Star Wars: An Intergalactic Joyride


"Star Wars" is the highest grossing movie of all time. It is also one of
my favorites. It was released in May 1977 and re-released in a restored and
enhanced Special Edition just last month. There are many different criteria that
can be used to describe ĆStar Wars\' appeal. Gary Arnold and Edward Rothstein,
two movie critics who had the opportunity to review this great movie, explain
its appeal in very much the same way. There is a difference though. Arnold
reviewed the original ĆStar Wars\' twenty years ago and Rothstein reviewed the
recent Special Edition. While they reviewed slightly different versions, they
both came to the conclusion that Star Wars is a great movie based on similar
criteria. They judged ĆStar Wars\' on its ability to draw on classic styles and
timeless stories to create something new and absolutely original.
The main factor in both of their positive reviews is the skill of writer
and director George Lucas to blend the old with the new. They were both
impressed with his miraculously fresh configuration of many different themes
from classic film and mythic origin into a cohesive and entertaining movie. He
has achieved a witty and exhilarating synthesis of themes and cliches from the
Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers comics and serials, plus such related but less
expected sources as the western, the pirate melodrama, the aerial combat
melodrama and the samurai epic. The movie\'s irresistible stylistic charm
derives from the fact that Lucas can draw upon a variety of action-movie
sources with unfailing deftness and humor. He is in superlative command of his
own movie-nurtured fantasy life. Gary Arnold, Washington Post Staff Writer
Mr. Rothstein along the same lines as Mr. Arnold, mentions that Ćthe plot line
of Star Wars follows the mythic archetechture outlined by Joseph Campbell in his
study of myth, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," which has influenced Mr.
Lucas.\'
Another aspect, unique to Rothstein\'s review of the new Special Edition but
not quite different from Arnold\'s assessment, is the way in which the movie
celebrates the past and not the future. This aspect of ĆStar Wars\', Rothstein
says, is what Ćscreams out in opposition to the high-budget, high-tech, special-
effect spectaculars that it (Star Wars) spawned.\' This is where, Rothstein says,
that ĆStar Wars\' gets its authenticity. The whimsical ramshackleness is actually
meant to be a sign of the heroes\' authenticity: what is older is more powerful...
technology, when it appears in ĆStar Wars,\' is evil, ghastly, massive and
brutish..."advanced" invention is most evident in the space ships of the evil
Empire. Edward Rothstein, Movie Critic, New York Times
This "ramshakleness" that Rothstein speaks of keeps the movie afloat by not
sacrificing the story for special effects. The special effects complement the
movie, but do not carry it. This is where Rothstein says that so many recent
movies have failed. Arnold, unable to see into the future, was unable to
evaluate the movie in this way. He hadn\'t the chance to see how badly Hollywood
would try to imitate ĆStar Wars\', thinking its appeal lay more in its Ćeffects
and quick jolts, rather than from the mythic significance with which they were
injected.\'
Hollywood never grasped fully the lesson taught by ĆStar Wars\'. Both
Rothstein and Arnold believe that this lesson is what makes ĆStar Wars\' so great.
They used the same criteria (the convincing story, admirable characters, and
the writer/director Lucas\'s skill as a storyteller) to come to a positive review
of the movie. Arnold summed it up in his closing "Lucas\' use of old time
conventions and stories add to the movie in such a way as to create the unique
and fresh fantasy world that is ĆStar Wars\'."

Works Cited:

Arnold, Gary. "Star Wars: A Spectacular Intergalactic Joyride."
The Washington Post. 25 May 1977.

Rothstein, Edward. "\'Star Wars\' Salutes a Brave Old World."
The New York Times. 31 January 1997.

Category: Music and Movies