Star Wars

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Star Wars is a science fantasy saga and fictional galaxy created by writer/producer/director George Lucas during the 1970s. This epic trilogy began with the film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which was released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox. The film became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, spawning five more feature films, three spin-off films, five television series and an extensive collection of licensed books, comics, video games, action figures, trading cards, card games, backpacks, and other products, all of which are set within a fictional "galaxy far, far away."

An example of the space opera genre, the Star Wars story employs archetypal motifs common to both science fiction and mythology, as well as the romantic music motifs now often associated with those genres.

Contents

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Feature films

Episode Release date
I. The Phantom Menace May 19, 1999
II. Attack of the Clones May 16, 2002
III. Revenge of the Sith May 19, 2005
IV. A New Hope May 25, 1977
V. The Empire Strikes Back May 21, 1980
VI. Return of the Jedi May 25, 1983

Although The Ewok Adventure, later renamed Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, played in theaters in Europe and Australia and is technically a Star Wars feature film, it is generally associated with television, therefore it is covered in the television section below.

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Setting

Further information: Star Wars galaxy

The events of Star Wars take place in the fictional Star Wars galaxy. Each Star Wars film opens with the text, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." Lucas intended this as an allusion to the classic fairy tale opening of, "Once upon a time, in a faraway land..." This is the only way that the Star Wars galaxy has been defined in relation to our real world. It suggests that, like fairy tales, the films could be interpreted as allegorical and metaphorical narratives, rather than literal events.

Many of the films' characters are essentially identical to humans, though they commonly interact with fantastic creatures from numerous planetary systems, as well as droids - robots endowed with independent thought. Star Wars uses supernatural elements that strongly relate to epic stories and fairy tales such as magic, knights, witches, and princesses.

Although the film series itself spans the events of only two generations, other stories set in the Star Wars universe (those from the so-called "Expanded Universe") cover events that span millennia. Later novels from a series dubbed New Jedi Order opened up the Star Wars setting with alien beings named Yuuzhan Vong that came from a different galaxy. Most aliens prior to this series came from the one galaxy in which the films are set. The specific context for the events of each film is explained in an "opening crawl", a device common in science fiction films.

Unlike the traditional science-fiction/fantasy films preceding it, the Star Wars world was initially portrayed as dirty and grimy, rather than sleek and futuristic. In interviews, Lucas tells of rubbing the new props with dirt to make them look weather-worn, a concept he has referred to as "a used or ancient future", a concept further popularized in the film Alien' of the same era. He may have been inspired by Sergio Leone, whose 1960s films performed a similar function for the Western genre. It is also possible that he may have received the idea from Akira Kurosawa, who believed that it gave his actors a more authentic look.

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Plot

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Episodes I, II, and III (the Clone Wars) chronicle the downfall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire. It is also the story of Anakin Skywalker's rise as a gifted young Jedi (the chosen one) and his eventual transformation to Darth Vader, and the Dark Side of the Force. In the first film, Darth Sidious manipulates the Trade Federation into invading and occupying the planet Naboo. Sidious concurrently maintains his public identity as Palpatine, a senator in the Galactic Republic (ironically, for Naboo itself), and uses the crisis to convince the Senate to elect him as Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. In the second film, he further manipulates the Senate into granting him emergency powers and orchestrates the Clone Wars, a conflict between the Republic (which he controls as Chancellor Palpatine) and a Separatist movement (which he controls as Darth Sidious).

A young boy named Anakin Skywalker, incredibly strong with the Force, is discovered by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and his padawan Obi Wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon believes Anakin is the Chosen One, prophesied to bring balance to the Force. After Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul, Obi Wan defeats the Sith apprentice and then, over the strong objections of Master Yoda, decides to obey his master's final wish to train the boy. Anakin grows powerful with the Force, and his skill causes him to become arrogant and chafe against Obi-Wan's training, which he feels is restrictive. Against the strictest rules of the Jedi Order, Anakin falls in love with Padmé Amidala, queen, and later senator, of Naboo. The two wed in secret, forbidden for a Jedi as it can create a fear of loss that can lead to the Dark Side of the Force. The Clone Wars begin to rage through every part of the known galaxy, and the Jedi fight tirelessly to bring peace back to the Republic. Anakin and Padmé continue to keep their marriage a secret, but soon Padmé becomes pregnant. Although thrilled by the news, Anakin begins to have visions of Padmé's death. The secretive nature of their relationship forces him to seek help outside of the Jedi order, and he desperately asks Palpatine, now the Chancellor, (secretly Darth Sidious) for help. Sidious seizes this opportunity to tempt Anakin to the Dark Side, promising that Padmé can be saved if Anakin joins the Sith. His guile succeeds, forcing Anakin to abandon the Jedi when he intervened in a lightsaber duel between Jedi Master Mace Windu and Palpatine, severing Windu's hand before Palpatine kills him with Force Lightning. At this point Anakin has become the Sith Lord Darth Vader who goes on to hunt down and destroy all the remaining Jedi in the galaxy (see Order 66 for more on the demise of the Jedi order). Tragically, Anakin is still unable to save Padmé, and becomes directly responsible for causing her death. Padmé dies giving birth to twins, whom she names Luke and Leia. The twins are given to two separate willing parties for safety: Luke to Anakin's step-brother Owen Lars and his wife Beru on Tatooine; Leia to Senator Bail Organa and his wife on the planet Alderaan. Obi Wan-Kenobi and Yoda, the last remaining Jedi, exile themselves, Obi-Wan on Tatooine (presumably to watch over Luke), Yoda on the bog-like world of Dagobah. Sidious (as Palpatine) turns the Galactic Republic into the First Galactic Empire, himself as its Emperor.

