concept follows mind-boggling concept. At first there is one giant spaceship, then ten, then ten thousand. At first there is one enemy and one friend, and then behind the enemy stands a bigger enemy and behind the friend stands a bigger friend. Eventually events the characters are caught up in are seen to be just minor incidents in an aeon-long struggle between good and evil.
Type II. Planet Story type. There is an Empire that includes thousands of worlds. There is a power struggle between the good guys and the bad guys for control of the throne. There is a young hero and a damsel in distress. The hero saves the day as a result of his heroic action.
The space opera is obviously kid fiction. Some people after they get out of their mid-teens can go back and reread the Doc Smith type and still enjoy it, but the Planet Story type is so universally awful that you give up on it after you stop moving your lips when you read.
I went to see STAR WARS having heard it described as an authentic Planet Story space opera with visuals that were better than 2001. I pictured it as a hybrid of Types I and II. The plot was, I supposed, II-ish and the battle scenes and intellectual sweep, I-ish. It sounded like great fun, and I went full of pleasant anticipation. I don't much like movies, but this sounded like my cup of tea—tongue in cheek, slam-bang action-adventure, photographed with taste, intelligence and sophistication, somewhat like PLANET OF THE APES. When the movie opened, I was sure I had a real winner. There was this monstrous ship passing over the camera that just went on and on and on. Doc Smith lives!
After the ship passed over, there was a fight scene. And what a fight scene! Blaster beams going every which way. Furniture exploding, walls melting and bodies falling. The damsel was captured. I was really in for a treat. Not five minutes had passed.
But where was the hero fighting free to escape the spaceship and fight another day? No hero. A couple of ’droids but no hero. I always thought to get into one of these Planet Story space operas at all, you had to have a hero to identify with. Otherwise, the thing fell completely apart from terminal silliness. There was no hero.
And did the movie start to drag! It went nowhere interminably. Cliche followed cliche for a full 40 minutes with nothing happening to advance the story and rescue the damsel in distress. A good old-time pulp editor would have cut most of that tedious talk-talk-talk out and built up the action scenes. The story was getting entirely lost. I started to get bored. My attention wandered to the details. Nothing about them pleased me particularly.
The mechanical man walked with jerky motions. The squat rotundity spoke in whistles. Dinky little aliens showed up in burnooses which hid their faces. The Roman legions arrived in masks. The sound track could have been recorded separately in a studio. There were no lip movements and no expressions, and this coupled with theatrical sound divorced me completely from what was going on on the screen.
Rather than hearing a Wagnerian opera, I'm hearing some indifferent symphonic music getting louder and softer. The camera work is unimaginative, the dialog is dull, the direction is pedestrian, the cutting produces no excitement and the total visual effect is flat.
Two apparently co-equal villains are introduced. Two nearly coequal heroes show up. The wise old mentor assumes the burden for one of the main action lines. The essential canons of good Planet Story space opera have been tossed to the wind with predictable effect. Cliches from other genre are thrown in to heighten the boredom.
Some of the special effects are good. The opening scene is impressive. The jump to hyperspace is sudden and effective, drawing applause from the audience. There are some really magnificent explosions in space. The huge warship is almost mindboggling. But the overall production values are far inferior to 2001. No sense of the future is created, and the backgrounds for the live action material —while often excellent—are glossed over by the camera to the point where I never felt involved in the scenes.
At no time after the movie got fully underway did I notice any of that slick competence of PLANET OF THE APES that commands willing suspension of disbelief and that complements intellegence.
The final action sequence should have had me hunched forward, cheering for the hero, like in the old Western movies on Saturday afternoon, when the kids all around are cheering and jumping up and down and encouraging the hero on. It didn't. The rest of the audience, too, is relatively relaxed during it, sort of laid back, watching. The sequence is diffuse, confused and overly long.
I always get a little teary-eyed when medals are given out, and so I found the closing scene effective.
It could have been a wonderful sendup of the old space opera. What it was was an indifferently photographed and produced motion picture from an uninspired script that was modeled on the very worst of Type II space opera. I'm 52 years old, and there was nothing in that movie for me.
