- "The greatest adventure series of all time."
- ―Ebert & Roeper
Star Wars is a science fiction franchise comprised of movies, books, comics, video games, toys, and animated shows. It is a fictional universe created by George Lucas. The Star Wars story employs archetypal motifs common to science fiction, political climax and classical mythology, as well as musical motifs of those aspects.
As one of the foremost examples of the space opera sub-genre of science fiction, Star Wars has become part of mainstream popular culture, as well as being one of the highest-grossing series of all time. It is currently the third highest-grossing film series under James Bond and Harry Potter.
- "George Lucas has achieved what few artists do; he has created and populated a world of his own. His 'Star Wars' movies are among the most influential, both technically and commercially, ever made."
- ―Ebert & Roeper
The Star Wars story has been presented in a series of American films, which have spawned a large quantity of books and other media, which have formed the Expanded Universe. The Star Wars mythos is also the basis of many toys and games of varying types. The films and novels employ common science fiction motifs.
Whereas Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek, a science fantasy franchise that has enjoyed long-lasting popularity in American popular culture, is portrayed by its makers to appear as a rational and progressive approach to storytelling, Star Wars has a strong mythic quality alongside its political and scientific elements.
Unlike the heroes of earlier space set sci-fi/fantasy film and TV series such as Star Trek, the heroes of Star Wars are not militaristic types but romantic individualists. College literature professors have remarked that the Star Wars saga, with its struggle between good and evil, democracy and empire, can be considered a national epic for the United States. The film has many visual and narrative similarities to John Ford's "The Searchers" that also provides a clue to the relationship between Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker.
The strong appeal of the Star Wars story probably accounts for its enduring popularity; it has also been postulated that this popularity is based on nostalgia. Many Star Wars fans first saw the films as children, and the revolutionary (for the time) special effects and simple, Manichean story made a profound impact.
The Star Wars films show considerable similarity to Japanese Jidaigeki films, as well as Roman mythology. Lucas has stated that his intention was to create in Star Wars a modern mythology, based on the studies of his friend and mentor Joseph Campbell. He has also called the first movie's similarity to the film The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa) a "homage".
The Star Wars films portray a world full of grime and technology that looks like it has been used for years, unlike the sleek, futuristic world typical of earlier science fiction films. In interviews, Lucas tells of rubbing the new props with dirt to make them look weatherworn. Lucas may have been inspired by the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western films of the 1960s, which performed a similar function on the Western many years earlier. It is tempting to speculate that this break from traditional science fiction film influenced the cyberpunk genre that emerged around 1984.
Officially-licensed Star Wars novels have been published since the original movie was released in 1977. Although these novels are licensed by Lucas (meaning he shares in the royalties), he retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe, forcing Lucas Licensing to devote considerable ongoing effort to ensuring continuity between different authors' works and Lucas' films. Occasionally, elements from these novels are adopted into the highest tier of Star Wars canon, the movies. Books, games, and stories that are not directly derived from the six movies of Star Wars are known as the Extended or Expanded Universe (EU for short). Lucas has said that he does not deeply involve himself in the EU, choosing instead to concentrate mainly on his movies instead of "…the licensing world of the books, games and comic books."
Before Star Wars
Although George Lucas had made a name for himself among some industry insiders for his work at USC, it was not until the release of American Graffiti in August of 1973 that he reached stardom. The film grossed over $115 million at the box office and was dollar-for-dollar the most profitable film in the history of Hollywood at the time. Lucas' profit participation in Graffiti earned him over $7 million. Lucas was now a millionaire and one of the most sought after young directors in the world.
Alan Ladd, Jr., then the head of Twentieth Century Fox, saw a smuggled print of American Graffiti before it was released in theaters and was determined that Fox was going to be the next studio to profit from Lucas' genius.
Lucas would later profit from an upcoming star in that movie: Harrison Ford. Star Wars would further place Ford higher into stardom.
Many different influences have been suggested for the Star Wars films by fans, critics, and George Lucas himself. Lucas acknowledges that the plot and characters in the 1958 Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, directed by Akira Kurosawa, were a major inspiration. Lucas has said that the movie influenced him to tell the story of Star Wars from the viewpoint of the humble droids, rather than a major player. It also played a role in the conception of Darth Vader, whose trademark black helmet intentionally resembles a samurai helmet.
George Lucas has often said that his original idea for the project that evolved into Star Wars was to remake the Flash Gordon movie serials from the 1930s (a "serial" is a movie shown in weekly installments of about 10-20 minutes each). The license wasn't available, so Lucas moved on to other ideas, beginning with Akira Kurosawa's film The Hidden Fortress and then Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces. Despite the plot changes the Star Wars films are still bursting with influences from the Flash Gordon movie serials, including the Rebels vs. the Imperial Forces, Cloud City and even the famous "roll up" which begins the movie.
The second major direction for Star Wars (used in the 1973 synopsis) was to use the Flash Gordon "vocabulary" to create an outer-space version of the Samurai films of Akira Kurosawa, primarily Kakushi toride no san akunin (The Hidden Fortress, 1958), Tsubaki Sanjûrô (Sanjuro, 1962) and Yojimbo (1961). Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces eventually gave Lucas a third and final major story direction, but many elements from Kurosawa's work remain, including the two bickering peasants (who evolved into the droids), and the queen who often switches places with her handmaiden. The Darth Vader-like evil general who has a change of heart at the end wears a kamon (a Japanese family crest) that looks very similar to the Japanese Imperial Crest.
Lucas had already written two drafts of Star Wars when he rediscovered Joseph Campbell's The Hero With a Thousand Faces in 1975 (having read it years before in college). This blueprint for "The Hero's Journey" gave Lucas the focus he needed to draw his sprawling imaginary universe into a single story. Campbell demonstrates in his book that all stories are expressions of the same story-pattern, which he named the Hero's Journey or the monomyth.
Lucas has often cited The Lord of the Rings series as a major influence on Star Wars. Lucas learned from Tolkien how to handle the delicate stuff of myth. Tolkien wrote that myth and fairytale seem to be the best way to communicate morality - hints for choosing between right and wrong - and in fact that may be their primary purpose. Lucas has also acknowleged in interviews that the Gandalf and the Witch-king characters in the Lord of the Rings influenced the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader characters respectively.
There are many myths surrounding the writing of Star Wars, many perpetuated by Lucasfilm and George Lucas himself. Recently, author Michael Kaminski tried to set the record straight in his book The Secret History of Star Wars, as did Jonathan Rinzler in The Making of Star Wars, both released in 2007.
