Here’s what critics thought of the original Star Wars in 1977
‘Star Wars’ icon Carrie Fisher on Leia: ‘She’s mine!’.
If you’re not yet overstimulated from all the Star Wars news ahead of the movie’s release on December 18, then you’ll probably enjoy the Force Awakens cast’s a cappella medley of the movie’s infamous theme.Speaking to journalists at a press conference following The Force Awakens’ European premiere, Abrams said: “From the beginning of discussions [with writer Lawrence Kasdan]. the notion of a woman at the centre of the story was always something that was compelling and exciting to me.
It was like being back on campus,” says Fisher, 59, about reprising her role as Leia Organa, formerly a princess and now a general for the heroic Resistance, in director J.J. The cast joined forces on Wednesday’s Tonight Show to perform John Williams’ iconic Star Wars music sung in the style of a cappella, with help from Fallon himself and The Roots. We knew that, in addition to Leia who was a critical piece of this puzzle, we wanted to have other women – not necessarily human, but female – characters in the story.” “We have Lupita [Nyong’o] playing Maz Kanata, who is the voice of Force wisdom in the story and Phasma leading the evil side of the stormtroopers; we wanted to have female stormtroopers, and pilots, which we did.
Those featured include Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Adam Driver and, of course, Chewbacca. The nature of evil in the first three films (when I say “first three”, I mean the first three films to be made: I am not in the business of pandering to a fictional chronology) is very broad, using tropes and images from the Bible to the mafia. In George Lucas’ first Star Wars film in 1977, Leia was young royalty from Alderaan and a face of the fledgling Rebel Alliance when she was captured by the Galactic Empire — by Darth Vader, no less. At the start of 1977’s A New Hope, the political aim of the Empire is the suppression of remote systems by fear – being able to unwind local structures of central enforcement is actually a sign that the reign of terror is working well. Luckily, she was broken out of the Death Star by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), a farm boy who turns out to be her long-lost brother, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), a smuggler she falls for hard over the course of three movies.
It reminds me a little bit of George Osborne and the “northern powerhouse”, but it doesn’t really suggest Nazism, with its extermination of the other. We are all very grateful.” However, as has been the case at previous promotional events, the presence of Carrie Fisher has considerably enlivened proceedings. The six films so far constitute a highly unusual cultural resource: you can see how concepts such as nobility, meritocracy, class, equality and dignity have changed over time, by the way they are reflected in George Lucas’s work. So, initially, the distinction of the Jedi knight isn’t that he comes from a superior class, but that he is an abstract thinker in a world of concrete thinkers.
That hit-and-miss quality was likely unavoidable given that Abrams and company needed to please different masters and satisfy diverse audiences in this story (set 30 years after “Return of the Jedi”) of a search for mysteriously missing Luke Skywalker, part of an ongoing battle between good and evil. While always interested in parts that are well-written, Fisher says she doesn’t like looking at herself on screen. “Meryl Streep says it’s because she’s done three movies a year and just watched it go downhill. I went from seeing it whenever the hell that was and now, and it wasn’t a happy surprise.” What she enjoys now about acting in Star Wars movies is working with a new group of youngsters including Daisy Ridley (who plays Rey) and John Boyega (Finn). Right?” Ford, in emphatic tones, agreed: “Exactly right.” Fisher raised another laugh by saying Abrams “really loved making the movie, except with me”. Nobody knew it was going to be a blockbuster when filming it, whereas Ridley and Boyega expect and want Force Awakens to be huge. “And you just think, ‘Oh, man, wait till you see what’s going to blow into your world.’ ” She finds herself continually bemused by the scope of Star Wars as a phenomenon nearly 40 years after she wore a white dress and hair buns. (She compares one of her hairdos in Force Awakens to “a baboon’s [butt].”) “It’s a bit much.
If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it; but the ones that really want to do it are the ones who are into that kind of thing.” This he was able conveniently to ignore later on, when the theme of lineage had become so strong as to be defining. Ford continued with his implied criticism of Lucas’ creative skills – of which he has well-documented disdain – by saying: “I have actually relished this entire experience in a way I had not anticipated.” He continued: “A lot of the credit goes to JJ and Larry [Kasdan] – this is a rare experience in my old life.” Ford also said that he had no involvement whatsoever in the projected Star Wars spin-off featuring a young Han Solo. “I don’t know what to think about that. Strength, in the beginning, is inextricably linked with higher feeling, sensitivity, empathy – “stretch out your feelings”, Obi-Wan tells Luke Skywalker, as if concentration were its own superpower. I am glad someone else will have the burden of being young, it’s well beyond my understanding or control, and I of course want nothing to do with it, in the nicest possible way.” The closest the session got to any remotely controversial topic was about the film production’s presence on the remote Irish islet of Skellig Michael, which had aroused considerable protest over its protected status as a Unesco world heritage site. The evil Empire has been replaced by the even more evil First Order, the Republic continues to fight the good fight, and everyone wonders where Luke Skywalker has been hiding for all these years.