Episodes IV, V, and VI (the Galactic Civil War) pick up approximately nineteen years after the events of Episode III, during the Galactic Civil War, a lengthy conflict which leads to the downfall of the Galactic Empire at the hands of the Rebel Alliance. These films follow the story of Luke Skywalker, the son of Anakin Skywalker (now the black-clad Darth Vader), and his rise in the rebellion against the Empire. Leia, princess and a member of the Imperial Senate for Alderaan and a member of the Rebel Alliance, is carrying the plans for the Empire's battle station, the Death Star, when her ship is intercepted by Darth Vader. She sends a message for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi by means of R2-D2. Darth Vader takes Leia to the sinister Grand Moff Tarkin. Luke inadvertently intercepts the message and meets Kenobi. Leia is forced to witness the destruction of her home-world by the dreaded Death Star. After the murder of his aunt and uncle by Imperial Stormtroopers looking for the droids, Luke joins the ragtag Rebel Alliance — traveling with Kenobi, his sister Leia Organa (who he does not realize is his sister until later, in Episode VI), smuggler Han Solo, Solo's Wookiee companion Chewbacca, and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2. The Rebel Alliance eventually destroys the Death Star and Tarkin.

Luke trains with Kenobi and, after Kenobi's death at the hands of Vader, the exiled Yoda to become a Jedi like his father, who he believes was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader. When Luke learns the truth — that his father is Darth Vader — he is profoundly shaken. Despite this, Luke successfully resists the efforts of Vader and Palpatine to turn him to the Dark Side, and instead succeeds in turning his father back to the Light Side of the Force. Vader, having turned from the Dark Side, fulfills the Prophecy of the Force when he throws Emperor Palpatine into the Death star's reactor in order to save his son, but is mortally wounded in the process. In killing Palpatine, Anakin comes full-circle to prove that he was the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force by destroying the Sith. Meanwhile, the Rebel fleet (led in part by Solo's friend Lando Calrissian) scores a decisive victory against the Empire by destroying the second Death Star.

Postscript: The Rebel Alliance's victory eventually leads to the end of the Galactic Civil War and the downfall of the Empire, restoring the Galactic Republic.

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Themes

George Lucas embraces a style of epic storytelling that uses motifs, common themes and concepts which he alters slightly each time they occur. The concept is lifted from Romantic (early 19th century) music, but Lucas applies it both visually and as an integral part of his storytelling.

On a larger scale, there are many parallels between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy; the stories of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker echo and reflect each other in myriad ways.

The Force is one of the most recognizable elements of the Star Wars series. It is described by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film as, "An energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together."

Those who can use the Force, such as the Jedi, can perform feats of telepathy, psychokinesis, prescience, clairvoyance, and mental control. Two aspects of the Force are emphasized: the light side and the dark side. The light side of the Force is the facet aligned with good, benevolence, and healing. The dark side of the Force is aligned with fear, hatred, aggression, and malevolence. Jedi, followers of the Light, believe that knowledge serves as a guide and path to power, whereas the Sith rely on the Dark Side in the belief that power brings knowledge and understanding. The dark side seems more powerful, especially to those who use it, because it is driven by rage and hatred — its effects are more direct and easier and faster to achieve. In reality, neither the light nor the dark side of the Force is stronger than the other, each possessing its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the dark side conveys an inherent disadvantage to its users, which is arrogance and overconfidence in their own abilities. However, this aggression allows its acolytes to become more formidable warriors — illustrated when Luke is able to finally overcome his father in battle because of his anger at the thought of his sister turning to the dark side. On the other hand, Jedi can occasionally become crippled by their compassion and act "soft." This is balanced by an ability to remain calm even in extreme circumstances.

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Influences

Many different influences have been suggested for the Star Wars films by fans and critics. George Lucas himself has cited some quite surprising inspirations for his films, for example the novel Watership Down. Lucas acknowledges that the plot and characters in the 1958 Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, directed by Akira Kurosawa, were a major inspiration. Lucas has said in an interview, which is included on the DVD edition of The Hidden Fortress, that the film influenced him to tell the story of Star Wars from the viewpoint of the humble droids, rather than a major player. It also played a role in the conception of Darth Vader, whose trademark black helmet intentionally resembles the black kabuto of the arch-villain in Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. [citation needed]

Prior to writing the script for Star Wars, George Lucas originally wanted to make a film of Flash Gordon. The rights for Flash Gordon, however, were held by Dino De Laurentiis, and Lucas decided to work on his own science fiction project instead.

