Space opera media franchise
This article is about the media franchise as a whole. For the original 1977 film, see Star Wars (film). For other uses, see Star Wars (disambiguation).
Star Wars is an American epicspace operamultimedia franchise created by George Lucas, which began with the eponymous 1977 film[b] and quickly became a worldwide pop-culturephenomenon. The franchise has been expanded into various films and other media, including television series, video games, novels, comic books, theme park attractions, and themed areas, comprising an all-encompassing fictional universe.[c] In 2020, its total value was estimated at US$70 billion, and it is currently the fifth-highest-grossing media franchise of all time.
The original film (Star Wars), retroactively subtitledEpisode IV: A New Hope (1977), was followed by the sequels Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), forming the original Star Wars trilogy. Lucas later returned to filmmaking to direct a prequel trilogy, consisting of Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). In 2012, Lucas sold his production company to Disney, relinquishing his ownership of the franchise. The subsequently produced sequel trilogy consists of Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017), and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
All nine films of the "Skywalker saga" were nominated for Academy Awards, with wins going to the first two releases. Together with the theatrical live action "anthology" films Rogue One (2016) and Solo (2018), the combined box office revenue of the films equated to over US$10 billion, which makes it the second-highest-grossing film franchise of all time. An additional film, Rogue Squadron, is planned for release in late 2023. A number of other films, including an independent trilogy, are suggested to be in development.
The Star Wars franchise depicts the adventures of characters "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", in which humans and many species of aliens (often humanoid) co-exist with robots, or 'droids', who may assist them in their daily routines; space travel between planets is common due to lightspeedhyperspace technology. Spacecraft range from small starfighters, to huge capital ships such as the Star Destroyers, to space stations such as the moon-sized Death Stars. Telecommunication includes two-way audio and audiovisual screens, and holographic projections.
A mystical power known as the Force is described in the original film as "an energy field created by all living things ... [that] binds the galaxy together". Through training and meditation, those whom "the Force is strong with" are able to perform various superpowers (such as telekinesis, precognition, telepathy, and manipulation of physical energy). The Force is wielded by two major knightly orders at conflict with each other: the Jedi, peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic who act on the light side of the Force through non-attachment and arbitration, and the Sith, who use the dark side by manipulating fear and aggression. While Jedi Knights can be numerous, the Dark Lords of the Sith (or 'Darths') are intended to be limited to two: a master and their apprentice.
Force-wielders are very limited in numbers in comparison to the population. The Jedi and Sith prefer the use of a weapon called a lightsaber, a blade of energy that can cut through virtually any surface and deflect energy bolts. The rest of the population, as well as renegades and soldiers, use laser-powered blasterfirearms. In the outer reaches of the galaxy, crime syndicates such as the Hutt cartel are dominant. Bounty hunters are often employed by both gangsters and governments. Illicit activities include smuggling and slavery.
Main article: List of Star Wars films
The Star Wars film series centers around three sets of trilogies, the nine films of which are collectively referred to as the "Skywalker saga". They were produced non-chronologically, with Episodes IV–VI (the original trilogy) being released between 1977 and 1983, Episodes I–III (the prequel trilogy) being released between 1999 and 2005, and Episodes VII–IX (the sequel trilogy), being released between 2015 and 2019. Each trilogy focuses on a generation of the Force-sensitive Skywalker family. The original trilogy depicts the heroic development of Luke Skywalker, the prequels tell the backstory of his father Anakin, while the sequels star Luke's nephew, Kylo Ren.
An anthology series set between the main episodes entered development in parallel to the production of the sequel trilogy, described by Disney chief financial officer Jay Rasulo as origin stories. The first entry, Rogue One (2016), tells the story of the rebels who steal the Death Star plans just before Episode IV.Solo (2018) focuses on Han Solo's backstory, also featuring original trilogy co-protagonists Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian and involving prequel trilogy villain Darth Maul.
Lucasfilm has a number of Star Wars films in development, two of which were confirmed during Disney Investor Day 2020. The first will be a film titled Rogue Squadron, which is being directed by Patty Jenkins, and is scheduled for release on December 22, 2023. The second is an unspecified film from Taika Waititi, who in May 2020 was announced to be directing a Star Wars film he was co-writing with Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Additionally, a trilogy independent from the Skywalker saga is being written by The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson. In September 2019, it was announced that Kathleen Kennedy and Kevin Feige would collaborate to develop a Star Wars film. In February 2020, a film was announced to be in development from director J. D. Dillard and writer Matt Owens.
The Skywalker saga
Main article: Star Wars Trilogy
In 1971, George Lucas wanted to film an adaptation of the Flash Gordon serial, but could not obtain the rights, so he began developing his own space opera.[d] After directing American Graffiti (1973), he wrote a two-page synopsis, which 20th Century Fox decided to invest in. By 1974, he had expanded the story into the first draft of a screenplay.The 1977 movie's success led Lucas to make it the basis of an elaborate film serial. With the backstory he created for the sequel, Lucas decided that the series would be a trilogy of trilogies. Most of the main cast would return for the two additional installments of the original trilogy, which were self-financed by Lucasfilm.
Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977, and first subtitled Episode IV: A New Hope in the 1979 book The Art of Star Wars.Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was released on May 21, 1980, also achieving wide financial and critical success. The final film in the trilogy, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was released on May 25, 1983. The story of the original trilogy focuses on Luke Skywalker's quest to become a Jedi, his struggle with the evil Imperial agent Darth Vader, and the struggle of the Rebel Alliance to free the galaxy from the clutches of the Galactic Empire.
Main article: Star Wars prequel trilogy
According to producer Gary Kurtz, loose plans for a prequel trilogy were developed during the outlining of the original two films. In 1980, Lucas confirmed that he had the nine-film series plotted, but due to the stress of producing the original trilogy, he had decided to cancel further sequels by 1981. In 1983, Lucas explained that "There was never a script completed that had the entire story as it exists now ... As the stories unfolded, I would take certain ideas and save them ... I kept taking out all the good parts, and I just kept telling myself I would make other movies someday."
Technical advances in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the ability to create computer-generated imagery (CGI), inspired Lucas to consider that it might be possible to revisit his saga. In 1989, Lucas stated that the prequels would be "unbelievably expensive." In 1992, he acknowledged that he had plans to create the prequel trilogy. A theatrical rerelease of the original trilogy in 1997 "updated" the 20-year-old films with the style of CGI envisioned for the new trilogy.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released on May 19, 1999, and Episode II: Attack of the Clones on May 16, 2002. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the first PG-13 film in the franchise, was released on May 19, 2005. The first two movies were met with mixed reviews, with the third being received somewhat more positively. The trilogy begins 32 years before Episode IV and follows the Jedi training of Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father, and his eventual fall from grace and transformation into the Sith lord Darth Vader, as well as the corruption of the Galactic Republic and rise of the Empire led by Darth Sidious. Together with the original trilogy, Lucas has collectively referred to the first six episodic films of the franchise as "the tragedy of Darth Vader".
Main article: Star Wars sequel trilogy
Prior to releasing the original film, and made possible by its success, Lucas planned "three trilogies of nine films." He announced this to Time in 1978, and confirmed that he had outlined them in 1981. At various stages of development, the sequel trilogy was to focus on the rebuilding of the Republic, the return of Luke in a role similar to that of Obi-Wan in the original trilogy, Luke's sister (not yet determined to be Leia), Han, Leia,R2-D2 and C-3PO. However, after beginning work on the prequel trilogy, Lucas insisted that Star Wars was meant to be a six-part series and that there would be no sequel trilogy.
Lucas decided to leave the franchise in the hands of other filmmakers, announcing in January 2012 that he would make no more Star Wars films. In October of that year, the Walt Disney Company agreed to buy Lucasfilm and announced that Episode VII would be released in 2015. The co-chairman of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy, became president of the company and served as executive producer of new Star Wars feature films. Lucas provided Kennedy his story treatments for the sequels during the 2012 sale, but in 2015 it was revealed Lucas's sequel outline had been discarded. The sequel trilogy also meant the end of the existing Star Wars Expanded Universe, which was discarded from canon to give "maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience."
Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released on December 16, 2015, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi on December 13, 2017, and Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker on December 18, 2019, in many countries.[f]The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were both critical and box office successes.Episode IX received a mixed reception from critics and audiences. The sequel trilogy starts 30 years after Episode VI and focuses on the journey of the Force-sensitive orphan Rey, guided by Luke Skywalker. Along with ex-stormtrooper Finn and ace X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, Rey helps the Resistance, led by Leia, fight the First Order, commanded by Han and Leia's son (and Luke's nephew), Kylo Ren.
Lucasfilm and Kennedy have stated that the standalone films would be referred to as the Star Wars anthology series (though the word anthology has not been used in any of the titles, instead carrying the promotional "A Star Wars Story" subtitle). Focused on how the Rebels obtained the Death Star plans introduced in the 1977 film, the first anthology film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was released on December 16, 2016, to favorable reviews and box office success. The second, Solo: A Star Wars Story, centered on a young Han Solo with Chewbacca and Lando as supporting characters, was released on May 25, 2018, to generally favorable reviews and underperformance at the box office. Despite this, more anthology films are expected to be released, following a hiatus after 2019's The Rise of Skywalker.
The Star Wars franchise has been spun off to various television productions, including two animated series released in the mid-1980s. Further animated series began to be released in the 2000s, the first two of which focused on the Clone Wars. After Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, only the later one remained canon. Eight live-action Star Wars series will be released on Disney+. The first, The Mandalorian, premiered on November 12, 2019. Star Wars won the 2020 Webby Award for Television & Film in the category Social. Disney+ later released the Ewoks movies and animated series, along the animated first appearance of Boba Fett, and the Clone Wars animated micro-series in a section called Star Wars Vintage, that section will also include the Droids animated series in the future. Certain aspects of the original Clone Wars micro-series are considered to not contradict the canon, while others do.
A live-action spinoff of The Mandalorian, titled The Book of Boba Fett, was announced in December 2020 and is set to be released on December 29, 2021. 
Main article: List of Star Wars television series
Main article: Ewok
See also: Star Wars in other media § Legends fictional timeline
The Star Wars canon fictional universe spans multiple eras, of which three are focused around each of the film trilogies. The following eras were defined in January 2021:
- The High Republic: The era of the "High Republic", set 200 years before the prequel trilogy. It includes the media released in The High Republic and the upcoming The Acolyte.
- Fall of the Jedi: The era of the prequel trilogy,[g] in which the democratic Galactic Republic is corrupted by its ruler, Palpatine—secretly the Sith lord Darth Sidious. After orchestrating the Clone Wars between the Republic and a Separatist confederation, Palpatine exterminates the Jedi Order, overthrows the Republic, and establishes the totalitarianGalactic Empire. It includes the prequel trilogy films and the animated The Clone Wars.