Lucas' original concept was a swashbuckling space adventure movie. He says "the film was a good concept in search of a story." He first tried to have a child buy the rights to remake Flash Gordon, but was unsuccessful.
In 1971, United Artists agreed to make American Graffiti and Star Wars in a two-picture contract, though they would reject Star Wars in its early concept stages. Graffiti was made first and when it was completed in 1973, Lucas set to work on making his space adventure movie. In early 1973, Lucas wrote a short summary called "The Journal of the Whills", which told the tale of the training of apprentice C.J. Thorpe as a "Jedi-Bendu" space commando by the legendary Mace Windy.
Frustrated that his story was too hard to understand, Lucas then wrote a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars, which was a loose remake of Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress. By 1974, he had expanded the treatment into a rough draft screenplay, which added elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and once more had the protagonist as a young boy, named Anakin Starkiller. For the second draft, Lucas made heavy simplifications, and also introduced the young hero on a farm, with his name now Luke rather than Anakin. Luke/Anakin's father is still an active character in the story at this point, a wise Jedi knight, and "the Force" now became a supernatural power. The next draft removed the father character and replaced him with a substitute named Ben Kenobi, and in 1976 a fourth draft had been prepared for principal photography. The film was titled "Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars." During production, Lucas changed Luke's name to Skywalker and altered the title to just "The Star Wars" and finally "Star Wars".
At this point, Lucas was thinking of the film as the only entry that would be made — the fourth draft underwent subtle changes that made it more satisfying as a self-contained film that ended with the destruction of the Empire itself, as the Death Star was said to achieve; possibly this was a result of the frustrating difficulties Lucas had encountered in pre-production during that period. However, in previous times Lucas had conceived of the film as the first in a series of adventures. The second draft contained a teaser for a never-made sequel about "The Princess of Ondos", and by the time of the third draft some months later Lucas had negotiated a contract that gave him rights to make two sequels. Not long after, Lucas met with author Alan Dean Foster, and hired him to write these two sequels — as novels. The intention was that if Star Wars was successful — and if Lucas felt like it — the novels could be adapted into screenplays. He had also by this point developed a fairly elaborate backstory — though this was not designed or intended for filming; it was merely backstory. "The backstory wasn't meant to be a movie," Lucas has said.
When Star Wars was successful, and not just successful but the biggest hit ever made at that time, Lucas decided to use the film as a springboard for an elaborate serial, although he considered walking away from the series altogether. However, Lucas wanted to create an independent filmmaking center — what would become Skywalker Ranch — and saw an opportunity to use the series as a financing agent for him. Alan Dean Foster had already begun writing the sequel as a novel, but Lucas decided to disregard that for filming and create more elaborate film sequels; the book was released as Splinter of the Mind's Eye the next year. At first Lucas envisioned an unlimited number of sequels, much like the James Bond series, and in an interview with Rolling Stone in August of 1977 said that he wanted his friends to take a try directing them and giving unique interpretations on the series. He also said that the backstory where Darth Vader turns to the dark side, kills Luke's father and fights Ben Kenobi on a volcano as the Republic falls would make an excellent sequel. Later that year, Lucas hired sci-fi author Leigh Brackett to write "Star Wars II" with him. They held story conferences together and in late November of 1977 Lucas had produced a handwritten treatment called "The Empire Strikes Back." The story is very similar to the final film except Darth Vader does not reveal he is Luke's father. In the first draft that Leigh Brackett would write from this, Luke's father appears as a ghost to instruct Luke.
During this period, Lucas had now had time to attach a numeric figure to the amount of sequels — he revealed to Time magazine in March 1978 that there will be twelve films altogether. This was then revealed in the official Star Wars fanclub newletter, Bantha Tracks. The figure of 12 was likely selected due to its tradition in serial episodes.
Brackett finished her first draft of Empire Strikes Back in early 1978; Lucas has said he was disappointed with it, but before he could discuss it with her she had died from cancer. With no writer available, Lucas had to write his second draft himself. Here Lucas finally made use of the "Episode" listing in the film — Empire Strikes Back was Episode II. As Michael Kaminski argues in The Secret History of Star Wars, the disappointment with the first draft probably made Lucas consider different directions to take the story in. Here he made use of a new plot twist: Darth Vader says he is Luke's father. According to Lucas, he found this draft enjoyable to write, as opposed to the year-long struggles of the first film, and quickly wrote two more drafts in the same month — April of 1978 — which both retained the new Vader-as-father plot. He also took this darker ending farther by imprisoning Han Solo in carbonite and leaving him in limbo.
This new storyline where Vader was Luke's father had drastic effects on the series. Michael Kaminski argues in his book that it is unlikely that this was a plot point that had ever seriously been considered before 1978, or even thought of before then, and that the first film was clearly operating under an alternate storyline where Vader was separate from Luke's father; there is not a single reference to the Vader-as-father plot point before 1978. After the second and third drafts of Empire Strikes Back where Lucas first introduced this point, he reviewed the new backstory he had now created: Annikin Skywalker is Ben Kenobi's brilliant student, has a child (Luke) but is swayed to the dark-side by the Emperor (who was now a Sith and not just a politician), battles Ben Kenobi on the site of a volcano and is wounded but resurrected as Darth Vader; meanwhile Kenobi hides Luke on Tatooine while the Republic becomes the Empire and Vader has hunted down the Jedi knights. With this new backstory, Lucas decided to film this as a trilogy — moving Empire Strikes Back from Episode II to Episode V in the next draft. Lawrence Kasdan, who had just completed writing Raiders of the Lost Ark, was then hired to write the next drafts, and was helped by additional input from director Irvin Kershner. Kasdan, Kershner, and producer Gary Kurtz saw the film as a more serious and adult film, which was helped by the new, darker storyline, and brought the series far away from the light adventure roots it had existed as only a year earlier.
Lucas had also around this time developed a third trilogy as well, which took place twenty years after Episode VI.
By the time of writing Episode VI — Revenge of the Jedi, as it was then known — in 1981, much had changed. Making Empire Strikes Back was a stressful and costly work, and Lucas' personal life was disintegrating. Burnt-out and not wanting to make any more Star Wars films, he vowed to be done with the series, as he makes explicit in a May 1983 interview with Time magazine. Lucas' 1981 rough drafts of Revenge of the Jedi had Darth Vader competing with the Emperor for possession of Luke — and in the second script, the "revised rough draft", Vader was turned into a sympathetic character. Lawrence Kasdan was hired to take over once again, and in these final drafts Vader was explicitly redeemed, and finally unmasked. This change in character would provide a springboard for the "Tragedy of Darth Vader" storyline in the prequels.