Another influence in Lucas's creation of Star Wars was the writings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell's work explored the supposed common meanings, structures, and purposes of the world's mythologies. Lucas has stated that his intention was to create in Star Wars a "modern mythology" based on Campbell's work. The original Star Wars film, episode IV, for example, closely followed the archetypal "hero's journey", as described in Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This influence was discussed by Bill Moyers and Campbell in the PBS mini-series, The Power of Myth and by Lucas and Moyers in the 1999 program, Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers.[1] In addition, the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution sponsored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth which discussed the ways in which Campbell's work shaped the Star Wars films.[2] A companion guide of the same name was published in 1997.

It is thought that the setting for the Star Wars universe came from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy, published in the early 1950s. This saga also involves a galaxy teeming with inhabited worlds held together by a collapsing galactic empire using hyperdrives (for long-distance transportation). It also features the planet Trantor, which is entirely covered by the galaxy's capital, similar to Coruscant, and the protagonist of Foundation and Empire is Lathan Devers, a character resembling Han Solo. Even lightsabers have precursors in the The Foundation Trilogy as force field penknives. The planet Korrell is thought to be the basis of the planet Corellia.[citation needed]

It is often argued that Star Wars was influenced by Frank Herbert's classic science fiction book Dune. Many elements of Star Wars are also evident in Dune.[3] There are so many similarities, in fact, some Dune devotees consider Star Wars little more than a campy film adaptation of Herbert's work. While this is certainly an exaggeration, many of the similarities are striking. For example, both Dune and Star Wars are set on desert planets. Both stories feature a mystical knighthood of sorts — the Jedi in Star Wars and the Fremen of Dune. In both stories the hero is a messiah-like character, uses mystical powers, exhibits mind control (Jedi mind trick/the Voice), and duels opponents with sword-like weapons. Finally, both stories describe a corrupt empire and the hero's efforts to overcome it.

Some comic book fans have drawn parallels between Star Wars and Jack Kirby’s epic Fourth World series, published by DC Comics. The cosmos-spanning series of titles was never completed because DC canceled it, citing low sales. At the heart of the series was the battle between Orion of the New Gods and his villainous father, Darkseid (pronounced “dark side.”) Orion called upon the mystical force known as "the source" to aid him in this struggle. The Death Star is somewhat reminiscent of Apokolips, Darkseid’s home planet. Likewise, Darkseid's headpiece is similar in structure to Vader's.

Furthermore, Orion, like Luke Skywalker, was separated from his evil father at birth, growing up ignorant of his true parentage. Also like Skywalker, Orion was mentored by an old man who carried a staff and was far more powerful than his appearance suggested; the Highfather. Finally, both Orion and Skywalker are forced to struggle not only against their biological father's dreams of universal conquest but also against their own inner darkeness.

The Star Wars saga has also been influenced by historical events; Lucas claims to have drawn on ancient Rome (the Republic becomes an Empire), World War II and the Vietnam War for inspiration. The reference to the historical past can be seen with Lucas's use of 'stormtroopers', commonly associated with the stormtroopers of World War I Germany and Nazi Germany, and also associated with the SS under Hitler in World War II. These troopers acted as the Nazi party’s military force, under Hitler’s direct control. Similarly, the stormtroopers of Star Wars acted as the Empire’s military force, under Palpatine’s direct control. Lucas also based the space battles in A New Hope on World War II-era aerial dogfights. The rise of Palpatine mirrors Hitler in that a democracy becomes an empire.

Even Star Trek is said to have had a limited influence on Star Wars. Gene Roddenberry's intergalactic vision among humans has long been a staple for these concepts. A reference to ST is used in Episode V when an Empire commander mentions a cloaking device, a device used by Romulans and later Klingons, to describe the disappearance of the Millennium Falcon. It has been mentioned that Lucas wanted to label the Falcon's light speed capabilities as "warp drive" but was advised against it because at the time Roddenberry was looking into doing the Star Trek Phase II TV show and Lucas did not want to start a conflict.[citation needed]

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Scripts

The Star Wars saga began with a 14-page treatment for a space adventure film that Lucas drafted in 1973, inspired by multiple myths and classical narratives. According to one source, Lucas initially wrote summaries for fifteen stories that would make up the Star Wars saga. Out of these fifteen stories, Lucas originally planned to film only one of them as a feature film. Then, in 1978, following the success of the first released Star Wars film, he publicly announced that he would create a total of twelve films to chronicle the adventures of Luke Skywalker (in the original scripts, the character’s name was Luke Starkiller). In 1979, Lucas retracted his former statement, saying that he would instead make nine films.[4] Four years later, having completed Return of the Jedi, Lucas announced that he was putting Star Wars on indefinite hold until special-effects technology had improved to his satisfaction. Finally, in 1995, (after seeing the effects results of ILM's work on Jurassic Park) Lucas decided that he would produce the trilogy of prequels (Episodes I, II, and III), for a total of six films. He also claimed at the time that he had always envisioned "the whole thing as a series of six films".