- Reign of the Empire: The era after the prequel trilogy, exploring the reign of the Empire. It includes the animated The Bad Batch and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
- The Age of Rebellion: The era of the original trilogy,[h] in which the Empire is fought by the Rebel Alliance in a Galactic Civil War that spans several years, climaxing with the death of the emperor and fall of the Empire. It includes the animated Star Wars Rebels, Rogue One, and the original trilogy films.
- The New Republic: The era after the original trilogy, set during the formative years of the New Republic following the fall of the Empire. It includes The Mandalorian and its spin-off series, The Book of Boba Fett, Rangers of the New Republic, and Ahsoka.
- Rise of the First Order: The era of the sequel trilogy,[i] in which the remnants of the Empire have reformed as the First Order. Heroes of the former Rebellion, aided by the New Republic, lead the Resistance against the oppressive regime and its rulers—the mysterious being known as Snoke and the revived Palpatine. It includes the animated Star Wars Resistance and the sequel trilogy films.
The Expanded Universe of spin-off media depicts different levels of continuity, which were deemed non-canonical and rebranded as Legends on April 25, 2014, to make most subsequent works align to the episodic films, The Clone Wars film, and television series.
Main article: Star Wars expanded to other media
From 1976 to 2014, the term Expanded Universe (EU) was an umbrella term for all officially licensed Star Wars storytelling material set outside the events depicted within the theatrical films, including novels, comics, and video games. Lucasfilm maintained internal continuity between the films and television content and the EU material until April 25, 2014, when the company announced all of the EU works would cease production. Existing works would no longer be considered canon to the franchise and subsequent reprints would be rebranded under the Star Wars Legends label, with downloadable content for the massively multiplayer online gameThe Old Republic the only Legends material to still be produced. The Star Wars canon was subsequently restructured to only include the existing six feature films, the animated film The Clone Wars (2008), and its companion animated series. All future projects and creative developments across all types of media would be overseen and coordinated by the story group, announced as a division of Lucasfilm created to maintain continuity and a cohesive vision on the storytelling of the franchise. Multiple comics series from Marvel and novels published by Del Rey were produced after the announcement.
Star Wars in print predates the release of the first film, with the November 1976 novelization of Star Wars, initially subtitled "From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker". Credited to Lucas, it was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster. The first "Expanded Universe" story appeared in Marvel Comics' Star Wars #7 in January 1978 (the first six issues being an adaptation of the film), followed by Foster's sequel novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye the following month.
Further information: List of Star Wars books
After penning the novelization of the original film, Foster followed it with the sequel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1978). The novelizations of The Empire Strikes Back (1980) by Donald F. Glut and Return of the Jedi (1983) by James Kahn followed, as well as The Han Solo Adventures trilogy (1979–1980) by Brian Daley, and The Adventures of Lando Calrissian trilogy (1983) by L. Neil Smith.
Timothy Zahn's bestselling Thrawn trilogy (1991–1993) reignited interest in the franchise and introduced the popular characters Grand Admiral Thrawn, Mara Jade, Talon Karrde, and Gilad Pellaeon. The first novel, Heir to the Empire, reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, and the series finds Luke, Leia, and Han facing off against tactical genius Thrawn, who is plotting to retake the galaxy for the Empire. In The Courtship of Princess Leia (1994) by Dave Wolverton, set immediately before the Thrawn trilogy, Leia considers an advantageous political marriage to Prince Isolder of the planet Hapes, but she and Han ultimately marry.Steve Perry's Shadows of the Empire (1996), set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, was part of a multimedia campaign that included a comic book series and video game. The novel introduced the crime lord Prince Xizor, another popular character who would appear in multiple other works. Other notable series from Bantam include the Jedi Academy trilogy (1994) by Kevin J. Anderson, the 14-book Young Jedi Knights series (1995–1998) by Anderson and Rebecca Moesta, and the X-wing series (1996–2012) by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston.
Del Rey took over Star Wars book publishing in 1999, releasing what would become a 19-installment novel series called The New Jedi Order (1999–2003). Written by multiple authors, the series was set 25 to 30 years after the original films and introduced the Yuuzhan Vong, a powerful alien race attempting to invade and conquer the entire galaxy. The bestselling multi-author series Legacy of the Force (2006–2008) chronicles the crossover of Han and Leia's son Jacen Solo to the dark side of the Force; among his evil deeds, he kills Luke's wife Mara Jade as a sacrifice to join the Sith. Although no longer canon, the story is paralleled in The Force Awakens with Han and Leia's son Ben Solo, who has become the dark Kylo Ren.
Three series set in the prequel era were introduced for younger audiences: the 18-book Jedi Apprentice (1999–2002) chronicles the adventures of Obi-Wan Kenobi and his master Qui-Gon Jinn in the years before The Phantom Menace; the 11-book Jedi Quest (2001–2004) follows Obi-Wan and his own apprentice, Anakin Skywalker in between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones; and the 10-book The Last of the Jedi (2005–2008), set almost immediately after Revenge of the Sith, features Obi-Wan and the last few surviving Jedi.
Although Thrawn had been designated a Legends character in 2014, he was reintroduced into the canon in the 2016 third season of Rebels, with Zahn returning to write more novels based in the character, and set in the new canon.
Main articles: Star Wars comics and List of Star Wars comic books
Marvel Comics published a Star Wars comic book series from 1977 to 1986. Original Star Wars comics were serialized in the Marvel magazine Pizzazz between 1977 and 1979. The 1977 installments were the first original Star Wars stories not directly adapted from the films to appear in print form, as they preceded those of the Star Wars comic series. From 1985 to 1987, the animated children's series Ewoks and Droids inspired comic series from Marvel's Star Comics line. According to Marvel comics former Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter, the strong sales of Star Wars comics saved Marvel financially in 1977 and 1978. Marvel's Star Wars series was one of the industry's top selling titles in 1979 and 1980. The only downside for Marvel was that the 100,000 copy sales quota was surpassed quickly, allowing Lippincott to renegotiate the royalty arrangements from a position of strength.
In the late 1980s, Marvel dropped a new Star Wars comic it had in development, which was picked up by Dark Horse Comics and published as the popular Dark Empire series (1991–1995). Dark Horse subsequently launched dozens of series set after the original film trilogy, including Tales of the Jedi (1993–1998), X-wing Rogue Squadron (1995–1998), Star Wars: Republic (1998–2006), Star Wars Tales (1999–2005), Star Wars: Empire (2002–2006), and Knights of the Old Republic (2006–2010).
After Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, it was announced in January 2014 that in 2015 the Star Wars comics license would return to Marvel Comics, whose parent company, Marvel Entertainment, Disney had purchased in 2009. Launched in 2015, the first three publications were titled Star Wars, Darth Vader, and the limited series Princess Leia.
First announced as Project Luminous at Star Wars Celebration in April 2019, full details of a publishing initiative called Star Wars: The High Republic were revealed in a press conference in February 2020. Involving the majority of the current officially licensed publishers, a new era set 200 years before the Skywalker Saga will be explored in various books and comics. These include ongoing titles by Marvel and IDW Publishing, written by Cavan Scott and Daniel José Older respectively, that will both premiere in August 2020.
Soundtracks and singles
Further information: Music of Star Wars
John Williams composed the soundtracks for the nine episodic films; he has stated that he will retire from the franchise with The Rise of Skywalker. He also composed Han Solo's theme for Solo: A Star Wars Story; John Powell adapted and composed the rest of the score.Michael Giacchino composed the score of Rogue One.Ludwig Göransson scored and composed the music of The Mandalorian. Williams also created the main theme for Galaxy's Edge.
Further information: The Story of Star Wars and List of Star Wars books
The first Star Wars audio work is The Story of Star Wars, an LP using audio samples from the original film and a new narration to retell the story, released in 1977. Most later printed novels were adapted into audio novels, usually released on cassette tape and re-released on CD. As of 2019, audio-only novels have been released not directly based on printed media.
Further information: Star Wars (radio)
Radio adaptations of the films were also produced. Lucas, a fan of the NPR-affiliated campus radio station of his alma mater the University of Southern California, licensed the Star Wars radio rights to KUSC-FM for US$1. The production used John Williams's original film score, along with Ben Burtt's sound effects.
The first was written by science-fiction author Brian Daley and directed by John Madden. It was broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981, adapting the original 1977 film into 13 episodes.Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels reprised their film roles.
The overwhelming success, led to a 10-episode adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back debuted in 1983.Billy Dee Williams joined the other two stars, reprising his role as Lando Calrissian.
In 1983, Buena Vista Records released an original, 30-minute Star Warsaudio drama titled Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell, written by Daley. In the 1990s, Time Warner Audio Publishing adapted several Star Wars series from Dark Horse Comics into audio dramas: the three-part Dark Empire saga, Tales of the Jedi, Dark Lords of the Sith, the Dark Forces trilogy, and Crimson Empire (1998).Return of the Jedi was adapted into 6-episodes in 1996, featuring Daniels.
Further information: Star Wars video games and List of Star Wars video games
The Star Wars franchise has spawned over one hundred computer, video, and board games, dating back to some of the earliest home consoles. Some are based directly on the movie material, while others rely heavily on the non-canonical Expanded Universe (rebranded as Star Wars Legends and removed from the canon in 2014). Star Wars games have gone through three significant development eras, marked by a change in leadership among the developers: the early licensed games, those developed after the creation of LucasArts, and those created after the closure of the Lucasfilm division by Disney and the transfer of the license to Electronic Arts.
Early licensed games (1979–1993)
The first officially licensed electronic Star Wars game was Kenner's 1979 table-top Star Wars Electronic Battle Command. In 1982, Parker Brothers published the first Star Wars video game for the Atari 2600, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, followed soon the year later by Star Wars: Jedi Arena, the first video game to depict lightsaber combat. They were followed in 1983 by Atari's rail shooterarcade gameStar Wars, with vector graphics to replicate the Death Star trench run scene from the 1977 film. The next game, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1984), has more traditional raster graphics, while the following Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1985) has vector graphics.
Platform games were made for the Nintendo Entertainment System, including the Japan-exclusive Star Wars (1987), an international Star Wars (1991), and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1992). Super Star Wars (1992) was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, with two sequels over the next two years.
LucasArts and modern self-published games (1993–2014)
Main article: LucasArts
Lucasfilm founded its own video game company in 1982, becoming best known for adventure games and World War II flight combat games, but as George Lucas took more interest in the increasing success of the video game market, he wanted to have more creative control over the games and founded his own development company, LucasArts. Improved graphics allowed games to tell complex narratives, which allowed for the retelling of the films, and eventually original narratives set in the same continuity, with voice-overs and CGI cutscenes. In 1993, LucasArts released Star Wars: X-Wing, the first self-published Star Wars video game and the first space flight simulator based on the franchise. It was one of the best-selling video games of 1993 and established its own series of games. The Rogue Squadron series was released between 1998 and 2003, also focusing on space battles set during the films.