After getting a divorce in 1983 and losing much of his fortune, Lucas had no desire to return to Star Wars, and had unofficially cancelled his Sequel Trilogy by the time of Return of the Jedi. However, the prequels, which were quite developed, remained fascinating to him. After Star Wars became popular once again, following in the wake of Dark Horse's comic line and Timothy Zahn's trio of novels, Lucas saw that there was still a large audience. His children had begun to grow older, and with the explosion of CG technology he was now considering returning to directing. By 1993 it was announced, in Variety among other sources, that he would be making the prequels. He began outlining the story, now offering that Anakin Skywalker would be the protagonist rather than Ben Kenobi and that the series would be a tragic one examining his transformation to evil. He also began to change how the prequels would exist relative to the originals — at first they were supposed to be a "filling-in" of history, backstory, existing parallel or tangential to the originals, but now he began to see that they could form the beginning of one long story: beginning with Anakin's childhood and ending with Anakin's death. This was the final step towards turning the franchise into a "Saga".
In 1994, Lucas began writing the first screenplay, titled Episode I: The Beginning. At first it was planned to write and then film all three prequels at once, but this was changed, possibly because the writing process took much longer than first thought. Although Lucas initially planned on having others write and direct, he kept writing on his own, and eventually decided to direct the film as well. In 1999, Lucas announced he would be directing the next two films as well, and began working on Episode II at that time. The first draft of this was completed just weeks before principal photography, and Lucas hired Jonathan Hales, a writer from the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, to polish up his draft. Unsure of a title, Lucas had jokingly called the film "Jar Jar's Big Adventure." By now the backstory had undergone large changes — Ben Kenobi had discovered Anakin as an adult in Episode I's first draft, but he was changed to be a young student, and Anakin a child, and in Episode II the Clone Wars were decided to be a personal manipulation of Palpatine's. At the time of the original trilogy, Lucas had many ideas for this war: in Empire Strikes Back it was decided that Lando was a clone and came from a planet of clones that caused a war, but later a different version was decided wherein "Shocktroopers", including Boba Fett waged war against the Republic from a distant galaxy but were then repelled by the Jedi knights.
Lucas began working on Episode III even before Attack of the Clones was released, offering concept artists that the film would open with a montage of seven Clone War battles. As he reviewed the storyline that summer, however, he says he radically re-organized the plot. Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, offers evidence that issues in Anakin's fall to the dark side prompted Lucas to make massive story changes, first revising the opening sequence to have Palpatine kidnapped and Dooku killed by Anakin as a first act towards the dark side. Lucas' first draft was written in 2003, and is largely similar to the film, though much simplified. After principal photography was complete in 2003, Lucas made even more massive changes in Anakin's character, re-writing his entire turn to the dark side — he would now turn out of a quest to save Padmé from dying, rather than the previous version where that was one of many reasons and genuinely believed that the Jedi were evil and plotting to take over the Republic. This fundamental re-write was accomplished through editing and many new and revised scenes filmed in additional pick-ups in 2004.
George Lucas has often exaggerated the amount of material he had written for the series, most of these exaggerations stemming from the post-1978 period where the film grew into a true phenomenon. Lucasfilm often indicated that he had written twelve stories to be filmed, and Lucas was quick to tell how Star Wars was always Episode IV that was meant as a middle-chapter. Lucas also began to claim that Darth Vader's parentage of Luke and redemption was always a major part of his plan from early on, and even that this was his very first script or treatment. As Jonathan Rinzler and Michael Kaminski show, this is demonstrably false. Kaminski rationalizes that these exaggerations are part publicity device and part security measure — with the series and story radically changing throughout the years, Lucas would emphasize that its current embodiment was the original intention; with the series previously existing as different and often contradictory forms, this makes audiences view the material only from the perspective that Lucas' wishes them to view the material, and it also may protect against outrage that such a popular storyline was being changed post-release after being cherished by so many.
Information on the screenplays comes from many sources. Most of the drafts of Star Wars were leaked to the public in 1977 and have circulated since then. 1987's Annotated Screenplays thoroughly documented the early drafts of the trilogy, and Rinzler's Making of Star Wars supplemented this info with even more detail, including drafts which had not yet been publicly leaked, as well as Lucas' personal notes. Information on the prequel scripts is comparatively more scarce, but a number of making-of books give insight into the writing process and early drafts. The prequels drafts are largely similar to the final films due to Lucas exploring ideas in the art department rather than on paper. Michael Kaminski's The Secret History of Star Wars is the most complete collection of information on all six films.
The cast and crew of Star Wars
Since most major motion picture companies no longer had special effects teams or they thought the American public was no longer interested in non-realistic films, George Lucas had to create one from scratch. He eventually put together a team of model makers and special effects people to create Industrial Light & Magic. The team worked in a run down part of Sana Modesta in a cramped work space which no one ever liked.
Meanwhile, George Lucas was looking for actors for Star Wars. Lucas had decided to go with a group of unknowns and went against his friend Francis Ford Coppola who had picked famous stage and screen actors for The Godfather. Hundreds of actors and actresses tried out for the three main roles, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo. Actors like Burt Reynolds and actresses like Jodie Foster tried out for the parts but Lucas eventually chose 20-year old Mark Hamill, who had only worked on television, as Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher, daughter of couple Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, as Princess Leia. Initially, Harrison Ford was not eligible for the role of Han Solo due to fact he had worked with Lucas on American Graffiti but eventually swayed Lucas over after helping the other actors and actresses with their lines and got the part.
After casting the initial group, Lucas had to find actors for two of the films droids, C-3PO and R2-D2. ILM had made some quaint remote controlled robots but these parts would require living actors. In came 3-foot comedian, Kenny Baker. Due to his shortness and the fact kids could not control this heavy machine, he got the part of R2. Anthony Daniels however originally did not want to do the part of C-3PO until he saw a drawing of C-3PO by McQuarrie and he instantly wanted the part and got it. Lucas eventually found Australia native Peter Mayhew who was over 7 feet tall making him the perfect size for Han Solo's furry Wookiee counterpart Chewbacca. After casting all the characters, Lucas began production on Star Wars in mid-1976.