Other sources, including publicly available draft scripts of Star Wars, show that Lucas had an incomplete and quickly-changing conception of the Star Wars story up until the release of the first film in 1977. Story elements such as the Kaiburr crystal present in early scripts are missing entirely in the films, while names were freely exchanged between different planets and characters — "Organa Major" being the original name for Alderaan, for instance (Organa later became Princess Leia's surname). Even as late as the production of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, there were significant differences from the films which emerged — for example, Lando Calrissian being a clone from the Clone Wars and the climactic battle of Return of the Jedi taking place against two Death Stars orbiting the Imperial capital planet, then known as Had Abbadon.[5] Another version of the Return of the Jedi script had Luke turning to the dark side after killing Darth Vader. Leia would then become the next Jedi to fight the dark side. This did not happen, however, because Lucas felt that the ending would be too dark, especially for children, who were a major target audience. Also, George Lucas had the script of The Empire Strikes Back saying that "Obi-Wan killed your father," all the while having the "I am your father" line in mind. Since Darth Vader's voice was overdubbed by James Earl Jones, the true line was revealed in post-production.[6] In addition, the story released as the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye was intended as a possible direction for a low-budget Star Wars sequel — however, the success of A New Hope allowed Lucas to pursue the more ambitious The Empire Strikes Back instead.

For his part, Lucas claimed in a segment filmed for the THX-remastered VHS release of the original trilogy that the original Star Wars story was intended as a single film but was later split into three because the story was too long to be told in a single film. In the DVD commentaries for the original trilogy, Lucas claims that many story elements were changed within the production of the films — for instance, the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope was moved from the end of the trilogy in order to strengthen A New Hope on its own merits, while the character of Chewbacca established the Wookiees as a technologically advanced race, necessitating their replacement with Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Other changes, including the death of Obi-Wan in A New Hope, were made during the filming. Lucas also stated in the commentaries that the prequel stories existed only as "notes" explaining the backstories of characters such as Obi-Wan. In an interview with Wired prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, Lucas remarked that he had allowed the publication of novels written as sequels to the films (see Expanded Universe) because he would never make the sequels himself.

Lucas's history of different statements regarding his future and past plans for the Star Wars saga have caused a great deal of popular confusion, while drawing criticism from some. For example, some still believe that Lucas's original plan was for a "trilogy of trilogies," based on early statements made by Lucasfilm regarding sequels. For more information on the supposed sequel trilogy, see Sequel trilogy (Star Wars).

It has been reported that Lucas's original script was almost 500 pages long. The title, originally The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, was changed several times before becoming Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.[citation needed]

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Production and release

The Star Wars film series was shot in an original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The "original trilogy" was shot with anamorphic lenses (Episodes IV and V were shot in Panavision, while Episode VI was shot in J.D.C. scope), while Episode I was shot in Arriscope film format, and Episodes II and III were shot with Sony's CineAlta high-definition digital camera.

There were countless problems during the production of Episode IV, and few critics expected the film to achieve the measure of success it did. Many problems with effects, editing, funding, and shooting caused the film to be pushed back from its expected release date of December 1976. The production company, not to mention many involved in the actual production, had little faith in the film. According to reports, it was a daily struggle merely to complete the film on time. Despite these difficulties, the first film was released on May 25, 1977, and became a surprise hit. Though its novelization had hit the shelves six months earlier, the book had not seen nearly the amount of interest that the film would draw.

Many consider the phenomenal popularity of its first release due to the need for escapism after the experiences of Vietnam and Watergate. Throughout the first half of the 70's, baby-boomers (like Lucas himself) were getting more involved in filmaking along with Coppola, Scorcese, Freidken and others only to express dark and gritty realism in their films. Star Wars offered an escape from these confining realities.

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Filming locations

Episodes IV, V, and VI were shot at, among other locations, Elstree Studios, in Hertfordshire, England. The outdoor scenes from the ice planet Hoth in Episode V were shot at Finse, Norway. Also, one shot of the Rebel Base on Yavin IV in Episode IV was of Mayan temples in Tikal, Guatemala. The scenes from the forested Endor's moon in Episode VI were shot in Redwood State Park, in Humboldt County, Northern California. The Phantom Menace was filmed at Leavesden Film Studios and the subsequent prequels were filmed in Sydney, Australia. A scene in Attack of the Clones is shot in Sevilla, Spain. Tunisia, and the sand dunes of Yuma, Arizona, have served as the location for filming scenes set on the desert planet Tatooine in A New Hope, Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Italy's Caserta Palace was used to create the Theed palace on Queen Amidala's home planet, Naboo, and some scenes were also shot at Italy's Lake Como. Also some scenes in A New Hope were shot in Death Valley National Park, California, USA and Cappadocia Turkey .[7]

Both the "original trilogy" and the "prequel trilogy" were released over a period of six years (1977–1983 and 1999–2005, respectively), each film taking three years to produce.