Dark Forces (1995), a hybrid adventure game incorporating puzzles and strategy, was the first Star Warsfirst-person shooter. It featured gameplay and graphical features not then common in other games, made possible by LucasArts' custom-designed game engine, the Jedi. The game was well received, and it was followed by four sequels. The series introduced Kyle Katarn, who would appear in multiple games, novels, and comics. Katarn is a former stormtrooper who joins the Rebellion and becomes a Jedi, a plot arc similar to that of Finn in the sequel trilogy films. A massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Star Wars Galaxies, was in operation from 2003 until 2011. After Disney bought Lucasfilm, LucasArts ceased its role as a developer in 2013, although it still operates as a licensor.
EA Star Wars (2014–present)
Following its acquisition of the franchise, Disney reassigned video game rights to Electronic Arts. Games made during this era are considered canonical, and feature more influence from the Star Wars filmmakers. Disney partnered with Lenovo to create the augmented reality video game Jedi Challenges, released in November 2017. In August 2018, it was announced that Zynga would publish free-to-playStar Wars mobile games. The Battlefront games received a canonical reboot with Star Wars: Battlefront in November 2015, which was followed by a sequel, Battlefront II, in November 2017. A single-player action-adventure game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, with an original story and cast of characters, was released in November 2019. A space combat game titled Star Wars: Squadrons, which builds upon the space battles from Battlefront, was released in October 2020.
Theme park attractions
Main article: List of Star Wars theme parks attractions
In addition to the Disneyland ride Star Tours (1987) and its successor, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (2011), many live attractions have been held at Disney parks, including the travelling exhibition Where Science Meets Imagination, the Space Mountain spin-off Hyperspace Mountain, a walkthrough Launch Bay, and the night-time A Galactic Spectacular. An immersive themed area called Galaxy's Edge (2019) opened at Disneyland and opened at Walt Disney World in mid-2019. A themed hotel, Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, is currently under construction at Walt Disney World.
A multimedia project involves works released across multiple types of media. Shadows of the Empire (1996) was a multimedia project set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that included a novel by Steve Perry, a comic book series, a video game, and action figures.The Force Unleashed (2008–2010) was a similar project set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope that included a novel, a 2008 video game and its 2010 sequel, a graphic novel, a role-playing game supplement, and toys.
Main articles: Kenner Star Wars action figures, List of Kenner Star Wars action figures, Star Wars: The Vintage Collection, Lego Star Wars, Star Wars trading card, and Star Wars role-playing games
The success of the Star Wars films led the franchise to become one of the most merchandised franchises in the world. While filming the original 1977 film, George Lucas decided to take a $500,000 pay cut to his salary as director in exchange for full ownership of the franchise's merchandising rights. By 1987, the first three films have made US$2.6 billion in merchandising revenue. By 2012, the first six films produced approximately US$20 billion in merchandising revenue.
Kenner made the first Star Wars action figures to coincide with the release of the original film, and today the original figures are highly valuable. Since the 1990s, Hasbro holds the rights to create action figures based on the saga. Pez dispensers began to be produced in 1997.Star Wars was the first intellectual property to be licensed in Lego history. Lego has produced animated parody short films and mini-series to promote their Star Wars sets. The Lego Star Wars video games are critically acclaimed bestsellers.
In 1977, the board game Star Wars: Escape from the Death Star was released.[j] A Star Wars Monopoly and themed versions of Trivial Pursuit and Battleship were released in 1997, with updated versions released in subsequent years. The board game Risk has been adapted in two editions by Hasbro: The Clone Wars Edition (2005) and the Original Trilogy Edition (2006). Three Star Wars tabletop role-playing games have been developed: a version by West End Games in the 1980s and 1990s, one by Wizards of the Coast in the 2000s, and one by Fantasy Flight Games in the 2010s.
Star Wars Trading Cards have been published since the first "blue" series, by Topps, in 1977. Dozens of series have been produced, with Topps being the licensed creator in the United States. Each card series are of film stills or original art. Many of the cards have become highly collectible with some very rare "promos", such as the 1993 Galaxy Series II "floating Yoda" P3 card often commanding US$1,000 or more. While most "base" or "common card" sets are plentiful, many "insert" or "chase cards" are very rare. From 1995 until 2001, Decipher, Inc. had the license for, created, and produced the Star Wars Customizable Card Game.
See also: Star Wars sources and analogues
Star Wars features elements such as knighthood, chivalry, and Jungian archetypes such as "the shadow". There are also many references to Christianity, such as in the appearance of Darth Maul, whose design draws heavily from traditional depictions of the devil. Anakin was conceived of a virgin birth, and is assumed to be the "Chosen One", a messianic individual. However, unlike Jesus, Anakin falls from grace, remaining evil as Darth Vader until Return of the Jedi. According to Adam Driver, sequel trilogy villain Kylo Ren, who idolizes Vader, believes he is "doing what he thinks is right". George Lucas has said that the theme of the saga is redemption.
The saga draws heavily from the hero's journey, an archetypical template developed by comparative mythologistJoseph Campbell. Each character—primarily Anakin, Luke, and Rey—follows the steps of the cycle or undergoes its reversal, becoming the villain. A defining step of the journey is "Atonement with the Father". Obi-Wan's loss of a father figure could have impacted his relationship with Anakin, whom both Obi-Wan and Palpatine are fatherlike mentors to. Luke's discovery that Vader is his father has strong repercussions on the saga and is regarded as one of the most influential plot twists in cinema.Supreme Leader Snoke encourages Kylo Ren to kill his father, Han Solo. Kylo uses the fact that Rey is an orphan to tempt her into joining the dark side. According to Inverse, the final scene in The Last Jedi, which depicts servant children playing with a toy of Luke and one boy using the Force, symbolizes that "the Force can be found in people with humble beginnings."
Political science has been an important element of Star Wars since the franchise launched in 1977, focusing on a struggle between democracy and dictatorship. Battles featuring the Ewoks and Gungans against the Empire and Trade Federation, respectively, represent the clash between a primitive society and a more advanced one, similar to the Vietnam-American War. Darth Vader's design was initially inspired by Samurai armor, and also incorporated a German military helmet. Originally, Lucas conceived of the Sith as a group that served the Emperor in the same way that the Schutzstaffel served Adolf Hitler; this was condensed into one character in the form of Vader.Stormtroopers borrow the name of World War I German "shock" troopers. Imperial officers wear uniforms resembling those of German forces during World War II, and political and security officers resemble the black-clad SS down to the stylized silver death's head on their caps. World War II terms were used for names in the films; e.g. the planets Kessel (a term that refers to a group of encircled forces) and Hoth (after a German general who served on the snow-laden Eastern Front). Shots of the commanders looking through AT-AT walker viewscreens in The Empire Strikes Back resemble tank interiors, and space battles in the original film were based on World War I and World War II dogfights.
Palpatine being a chancellor before becoming the Emperor in the prequel trilogy alludes to Hitler's role before appointing himself Führer. Lucas has also drawn parallels to historical dictators such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, and politicians like Richard Nixon.[k] The Great Jedi Purge mirrors the events of the Night of the Long Knives. The corruption of the Galactic Republic is modeled after the fall of the democratic Roman Republic and the formation of an empire.
On the inspiration for the First Order formed "from the ashes of the Empire", The Force Awakens director J. J. Abrams spoke of conversations the writers had about how the Nazis could have escaped to Argentina after WWII and "started working together again."
Main article: Cultural impact of Star Wars
The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on popular culture, with references to its fictional universe deeply embedded in everyday life. Phrases like "evil empire" and "May the Force be with you" have become part of the popular lexicon. The first Star Wars film in 1977 was a cultural unifier, enjoyed by a wide spectrum of people. The film can be said to have helped launch the science-fiction boom of the late 1970s and early 1980s, making science-fiction films a mainstream genre. The widespread impact made it a prime target for parody works and homages, with popular examples including Hardware Wars, Spaceballs, The Family Guy Trilogy and Robot Chicken: Star Wars.
In 1989, the Library of Congress selected the original Star Wars film for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."The Empire Strikes Back, was selected in 2010. 35mm reels of the 1997 Special Editions were the versions initially presented for preservation because of the difficulty of transferring from the original prints, but it was later revealed that the Library possesses a copyright deposit print of the original theatrical releases.
The original Star Wars film was a huge success for 20th Century Fox, and was credited for reinvigorating the company. Within three weeks of the film's release, the studio's stock price doubled to a record high. Prior to 1977, 20th Century Fox's greatest annual profits were $37 million, while in 1977, the company broke that record by posting a profit of $79 million. The franchise helped Fox to change from an almost bankrupt production company to a thriving media conglomerate.
Star Wars fundamentally changed the aesthetics and narratives of Hollywood films, switching the focus of Hollywood-made films from deep, meaningful stories based on dramatic conflict, themes and irony to sprawling special-effects-laden blockbusters, as well as changing the Hollywood film industry in fundamental ways. Before Star Wars, special effects in films had not appreciably advanced since the 1950s. The commercial success of Star Wars created a boom in state-of-the-art special effects in the late 1970s. Along with Jaws, Star Wars started the tradition of the summer blockbuster film in the entertainment industry, where films open on many screens at the same time and profitable franchises are important. It created the model for the major film trilogy and showed that merchandising rights on a film could generate more money than the film itself did.
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his book The Great Movies, "Like The Birth of a Nation and Citizen Kane, Star Wars was a technical watershed that influenced many of the movies that came after." It began a new generation of special effects and high-energy motion pictures. The film was one of the first films to link genres together to invent a new, high-concept genre for filmmakers to build upon. Finally, along with Steven Spielberg's Jaws, it shifted the film industry's focus away from personal filmmaking of the 1970s and towards fast-paced, big-budget blockbusters for younger audiences.
Some critics have blamed Star Wars and Jaws for "ruining" Hollywood by shifting its focus from "sophisticated" films such as The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall to films about spectacle and juvenile fantasy, and for the industry shift from stand-alone, one and done films, towards blockbuster franchises with multiple sequels and prequels. One such critic, Peter Biskind, complained, "When all was said and done, Lucas and Spielberg returned the 1970s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet of European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-1960s Golden Age of movies... They marched backward through the looking-glass." In an opposing view, Tom Shone wrote that through Star Wars and Jaws, Lucas and Spielberg "didn't betray cinema at all: they plugged it back into the grid, returning the medium to its roots as a carnival sideshow, a magic act, one big special effect", which was "a kind of rebirth".