Star Wars comes to life
The cast and crew of Star Wars began filming in Tunisia, North Africa where mid-morning temperatures reached 105 degrees. Many crew members and cast workers thought the movie was a joke and between problems on props and machinery, during filming Tunisia had their largest rainstorm in many years. Through it all Alec Guinness, the Academy Award winning actor who was cast as the wise mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, kept up a positive attitude and was inspiration for the cast. The only silver lining was that after Africa, the team would be filming at a more controlled area, Elstree Studios in London.
After finishing up filming in Africa, The entire cast and crew of Star Wars finally came together to film the action sequences on the Death Star battle station. While this was happening, problems at ILM were far worse than the filming ones. Lucas eventually had to supervise every day at ILM causing him to nearly have a heart attack. Meanwhile, Fox studios had had enough of George Lucas and his "kid's movie" and asked Alan Ladd Jr. to terminate the project. Instead, Alan told Lucas he had only a few weeks to finish filming or have his movie fail. The last few climactic scenes were finished quickly with Lucas bike-pedaling from soundstage to soundstage. Eventually, the film was finished and the process to edit and fix his film began.
Problems Star Wars faced
When Lucas saw the first cut of his film, he was horrified. To make matters worse, he had to fire his editor. Luckily, his replacements (including his then wife Marcia) greatly improved the film, but Lucas still insisted on reshooting some scenes. This, among other reasons, forced Fox to move the release date from Christmas 1976 to Summer 1977. After showing the film without its music score to some of his friends, only Steven Spielberg, who had recently become an A-list director with the release of Jaws, liked it. However, when Fox executives saw it they loved it. With his film cut and most of the sounds for the film completed (and with the help of Ben Burtt), Lucas started to think about his film's score. It was Spielberg who recommended John Williams (who had just scored Jaws). This was considered a gutsy move because thematic scores were out of style at the time, but Lucas went ahead with it.
The pre-release of Star Wars
After the score was completed, Lucas began to start marketing his picture. However, many people thought it would be a flop, so not many people went with him. One company that did however was the toy company Kenner Products who decided to make a few figures for the release. Eventually, Lucas's film was released on May 25, 1977. It would be a day they would never forget.
The success of Star Wars
When Star Wars opened, it initially opened at a few theaters. A month after its release Star Wars played at almost every theater in the country and hundreds worldwide. People, especially children, flocked to see the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia again and again and again. Lines stretched for miles. Kenner, caught up in a vortex, ran out of toys by early fall of the film's release. So, the infamous "Empty Box" scheme was formed. Fox's stock rocketed up. Merchandise flew off the shelves by the thousands and Lucas became very rich. Star Wars' run eventually ended by early 1978 with over 260 million dollars making it the most successful film in history at that time. It would be re-released over the next 20 years adding 220 million to its overall total. Currently, it is the second-highest American grossing film of all time (in inflation-adjusted dollars), second only to Gone with the Wind.
Star Wars was nominated for 10 Oscars including Best Picture and won 6 of them. But just being nominated for it showed Fox and Lucas, who knew all along, that this was not a "kids' film."
The sequels begin
The Empire Strikes Back
In 1978, with George Lucas a millionaire, he began taking his screenplays for Episodes V and VI and turning them into films. In early 1978, Lucas began working on Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars was also later retitled, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. However, this time Lucas left the Director's Guild and Irvin Kershner was the new director with Lucas as the producer. Filming began in mid to late 1978 with the snowy planet of Hoth scenes being filmed in Norway. However, during filming, as if a curse, Norway suffered their worst snow storm in many years. Mark Hamill, who was still recovering from his car accident injuries, filmed in a scene in the snow while the crew stayed in their hotel rooms. After the filming there concluded, the next part of the filming process turned to Elstree Studios.
Since Lucas wanted this movie to be bigger and more spectacular than Star Wars, more sets were made and new characters were introduced which included the first black Star Wars character, Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams and a 2-foot puppet named Yoda voiced by Frank Oz. It was also the first time that Han Solo and Princess Leia kissed. But the biggest surprise was Darth Vader's revelation to Luke. A few minutes before shooting that scene, Kershner told Hamill that Vader was his father. However, they did not tell David Prowse, the man in the Vader suit, so when they recorded Vader's dialogue with James Earl Jones the line was instead of "No, Obi-Wan killed your father." This line would later spark the lightsaber duel in Episode VI and all the Prequels adventures.
Many people believed that the sequel would not be as good as Star Wars but audiences didn't think so. The Empire Strikes Back took in 6.4 million dollars of the weekend of May 21, 1980. It was also considered the darkest Star Wars movie ever until Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith was released. However, its gross in the U.S. ended at 290 million dollars making it the lowest grossing Star Wars movie ever.
Return of the Jedi
Before beginning the production of Episode VI, Lucas, using the profits from Star Wars and Empire, made Skywalker Ranch, a place where friends of Lucas could hang out and work on movies, mostly Star Wars related things. It would be used greater during the making of the prequel trilogy.
In early 1982, Lucas still out of the Director's chair, Richard Marquand began shooting Revenge of the Jedi. Some of the new things in the films included a Speeder Bike chase, a second Death Star and one of the most controversial groups of characters in Star Wars history, the Ewoks. Also, to keep the title of Episode VI from leaking out, the title, Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination, was the new "title" of the movie. After filming for Jedi completed, a few months before the film's release, Lucas changed the title to Return of the Jedi, stating "revenge was not a quality of the Jedi", although some industry insiders attribute the title's change because Star Trek II : Wrath of Khan was also to be released around the same time and Fox, and possibly Lucas, did not want audience's confused between the similar titles. The "Revenge" title would eventually be used for Episode III.
After Jedi broke single and opening day box office records on May 25, 1983, six years after the original Star Wars opening, George Lucas's wife divorced him, leaving him to raise his children. Afterwards, Lucas established several Lucasfilm companies including THX Sound and Picture, the Pixar Animation Studios (which would later be sold to Disney), and several others. In May 1987, ten years after the first movie's release, Lucas announced a second trilogy and hinted at a third. In mid-1996, with all the technology necessary, Lucas began working on the Star Wars movies the way he wanted them adding new scenes and changes along with THX Sound and excellent picture quality.
The Star Wars: Special Edition movies
In the 1990s George Lucas realized he could change his Star Wars films and began altering them. Some new scenes included a dramatically altered Mos Eisley sequence from Episode IV among other things. New scenes in Episode V and VI were also added.