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Musical score

The scores for all six Star Wars films were composed by John Williams. Lucas's intentions for Star Wars involved a grand musical sound, with leitmotifs for different characters and important objects; an approach used to great effect, for instance, in the operas of Richard Wagner. Toward this end, Lucas put together a collection of classical and romantic pieces for composer Williams to review, as an idea of what effects Lucas desired for the films. The music Williams composed was often distinctly reminiscent of the original pieces. Williams' score for Star Wars in 1977 set a new standard for science-fiction/fantasy films by drawing its inspiration primarily from a palette of Romantic symphonies, rather than creating completely new music (in choosing this classical approach, Williams was following the lead of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a mix-tape of Wagnerian opera and other selections compiled by George Lucas.) Although Williams had already established himself as a film composer with scores for blockbusters such as The Poseidon Adventure and Jaws, the Star Wars score gave him international recognition.

Williams' scores for the original trilogy were primarily motif-based: individual characters and settings were each given their own, unique musical theme which would identify their presence in the film, whether physically or figuratively. By combining and varying these motifs, Williams could create a score possessed of a rich, interwoven fabric.

By the time of the prequel trilogy, however, Williams had grown and changed as a composer. His new scores de-emphasized motifs, tending to weave them subtly into a broader and more dynamic musical composition. He had also expanded his use of thematic motifs, using the technique to highlight the emotional or archetypal structure of the film, rather than the more literal associations to character and setting used in the earlier scores.

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Re-releases

In 1997, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi were re-mastered and theatrically re-released as the "Special Editions." It was one of the first films series to be re-mastered in this way. For the re-release, in addition to extensive clean-up and restoration work, Lucas also made several changes to the films in order to "finish the film the way it was meant to be" (as Lucas said in a September 2004 interview with the Associated Press). Many of Lucas' changes for the Special Editions were cosmetic, generally adding special effects which were not originally possible. Other changes, however, are considered to have affected plot or character development. These changes, such as the change often referred to by fans as "Han shot first," have proven to be controversial, inciting considerable criticism of George Lucas by fans, and was one of the first causes of what came to be known as "Lucas bashing".

In 2004, in addition to an extensive and comprehensive hi-definition digital cleanup and restoration job by Lowry Digital, the original films were changed once again for their release on DVD. In these new versions of the films, in addition to new scenes and major image adjustments designed to make the films visually resemble the prequels, a few changes which had been made for the 1997 Special Editions were removed. With this release, Lucasfilm created a new high-definition master of the films, which will be used in future releases as well.

Although the original films have undergone significant alterations over the years, the prequel films have received only minor changes from their theatrical versions. The DVD releases of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith have had such elements altered as small additions of scenes, touch-ups in effects, and small sound changes.

For many years, Lucas had stated that the original, unaltered versions of the trilogy would never be released again, having been released for the last time on VHS and Laserdisc in 1995. However, on May 3, 2006, Lucasfilm announced on the official Star Wars site that due to "overwhelming demand", the original versions would be released on DVD on September 12, 2006. Each film was released as a two-disc set with the 2004 versions of the films on one disc, and the original, unaltered film on the second disc, as a bonus feature. The set was available until December 31, 2006, when it was withdrawn from the market.

There has been controversy surrounding this release, since it was revealed that the DVDs featured non-anamorphic versions of the original, unaltered films based on laserdisc releases from 1993 (as opposed to newly-remastered, film-based transfers). Since non-anamorphic transfers fail to make full use of the resolution available on widescreen sets, many fans were upset over this choice. [citation needed]

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Future releases

At a ShoWest convention in 2005, George Lucas demonstrated new technology and stated that he planned to release all six films in a new 3-D film format, beginning with A New Hope in 2007.[8] However, by January 2007, Lucasfilm stated on StarWars.com that there are no definitive plans or dates for releasing the Star Wars saga in 3-D.

Lucas has hinted in the past that he will release his definitive (often called "archival") editions of all six of his Star Wars films on a next-generation home-video format in 2007. This release would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga. It has been speculated that he will take this opportunity to make any final adjustments, changes, additions, and/or subtractions to his films for this final release. An altered clip from The Phantom Menace included in a featurette on the DVD release of Revenge of the Sith (in which a computer generated Yoda replaces the original puppet) appears to be a sign that the "archival" editions are indeed in the works.