The original Star Wars trilogy is widely considered one of the best film trilogies in history. Numerous filmmakers have been influenced by Star Wars, including Damon Lindelof, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, John Lasseter,David Fincher, Joss Whedon, John Singleton, Kevin Smith, and later Star Wars directors J. J. Abrams and Gareth Edwards. Lucas's concept of a "used universe" particularly influenced Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) and Alien (1979), James Cameron's Aliens (1986) as well as The Terminator (1984), George Miller's Mad Max 2 (1981), and Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001–2003).Christopher Nolan cited Star Wars as an influence when making the 2010 blockbuster film Inception.
Main article: Star Wars fan films
The Star Wars saga has inspired many fans to create their own non-canon material set in the Star Wars galaxy. In recent years, this has ranged from writing fan fiction to creating fan films. In 2002, Lucasfilm sponsored the first annual Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, officially recognizing filmmakers and the genre. Because of concerns over potential copyright and trademark issues, however, the contest was initially open only to parodies, mockumentaries, and documentaries. Fan fiction films set in the Star Wars universe were originally ineligible, but in 2007, Lucasfilm changed the submission standards to allow in-universe fiction entries. Lucasfilm has allowed but not endorsed the creation of fan fiction, as long as it does not attempt to make a profit.
As the characters and the storyline of the original trilogy are so well known, educators have used the films in the classroom as a learning resource. For example, a project in Western Australia honed elementary school students storytelling skills by role-playing action scenes from the movies and later creating props and audio/visual scenery to enhance their performance. Others have used the films to encourage second-level students to integrate technology in the science classroom by making prototype lightsabers. Similarly, psychiatrists in New Zealand and the US have advocated their use in the university classroom to explain different types of psychopathology.
- ^The film's release was preceded by its novelization in November 1976.
- ^ abLater titledStar Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
- ^Most existing spin-off media was made non-canon and rebranded as 'Legends' in April 2014.
- ^Lucas started by researching the inspiration behind Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon comic, leading him to the works of author Edgar Rice Burroughs—the John Carter of Mars series in particular.
- ^Played by Jake Lloyd as a child in Episode I
- ^Each film was released two days later in the U.S.
- ^The prequels feature a relatively sleek and new design aesthetic in comparison to the original trilogy.
- ^The original trilogy depicts the galaxy as dirty and grimy in George Lucas's depiction of a "used universe".
- ^The sequel trilogy made a return to what J. J. Abrams called "the wonderful preposterousness" of practical effects that were used to create the original trilogy.
- ^Not to be confused with the board game with the same name published in 1990
- ^In his early drafts, Lucas used the plot point of a dictator staying in power with the support of the military. In his comment (made in the prequel trilogy era) Lucas attributed this to Nixon's supposed intention to defy the 22nd Amendment, but the president resigned and never ran for a third term.
- ^Booker, M. Keith (2020). Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction Cinema. Historical dictionaries of literature and the arts. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 390. ISBN .
- ^ abcd"The Legendary Star Wars Expanded Universe Turns a New Page". StarWars.com. April 25, 2014. Archived from the original on September 10, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
- ^"Star Wars – Box Office History". The Numbers. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
- ^"Movie Franchises". The Numbers. Archived from the original on July 6, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- ^Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 2006.
- ^Lewis, Ann Margaret (April 3, 2001). Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Alien Species. LucasBooks. ISBN .
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The movie revolves around a civil war taking place "in a galaxy far far away." The Rebels are fighting against the nefarious Darth Vader and his Imperial forces from the Galactic Empire, a tyrannical army intent on destroying civilizations across the universe. Princess Leia is head of the Rebel's Alliance and manages to steal Imperial blueprints and details about a deadly weapon and space station called the Death Star. When she is captured by Imperial forces, she puts the plans in the memory of a droid, R2-D2, who escapes with another droid, C-3PO to the planet of Tatooine.
Jawa traders find the droids and sell them off to farmers Owen and Beru Lars. Owen and Beru have a nephew, Luke Skywalker, who is in charge of cleaning the droids and readying them for work on the farm. While cleaning the droids, Luke accidentally opens Princess Leia's message, which states that she needs help from Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke and R2-D2 find a man named Ben Kenobi who reveals himself to be Obi-Wan, a former Jedi Knight whose duty was to maintain peace in the galaxy by using special powers from something called the Force. The Jedis were destroyed by the Empire and he has gone into hiding. Obi-Wan also reveals that Darth Vader killed Luke's father, and gives the young farm boy his father's lightsaber, a powerful, sword-like weapon.
Leia's message asks Obi-Wan to travel to Alderaan with the plans to give to her father. Luke decides to go with him, and they set out to Mos Eisley, a spaceport town, in search of a pilot who can bring them to Alderaan. They employ Han Solo, a sardonic smuggler, and his furry companion, Chewbacca, to take them to Alderaan using his ship, the Millennium Falcon.
When they arrive at Alderaan they discover that it has been completely destroyed by Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader using the obliterating powers of the Death Star. Luke, Chewbacca and Han Solo sneak onto the Death Star, where they rescue Princess Leia and get on the Millennium Falcon. On the Death Star, Obi-Wan is able to disable the tractor beam, but in a duel with Darth Vader, he is killed.
The Millennium Falcon travels to the rebel base, where plans are being hatched to destroy the Death Star, using the blueprint stored in R2-D2. Luke is at the forefront of the mission to destroy the Death Star, and with the help of Han Solo as well as the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi reminding him that the Force is always with him, Luke successfully blows up the giant Imperial space station.
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Here are plot summaries for the entire big screen 'Star Wars' saga — including 'Rogue One'
Even if you can make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, you'll still likely need this handy primer on the basic chronology of the "Star Wars" saga now that "Rogue One" is about to hit theaters.
'Episode 1: The Phantom Menace'
The seeds for the eventual rise of the evil Empire are sown in a seemingly routine place: a trade dispute between the Republic and the Trade Federation. Two Jedi, the keepers of peace and justice, are dispatched to negotiate the dispute, but (wait for it) it's a trap! They end up barely escaping with their lives, though they do meet R2-D2, who saves their lives. They end up on remote Tatooine, where they meet slave boy Anakin Skywalker and his protocol droid C3PO. Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn senses the Force in Anakin - and believes he's the "Chosen One" who will bring balance to the Force. There's a podrace and Anakin is freed. Qui-Gon wants to train Anakin, but the Jedi Council knows something is up with this boy and rejects it. But he helps the Republic win a battle against the Trade Federation so the Council lets Obi-Wan Kenobi take him as his apprentice.
'Episode 2: Attack of the Clones'
Anakin is older now, but just as bad an actor. The weird trade dispute has grown to a full-scale revolt against the Republic. Anakin is assigned to protect Republic loyalist Sen. Padme Amidala, and they fall in love. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan discovers that a Jedi master has ordered the creation of an army of clones based on a single bounty hunter, Jango Fett, whom Obi-Wan determines is the assassin trying to kill Padme - though he does not know why. He also has no idea why the Jedi have ordered up a clone army. Meanwhile, Anakin's mom is murdered and he freaks out, channeling the dark side that everyone knows he has in him. The full-scale revolt against the Republic is being led by Count Dooku, a former Jedi, who has built his own droid army. Under pressure, the Galactic Senate votes the Chancellor emergency powers, which (wait for it!) is also a trap! The two armies battle and the Jedi and the Clones barely win. The movie ends with the revelation that Dooku, the revolt, the clones and the droids are all being controlled by an evil Sith Lord - who is actually the Chancellor!
'Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith'
The Chancellor has been captured by a revolt leader General Grievous, but Obi-Wan and Anakin rescue him heroically. The Chancellor, seeking to draw out Anakin's dark side, demands that Anakin assassinate Dooku, which he does. Anakin is dealing with his demons, including visions of Padme dying in childbirth. The Council declines to elevate him to Master status, so the Chancellor puts him on the Jedi Council as his representative (spy). He also brags to Anakin that he knows how to harness the dark side to cheat death — though you can't learn that from any (dismissively) Jedi. But (wait for it!), it's a trap. Anakin eventually figures out that the Chancellor is a Sith Lord, but when the Jedi try to arrest him, Anakin comes to his aid because he still wants to save Padme from the visions of death. The Chancellor makes Anakin his apprentice and dubs him Darth Vader. He also orders him to kill everyone, including younglings, though a few Jedi, including Yoda, escape. Obi-Wan tries to stop him with an epic lightsaber battle on the molten planet Mustafar, leaving Anakin next to a lava river as little more than a burnt up torso. The Chancellor saves him, puts him in Darth Vader's famous black suit and they start the Death Star. Padme dies in childbirth and her twins, Luke and Leia are separated and hidden from the now-Empire, with Leia going to Alderaan and Luke ending up on Tatooine, with Obi-Wan going into exile there to watch over the boy.
Disney wants us to call it a "standalone" film, but it is not — it is by all definitions, a prequel. That Death Star from Episode III is basically done, but needs one more last push. So the Empire tracks down its missing weapons expert, Galen Erso, and forces him to finish it. But he embeds a secret flaw inside the planet-killing machine. His daughter Jyn doesn't know what it is, but she and a band of rebels steal the plans and get them to other rebels under the command of the now Princess Leia. The movie ends with Vader trying to steal back the plans in hopes of preventing everything happens in the following episode. Standalone my foot! This is a prequel. Call it "Episode 3.5: Rogue One."
Now older, Luke is just a moisture farmer's boy with no idea of his backstory. But Leia is a major figure in a new rebellion against the Empire. Her ship is attacked by Vader, who makes no mention of the fact that he's her dad. She sneaks the stolen plans for the Death Star into R2-D2, who ends up escaping to Tatooine with C3PO, who is as shrill as ever. The droids end up in service to Luke and his family, but R2 escapes to find Obi-Wan. Few have seen such loyalty in a droid! Obi-Wan tells Luke about his father - but leaves out all the part about him turning evil. They hook up with roguish Han Solo for a flight on the Millennium Falcon so they can get to Alderaan and join the rebellion. First, Solo shoots first and kills Greedo. Then they take off. En route, the Death Star proves that it's the ultimate power in the universe by destroying Alderaan in one shot. The Falcon comes out of hyperspace into the rubble and (wait for it!) it's a trap! The ship is captured by the Empire. Obi-Wan sneaks around and shuts down the forcefield so the Falcon and passengers can escape, but he's struck down by Vader as he flees. The rebels still have the plans for the Death Star and plot a suicide mission that involves dropping a laser bomb into a tiny vent shaft. Solo declines to participate because, hey, he has to pay off Jabba the Hutt anyway. Luke is disappointed, but Solo shows up just in time to save his life and allow him to finish his mission, using the Force and his experience bulls-eyeing womp rats in his T-16. Much celebrations ensue.