From early to mid-1997, Lucas released The Special Edition versions of Star Wars into cinemas, adding more money to their overall totals. Some changes caused uproars in the fan community (Greedo shoots Han first in Episode IV), while others caused a cheer (Improved Mos Eisley and Bespin sequences). However, this was not the last of Star Wars movie changes.
The Expanded Universe gets expanded
Almost a decade after the release of Return of the Jedi, Star Wars merchandising sales had ground to a halt. In an effort to revitalize interest and capitalize on the success of other franchises in books, Bantam Spectra and Lucas Licensing planned a four year publication run that would include several Star Wars novels.
It was 1991's Heir to the Empire that sparked the success of the first run of new novels and signaled a renaissance in Star Wars publishing. The Thrawn Trilogy by Hugo Award-winning author Timothy Zahn would become one of the most popular science fiction series to date, and introduced some of the Expanded Universe's best known characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade and Gilad Pellaeon. Bantam would continue to publish dozens of books across a number of eras, leading to the use of era markers after Bantam was sold to Del Rey.
But books were just the beginning. In the same year as Zahn's success, Dark Horse Comics released Dark Empire, the first serious Star Wars graphic novel. It too would be followed by dozens of comic series.
Star Wars video and computer games also contributed to the Expanded Universe, but 1996's Shadows of the Empire multimedia campaign marked a turning point. The simultaneous release of a novel, video game, comics, soundtrack, toys and other promotional tie-ins set the standard that would later be followed for the merchandising efforts of the prequel trilogy and expanded upon for the Clone Wars.
The prequels begin
The Phantom Menace
In 1994, George Lucas began writing his Prequel Trilogy which was to be made in the coming years. In 1997, production for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace went underway. Lucas would revisit Tunisia, Africa and have more problems there as his Star Wars past came to haunt him. However, this time Lucas filmed all non-location photography in Leavesden Studios, England.
After wrapping up filming, Lucas started finishing up the special effects and other small things. This would eventually be his last film filmed on regular film. Meanwhile, while Lucas was wrapping up his film the first ever Star Wars: Celebration which celebrated the release of Episode I and would be done again for Episodes II and III.
After his film was released on May 19, 1999, Lucas soon started writing Episode II while Phantom Menace broke box-office records and grossed more than 900 million dollars worldwide, despite poor reviews and reaction to the acting and general appearance of characters, in particular the much maligned Jar Jar Binks.
Attack of the Clones
Filming for Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones started at Fox Studios, Sydney, Australia with new actors like Hayden Christensen and the return of the now famous Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman along with a fully digitized Yoda.
However, when the film was released, many people criticized Lucas's many love scenes and Hayden's portrayal of a whiny Anakin. The film was grossed less than Spiderman and was the # 2 film of the year grossing only 311 million dollars and becoming the second lowest grossing Star Wars film of all time.
Revenge of the Sith
In late 2002, Lucas began writing the screenplay for his last Star Wars film Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, what would be the darkest Star Wars film. Anakin turns to the dark side, the Jedi Order is destroyed and Palpatine becomes Emperor. It would be a heart-felt moment when the last scene was finished and the cast left on their separate ways foreseeable the premiere in May 2005.
The film not only received the praise of the critics as well as fans. Revenge of the Sith broke midnight, opening, 3-day and 5-day records and becoming the fastest film to reach $100 million and $300 million. It has so far grossed $848 million and became the second highest grossing film of 2005 in a year of let downs at the box office.
The future of Star Wars
A Sequel trilogy which will be Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, have been announced. Episode VII is due to come out in 2015 with J. J. Abrams directing the film.
In 2007, Lucas originally planned to release all six of the Star Wars films in 3D, along with a possible "Saga boxset". Test scenes were rendered in 3D, including the Coruscant speeder chase; Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released to theaters in 3D on February 10, 2012, and the entire saga on Blu-ray was released September 16, 2011.
Main article: Sequel trilogy
On October 30, 2012, it was announced that The Walt Disney Company would acquire Lucasfilm for US$4.05 billion, half in cash and half in shares of Disney. Privately-held Lucasfilm would become a unit of Disney, like Marvel Entertainment and Pixar. As part of the announcement, Disney announced that Star Wars Episode VII would be released in 2015; additional Star Wars films would then be released every two or three years apart. Lucasfilm already had Episode VII in early-stage development. Disney chief executive and chairman Bob Iger told the Financial Times that the deal would slightly reduce returns to shareholders over the next two years, but that it would become profitable for them in 2015, once Episode VII is released.
- "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.…"
- ―the saying at the beginning of every official Star Wars movie, show, game, etc.
The line "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.…," which appears at the beginning of every Star Wars film, is the only way the Star Wars galaxy has been defined in relation to the real world. It is alluding to the classic fairy tale line "Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…" and variations thereof. It may reflect that the films are to be interpreted as the myths of the future, as opposed to literally meaning that the events take place in the past. Lucas himself intentionally left the details open to interpretation.
The saga shows an "ancient" galactic civilization thousands of years old. The setting is totally unrelated to Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy or reality, which gives it more liberty, in a sense. The Star Wars galaxy prominently features humans that look like those from Earth. Their civilization was able to develop space travel, terraform, build ecumenopoleis, and build space colonies 200,000 years "ago", according to the Expanded Universe.
The titular Star Wars originally referred to the Galactic Civil War which takes place in the original trilogy. However, when considering the prequels and the Expanded Universe, these events are only a portion of the millennia-spanning war between the Sith and the Jedi/Galactic Republic.
Star Wars also merges science with supernatural elements that strongly relate to epic stories and fairy tales (eg. magic, knights, witches, princes, and "whimsical" alien races such as Ewoks, Wisties, etc).
While the scope of Star Wars history spans many thousands of years among all of the Star Wars history recorded and over 36,100 years in all the fiction produced to date (from Dawn of the Jedi to Star Wars: Legacy), the films span only two generations.
Later novels from a series dubbed The New Jedi Order opened up the Star Wars setting with alien beings known as the Yuuzhan Vong that came from a different galaxy, much to the surprise of some fans. All species and events prior to this series considered only one single galaxy.
- "I've never seen the movies as any kind of phenomenon because I have to live with them and work with them and they're just another movie that I make. It's no harder or easier than anything else I do. It's just that they became really popular for whatever reason while something else didn't. But I like all the movies I make, and I put just as much work into all of them. And it's hard to tell why some of them really become popular and some of them don't. I mean I know the basic rules, yet when something like Star Wars becomes such an incredible phenomenon there's no way to explain it."
