In 1977, a movie was released that not only defined a generation, but also changed the future of cinema. What is know today as Star Wars IV: A New Hope was released for a limited run on May 25, 1977 and then worldwide on July 15th. The limited release brought in $1,554,475 in its first weekend and over $7 million worldwide by the end of its run (BoxOffice). Viewers of any age experienced the epic space adventure on the big screen, many seeing in multiple times. Many children who saw the movie began collecting action figures and ships based on the movie. A culture grew around a movie, and this culture still exists today. Just last year it was announced that a seventh movie was in the works. This movie is set to be released in December of 2015. Star Wars fans everywhere are both excited and nervous about the next trilogy that is coming their way. Why you ask? Let’s take a look at the history of the franchise from a galaxy far far away and see.
Star Wars began as a short story by George Lucas. While on set of his movie American Graffiti in 1973, Lucas began writing the story of a young man name CJ Thorpe who was being trained to be a space commando by the legendary Mace Windy. The story was extremely hard to understand because the lore was all in Lucas’ head, so he began writing The Star Wars to explain the story. Eventually, this story evolved in a full screenplay complete with a new protagonist named Annikin Starkiller. The screenplay went through multiple drafts until 1976. This draft was called Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. The screenplay was ready for principle photography and throughout production Luke’s name was changed to Skywalker, and the title shortened to just Star Wars (Rinzler).
Star Wars begins on above the planet Tatooine on an ambassador ship. On board is Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, a senator and leader of the Rebel alliance. The ship is under attack by the Galactic Empire because Leia is believed to have plans for their weapon of mass destruction, The Death Star. Leia hides the plans in a droid named R2-D2 and sends him to find a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi. Leia is captured and R2-D2 and his companion C-3PO escape to the surface of the planet below. The two droids are found by a group of droid traders, who sell R2-D2 and C-3PO to moisture farmer, Owen Lars, and his nephew, Luke Skywalker. While Luke is cleaning the droids, he discovers the message to Obi-Wan. Luke decides to take the droids to see the hermit Ben Kenobi, to see if he knows who Obi-Wan is. Luke travels to Ben’s home, where Ben reveals that he is Obi-Wan. He used to be a Jedi Knight, a group of fighters and peacekeepers who were massacred by the Empire. Obi-Wan reveals that Luke’s father, Anakin, was also a Jedi, but was killed by Darth Vader, the leader of the Empire. Obi-Wan listens to Leia’s message in which she asks him to take the Death Star’s plans to her father on Alderaan. Luke accompanies Obi-Wan in his journey along with a smuggler named Han Solo and his partner Chewbacca, who they hire to fly them to Alderaan in Han’s ship, the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars IV: A New Hope).
Meanwhile, on the Death Star, Darth Vader interrogates Leia, with no success. Vader decides they must take drastic measures and he uses the Death Star to destroy her home planet. The Millennium Falcon arrives at Alderaan, or where Alderaan should be, only to find it destroyed. The ship is caught in the Death Star’s tractor beam and brought on board. The gang disguise themselves as Stormtroopers so they can disable the tractor beam and save the princess. Unfortunately, Obi-Wan must face Vader in a lightsaber duel in which he dies to save the others. The remainder of the crew, along with Leia, take the Millennium Falcon to the Rebel Alliance’s base where plans to destroy the Death Star are made. Luke and Han end up saving the day as Luke fires the final blow to the space station while Han fights off enemy fighters. In the end, both are rewarded for their bravery and dedication to the alliance (Star Wars IV: A New Hope).
The Empire Strikes Back is the second movie in the Star Wars franchise. It begins on the icy planet of Hoth, where the Rebel Alliance’s new base is located. A probe droid, sent by the Empire, finds the base and brings the Empire to Hoth to attack the Rebels. A huge battle ensues between the Empire and the Rebels. Eventually, the Rebels are able to escape. Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and the Droids take the Millennium Falcon through an asteroid field to shake off the Empire’s fighters. Luke, on his own, travels to the swamp planet of Dagobah to find Jedi Master Yoda so he can train to be a Jedi (Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back).