For people who are not familiar with space opera at all, it will probably be a real mindblower. I took my 14 year old son with me. He liked it very much. He had a few reservations, but who doesn't? It was one of the best movies he'd ever seen, and he'd like to go back and see it again. All of which goes to prove that the old pulp formula works, the first time around, even when badly done.
DR. DONALD A. REED is internationally known as Founder, and President for 16 years, of the Count Dracula Society, and Founder, and President for 5 years, of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. He states unequivocally:
STAR WARS is the best science fiction film of 1977.
Indeed Jim Cowan has stated that it is the best science fiction film ever made. THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY AND HORROR FILMS, annually presenting the GOLDEN SCROLL AWARDS, nominated STAR WARS immediately as the best picture of the year. It will be a leading candidate, indeed the leading candidate, for all of the ACADEMY'S area awards in December 1977.
STAR WARS is a landmark in the evolution of the science fiction film, an epic fantasy destined to become for today's young people what the films of the late 1930s and early 1940s (such as WIZARD OF OZ, THIEF OF BAGDAD, etc.) were to another generation.
THE SCI-FI ACADEMY nominated the following from STAR WARS:
BEST ACTOR in a science fiction, fantasy or horror film: MARK HAMILL BEST ACTRESS: CARRIE FISHER BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: PETER CUSHING & ALEC GUINESS
The Sound Man on STAR Wj4i?S is Ben Burtt. Burtt, who holds a Master's Degree in Cinema from the University of Southern California, is the former Vice-President of THE ACADEMY OF SF & HORROR FILMS. It is hoped that not only will Mr. Burtt win a Golden Scroll for sound, but that he will win an OSCAR for sound from the older ACADEMY OF MOTION PICTURES ARTS & SCIENCES. He is the type of young film maker (he's in his 20s) in fantasy films who will have a great future.
Photo: DR. DONALD A. REED (Caricature by Bill Nelson)
THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY CHARLES NEUTZEL is the
son of the artist Albert Nuetzell (deceased) who did some of FM’s earliest & best covers: Lugosi as the leader of the ISLAND OF LOST SOULS manimals, the Martian from WAR OF THE WORLDS, the original KING KONG. Charles has authored over 100 novels, 10 of them sci-fi (his first love). He has edited the sf anthology IF THIS GOES ON and been translated in Europe. He is currently working on the novels “Starace,” “Spacer,” “Star Beings,” “Powerminds” & “Mind-war.” He calls STAR WARS “a galactic leap warp ward” and continues:
I hadn't read the reviews in TIME and NEWSWEEK-not yet. That came later. I went to STAR WARS with expectations of seeing what was supposed to be a pretty good sci-fi film.
I remembered the thrill, as a teenager, of seeing “Destination Moon” and much later of experiencing “2001”—and in between the endless Hollywood junk labeled science fiction, horror, fantasy. Some of the films had been good, for their time; most were outright frightening, in the wrong way—and forgettable!
I'll probably never forget STAR WARS!
It was the opening day in Hollywood; just before noon. Mann's Chinese Theater. The line was wrapped around the corner; the excitement tense. “May the Force be with you” buttons were given out at the ticket office with the $4.00 admission price.
I saw, somewhere, that TTME Magazine was calling STAR WARS the “Best picture of the year”, and wondered if it could possibly live up to such praise.
The posters looked great; but those were nothing more than photos; easily touched up to give the wrong impression.
I was defensive—regardless of rumor, implied promise, promotion.
I left the theater 2 hours after the film started and spent the next couple of days attempting to come to terms with what had turned out to be a cinema experience beyond expectations. For special effects alone it was a galactic leap forward into the never-never land of all-but-true reality — well, sorta. But the story—they had to be kidding! Or were they?
Cute, comic robots; one a vacuum tub; one a British, scatterbrained “butler-type"—to say nothing about kiddy-comic antics of a Disney cartoon? A Princess? A metallic black robotic-looking villian? An “oh, my gosh” kind of trite plot?