- ―George Lucas
The original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI) takes place during the Galactic Civil War, in which the ragtag Rebel Alliance battles the menacing Galactic Empire in an epic struggle between good and evil. Young farmboy Luke Skywalker, training to become the last (and the first of a new generation) of the mystical warriors known as the Jedi, may be the only person who can stand against the Dark Lords of the Sith, Darth Vader and his master Emperor Palpatine.
The prequel trilogy (Episodes I, II, and III) portrays the events leading to the Galactic Civil War, with the fall of the Galactic Republic and the rise of the Empire, from the Battle of Naboo between Naboo and the Trade Federation through the Clone Wars against the Confederacy of Independent Systems. These wars are secretly orchestrated by the Sith under the mysterious Darth Sidious, who secretly controls both sides. The prequel trilogy specifically tells the tale of Anakin Skywalker, Luke and Leia's father, a former Tatooine slave who is trained as a Jedi after the Battle of Naboo but gradually turns to evil and becomes Darth Vader.
The films draw extensively on archetypal figures and themes of classical literature. They are based on the concept of "the Force," an energy that can be controlled by someone born with innate ability and trained to perfect his, her, or its skill. The Force can be used to move objects, read or control minds, or even influence the outcome of large battles. A person trained in the use of the "light side" of the Force for good is a Jedi; someone trained in using the "dark side" for evil is either a Sith or a Dark Jedi.
The original idea for Star Wars was conceived in the early 1970s and went through many revisions, providing plenty of material for the films. The original Star Wars movie (Episode IV) was first released in 1977, but the novelization was released six months earlier, in 1976. The sixth Star Wars film (Episode III) was released in 2005. There were originally to be nine films in three trilogies (some accounts claim twelve films in four trilogies); however, Lucas has stated that he does not intend to make any more Star Wars films after Episode III.
On October 30th, 2012 The Walt Disney Company along with the announcement of the acquisition of Lucasfilm, announced plans for the production of a new series of films, beginning with Star Wars Episode VII in 2015, and plans for additional films. George Lucas announced he would not be directing the films but would serve as a "creative consultant." There has been no indication as to what the content of the films would be.
All of the original films were shot at, among other locations, Elstree Studios. Episode I was filmed at Leavesden Studios and the subsequent prequels were filmed in Sydney, Australia. Tunisia has served as the location for filming scenes set on the desert planet Tatooine.
Together, the six movies have made a grand total of $4,327,000,000 in the box office with another three on the way.
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (May 19, 1999)
- Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (May 16, 2002)
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (May 19, 2005)
- Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (May 25, 1977)
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (May 21, 1980)
- Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (May 25, 1983)
- Star Wars Episode VII (December 18, 2015)
- Star Wars Episode VIII
- Star Wars Episode IX
George Lucas has tinkered repeatedly with the original trilogy. For the Special Editions of Episodes IV through VI, the films were extensively cleaned up and restored, and Lucas took this opportunity to make a number of changes, adding previously cut scenes and new effects. The Special Editions were released in theaters in early 1997, and on VHS later that year. Further changes were made for the films' initial DVD release in September 2004. In 2006, Lucas finally released the original trilogy in unaltered form on DVD.
At a ShoWest convention in 2005, George Lucas demonstrated new technology and stated that he was planning to release all six films in a new 3D film format, beginning with A New Hope in 2007. This did not materialize, but on September 28, 2010, the official site announced the 3D release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace coming to theaters in 2012.
Lucas also hinted in the past that he would release his definitive, often called "archival" editions of all six Star Wars films in one set on a next-generation home-video format in 2007.[source?] This release was to coincide with, and celebrate, the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars saga. These "archival" editions were never released, or announced.
The Expanded Universe (or EU) is the continuation of the movies. It plays a major role in the storyline. One can read books from the prequel-era, between the movies, or post-Episode VI. There are also several books dealing with the lives of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian just before the movies. There are even books about the briefly shown Wedge Antilles. Some notable characters include the twins Jaina and Jacen Solo, the strong but angry Mara Jade, the pilot-turned-Jedi Corran Horn, and the tactical genius Grand Admiral Thrawn.
The books set during or after the Star Wars Original Trilogy follow Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and other minor characters, as well as the growth of the New Republic. The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers is the first book chronologically set after Return of the Jedi, but the first Expanded Universe story written was Alan Dean Foster's Splinter of the Mind's Eye.
In the Expanded Universe, the Galactic Empire suppresses alien species because most Imperials are xenophobic, but this idea appears in the films only subtly (or, arguably, not at all). The idea of the Empire enslaving aliens is an analogy to racism. In the Young Jedi Knights series, there is even an example of reverse discrimination, when a group of aliens form the "Diversity Alliance" seeks revenge on all Humans, by means of a viral plague, for the crimes of the Empire. Young Jedi Knights also deals with drug abuse, the homeless, and effects of disability; it is more prone to discussing modern issues than any other Star Wars series.
The post-Episode VI EU has often been criticized as being too dark and depressing, such as the Yuuzhan Vong invasion that kills several major characters, and trillions of deaths in the war. Critics often point to the fact that George Lucas wanted a saga with an ultimately happy ending, yet the current direction of the EU indicates a revival of the Sith that even Luke Skywalker cannot stop.
The Saga chronologically begins with the so-called Big Bang, the creation of the universe. Billions of years the galaxy was slowly formed, and there are novels as the Darth Bane trilogy, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan, and Knight Errant, in which both the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order exist. Thousands years later, there are series about the training of Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Naboo Crisis. This is where the story truly begins, although numerous games and comics have been set before.
The story from then revolves around the Skywalker family and their friends and adversaries. The Skywalkers are involved in every important event from now. They go through numerous wars, the last known being Cade Skywalker and the Second Imperial Civil War.
- Star Wars the radio adaptation, NPR 1981, was followed by adaptations of the next two films of the series. These adaptations were written by science fiction author Brian Daley, who also wrote three novels detailing the adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca prior to their appearance in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
There are four official feature-length works besides the primary films of the two trilogies.
- The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)
- Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure (1984)
- Ewoks: The Battle for Endor (1985)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
The first three of these are live-action, and were originally made for TV, though the 1984 Ewok film was shown in theaters in some locations outside the U.S. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is an animated theatrical feature kicking off the 2008 TV series.
The Star Wars Holiday Special became famous for featuring Boba Fett's first appearance. An originally minor detail, the Wookiee food wookiee-ookiees became a cult symbol in the Star Wars fan universe, spawning plays on its name such as wookiee-cookiees (a Star Wars–themed dessert) and the term "Wookiee Hooky" (the act of skipping school or work to see a Star Wars film, particularly if it has just been released).