'Episode 5: Empire Strikes Back'
Vader pursues the rebels to a new hideout on the ice planet of Hoth. Luke is visited by the spirit of Obi-Wan and told to go to Dagobah to study the ways of the Force with Yoda. Han and Leia barely escape and head to the Cloud City run by Han's scoundrel friend Lando Calrissian. But (wait for it!) it's a trap as the Falcon was tracked by Boba Fett - Jango's revenge-seeking son - who alerts Vader what's going on. He shows up and captures Leia and freezes Han in carbonite so Boba Fett can take him to Jabba. Vader has little interest in Solo because he doesn't have the Force. Lando helps Leia escape, but then Luke bails on his training and shows up (it's another trap!), where Vader reveals that he's Luke's father ("Noooooooooooo!"). Luke barely escapes. Lando and Chewbacca head to Tatooine to free Han and Luke and Leia wait for the next movie.
Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Luke and Leia head to Tatooine to save Han, but Leia is taken as a slave and given a super-hot metal bikini that changed every teenage boy's life. Using super-Jedi powers, Luke infiltrates Jabba's palace and gives Jabba one last warning. The crime boss ignores it and captures Luke. He takes him, Lando, Chewy and Han to a Sarlacc pit intending to drop them in to be digested over many years, but they turn the tables on him, which reminds us all why it's important to heed a Jedi's warning. Luke goes for more training and Yoda reveals that Darth Vader really is his father. Meanwhile, Han and Leia try to stop the completion of a second Death Star by knocking out an energy field that is protecting the construction site. But (wait for it!) it's a trap. Vader brings Luke to the Death Star to meet the Emperor, who tempts Luke to give into his dark side. At one point, the Emperor even asks Luke to kill Vader to take his place, but Luke won't do it - he's a Jedi, he says, "like my father!" That redeems Vader, who kills the Emperor, but dies in the process - but not before revealing to Luke that he still has good in him. The forcefield down, the rebels destroy the second Death Star and there is much rejoicing. Leia tells Han she loves him - and he knows!
'Episode 7: The Force Awakens'
OK, so 30 years have passed. Luke has disappeared. Han and Leia have split up. He's reverted to his old ways and gone to seed as a freighter captain still holding a grudge, mourning his failed marriage and, most important, missing his first love, the Millennium Falcon. Leia remains a big wig with the rebels — who are now called The Resistence (though it is not clear what they are actually resisting). Meanwhile, there's a new evil group in the galaxy far far away called The First Order. It's leader, Kylo Ren, is a Darth Vader fanboy (right down to the Force and the melted Vader helmet he carries around like a trophy) bent on destroying what's left of the Republic. Oh, and (spoiler alert) he's Leia and Han's son. This wouldn't be a "Star Wars" film without a hero emerging from a desert planet so remote that even the bad guys don't know about it. This time, the hero is a woman, Rey, who slowly begins to feel the Force inside her and uses it to help locate the missing Skywalker, who (spoiler alert) handled Han and Leia's son's Jedi training so badly that he became Kylo Ren. Han helps the Resistence destroy The First Order's planet-munching machine (isn't there always one of those in a "Star Wars" movie?), but (spoiler alert) dies in the effort. It's all very sad. But it sets up a great few sequels.
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Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.
The Imperial Forces, under orders from cruel Darth Vader, hold Princess Leia hostage in their efforts to quell the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo, captain of the Millennium Falcon, work together with the companionable droid duo R2-D2 and C-3PO to rescue the beautiful princess, help the Rebel Alliance and restore freedom and justice to the Galaxy.
Part IV in George Lucas' epic, this movie opens with a rebel ship being boarded by the tyrannical Darth Vader. The plot then follows the life of a simple farm boy, Luke Skywalker, as he and his newly met allies (Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-wan Kenobi, C-3PO, R2-D2) attempt to rescue a rebel leader, Princess Leia, from the clutches of the Empire. The conclusion is culminated as the rebels, including Skywalker and flying ace Wedge Antilles make an attack on the Empire's most powerful and ominous weapon, the Death Star.
—P. Wong <[email protected]>
Luke Skywalker stays with his aunt and uncle on a farm on Tatooine. He is desperate to get off this planet and get to the Academy like his friends, but his uncle needs him for the next harvest. Meanwhile, an evil emperor has taken over the galaxy, and has constructed a formidable "Death Star" capable of destroying whole planets. Princess Leia, a leader in the resistance movement, acquires plans of the Death Star, places them in R2-D2, a droid, and sends him off to find Obi-wan Kenobi. Before he finds him, R2-D2 ends up on the Skywalkers' farm with his friend C-3PO. R2-D2 then wanders into the desert, and when Luke follows, they eventually come across Obi-wan. Will Luke, Obi-wan, and the two droids be able to destroy the Death Star, or will the Emperor rule forever?
—Colin Tinto <[email protected]>
Princess Leia is held hostage by the evil forces of the Galactic Empire in their effort to take over the galaxy. Venturesome Luke Skywalker and dashing Captain Han Solo team together with the lovable robotic duo, R2-D2 and C-3PO, to rescue the beautiful Princess Leia and restore justice in the galaxy.
—Robert Lynch <[email protected]>
In a distant galaxy eons before the creation of the planet known as Earth, vast civilizations have evolved, and ruling the galaxy is an interstellar Empire created from the ruins of an Old Republic that held sway for generations. It is a time of civil war, as solar systems have broken away from the Empire and are waging a war of rebellion. During a recent battle, technical schematics for a gigantic space station, code named the Death Star, have been unearthed by rebel spies, and a young woman who is a dissident member of the Imperial Senate, under the cover of a diplomatic mission to the planet Alderaan, is trying to smuggle these plans to the rebellion. But her spacecraft is attacked by a vast warship of the Empire and seized. The dissident Senator is captured, but the plans for the Death Star are nowhere to be found. While soldiers of the Empire search the nearby planet Tatooine, a series of incidents sweeps up a young desert farmer with dreams of being a fighter pilot in the rebellion, as he winds up with the Death Star plans and also the assistance of an elderly hermit who once served as a warrior of an ancient order whose chosen weapons were powerful energy swords known as light-sabers. The pair recruit a cynical interstellar smuggler and his outsized alien copilot with an ancient freighter heavily modified for combat to help them reach Alderaan, but the planet is obliterated and now the foursome must rescue the young woman held prisoner by the Empire and lead an attack by the rebellion against the Death Star before it can annihilate all hope of restoring freedom to the galaxy.
The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
- Note: Italicized paragraphs describe scenes added for the film's 1997 special edition and updated for its DVD release.
An opening title card reads:
'A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
'It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DeathStar, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet. Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy.'
Following the opening crawl, the frame moves down in the star field and we see a pitched battle between two starships in orbit around the desert planet of Tatooine. A small Rebel blockade runner, the Tantive IV, is being pursued by a mammoth Imperial star destroyer, the Devastator. Inside, protocol droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and utility droid R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) are tossed about as their ship endures a barrage of laser bolts, and "3PO" concludes that escaping capture will be impossible. The Rebel ship is so heavily damaged that its main power reactor must be shut down. It is caught in the Imperial destroyer's tractor beam, pulled into the hold of the larger ship, and boarded by stormtroopers from the Empire's 501st Legion.
A huge firefight ensues in the corridors of the Rebel ship, with many Rebel soldiers being lost in the battle. When the smoke clears, Darth Vader (David Prowse; voice: James Earl Jones), a man dressed in a black cape, black armor, and a black helmet that obscures all his features, briefly surveys the damage before interrogating the ship's captain, Antillies, who claims that the ship is on a diplomatic mission to the planet Alderaan. Vader perceives that he is lying, noting that a consular ship would have an ambassador on board. (In actuality there is a diplomat aboard - Princess Leia Organa - but she is hiding from Vader, the second-ranking man in the Empire, which tends to support Vader's thesis that somebody on this ship is up to something.) Upon learning that "the plans" were not downloaded into the ship's computer, Vader strangles the captain. He then tells the troops to search the entire ship and to bring all the passengers to him - alive.
C-3PO and R2-D2 manage to escape damage from the firefight. R2-D2 meets up with Princess Leia, who loads him with the stolen plans and records a holographic message for the small droid to take to the planet's surface. R2-D2 and C-3PO get away from the ship aboard an escape pod and go to the planet below; Imperial troops choose not to destroy the pod, as their scans detect no living organism on board, and presume it ejected due to a malfunction. Moments later the princess is stunned by Imperial troops and taken to Vader. He tells her that the Rebels have stolen some secret Imperial plans and transmitted them to her ship. She feigns ignorance and protests to Vader that she is a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission to the planet Alderaan, but Vader doesn't believe her and orders her taken away. Vader's adjutant aide, Commander Jir (Al Lampert), insists that holding her captive is dangerous; news of her captivity would generate sympathy for the rebellion against the Empire. Vader instructs Jir to deceive the Senate and permanently erase any trace of Leia's whereabouts by faking her [accidental] death. Upon being notified by another officer that an empty escape pod was jettisoned during the firefight, he concludes that the Princess hid the stolen plans in the pod.
C-3PO and R2-D2 land on the desert planet; R2-D2 mentions a mission to deliver some plans, but C-3PO is more concerned with staying in one piece long enough to find civilization. The two split up, and both are eventually captured by a group of diminutive scavengers called Jawas. The Jawas are junk traders, and R2-D2 and C-3PO are their newest assets. Meanwhile, a unit of Imperial Sandtroopers find the crashed pod and discover droid parts and tracks leading away from the crash site.
The Jawas travel to the Great Chott Salt Flat settlement to sell droids and equipment to local homesteaders, eventually arriving at the homestead of Owen Lars (Phil Brown), a moisture farmer. The farmer purchases C-3PO for his translation skills, as he is fluent in six million forms of communication, but initially decides to buy a cheaper utility droid, R5-D4, which breaks down almost immediately after purchase. Eager to deflect accusations of selling shoddy merchandise, the Jawas offer R2 as a replacement. Owen accepts and tells his young 18-year-old nephew, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), to clean them up and put them to work. Luke had plans to meet some friends in the nearby town of Anchorhead, but his plans are put aside for work. During the cleanup, Luke stumbles across a short clip of the message stored in R2 by Princess Leia. The message is for someone named 'Obi-Wan Kenobi', and is a desperate plea for help. R2 insists that the message is simply a malfunction ("old data"), but Luke insists on hearing the complete message, intrigued by Leia's beauty. R2 then states that if Luke removes his restraining bolt, he might be able to play the rest of the message. Luke removes the bolt, but R2 doesn't play the message and claims not to know what Luke is talking about. Luke is called away for dinner (forgetting to replace the bolt, which will keep R2 within the boundaries of the moisture farm) and asks C-3PO to finish cleaning R2.
