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An Inside Look at the Star Wars Franchise

Published October 2, 2005 in Movie Discussion
By Eric Giordmaina | Images property of 20th Century Fox
Star Wars: New Hope Poster Star Wars: A New Hope Movie Poster have published their own dedicated Star Wars page and although most of it is still under construction, there is a Podcast (.mp3) interview / chat from 1997 (When SciFi Talk had their own radio broadcast), with Steve Sansweet, the author of several books including Quotable Star Wars, "I'd Rather Kiss a Wookie", and a columnist from Star wars Insider. Also joining the interview is Ray Canella of the Sci-Fi Channel. The Podcast is a laid back chat about the merits of Star Wars and enjoying it for what it really was.

Star Wars in Review

Steve Sansweet begins by saying that Lucas plays a joke on himself, the first weekend there was an office 'pool' [competition], and trying to keep expectations low, picked a $10 million dollar opening weekend for Star Wars, although he [Lucas] secretly harboured the belief that it might get as high as $15 million. For those of you who don't know, opening weekend for Star Wars was $36 million.

Ray Canella starts by saying that back in 1992, when the Sci-Fi Channel first went to air, Star Wars was the first film shown and he was surprised at the amount of "film dirt", especially in the desert sequences. To use the technical term, "It was Shmootzy." Says Canella.

"You would find that amount of film dirt and that amount of dust on an older print of something like The Day of the Triffids (1962)" Continues Canella.

He goes onto say that the other scene that was noticeably dirty was the scene in which Luke Skywalker was using his lightsaber for the first time (Against the training orb).

"This was due to the fact of how many elements had to be put together to make the full composite [to make the full scene]."

So Lucas had the idea to remaster the movies and re-release them in a closer time period, for the fans. However, when the team at Lucasfilm found the reels that had been stored away for so many years, they had discovered that the person who originally stored them, didn't do a great job and the negatives had become wet, attracting the so called 'Shmootz'. This 'Schmootz' had become imbedded into the negative and once the film was screened again, Lucasfilm realised 'Hey....we've got a lot of work to do." So the long and expensive process to reconstruct the entire film had begun.

It was at this point, when Lucas had the brainstorm that would bring the Star Wars fans and community into an uproar. " long as we're gonna spend the time and the money to do that, how about we spend a little more time, and a little more money and let me get the film that I always wanted." said Lucas.

Yes, we all love Star Wars, but Canella goes on to say that Lucas gave it a score of 60 out of a hundred. "He's a very tough critic on himself," Canella says.

Star Wars: A New Hope Han and Chewbacca
The total cost of remastering the first Star Wars movie was $10 million dollars and the work was only finished 2-3 weeks prior to the Premiere screening. Even after the movie's premiere, Lucas was still going back and making some final adjustments. The cost to remaster Empire & Jedi were significantly less, just $5 million each, which both needing much less work as they were closer to Lucas' "vision".

Steve Sansweet goes on to reveal that, there were a number of things that bothered Lucas, both technically and one particular scene that he wanted in the movie but could not do, due to money, technology and time factors.

Both men believe that the reason behind the success of Star Wars, was it's "Classic story" of Good versus Evil.

"It's a classic story told in a Science Fiction Frame, and it works....and that's why it works to this day! I'm not surprised at all that Star Wars made the money it did." Admits Sansweet.

"I don't think Star Wars needs to be sold on Special Effects and high technology," agrees Canella. "Also it enables you to identify with Luke Skywalker....he's this young farm kid and he has these great desires, but his frustrated, he really can't go beyond this small town....and he does break free and he does go in search for his inner self as well as the greater journey, and it's just classic mythology."

Sansweet also adds that in the case of Darth Vader, we also see the classic tale of redemption.

Canella continues and talks about what Lucas believes to be the main story in the Star Wars franchise. "Where the three movies that exist now, [4,5 & 6] make it seem like its the story of Luke Skywalker, when we see all 6 movies together it will very clearly be the story of Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader and how he goes from a youngster to someone who plunges to the deepest of depths, and eventually is redeemed.

To listen to the Podcast visit by clicking here (Running Time: 17m27sec).

Ray Canella's statement "I don't think Star Wars needs to be sold on Special Effects and high technology," is something that I believe also and is probably one of the main reasons for the backlash Lucas and Lucasfilm received after the prequels were released. Too many people were under the impression that Lucas was making scenes with the hidden message "Look! Look at what we can do now!" and forgetting about the "Classic" story that was once Star Wars. It was also not as easy to identify with the characters in the prequels as it was in the Original Trilogy and, in turn, the emotional connection was not there. I believed that I would shed a tear at the site of Obi Wan tearing down Anakin, but that was not the case. I just did not feel anything. The novel brought more emotions out of me than the movie did, and I think that was due to the writing.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Original Trilogy and the prequels, but the two are no comparison.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Eric Giordmaina
Sources: Images property of 20th Century Fox

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