Additionally, other filmmakers with no connection to Lucasfilm have made films that salute, document, parody, or unofficially extend Star Wars.
The documentary The People vs. George Lucas is a platform for fans to talk about their take on many Star Wars matters.
The Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards is a Lucasfilm-sponsored contest of short films made by Star Wars fans about, referencing, and parodying the Star Wars phenomenon.
Animated TV shows
- Star Wars: Droids
- Star Wars: Ewoks
- Star Wars: Clone Wars
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars
- Star Wars Rebels (forthcoming)
- Star Wars Detours (forthcoming)
Four cartoon series have been based on Star Wars. The first two began in 1985, Clone Wars in 2003 and The Clone Wars in 2008. Ewoks featured the adventures of the Ewoks prior to Return of the Jedi. Droids featured the adventures of C-3PO and R2-D2 between Episode III and Episode IV. Clone Wars and The Clone Wars features the adventures of the Jedi as they fight against the Confederacy of Independent Systems in the Clone Wars, set between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Live-action TV shows
- Star Wars: Underworld (forthcoming)
A live-Action TV show was announced by LucasFilm in 2008, but little more has been heard since then.
- In 1984-1985, George Lucas executive produced two live television episodes of a short-series called "Ewok Adventures." These take place before the Battle of Endor and follow the brief adventures of the Towani family after they are marooned on Endor. The two episodes were named "The Ewok Adventure: Caravan of Courage" and "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor", and Warwick Davis returned to once again play the plucky Ewok Wicket W. Warrick. One odd thing in this series was that Wicket was taught to speak English, an ability he did not reveal at all during the entire Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi.
See also: List of books
Star Wars–based fiction predates the release of the first movie, with the novelization of A New Hope (by Alan Dean Foster but credited to George Lucas) released some months before the film itself. Foster also wrote the first original Star Wars novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, the 1978 publication of which inaugurated a very successful literary spin-off franchise.
The six Star Wars movies have provided a basis for over a hundred novels. The novels have been officially authorized by Lucasfilm, and were previously published by Bantam Books (with a few early titles published by Ballantine), though Del Rey now holds the contract again. The stories told in these books reach back thousands of years before The Phantom Menace to several generations after Return of the Jedi. Books authorized by Lucas are written by fans of the films, and are part of a collection known as Expanded Universe. The first books considered to be part of the Expanded Universe began to appear in the late 1970s.
The Expanded Universe experienced a revolution in the New Jedi Order (NJO) series, which recently concluded with The Unifying Force. The NJO tells the story of a horrific invasion by the extragalactic species known as the Yuuzhan Vong, and includes the passing of several well known and loved characters.
Some fans of the original Star Wars movies reject the literary works of the Expanded Universe, and insist that only the films and the statements made by George Lucas interpreting his own works can be accepted as canonical. However, numerous statements made by employees at Lucasfilm Ltd. and comments made by Lucas himself indicate that a majority of the works of the Expanded Universe are indeed part of the official universe.
Most of the novels that have been written take place after the events of the films, with a few that take place between the movies, and a growing number set before the films. For some fans, these can be more exciting stories, as they provide narratives for many characters who only have a minor roles, or are only briefly seen, in the movies. One of particular note is Steve Perry's Shadows of the Empire, which is set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In addition to focusing on relatively minor characters, it bridges some events between the two films. It also includes more scenes of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine scheming together, offering a greater understanding of their relationship (the nature of which was further explored in Episodes I through III).
Perhaps the most widely acclaimed contribution is the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, which many fans had hoped would be the basis for Episodes VII, VIII, and IX. Some consider these novels to have captured the essence of the original movie trilogy.
Aside from books providing narratives, there are also reference books which detail things about the Star Wars universe in a "non-fiction" style, revealing details that cannot fit into a story. Examples include The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide, Inside the Worlds of, and the Visual Dictionaries.
Comic books and strips
See also: List of comics
Marvel Comics published adaptations of the original trilogy as well as a Star Wars comic book series which lasted from 1977 to 1986, a total of 107 issues and 3 annuals. A wide variety of creators worked on this series, including Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Carmine Infantino, Walter Simonson, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Whilce Portacio, Mary Jo Duffy, and Ron Frenz. In the 1980s, as part of their Star Comics line oriented towards young children, Marvel also published the short-lived series Ewoks and Droids, based on the Saturday morning cartoons.
Beginning in the 1990s, Dark Horse Comics has published a large number of original adventures set in the Star Wars universe. As of 2006, these mainly include Star Wars: Republic, Star Wars: Empire, Star Wars Tales, Star Wars: Jedi, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Star Wars: Legacy. Dark Horse has also published collections of the Marvel series in seven volumes and the comic strip as Classic Star Wars.
Since 1983, over 120 video games have been published bearing the name of Star Wars, beginning with 'Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back' published for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers.
The first games based on the franchise were released on the Atari 2600, the very first, The Empire Strikes Back (1982), the player drove a snowspeeder during the Battle of Hoth, destroying AT-AT walkers. While simplistic, the game captured the essence of the movie as well as technology allowed. Several other games appeared, like Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle (1982), where the player controlled the Millennium Falcon in a mission to destroy the second Death Star, and Jedi Arena (1983), the first game to attempt to simulate a lightsaber battle (in this case, clearly inspired by the A New Hope scene, where Luke Skywalker trains with a seeker). Also in 1983, Star Wars was released based on A New Hope. In this game the player takes on the role of Luke Skywalker towards the end of the film in which Luke battles through many TIE fighters in an attempt to destroy the first Death Star.
Due to the video game crash of 1983, which killed the home console market, no further games based on the franchise were released until 1991, when the platformer Star Wars was released for both the NES and Game Boy, and one year later, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back reused the engine with the plotline of the fifth episode of the saga. It would be still in 1992 that Super Star Wars was released for the SNES (the Super prefix was often used in remakes of 8-bit games), followed by the remaining games in the trilogy: Super Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (1993) and Super Star Wars: Return of Jedi (1994).
Other early titles include the game Star Wars for the Nintendo Entertainment System (published by JVC) and three other titles for the Atari 2600.
Video game pioneer Atari produced arcade games based on the original trilogy, beginning with Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, which were both flight simulator-style games that utilized vector graphics. The third, Return of the Jedi, used more traditional raster graphics and a '3/4' perspective.