It is said that this edition will be released in a "Grand Saga" box set. Lucasfilm Vice President of Marketing Jim Ward confirmed that in this final release, Lucasfilm is likely to return to John Lowry to do even more work on the films (possibly digital contemporization of the original trilogy). He says, "As the technology evolves and we get into a high-definition platform that is easily consumable by our customers, the situation is much better, but there will always be work to be done."[9]

Producer Rick McCallum has also explained that Lucasfilm has been holding back a large amount of bonus material for this release, including deleted scenes, as well as numerous previous Star Wars "making-ofs," spin-offs, television specials, documentaries, and other special material.

There has been much hope for another Star Wars trilogy but George Lucas has said that there are no plans for episodes 7, 8, and 9.

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Television rights

The original Star Wars film (Episode IV) first saw TV release in February 1983 on (HBO, Showtime, and The Movie Channel. (The original asking price was $1 per subscriber which would cover the entire production budget for the film solely from money from HBO) CBS had exclusive network rights when it aired on commercial television one year later, and continued on CBS for several years. The remaining films in the original trilogy also aired on premium cable before airing on network television (NBC acquired the original network rights to The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). In 1992, the Sci-Fi Channel became the first U.S. network to air the three then-existing episodes in the saga. Sci-Fi and USA Network retained TV rights until 1996, in preparation for the theatrical release of the "Special Editions" of the original trilogy. In 1998, a year after the SE releases, Showtime acquired limited one-month premium cable rights to the "Special Edition" of Star Wars for airing in January. It continued on broadcast stations, including superstations TBS and WGN, for several years after).

In 1999, to promote Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the remaining "Special Edition" films (V and VI) aired on U.S. broadcast network Fox (they bypassed premium cable for direct broadcast airing). That same year, Fox acquired all television rights to Episode I after the premium cable networks declined due to cost. A similar situation nearly happened with Attack of the Clones, until HBO struck a last-minute deal with Fox and Lucasfilm for the exclusive pay-cable rights. Episode II, like its predecessor, never saw prior pay-per-view cable release, but it did run on HBO and sister network Cinemax during its 18-month term of license. The Fox network acquired the U.S. network television rights. In April/May 2005, to promote the then-upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Episodes I, IV, V, and VI were placed in limited syndicated television distribution, (on Fox affiliates in most markets) while the Fox network was able to air Episode II in mid-May, prior to Episode III's initial theatrical release.

During negotiations for the cable rights to Episode II, HBO/Cinemax also struck a first-look deal for Episode III, which they accepted and is currently on its initial 18-month term of license (it was also the only Star Wars prequel film to see any pay-per-view cable issue). In addition, the Time Warner-owned networks were able to win the right to become the first U.S. television network system (cable or broadcast) to air all six films in the saga. On November 11, 2006 Cinemax aired all six films in rotation in both standard & High Definition. (Cinemax had never aired the original Star Wars (Episode IV) prior to this date, and at the explicit request of Lucasfilm, the high definition broadcasts were in the original scope aspect ratio.) The six films will also be repeated on HBO in standard & High Definition. The versions of Episodes IV, V, and VI that are airing are the 2004 DVD Special Editions, as they are the current canonical versions. In the UK, Sky purchased the rights to air all six films in August 2006, becoming the first English-language television network to air all six films, which will be aired in order of release, beginning with the original Episode IV. Afterwards, the episodes will continue to be shown during the "100 films a month" cycles on Sky Movies. Meanwhile Spike TV, in a separate deal, acquired the commercial broadcast rights to Episode III, including the right to become the first broadcast network to air all six films (the deal takes effect after the HBO/Cinemax rights expire in April 2008). From late December 2006 to early January 2007, Star Movies Asia will show the complete saga for their region.

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Expanded Universe

The term "Expanded Universe" has come into existence as an umbrella term for all of the officially licensed Star Wars material outside of the six feature films. This includes television productions, books, comics, games, and other forms of media. The material expands and continues the stories told in the films, taking place anywhere from 25,000 years before The Phantom Menace to 140 years after Return of the Jedi. The first Expanded Universe story appeared in Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in January 1978 (the first six issues of the series having been an adaptation of the film), followed quickly by Alan Dean Foster's novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye the following month.

George Lucas retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe. For example, the death of central characters and similar changes in the status quo must first pass his screening before authors are given the go-ahead. In addition, Lucasfilm Licensing devotes considerable effort to ensure continuity between the works of various authors across multiple companies.

Some purists reject the Expanded Universe as "Apocrypha", believing that only the events in the film series are part of the "real" Star Wars universe. However, elements of the Expanded Universe have been adopted by Lucas for use in the films. These included the name of the Republic/Empire capital planet, Coruscant, which first appeared in Timothy Zahn's novel Heir to the Empire before being used in The Phantom Menace, while a character introduced in Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars series, a blue Jedi Knight named Aayla Secura, was liked enough by Lucas to be included as a character in Attack of the Clones (and is seen meeting her demise in Revenge of the Sith in an ambush on the jungle planet Felucia).[citation needed]

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Television

To date, three films and three animated series have been produced for television, with a live-action series in pre-production. For the most part, Lucas has played a large role in the production of the television projects — usually serving as storywriter and/or executive producer.