The Millennium Falcon crew hides inside and asteroid, and Vader is furious at having lost them. He hires many bounty hunters, including the infamous Boba Fett, to find them. Eventually, the crew travels to Cloud City on the planet Bespin to seek help from Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, Vader arrives first and pays Lando to turn his friends over. Vader freezes Han in carbonite so Boba Fett can take him to Jabba the Hut on Tatooine, to whom Han owes a large sum of money (Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back).
Luke senses something is wrong and leaves his training to save his friends. When he arrives in Cloud City, it is revealed as a trap for Luke. Vader challenges Luke to a lightsaber duel during which he cuts Luke’s hand off and reveals that he is in fact Luke’s father. Luke screams that he doesn’t believe him and manages to escape. Luke, Leia, Lando, and the Droids begin planning how to rescue Han from Jabba the Hut(Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back).
That is exactly where Return of the Jedi, the third and final movie in the original trilogy, picks up. The entire gang, Leia, Lando, R2-D2, and C-3PO are all undercover in Jabba the Hut’s palace. Leia attempts to free Han by posing as a bounty hunter, but she is captured and made a slave girl. Luke arrives at the palace and is captured and sent to fight the Rancor. Luke easily defeats the monster so Jabba sentences him to death by Sarlacc along with Han. They are taken to the Sarlacc pit, where Jabba and his guests come to watch the execution. Luke is able to escape and a battle breaks out. Leia strangles Jabba with her chains and the whole gang is able to escape. They part ways when leaving Tatooine because Luke promised to return to Yoda and finish his training. Everyone else leave to meet up with the rest of the Rebels (Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi).
Back on Dagobah, Yoda is dying. He confirms that Vader is Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker. He turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader. Yoda also mentions that there is another Skywalker, who is Luke’s twin sister. Meanwhile, the Rebels discover that the Empire is constructing a new Death Star and they must destroy it. But first they must take out the shield generators for the space station that are located on the forest moon of Endor. The Rebels decide to send a small group down to the planet’s surface to get the job done. This team consists of Han, Luke, Leia, and the Droids (Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi).
When they reach the surface of Endor, the team makes friends with a group of natives known as Ewoks. These small teddy-bear-like creatures prove vital to the crew’s mission on the planet. They stay in the Ewok village until the group is ready to attack. It is hear that Luke reveals to Leia that she is his sister and that Vader is their father. After confiding in Leia, Luke leaves to confront Vader on the Death Star (Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi).
The Rebels must now race against the clock as the Death Star, which was originally believed to still be under construction, prepares to destroy the Rebel base. Han and Leia’s team is able to deactivate the shield generators while Luke is battling Vader, and the Sith Lord Palpatine. Palpatine attacks Luke, but Vader kills him, unable to watch his son suffer any longer. Vader is mortally wounded in his battle with the Sith Lord and, in his last moments, he asks Luke to remove his mask so he can look upon his son’s face with his own eyes. Luke is able to get off the Death Star with his father’s body right before the Rebels destroy it. Later that day, Rebels throughout the galaxy celebrate the destruction of the Empire and Luke lays his father’s body to rest. He then sees his father’s ghost with Obi-Wan’s and Yoda’s, and understands that Vader became his old self in the end and peace is restored throughout the galaxy (Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi).
Fans thought the epic saga know as Star Wars was over after Return of the Jedi, but Lucas decided to make a prequel trilogy that told the story of Anakin Skywalker, and how he turned to the Dark Side and became Darth Vader. The first of these movies, The Phantom Menace, was released in 1999 to many mixed reviews. Even so, the trilogy continued with Attack of the Clones in 2002 and Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Many fans were disappointed with the casting, use of green screen and computer generated graphics, and poor storytelling of the prequel trilogy. Die-hard fans, though, embraced the new movies and are equally excited for the newest movies that are set to be released in 2015. I, personally, cannot wait until the next movie is released. I like the prequel trilogy, not as much as the original, but they are still enjoyable to watch. I cannot wait to see what stories are being told in the next trilogy, but I, like all other Star Wars fans, will have to wait two more years for the next movie.
Rinzler, J. W. The Making of Star Wars. New York: Ballantine, 2007. Print.
“Star Wars (1977) – Box Office Mojo.” Star Wars (1977) – Box Office Mojo. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.
Star Wars Trilogy. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2004. DVD.