Han Solo is shown as a contrast, but he isn’t a person of lower birth so much as of lesser mind – essentially conveyed by his cupidity, and his lack of ambition for anything other than money. Saying he “couldn’t believe they let us shoot there”, Abrams added that on the first day of their three-day shoot there were huge numbers of puffins on the islet, but that they had all disappeared the next day. “It was very strange; apparently it was the last day before they all fly away.” The plot begins with ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) making a trip to the junkyard planet of Jakku to get a device with clues about Skywalker from local elder Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow, of all people).
Star Wars salad, that would be good,” Fisher says, laughing. “People bring me their kids like I’m going to bless them but they’re like two months old and they’re already in a Princess Leia outfit,” she says. “I always think they swallowed the outfit and gave birth to the kid wearing the hairy earphones. The Jedi ideology is meritocratic: anyone can be a higher being, though this will be self-selecting to a degree, since only higher beings are going to work at it. On the verge of being captured by major evildoer and Darth Vader wanna-be Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Poe secretes the device inside a cute little rolling droid named BB-8 and tells it to keep out of trouble. Helping Poe escape from the evildoers, including Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux, is Finn (John Boyega of “Attack the Block”), a former Stormtrooper who has had enough of the First Order ordering him around. They get separated, and Finn runs into the brightest of the film’s new cast members, young British actress Daisy Ridley, who plays a Jakku scavenger named Rey.
For if Isaac, perfectly cast in the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” has too sour a persona here, and if Boyega frankly seems out of his depth, Ridley’s spunky daredevil presence is exactly what the part calls for. On the dark side, the great Andy Serkis gives us a sense of what thinking outside the box visually looks like with First Order top dog Supreme Leader Snoke.
And so the Force is now an amoral physical property, whereas previously it was a mental property – thought itself, the source of empathy and therefore, arguably, the source of morality. At a certain point, Rey and Finn get hold of the legendary aircraft Millennium Falcon and team up with the ship’s original crew, Solo and the redoubtable Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and the action begins in earnest. By Attack of the Clones, three years later in 2002, the Jedi have a kind of UN blue helmets mandate – “You must realise there aren’t enough Jedi to protect the Republic.
His “It’s all true” speech, featured in the trailer, is a highlight, and his scene kinda offering Rey a job is the film’s intergenerational high spot. Two decades on, a sad adaptation to a new reality had taken place, where the living incarnation of all that is noble – the Jedi – are critically limited by the rather limp and indecisive democracy that governs them. But I think it’s actually rather an acute reflection of the post-ideological politics of the 21st century: egalitarian values are vaunted but equality is not pursued, since the essence of modernity is that it is post‑historical, directionless, has nowhere left to go. Undermined by the inconsistency, the culture cannot confidently express itself, and fixates instead upon enemies who are bound to be stronger because they know who they are.
The classic Jedi response to subservience can be seen in the contrast between Luke’s first meeting with C-3PO – “I see, Sir”; “You can call me Luke”; “I see, Sir Luke,”; “No, just Luke” – and Qui-Gon Jinn meeting Jar Jar Binks: “Mesa your humble servant”; “That won’t be necessary”. He has no reason not to be, since at this point he is just an indifferent farmer, but it still foreshadows his knight-personality, which is more of a jiu jitsu, strength-through-attentiveness affair than a born-to-rule act of self-assertion. The fussiness of the R2-D2/C-3PO relationship makes them the most three-dimensional characters of the lot; portraying them as beings with the same feelings as humans but fewer rights invites the viewer to reconsider how hierarchies were formed and commonalities established.
Jar Jar Binks is famous for the tang of racism in his conception – his accent is plainly Jamaican, or Jafaican, if you prefer – and there’s a forelock-tugging slave-subtext that is crass because it’s unaddressed. But borrowing the cliches of a slave portrayal, and draping them over a character who is basically a bit thick, lacks the sophistication that one associates with Lucas.
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