Production
Release date
The Star Wars Holiday Special
November 17, 1978
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
November 25, 1984
Star Wars: Droids
September 7, 1985
Star Wars: Ewoks
September 7, 1985
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
November 24, 1985
Star Wars: Clone Wars (2-D series)
November 7, 2003
Star Wars: Clone Wars (3-D series)
2007
Star Wars live-action TV series
2008
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Radio dramas

A radio adaptation of A New Hope was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981. The adaptation was written by science fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden. It was followed by adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back in 1983 and Return of the Jedi in 1996. The adaptations included background material created by Lucas but not used in the films. Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams reprised their roles as Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and Lando Calrissian, respectively. The series also used John Williams' original score from the films and Ben Burtt's original sound designs.

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Audio books

Numerous Audiobooks have been produced in the releam of Additional Fiction on the materials from the original films.

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Books

Star Wars-based fiction predates the release of the first film, with the 1976 novelization of "A New Hope" (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to George Lucas). Foster's 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, was very nearly the first Expanded Universe work to be released. In addition to filling in the time between the films, this additional content greatly expanded the Star Wars timeline before and after the film series.

Star Wars fiction flourished during the time of the original series (1977-1983) but slowed to a trickle afterwards. In 1991, however, Timothy Zahn's celebrated Thrawn Trilogy debuted, sparking a new interest in the Star Wars universe. Since then, several hundred tie-in novels have been published by Bantam and Del Rey. A similar resurgence in the Expanded Universe occurred in 1996 with the Steve Perry novel Shadows of the Empire, set between Episodes V and VI, and accompanying video game and comic book series.

LucasBooks radically changed the face of the Star Wars universe with the introduction of the New Jedi Order series, which takes place some 20 years after Return of the Jedi and stars a host of new characters alongside series originals. However, several significant events which occur during the course of this series (such as the death of a major film character) have sparked much fan criticism.[citation needed]

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Comics

Marvel Comics published Star Wars comic book series and adaptations from 1977 to 1986. A wide variety of creators worked on this series, including Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Whilce Portacio, Jo Duffy, and Ron Frenz. In the late 1980s, Marvel announced it would publish a new Star Wars comic by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. However, in December 1991, Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license and used it to launch a number of ambitious sequels to the original trilogy instead, including the very popular Dark Empire stories. They have since gone on to publish a large number of original adventures set in the Star Wars universe.

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Games

See also: Star Wars computer and video games and List of Star Wars video games

Since 1983, over 120 video games have been published bearing the Star Wars name, beginning with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back published for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers. Since then, Star Wars has opened the way to a myriad of space-flight simulation games, first-person shooter games, roleplaying games, RTS games, and others.

Two different official tabletop role-playing games have been developed for the Star Wars universe– a version by West End Games in the 1980s and 1990s, and one by Wizards of the Coast in the 2000s. In the Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy the films are played in a different way. And in Empire at War, players can take control of either the empire or the rebellion and fight for control of the galaxy.

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Trading cards

Star Wars trading cards[10] have been published since the first 'blue' series, by Topps, in 1977. Dozens of series have been produced, with Topps being the licensed creator in the United States. Some of the card series are of film stills, while others are original art. Many of the cards have become highly collectible with some very rare 'promos', such as the 1993 Galaxy Series II 'floating Yoda' P3 card often commanding US$1000 or more. While most 'base' or 'common card' sets are plentiful, many 'insert' or 'chase cards' are very rare. Star Wars card game cards are different from the trading cards. A thriving market for both types exists on eBay.

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Fan works

See also: Star Wars fan films

The Star Wars saga has inspired many fans, called "Warsies", to create their own stories set in the Star Wars galaxy. In recent years, this has ranged from writing fan-fiction to creating fan films.

In 2002, Lucasfilm sponsored the first annual Official Star Wars Fan Films Awards, officially recognizing filmmakers and the genre. Because of concerns over potential copyright and trademark issues, however, the contest remains open only to parodies, mockumentaries, and documentaries. Fan-fiction films set in the Star Wars universe are ineligible. Initially this limitation caused an outcry for those interested in creating serious fan-fiction for a competition.[citation needed]

While many of the serious fan films have used elements from the licensed Expanded Universe to tell their story, they are obviously not considered an official part of the Star Wars canon. Lucasfilm, for the most part, has allowed but not endorsed the creation of these derivative fan-fiction works, so long as no such work attempts to make a profit from or tarnish the Star Wars franchise in any way.

Lucasfilm's open support and sanction of fan creations is a marked contrast to the attitudes of many other copyright holders. Some owners, such as Paramount Pictures with the Star Trek properties, have been known to actively discourage the creation of such works by fans.