During dinner, Luke tells his aunt and uncle that the droids may belong to someone called Obi-Wan Kenobi. This news greatly disturbs Uncle Owen, but he won't say why. Luke asks if Obi-Wan is possibly related to a hermit named Ben Kenobi who lives several miles away in the Dune Sea area, a vast terrain of sand and rocky canyons. Owen claims that Ben is "just a crazy old man," and that Obi-Wan is dead; Owen makes a comment which seems to indicate that Obi-Wan Kenobi knew Luke's long-deceased father, Anakin, but when Luke presses Owen for details, his uncle quickly changes the subject and instructs Luke to erase the droids' memories the next morning. Luke - who hopes to leave home for training at a nearby Imperial Military Academy to become a space pilot - leaves the room angrily to return to cleaning the droids. Luke's Aunt Beru (Shelagh Fraser) tells Owen that Luke is too much like his father to remain with them, but Owen holds out hope that Luke's desire for adventure will subside - and expresses a fear that Luke is too much like his father... suggesting that Owen may know something of Anakin's terrible past.
After dinner, Luke discovers that R2-D2 has escaped to find Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke tells 3PO that it's too late to look for R2 because of the dangerous Sand People (also called Tusken Raiders) in the area, and that they will set out first thing in the morning to go look for him (hopefully before Owen discovers that due to Luke's negligence, his newest investment has disappeared).
The following morning, Luke and 3PO set out in Luke's landspeeder to find R2. They locate him on the scanner and catch up with him. As soon as they find him, R2 informs them that his own scanner is picking up several creatures closing in on them. Luke fears the Sand People have found them, and confirms it using a set of minoculars. One ambushes them, hitting Luke over the head and knocking him unconscious. C-3PO goes tumbling down the side of a sand dune. R2 runs and hides.
After stealing some parts off of Luke's speeder, the Sand People are frightened away by the sound of a vicious beast. The sound comes from a mysterious hooded figure. The figure checks on Luke and takes his hood off to reveal his features. He is an old, bearded man, who gently touches Luke's forehead. Luke quickly comes to and recognizes the man as Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness). Luke tells the man that his droid claims to belong to an Obi-Wan Kenobi. This knowledge startles the old man, who reveals (with a look of ancient mystery on his face) that he is Obi-Wan Kenobi but that he hasn't gone by that name in many years. After rescuing C-3PO, they go to Obi-Wan's home to discuss the matter.
At Obi-Wan's home, Luke learns that Obi-Wan knew Anakin and that they were both Jedi Knights of the Old Republic and veterans of the talked about 'Clones Wars'. Luke had been told by his uncle that his father was a navigator on a spice freighter; Owen had been trying to protect Luke from the truth about his father, or perhaps simply trying to keep him safe. (Note: it's not clear that Owen knows the truth about Luke's father, other than that he was killed in a dangerous line of duty). Obi-Wan then produces Anakin's lightsaber, an energy sword which was the chosen weapon of the Jedi Knights; he seems to have kept it safe for some time. He gives the weapon to Luke, saying that Anakin wanted him to have it when he was old enough, but Owen would have none of it. Obi-Wan explains that a Jedi receives his power from the Force, an energy field that is created by all living beings that "surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together." But there is also a Dark Side to the Force, which draws power from negative emotions and baser impulses. A young Jedi named Darth Vader, who was once a pupil of Obi-Wan, was seduced by this Dark Side. Vader betrayed and murdered Anakin, then became the Dark Lord of the Sith, the most feared enforcer of the Emperor. In this capacity, he proceeded to hunt down his former comrades, and the Jedi Order is now all but extinct.
At this point Obi-Wan has R2 play Princess Leia's complete message. The princess reminds Obi-Wan of his past service to her father in the Clone Wars, and conveys his plea to assist in the Rebellion against the Empire. She senses that her mission to bring Obi-Wan to Alderaan has failed, and tells Obi-Wan that she has embedded information crucial to the rebellion in R2's memory banks. She asks Obi-Wan to deliver the droid to her father on Alderaan so that the information can be retrieved, and repeats her plea that he is now her "only hope."
Obi-Wan cannot hope to undertake such a mission alone due to his advanced age, so he tells Luke that he should learn the ways of the Force and accompany him to Alderaan. Luke is adamant that he can't go, and that he must stay on Tatooine and help his uncle. Obi-Wan counters that the Rebellion needs Luke's help, and that the young woman in the message needs Luke's help (though she has not mentioned any personal request for help). They decide to go to the city of Anchorhead so that Obi-Wan can book a transport to Mos Eisely space port.
Meanwhile, the Devastator has docked at the Death Star, a gargantuan space station resembling a small moon. Vader rendezvous with Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin (Peter Cushing), the high ranking governor of the Imperial Outland Regions, and they enter a conference room where they meet the station's Command Triumvirate leaders in a high level conference: Admiral Antonio Motti (Richard LeParmentier), High General Cassio Tagge (Don Henderson), and Chief Officer Mordramin Bast (Leslie Schofield) among other Imperial officers. As the Triumvirs argue about the best way to exploit their newest "technological terror," Tarkin tells them that the Emperor has decided to dissolve the Imperial Senate; giving full control of the Galaxy's star systems to each of the regional governors under him and use the Death Star to intimidate all of the Empire's star systems into submission, suggesting that fear of force is preferable to its actual use. Admiral Motti is extremely confident in the new space station, calling it 'the ultimate power in the universe.' However, General Tagge is adamant that the Death Star is not invincible, and that the Rebels will figure this out if they have a chance to read its schematics. Vader tells them that the ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. Motti callously mocks Vader's Jedi heritage, noting that the Force has not helped him recover the stolen schematics or pinpoint the Rebellion's headquarters. Angered, Vader uses the Force to strangle Motti, until Tarkin orders him to stand down. The commanders decide to focus on interrogating Leia until she gives up the location of the Rebel Headquarters. They will then use the Death Star to destroy it, killing two birds with one stone.
As Luke and his companions travel to Anchorhead, they find the Jawa sandcrawler, completely destroyed with all the Jawas slaughtered; although they appear to be victims of the Sand People, Obi-Wan recognizes signs which indicate an attack by Imperial stormtroopers. Luke realizes that the only reason Imperial troops would kill Jawas is because they are looking for the droids which escaped the battle, and he races home, over Obi-Wan's objections that he is likely endangering his own life, hoping to warn Owen and Beru.
However, Luke is too late. The Imperials have apparently come and gone, burned the homestead, and killed his aunt and uncle. Luke returns to Obi-Wan (who has used the opportunity afforded by Luke's trip to accord the massacred Jawas some measure of dignity), saying that with no reason to remain, he wants to go with him to Alderaan. More importantly, he declares his wish to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like his father once was.
Luke, Obi-Wan and the two droids now travel to Mos Eisley, the spaceport and capital city of Tatooine. Before entering the city, Obi-Wan warns Luke and the droids that Mos Eisley is a hotbed of crime and near-lawlessness. Luke assures Obi-Wan that he knows how to handle himself in a fight. Upon entering the spaceport they are approached by Imperial troops at a roadblock asking questions about the two droids they have with them. Obi-Wan appears to induce a trance-like state in the lead guard, persuading him that these are not the droids they are looking for. When Luke is puzzled by the ease of their passage, Obi-Wan explains that the Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.
At the Mos Eisley Cantina, Luke gets into a scuffle with two criminals, a deformed human named Dr. Evazan and his alien companion Ponda Baba, who threaten to kill him. When one of the creatures pulls a gun on Kenobi, the old Jedi Knight defends himself with his lightsaber - slashing off the creature's gun arm before it can shoot. Moments later they meet smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Millennium Falcon, and his first mate, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), a 7-foot-tall, 200-year-old Wookiee. Upon learning that Obi-Wan and Luke are trying to avoid Imperial capture, Captain Solo gives his price as 10,000 credits for the trip. Luke balks at that price, stating that they could almost buy their own ship for that, but Han is dubious that they could fly it themselves. Obi-Wan tells Solo that they will pay him 2,000 credits now and 15,000 more once they reach Alderaan. Han agrees.
After Luke and Obi-Wan leave, Han tells Chewbacca that 17,000 credits could really save his neck. As Chewbacca leaves to make pre-flight preparations, Han hangs back to take care of their bar tab, and is stopped by Greedo (Maria De Aragon and Paul Blake), a bounty hunter working for feared crimelord Jabba Desilijic Tiure, aka: Jabba the Hutt. Apparently some time earlier, Jabba had hired Han to transport a shipment of glitterstim spice (an illegal narcotic), but Han had to dump the shipment due to an unexpected Imperial boarding. As Greedo points a blaster pistol at Solo and forces him toward a secluded section of the bar, Han insists that he has the 8,000 credits he needs to cover the loss. Greedo suggests that Solo give it to him as a bribe not to turn him over to Jabba, forcing Han to admit that he doesn't actually have the money yet. Realizing that Greedo will either turn him over to Jabba or kill him for the bounty that Jabba has placed on him, Solo quietly removes his heavy pistol under the table, and when Greedo admits that he would just as soon see him dead as alive, Solo pre-emptively fires and kills him. On his way out, Han throws the bartender a few coins, apologizing for "the mess" he left.
At the docking bay, Han is confronted by Jabba the Hutt and several other associates. Jabba expresses frustration over Greedo's death, and reminds Han of the nature of their business; he cannot "make any exceptions" of those who fail or cross him, lest he appear weak. Han insists that he will soon have enough money to pay off his debt, with interest, he just needs more time. Jabba reluctantly agrees, but warns Han that this is his last chance.
Luke sells his landspeeder to raise money for their initial payment to Captain Solo. They head to the docking bay where the Millennium Falcon is being prepared for flight. Luke is somewhat perturbed to discover that the Falcon is a 60-year-old, run-down YT-1300 freighter, but Han assures him that he has made extensive modifications to ensure that she can run rings around any modern capital ship. Meanwhile, Imperial troops believe they are hot on the trail of the two droids when a local informant tells them the whereabouts of the fugitives after recognizing Luke and Obi-Wan.
No sooner do Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids board the Millennium Falcon than the Imperial troops come running into the docking bay, hoping to arrest Luke and Obi-Wan and capture the droids. The troops fire at Solo and the Falcon, but the ship manages to escape. Once they clear the planet, they are immediately pursued by two huge Imperial star destroyers. Solo remarks that his passengers must be of particular interest to the Empire. They jump to light speed, escaping the Imperial ships.
