Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.
Looking back on it from more than 30 years, it’s hard to imagine a time when Star Wars did not permeate our culture. It informs both our popular arts as well as high-level policy debate during the Cold War. It rewrote the rules of summer movies only two years after Jaws wrote them in the first place. This one movie took merchandising from a tidy little sideline to a stratospheric cash cow for Hollywood.
In short, a little movie made for less than $10 million, of which the studio thought so little that they willingly parted with all the ancillary rights that studios normally hang on to until hell freezes over, ended up being the greatest single act of creative destruction in the history of the business since The Jazz Singer. After Star Wars, the artistically ambitious films that were a hallmark of the early-to-mid-seventies were shuffled off to the independent filmmakers, while Hollywood became a factory for blockbusters.
At this juncture, it’s pointless to review this movie like I would a “normal” film, other than to offer my conjecture on why this little movie worked like no other movie before it and few since. And yes, I’m calling it Star Wars, not Episode IV or A New Hope. The movie that hit theaters in 1977 was called Star Wars, so that is the name of the movie.
Theatrical and director’s cut: ★★★★★
1980 Special Edition: ★★★★★
What was it in the water in 1977 that directors of classic sci-fi movies couldn’t leave well enough alone? Long before George Lucas had turned the words “Han Shot First” into a fanboy battle cry, Steven Spielberg had already done a major facelift on his landmark UFO film. When Close Encounters was in production, Spielberg was aiming for a summer, 1978, release. Columbia Pictures, on the verge of bankruptcy, forced him to finish the movie for the fall of 1977, leaving unfilmed several of what he thought were key scenes.
Patton will lead the assault. I would prefer Montgomery, but even Eisenhower isn’t that stupid.
This movie serves as both an unofficial sequel and thematic bookend to The Longest Day. It has an undeserved reputation for being overlong, ponderous and dull. It’s none of those things but I can understand how it could appear that way to people expecting a more conventional war movie.
The films of Alfred Hitchcock were such a genre unto themselves that it was probably inevitable that Mel Brooks would have a swing at them and, while Brooks does connect with the ball, this film is anything but a home run. More like a dribbler back to the pitcher.
The scale and depth of savagery that typified the Eastern Front of World War II made the Anglo-American experience on the Western Front seem like a summer tea-party. I don’t know if any film could capture the entirety of the experience and do it justice.
Sam Peckinpah’s only war movie instead attempts to portray the hardened fatalism of the veteran German soldiers after the tide of war had irrevocably turned against them.