And that saloon scene! Wow! Galactic monsters snatched directly from the best of sci-fi books. Light swords; 8 foot Wookie sidekicks? Well. . .
And then there was: Obi-Wan Kenobi—Alec Guinness.
Surely a combination devoutly to be wished—an actor's actor developing his part with the same serious intent he has given all his great roles.
Mixed with Zap guns with real ZAP? A climatic space battle to stun the senses. All in living color with stereo sound? Effects that made “2001” look like the original “One Million B.C.”? Sets of perfection; battered spaceships? Dusty, dented air-cars?Even space warps?
Photo: Luke & Han, having rescued the Princess, find themselves confronted with yet another menace—the Stormtroopers.
Photo: An Imperial laser cannon becomes stardust when a rebel fighter blows it up.
This is the movie to end all sci-fi movies? The “Best picture of the year” —any year?
You better believe it.
Yet this is kiddy stuff; not for adults!
What gave STAR WARS that something extra to take it far beyond countless sci-fi films produced in the past, regardless of its “comic-book” plot and script? Some would suggest the special effects.
To me the total impact centers on attitude. It was created out of love for what it was — bringing PLANET STORIES/Comics to life. Perfection in direction, music, effects, sets, concept—yes, even to the comic humor, the kiddy touches that might curl an adult's mind. For once there was none of the self-conscious smugness.
Sure, “2001" had serious intent; “Logan's Run” attempted the same effect—just to name two films. But that something extra was missing.
Here for the first time was a rip-snorting sci-fi—space fantasy, if you'd rather—story right from the pulps or comics, done without any attempt to be anything other than great fun. The screen came to life with a fantasy reality—a “place” long ago and far away in a distant galaxy that does exist throughout the duration of the film.
Right from the start, the titles, the music, the immediate attack on the “Princess” spaceship, to the last hack-like, trite, cliche scene of our three wondrous heroes gaining their just rewards from their dutifully served princess, the film grabbed and crushed you in its sensual mind-explosive grip.
What made it work for me was' the very fact that every cliche that could be skillfully crammed into 2 hours was thrust at you with such beautiful style that the end result was something that can be called nothing short of Original.
Classic, even before it had a day to run?
A classic in its very production, in its making, development, execution.
A sequel, sadly, is called for—and it will come. I suggest sadly simply because the obvious must happen: a repeat is just that, a copy always a bit less. Yet even in its sequelized form STAR WARS II will be worth the production price and the admission price if for nothing more than to again experience PLANET STORIES brought to full light before your astounded eyes, ears, nerves, soul—total being.
STAR WARS is childhood exploded into reality; mental fantasies that were always a bit illusive, truly experienced for the first time.
Yes, it is a children's story, but how many adult children have thrillled to THE WIZARD OF OZ? Some might call it “camp”—to use an already outdated term. So be it. A step above “Star Trek” and a move sideways from “2001" and a leap forward from the endless tongue-in-cheek mockeries that pass as sci-fi.
But what producer could possibly say that such and such story is too expensive—or that the effects would be impossible to make—once they look at the box office returns and the marvelous film magic STAR WARS demonstrates?
It is not the story, but the total production values that make the point. It is not just what has been done here but what STAR WARS proves can now become reality on film.
STAR WARS marks a move forward in film making; it is an event in itself, but even more important it has proven that any major sci-fi novel, no matter how sophisticated, can now be brought to the screen, presented in such a fashion as to satisfy both creators and audience, both the hard-core fan and the general public.
That above all else is the major importance of STAR WARS; the promise it makes for the future, not in sequels, but in new, more mature sci-fi movies.
Sadly enough we will all have to probably wait another decade to once again experience such a galactic leap warpwards. ■ Until then, though, we have the success of STAR WARS to promote films to come—for now, it must be obvious even to hardnosed film producers that sci-fi has come of age in cinemaland.
[Source: Famous Monsters of Filmland ISSUE No.139 DECEMBER 1977. P.20-28. Copyrighted © 1977 by Warren Publishing Co. All rights reserved.]