Thursday Night Movie Club
Star Wars
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Release Date: 25 May 1977

Director: George Lucas
Mark Hamill
Harrison Ford
Carrie Fisher
Peter Cushing
Alec Guinness
Anthony Daniels
Kenny Baker
Peter Mayhew
David Prowse
Phil Brown
Shelagh Fraser
Jack Purvis
Alex McCrindle
Eddie Byrne
Drewe Henley
Luke Skywalker
Han Solo
Princess Leia Organa
Grand Moff Tarkin
Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi
Darth Vader
Uncle Owen
Aunt Beru
Chief Jawa
General Dodonna
General Willard
Red Leader
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Opening scene from Star WarsStar Wars is an amazing film from writer/producer/director George Lucas. The special effects are "out of this world." The characters are an oddball grouping of the serious and intellectual teacher, the naive young pupil, the devil-may-care scoundrel, a princess who must present herself as older than her years, and a couple of robots who would make Abbott and Costello proud.

In a galaxy far, far away, a rebellion against an oppressive emperor is slowly taking form. Ambassador Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is on a diplomatic mission. Her small ship is attacked by an Imperial Cruiser under the command of Darth Vader (David Prowse). Schematics for the Empire's ultimate weapon against the resistance, the Death Star, have been stolen. Vader believes Princess Leia is actually a rebel and she has stolen the plans.

From this visually stunning yet simple sequence, George Lucas lays out everything the audience needs to know about the Empire. A diplomat on a diplomatic mission no longer has diplomatic rights. The law is whatever the emperor wants. Darth Vader's mission is to uphold that law. No matter what. At all costs! etc., etc.

The emperor is well on his ways to learning an important historical record. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat the past. Or, nothing lasts forever (Sounds like a quote from the Bullwinkle Show).

The Milennium Falcon leaps to light speed from Star WarsThrough series of mishaps, blunders, sheer luck, happenstance or maybe the power of The Force itself, the plans are stored in the robot R2D2 (Kenny Baker). Several misadventures later, the droids find themselves in the care of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). Skywalker has been raised by his aunt and uncle. He never knew his father. His aunt and uncle refuse to tell him anything about his father.

R2D2 has a mind of its own, despite his programming. R2 has been commanded to find Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and deliver Leia's message. The only Kenobi living anywhere nearby is an old fossil of a man named Ben Kenobi.

Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Alec Guiness and Harrison Ford aboard The Milennium Falcon from Star WarsKenobi's main purpose in the film is to tell Luke (aka the audience) the back story. Luke's father was a Jedi Knight, like Kenobi. The Jedi are all but extinct. Kenobi urges Luke to learn the ways of The Force and become a Jedi. Kenobi is getting too old for this kind of adventure.

Luke learns the distressing news of his father. He was Kenobi's best friend and an expert pilot, like Luke. A Jedi named Darth Vader hunted down and murdered Luke's father. Guiness is superb in this scene. He is fatherly towards Luke, calmly answering Luke's questions. Guinness' smile tells it all. Kenobi longingly remembers the past which, in his words, was a much more civilized age. Guinness' acting has Kenobi patiently answering Luke's questions without going into detail. Kenobi tells Luke only what Luke needs to hear, but he doesn't even tell Luke his father's name. In fact, Kenobi tells everyone just enough of what they need to know. These are dark times. Kenobi does not have many allies left. Kenobi keeps things close to the robe.

Now that events are in motion, Star Wars takes a quantum leap forward. To this point, the film is rollicking, suspenseful, action-packed, funny, and dazzlingly amazing.

Harrison Ford stars as Han Solo in Star WarsEnter Han Solo (Harrison Ford). Ford takes the role all the way to the bank... and beyond. Solo lives up to his namesake. He is a loner. Like gunfighters in the Old West, Solo has his own personal code. He trusts himself, his first mate Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and his ship the Millennium Falcon. Solo does not believe in the superstitious mumbo jumbo of the Force. Ford is the polar opposite and perfect counterpoint to the stoic Guinness. Kenobi uses the Force to guide him. Solo is a joker in a deck of 51-cards.

Solo is apolitical. He doesn't care if there is a Republic or an Empire as long as he is free to carry out his "business" ventures and turn a healthy profit. Solo flies under the radar knowing the Empire is too big to worry about the dealings of one man on the edge of the galaxy.

Kenobi makes Solo an offer he cannot refuse. Solo will take Kenobi, Skywalker and the two droids to Alderan, Princess Leia's home world, with no questions asked. Kenobi, like Solo, does not want any Imperial entanglements. After a brief gun battle, the Millennium Falcon blasts off from the space sport and right into the middle of three Imperial Cruisers. They narrowly escape. Solo, who wishes to remain anonymous, is suddenly the most wanted man in the galaxy!

Harrison Ford is wonderfully funny. Star Wars takes another leap forward when Princess Leia rejoins the action. In some ways, Leia is the female version of Solo except she has a much higher goal to achieve. Leia has her convictions and dedication to the rebellion. Like Solo, Leia will do whatever it takes to see the job through. Carrie Fisher has the same rapid-fire delivery of her lines, like Harrison Ford. The two hilariously exchange cannon fire.

Stuck squarely in between Leia and Solo stands Luke Skywalker. Mark Hamill is quite good in a role that, for the first half of the film, echoes that of Alec Guinness. Skywalker's main purpose is to expand on the story line. Luke is as much an outsider in the ways of The Force as the audience.

David Prowse and Alec Guiness star in Star WarsLittle by little, Director George Lucas reveals the skills a Jedi possesses. Kenobi uses The Force to control the mind of a Stormtrooper. Darth Vader chokes a military officer by merely pointing his finger at the man. Luke learns he is better with a light saber while blindfolded. Vader senses Kenobi's presence. Luke uses The Force rather than the computer on his X-Wing fighter. Most importantly, Kenobi sacrifices himself in order for Luke to escape. But Kenobi can still speak with and advise Luke from beyond the grave. Kenobi is no longer "too old for this kind of thing."

The final battle scene from Star WarsStar Wars is an action-packed, special effects extravaganza. The opening scenes are dominated by two droids and are, surprisingly, not boring. The film starts on an amazing level and only gets better. There is an equal balance of humor and evil. Luke and friends scream with laughter after escaping a trash compactor while droid C3PO (Anthony Daniels) is in despair thinking they are being crushed to death. Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) calmly orders the destruction of an entire planet. Han Solo is in it for the money, or so it seems.

The good news: Luke Skywalker will return!