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Cultural impact

The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on modern global pop culture. Science fiction since Star Wars, particularly in film, has often been influenced by and compared to Star Wars. References to the main characters and themes of Star Wars are casually made in Western society with the well-qualified assumption that others will understand the reference. George Lucas is also famous for using the best possible cameras and technology (see also Industrial Light and Magic) in his films. Many say that the visual and virtual effects that take over today's films would have never been created if not for Lucas's revolutionizing of the film industry with Star Wars.[citation needed]

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Parodies

Both the film and characters have been parodied or spoofed in popular films and television. Notable film parodies of Star Wars include: Hardware Wars, a 13 minute spoof which George Lucas has called his favorite Star Wars parody[1]; Spaceballs, a feature film by Mel Brooks, and Troops, a COPS-style documentary.

There have been numerous parodic references to Star Wars in films such as Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and most of the films of Kevin Smith. In 1997, the first film's twentieth anniversary, Saturday Night Live featured a pair of skits that parodied the film's screen tests, which included Kevin Spacey playing Christopher Walken auditioning for Han Solo. Walken was originally considered for the role before Harrison Ford was chosen. Star Wars Kid swung a golf ball retriever pretending to be Darth Maul. Star Wars toys is a parody that uses Star Wars Toys and Stop Motion Animation.

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Songs

There have been many songs based around the Star Wars universe, the most notable of which are "Weird Al" Yankovic's Yoda, (a parody of The Kinks' "Lola"), which describes Luke's training with the "wrinkled and green" Jedi master, and The Saga Begins, (a parody of Don McLean's "American Pie"), which chronicles the events of Episode I. The latter of these is particularly reveled, as it was released one week before the film. On Blink-182's album "Dude Ranch", the track "A New Hope" discusses the bassist Mark Hoppus' obsession with Princess Leia.

In late 1977, at the height of the original Star Wars craze, comedian Bill Murray portrayed Lounge Lizard Nick Winters on Saturday Night Live and sang a swanky version of the Star Wars theme, complete with inane improvised lyrics.[11] Carrie Fisher reprised her role as Princess Leia on SNL in a parady of Star Wars and the old beach party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello with Fisher as Annette singing about Obi Wan Kenobi

Other songs based on the Star Wars saga include The Star Wars Gangsta Rap and Star Wars Cantina.

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Other References

Film Director Kevin Smith has frequently used the "Star Wars" movies as points of humor in a number of his films. His first was in a scene from Smith's 1993 independent film Clerks, main characters Dante and Randall have a lengthy discussion about the Parallels between the endings of Episode IV, ("A New Hope") Episode VI ("Return of the Jedi") and independent contractors being victims of War related causalties. Other examples include Lightsaber Battles in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and another discussion in his recent Clerks II where Randall tries to defend his Star Wars Fandom against fans of the Lord of the Rings movies.

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References

  1. http://www.films.com/id/11017/The_Mythology_of_Star_Wars_with_George_Lucas_and_Bill_Moyers.htm
  2. http://www.nasm.si.edu/exhibitions/StarWars/sw-unit1.htm
  3. Star Wars origins; A comparison of the most often cited similarities between Star Wars and Dune
  4. http://scifi.about.com/library/starwars/bl-sixornine.htm
  5. http://www.starwarz.com/starkiller/scripts.htm
  6. Empire of Dreams documentary (extended), 2004 Star Wars DVD Box Set Bonus disk
  7. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/locations
  8. http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Guardian/0,4029,1440820,00.html
  9. http://www.apple.com/pro/film/lowry/starwars/index2.html
  10. http://starwarscards.net
  11. http://www.boston.com/ae/celebrity/articles/2005/08/11/changing_his_stripes/
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See also

Here are some of the general articles featured in the Star Wars portal. For a detailed outline of the Star Wars Wikipedia articles, please see Category:Star Wars.

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General information

  • Cast of Star Wars
  • Crew of Star Wars
  • Star Wars novels
  • Star Wars comic books
  • Star Wars video games
  • Star Wars radio dramas
  • Physics and Star Wars
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Star Wars universe

  • Star Wars characters
  • Star Wars locations
  • Star Wars creatures
  • Star Wars weapons
  • Star Wars conflicts
  • Star Wars items
  • Dates in Star Wars
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External links

George Lucas
Films THX 1138 (1971) | American Graffiti (1973) | Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) | Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) | Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) | Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Short Films Look at Life (1965) | Herbie (1966) | Freiheit (1966) | 1:42:08: A Man and His Car (1966) | The Emperor (1967) | Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138:4EB (1967) | Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town (1967) | 6-18-67 (1967) | Filmmaker (1968) | The Making of 'The Rain People' (1969) | Bald: The Making of 'THX 1138' (1971)
Productions More American Graffiti (1979) | Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) | Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) | Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983) | Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) | Labyrinth (1986) | Howard the Duck (1986) | Willow (1988) | Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) | The Land Before Time (1988) | Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) | Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-96) | Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-05) | Star Wars live-action TV series (2007) | Indiana Jones 4 (2008)
See Also Industrial Light and Magic | LucasArts | Lucasfilm | Skywalker Ranch | Skywalker Sound | Star Tours
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