Star Wars: X-Wing was the first PC game of the 'new generation' of officially released by LucasArts games in 1993. It returns to the space fighter combat gameplay not seen since the Atari arcade games. Players generally played as a pilot for the Rebel Alliance, completing a variety of goals, culminating in the destruction of the Death Star. This game had sequels, in the form of Star Wars: TIE Fighter, and Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance.
The longest running series of computer games is the groundbreaking Dark Forces series. This first person shooter series began in 1995 with Star Wars: Dark Forces. The next in the series was Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, which allowed the player to play as a Jedi. The third game in the Dark Forces series, Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, focused more on a third person Jedi adventure than the previous games. And the fourth and latest release was Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, which originated as an expansion pack for Jedi Outcast, but evolved into a game of its own.
Another long running video game series began with Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the Nintendo 64 and continued in Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike for the Nintendo GameCube. The first title was also available for PCs, and all were developed by Factor 5 and published by LucasArts. Rogue Squadron III featured emulated versions of the original Atari Star Wars arcade games.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, published in 2003, won "Game of the Year" recognition from several prominent gaming magazines, websites, etc. A sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, was released for the Xbox in December of 2004 and the PC in February of 2005. Bioware released a MMORPG sequel to KOTOR I & II called "Star Wars: The Old Republic" on December 20, 2011, set approximately 300 years after the events of KOTOR II.
Star Wars Galaxies, an MMORPG developed by Sony, was released on June 26, 2003 in the United States, November 7 in Europe, December 23, 2004 in Japan, and in 2006 in Australia. The game was based after the events of the Battle of Yavin, and allowed players to create characters of a variety of species and specializations (such as Bounty Hunter and Smuggler) and choose to ally themselves with the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire.
Star Wars: Battlefront was released in 2004 and is a first/third person shooter game capable of online play where you can play in both trilogies, as all factions, in many different battlefields. Its sequels, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron and Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron were released in 2005, 2007, and 2009 respectively.
LEGO Star Wars, a Lego spinoff series in which the characters of Star Wars and most other vehicles and objects are made of LEGO bricks. The second game of the series is LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy. The third game of this series, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, combines the first two games. LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars is a LEGO version of the Clone Wars animated series, taking place during seasons 1 and 2
Two role playing games set in the Star Wars universe have been published: a d6-based game from West End Games and a Wizards of the Coast game using the d20 system on which their popular Dungeons & Dragons is based.
The plot revolves around a small team of certain individuals. The Star Wars movies are unique in providing cast names even to minor characters, whose name is not even mentioned in the dialogue lines, even non-speaking ones that appear for few moments. The characters' backstory or importance is revealed in the Expanded Universe sources. Such examples include Boba Fett and Mon Mothma.
See Category:Individuals for more extensive listings.
Admiral Ackbar | Admiral Piett | Anakin Skywalker | Bail Organa | Beru Lars | Boba Fett | C-3PO | Chewbacca | Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus | Darth Maul | Darth Sidious/Palpatine | Darth Vader | General Grievous | Han Solo | Jabba the Hutt | Jango Fett | Jar Jar Binks | Lando Calrissian | Luke Skywalker | Mace Windu | Nute Gunray | Obi-Wan Kenobi | Owen Lars | Padmé Amidala | Princess Leia | Qui-Gon Jinn | R2-D2 | Shmi Skywalker | Tarkin | Watto | Yoda
Cast and crew
The cast of the movies feature notable actors. Many of them are only guest-starring in brief, even non-speaking roles, like Sofia Coppola and Keisha Castle-Hughes. Notable supporting roles played by acclaimed actors include Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Oliver Ford Davies. In the prequel trilogy, professional models did the non-speaking minor character roles.
Star Wars stresses the self-destructive nature of anger and hate, summed up in Yoda's words ( ) as well as placing one's feelings for certain people aside. For example, Luke Skywalker is told to remain on Dagobah to complete his training rather than rescue his friends from Cloud City, because doing so will "destroy all for which they have fought and suffered."
Star Wars seems to advocate democracy over dictatorship, although it offers no alternative for the corrupt Republic's government. Some people believe that Star Wars instead advocates monarchy over democracy, although this is not supported by much evidence in the films, as the only monarchs portrayed are democratically elected ones. Lucas has identified the idea of a democracy becoming a dictatorship as the fundamental idea of the saga. He has stated that the saga raises such ideas as the people giving up their power in desperation, and betrayal by their leaders who may think they are doing the right thing while sacrificing freedom. In this way, Star Wars is a cautionary tale in which Lucas, by his own admission, warns people of the danger that is always present to democracy and freedom and has been demonstrated throughout history.
There appear to be anti-technological messages in the films - the primitive Ewoks defeating technological adversaries, and the general idea of technology opposed to humanity - fitting with Lucas' vision. Lucas explicitly attributed the Ewoks defeat of the Galactic Empire to the exploits of the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (otherwise known as the Vietcong) that operated during the Vietnam War. This site explains this theme and others in its analysis of the writing of Star Wars.
The galactic setting of Star Wars is never given a name and is called simply "the galaxy." Since the characters never venture beyond the galaxy and the power of both the Republic and the Empire ends at its borders, the galaxy can be said to serve as a microcosm of both Earth as a whole and an individual nation.
The main story arc in the films traces the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker, mirrored by political events occurring on a galactic scale. As Anakin is seduced by the dark side, the Republic slides into despotism and war; when Anakin reclaims the Jedi values of peace and justice, the evil Empire that supplanted the Republic is overthrown by the Rebel Alliance.
Notes and references
Even though all six Star Wars movies are science fiction, there is still a lot of filming done outside a studio on filming locations around the world:
- Timeline of galactic history
- The galaxy
- Star Wars Technical Commentaries
- The Force
- Wilhelm scream
- Star Wars on Wikipedia
- TheForce.Net, one of the largest and oldest Star Wars fan sites
- HoloNet News, A "news" website based on the Star Wars prequels. It brought readers "current" events from the Expanded Universe of Star Wars. Inactive as of the release of Attack of the Clones.
- 4loms, A fan describing his trip to many of the filming locations.
- starwarslocations, A site devoted to Star Wars filming locations.
- Starkiller: The Internet home of the original drafts & screenplays of the Star Wars saga
- Star Wars sources and analogues on Wikipedia, An article examining cultural influences on George Lucas
- Star Wars Origins
- The Secret History of Star Wars
- starwars on Instagram
- starwars on Tumblr