Princess Leia has been tortured by the Imperials and undergone a mind probe in an effort to extract the location of the Rebels' home base. They have found nothing. Tarkin, Vader, and Motti shift tactics, threatening to destroy the Princess's home planet of Alderaan if she won't reveal the Rebels' location. She reluctantly tells them that the Rebel base is on the planet Dantooine. Tarkin then orders his officers to proceed with Alderaan's destruction, noting that Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration of the Death Star's power. Alderaan is destroyed by a single blast from the Death Star's enormously powerful laser blaster while Leia is forced to watch.
On board the Millennium Falcon, Obi-Wan is training Luke in the ways of the Force when he is greatly disturbed by a tremor in the Force. He feels that millions of people have died in an instant amidst great suffering, though he doesn't know how. He decides to meditate on this further as Luke continues an exercise in allowing the Force to guide his reflexes. Han is not impressed, and explains that he does not believe in the Force. Luke, however, manages to use his lightsaber to deflect four laser bolts in a row from a remote droid - all while wearing a helmet which covers his eyes.
Back on the Death Star, Tarkin and Vader receive a report that there once was indeed a Rebel base on Dantooine but it has long since been abandoned. Outraged at Leia's successful trickery, Tarkin orders her scheduled for execution.
Luke realizes that he is learning how to sense the Force. One of the Falcon's signals informs them that they are approaching Alderaan, but upon exiting light speed, they find the Millennium Falcon is in an asteroid field instead of Alderaan's orbit. Han confirms that they are in the right location but that the planet is missing; Obi-Wan quietly states that the planet has been destroyed by the Empire, but Solo laughingly insists that all the Empire's ships combined wouldn't have enough firepower to destroy a planet. Moments later they are overflown by an Imperial Twin Ion Engine (TIE) snubfighter. Obi-Wan concludes it is too small for long range flight, so there must be an Imperial base or ship nearby. As they chase after the fighter to keep it from notifying the Empire of their location, they see the fighter heading toward a small moon - the Death Star. They are caught in the Death Star's tractor beam and, helpless to resist, are pulled aboard the station into a docking bay. Obi-Wan tells them that neither fighting or surrender are viable choices, but a third option is available to them.
Imperial troops board the Falcon, but its crew are hiding in smuggling compartments below the floor. Vader orders scanning equipment to be brought aboard to look for life signs. While standing near the Falcon, he senses a presence he has not felt for some time. Vader leaves the hangar, pursued by the frustrating sense he is overlooking something of great importance.
When a scanning teams boards the Falcon to set up their equipment, Luke and Solo manages to overpower them and lures the two guarding stormtroopers just outside on board as well to kill them both and steal their armor uniforms. The helmets conceal their identity and allow them to infiltrate a troop command center outside the docking port. Inside the command center, R2 plugs into the station computer system and discovers the location of the tractor beam generator. Obi-Wan sets out to shut down the generator so that the ship can leave. Luke wants to accompany him, but Obi-Wan orders Luke to stay, noting that Luke's destiny now splits paths from his own. Perhaps sensing that this is the last time he will see Luke in this reality, he tells Luke, "The Force will be with you... always."
After Obi-Wan leaves, R2 discovers that the princess is being held prisoner on board the station. Luke suddenly takes the initiative, sparing no effort to convince Solo and Chewbacca to assist him in what is surely going to be a very risky rescue. Han, initially scared for his own neck, eventually agrees, but only after Luke suggests that a great monetary reward would surely follow her rescue. Luke and Han take Chewbacca "captive" and assume their trooper identities in order to infiltrate the prison block. In the prison block, the officer in command becomes suspicious of their arrival since he was not notified about any prisoner transfer. As a result, Luke and Han's escorted "prisoner" escapes and a firefight erupts between the Imperials and Luke, Han, and Chewbacca. They manage to take out all the Imperials, but set off an alarm in the process. A squad of troops are sent to investigate. Han and Luke know they have only moments to find the princess's cell and escape.
They find the princess, but the arriving troops cut off the only escape route. Leia shoots a hole in a garbage chute and tells everyone to dive in. They escape the Imperials, only to find themselves trapped in a large garbage compactor. To make matters worse, the compactor also houses a large, serpent-like creature - the dianoga - which yanks Luke under the murky, stagnant water in the compactor, almost drowning him. The creature inexplicably lets Luke go, but just as they catch their breath, the compactor activates and the walls begin to move in, threatening to crush Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca. Luke calls 3PO on the communicator and orders him to have R2 shut down all garbage compactors in the detention level. R2 complies just in time to save them and then open their compactor's door to let them out.
Meanwhile, Vader informs Tarkin that he senses through the Force that Kenobi is aboard the station. Tarkin is doubtful, but the discussion is soon interrupted by an emergency report: Princess Leia has escaped! Vader tells a shocked and bewildered Tarkin the true explanation for Leia's impossible escape - "Obi-Wan is here. The Force is with him." Sensing that Obi-Wan wishes a final showdown, Vader sets off to find him. Unbeknownst to anyone, Kenobi has deactivated the tractor beam generator.
After their escape from the compactor, Luke and Han dispose of their stormtrooper armor, but keep the troopers' utility belts and weapons. On their way back to the ship they're cut off by more troops. They are split up, with Han and Chewbacca fighting together and Luke and Leia running on their own.
After being cornered between a great air shaft and a group of troopers, Luke shoots a blast door's controls with his blaster, locking the troops on the other side of the door. Unfortunately, the blast also destroys the controls that extend the bridge across the air shaft. After a gunfight with stormtroopers on the other side of the shaft, Luke uses a cable and grappling hook from his freshly confiscated Imperial utility belt to swing himself and Leia safely across the gorge.
Obi-Wan, on his way back to the Falcon, encounters Vader. They exchange barbed comments. Vader boasts to his former master that he is so much more experienced and powerful than he was the last time they met that the tables have now turned, with Vader the more powerful of the two. Obi-Wan replies that Vader's turn to evil has made him oblivious to the Force's true power. A ferocious lightsaber duel ensues.
Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca meet at the entrance to the docking bay. The lightsaber duel on the other side of the bay distracts the troops guarding the ship, allowing the four of them, along with R2 and 3PO, to sneak across to board the Falcon. As Kenobi and Vader continue to fight, Kenobi informs Vader that if Vader strikes him down, he shall become even more powerful, beyond what Vader could possibly imagine. Kenobi, seeing that the four heroes and two droids are safely boarding the Falcon, takes one last look from his comrade's son to the man who betrayed him, and smilingly withdraws his saber, allowing Vader to slice through him. His body instantly disappears. Vader is stunned and confused by this, as he determines that no one is in Kenobi's now-empty cloak on the floor.
Luke, appalled by the sight of his mentor being struck down by Vader, lets out a shout of horror, alerting all of the troops to their presence. Another firefight immediately erupts, and they barely make it aboard the ship with their lives. Luke stays behind, attempting to shoot every Imperial soldier in the hangar, despite his friends urging him to join them on the ship so they can escape. Finally, he relents, hearing Obi-Wan's voice telling him to run, as Vader catches a glimpse of him through a rapidly closing set of blast doors. When the Falcon flies out of the docking bay, the Imperials are unable to activate the tractor beam, thanks to Kenobi.
Having blasted their way out of the station's defense range, they are confronted by four Imperial TIE fighters. Luke and Han man two large gun turrets on the top and bottom of the Falcon and manage to destroy all four ships. Han starts to boast to Leia about his amazing abilities during her rescue. She insists that the Empire let them escape in order to track them to the Rebel base. Han is doubtful of that as she explains to Han that R2 is carrying the technical readouts to the Death Star. She has high hopes that when the data is analyzed, a weakness can be found in the station.
Back aboard the station, Leia's fears are confirmed as Vader and Tarkin discuss their plan to track the Falcon to the hidden Rebel base. The Falcon makes it to the base, located on the fourth moon of the gas giant Yavin Prime. After R2's data is analyzed, it is determined that the Death Star does indeed have a weakness that can be exploited; a small (two meters) exhaust port not protected by any shielding, through which a well-placed proton torpedo could reach the main reactor and destroy the station. The port is situated in a narrow trench protected by General ARea Defense Integration Anti-spacecraft Network (GARDIAN) turbo-lasers. The Rebel commander, General Dodonna (Alex McCrindle), theorizes that since the GARDIAN array is designed to repel large scale assaults from capital ships, it could easily be outmaneuvered by smaller and faster snubfighters. A plan is devised in which a squadron of Y-Wing assault bombers (Gold Squadron, led by Captain Jon "Dutch" Vander (Angus MacInnes)), will skim the trench. A second squadron (Red Squadron, commanded by Captain Garven Dreis (Drewe Henley)), comprised of the faster, more maneuverable X-Wing snubfighters, will attempt to draw enemy fire away from the bombers. Luke will be flying one of the X-Wings, under the call sign Red Five. Fellow pilot Wedge Antilles (Denis Lawson) is skeptical about succeeding, but Luke is confident that the task can be accomplished, noting that he used to shoot at animal targets on Tatooine which were not much bigger than two meters.
The Rebels set out to attack the Death Star just as the station enters the Yavin system. The Death Star will have to orbit to Yavin's far side in order to have a shot at the moon on which the base is located. The approximately 30 Rebel fighters have less than 30 minutes to fly to the station and destroy it.
As Luke heads to the hanger, he is reunited with Biggs Darklighter (Garrick Hagon), who used to fly with Luke on Tatooine. Biggs congratulates Luke on finally making it off Tatooine and tells him that the coming battle will be just like old times.
Having apparently collected the balance of his 17,000 credits payment for delivering the plans to the Rebellion (plus some unspecified reward for helping Leia escape from the Death Star), Han refuses to join the fight, stating that his reward will be useless if he is killed, and that he would rather take his money and go pay off his debts. Luke is disappointed, but boards his fighter and takes off, right after R2 is loaded into the rear of the fighter to provide technical assistance. Upon departure, he hears what sounds like Obi-Wan's voice speaking to him, saying "The Force will be with you." He quickly dismisses it.
Both squadrons approach the Death Star and Wedge Antilles briefly marvels at its size before Captain Dreis cuts off the idle chatter and orders the squadrons to attack speed. Red Squadron initiates a strafing run on the station's surface to divert attention from the bombers, and Luke makes a run that detonates a mammoth fire within part of the Death Star - a fire so large his own ship suffers minor burns. When Vader is informed that the GARDIAN turbo-lasers are having trouble targeting the small rebel ships, he orders fighters led by Black Squadron, his personal elite TIE fighter squadron, to engage the X-Wings individually. In short order, six TIE fighters join the battle, soon followed by others, and Red Squadron scrambles to keep them away from the trenches. Dreis warns a wingman of an attacking TIE fighter but the X-Wing is immediately shot down before Biggs himself comes under attack; Luke swings behind the attacker and shoots him down.
Vader notices Dutch and his Y-Wing group breaking away from the primary attack. He assigns two Black Squadron pilots, Mauler and Backstabber, to escort him as he boards a TIE Advanced x1 fighter to engage the bombers himself. Before this command group launches, the sky battle rages on and Luke himself comes under attack; Wedge rescues him by shooting into the belligerent TIE fighter literally nose to nose, just as Dutch and Gold Squadron commence the attack into the trenches.
Vader and his two wingmen easily outmaneuver the Y-Wings, methodically dispatching them one by one; first pilot Tyree is killed, as Dutch begins to panic despite angry urging by his surviving wingman. Dutch is then killed and the surviving Gold Squadron ship aborts his run before he himself is destroyed.
With Gold Squadron effectively wiped out, Dreis orders the surviving X-Wing pilots to start a second attack run down the trench. As they approach the exhaust port, Dreis turns on his targeting computer as two other ships cover his tail from enemy fire. The escorting ships are destroyed, but they buy enough time for Dreis to take a shot at the exhaust port. His shot misses and merely impacts on the surface. Moments later he loses an engine to Vader's gunnery and his fighter spirals into the surface of the station.
Now nominally in charge of Red Squadron, Luke decides that it is his responsibility to try to destroy the port. R2 is preoccupied trying to keep the ship running, despite all of the damage they are sustaining. With Biggs and Wedge flying his wing, they start down the trench. Moments later, they are pursued by Vader and his wingmen, who partially disable Wedge's ship. Luke tells Wedge to disengage, seeing that he can't be of any help in a crippled ship. Vader allows Wedge to withdraw, ordering his men to continue to pursue the two ships in the trench. Vader fires again, hitting Biggs' ship and destroying it. Luke is grieved by the loss of his friend, but presses on.
As Luke gets closer to his target, he hears the voice of Obi-Wan, telling him to "use the Force" and rely on his instincts more than the technology in his ship. Heeding that advice, Luke switches off his targeting computer and continues flying down the trench. When asked by Mission Control why he switched off the computer, Luke responds that nothing is wrong.
Meanwhile, the Death Star has completed its run around Yavin and is cleared to fire on the Rebel moon. The countdown for the firing sequence begins. Bast tells Tarkin that he has analyzed the attack and concludes there is a real threat to the station. Tarkin scoffs at evacuation and insists the Empire will prevail. He remains on the station while some of the Imperial officers and troops evacuate as a precaution.
As Luke draws on the power of the Force to help him hit his target, Vader senses the strength of the Force in his prey. He takes a shot, which misses the ship but hits R2-D2. Just as he locks on to Luke's ship to finish him off, Backstabber's ship explodes unexpectedly. Out of nowhere appears the Millennium Falcon, which has just destroyed the Imperial fighter - diving vertically towards Vader and the remaining wingman. This sudden turn of events distracts Mauler; he loses control of his ship and crashes into Vader's. Mauler's ship ricochets into the trench wall, destroying it, and sends Vader's ship spinning out of control, up and away from the Death Star.
Han informs Luke that he is all clear to fire. Luke, having drawn upon the power of the Force, releases his proton torpedoes, which enter the exhaust port perfectly on target. Luke, the Falcon and a few other fighters race away from the Death Star just as the Death Star prepares to fire on the moon. Only seconds before the station fires, it explodes into a huge fireball, sending millions of fragments into space. Tarkin, Motti, Tagge, and most of the senior Imperial staff are killed. With that triumph, Kenobi reminds Luke that the Force will be with him, always.
Vader, having been thrown into space during his collision with the wingman, is now apparently the only one to have escaped the station's destruction. He eventually manages to regain control of his wildly gyrating fighter, and when he finally stabilizes, he flies off to meet the Imperial Fleet as the Rebels head home to their base. When they reach the base, Luke is clearly delighted that Han returned to help him. Leia is thrilled to see both of her friends alive. And everyone is ecstatic that the Death Star has been destroyed. Their celebration is briefly interrupted as R2 is pulled from Luke's ship. He is heavily damaged from Vader's gunfire and does not respond to C-3PO. The golden robot is terribly concerned, but Luke and two mechanics assure him that R2 is repairable and will be fine.
Later, an awards ceremony is held in a huge hall. Hundreds of Rebel soldiers, officers, and pilots are present. A door at the rear of the hall opens to reveal Luke, Han, and Chewbacca. They walk down the aisle to where Leia awaits, along with several Rebel leaders and dignitaries.
Also present are a freshly polished C-3PO and a freshly overhauled and looking better-than-new R2-D2. Upon reaching the front of the great hall, Luke and Han are awarded medals for bravery by a smiling Princess Leia. The hall erupts into thunderous applause.
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Wars star plot of summary
Two Jedi escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their original glory.
The evil Trade Federation, led by Nute Gunray is planning to take over the peaceful world of Naboo. Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent to confront the leaders. But not everything goes to plan. The two Jedi escape, and along with their new Gungan friend, Jar Jar Binks head to Naboo to warn Queen Amidala, but droids have already started to capture Naboo and the Queen is not safe there. Eventually, they land on Tatooine, where they become friends with a young boy known as Anakin Skywalker. Qui-Gon is curious about the boy, and sees a bright future for him. The group must now find a way of getting to Coruscant and to finally solve this trade dispute, but there is someone else hiding in the shadows. Are the Sith really extinct? Is the Queen really who she says she is? And what's so special about this young boy?
When the Trade Federation organize a blockade around the planet Naboo, the Supreme Chancellor Valorum sends the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to negotiate the end of the blockade. However the evil Viceroy Nute Gunray is ordered to kill the Jedi and invade Naboo. However the Jedi escape and Qui-Gon saves the life of the clumsy Gungan Jar Jar Binks. The outcast native takes the Jedi to his submerged city and the Gungan leader gives transportation to them. The Jedi head to the capital to warn Queen Amidala about the invasion. However she has been captured by the Federation droids but the Jedi rescue the queen and her court and they flee in a spacecraft that is damaged when they cross the blockade. They land on a desert planet and Qui-Gon Jinn goes to the town with Jar Jar, the droid R2-D2 and the queen's assistant Padmé to seek the necessary part for the spacecraft. When they find the component, they do not have money to buy it. But the slave boy Anakin Skywalker offers to dispute a race with his pod to raise the necessary money. Qui-Gon feels the Force in the boy and accepts his offer. Will the boy win the race? What will happen to Naboo? Will Queen Amidala be capable to convince the politicians to release her planet from the Trade Federation?
—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When the evil Trade Federation plots to take over the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi warrior Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi embark on an amazing adventure to save the planet. With them on their journey is the young Queen Amidala, Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks, and the powerful Captain Panaka, who will all travel to the faraway planets of Tatooine and Coruscant in a futile attempt to save their world from Darth Sidious, leader of the Trade Federation, and Darth Maul, the strongest Dark Lord of the Sith to ever wield a lightsaber.
—Anchorhead <[email protected]>
As imminent conflict brews between the powerful Trade Federation and the peaceful planet of Naboo, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi travel to Naboo to warn the Queen of the galactic fallout which is to follow. Eventually, Naboo is invaded forcing the Jedi to evacuate the planet with the Queen and her court. They travel to the desert planet of Tatooine where they meet a slave boy named Anakin Skywalker who is evidently one with the Force. They enlist his help in fighting the war, while the Jedi confront one of the Dark Jedi behind the invasion, Darth Maul, while his master Darth Sidious continues to lead the invasion as a "phantom" behind the scenes.
—Matthew McQuillan <[email protected]>
It is a distant galaxy eons before the gestation of the planet Earth. Advancements in technology and science have allowed the evolution of millions of worlds that are otherwise in many respects still primitive. These worlds are somewhat loosely allied into a galactic Republic, whose capital world is the planet Coruscant, a planetary city. Upholding order for the Republic are the Jedi, an order of warriors endowed with near-super power derived from self-generated fields of energy known collectively as the Force. Within the Republic, dissident worlds have banded into an alliance known as the Trade Federation, and the Trade Federation is locked in a dispute with the peaceful world of Naboo. Two Jedi Knights, Qui-Gon Jinn and his youthful apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, have been sent to Naboo to help mediate an end to the dispute, but Nute Gunray, an alien viceroy, orders them to be killed, and the two Jedi discover upon their escape that the Trade Federation will launch an invasion of Naboo. With the help of a well-meaning but hopelessly subliterate alien native of Naboo, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan land on Naboo to rescue her ruler, Queen Amidala, a ruler whose rule is a mixture of monarchy and republican democracy. Escaping Naboo, they are attacked by a Federation baseship and are forced to land on the distant planet Tatooine, where in seeking parts to complete their journey to Coruscant they encounter a young boy, Anakin Skywalker, a slave who possesses a gift for the savagely dangerous sport of podracing - a gift that Qui-Gon deduces is part of a genetic makeup perfect for the Jedi Order. Anakin eventually joins with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, and in the process attracts the attention of one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens with a dramatic secret, and all reach Coruscant, but endless and pointless debate within the Republic's Senate leave them no choice but to strike out on their own to liberate Naboo, a task made all the more difficult because a traitor within Coruscant has at his command a dissident Jedi warrior who seeks the death of Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan.
The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
- The opening crawl reveals that the Trade Federation, led by its Viceroy Nute Gunray, has blockaded the planet of Naboo in hope of resolving a galactic trade dispute. Chancellor Valorum (Terence Stamp) of the Galactic Republic, sends Jedi Knights Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) on a secret mission to meet with the Trade Federation to settle the crisis. Unknown to them, the Trade Federation is in league with the mysterious Sith Lord Darth Sidious, who orders them to invade Naboo with their immense droid army and also to kill the two Jedi. Following a failed attempt to force their way into Gunray's command center, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan escape and flee to the surface of Naboo, where they meet local Gungan outcast Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best). As Jar Jar brings them to an underwater Gungan settlement, the Trade Federation captures Naboo's leader, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman). Through a Jedi mind trick, Qui-Gon secures a submarine, which he, Obi-Wan, and Jar Jar use to reach the capital of Naboo and rescue Queen Amidala and her escort. The group departs for Coruscant, the Galactic Republic's capital planet, to seek help from the Senate.
During the escape, the ship is attacked by the Federation blockade, forcing R2-D2, one of the ship's droids, to fix the shields. The attack damages the ship's hyperdrive, forcing the party to land on the desert planet of Tatooine for repairs. While searching for needed parts, Qui-Gon and a handmaiden named Padmé befriend young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), a nine-year-old human slave gifted in piloting and mechanics. Qui-Gon senses a strong presence of the Force in Anakin, and feels that he may be the "Chosen One" an individual the Jedi believe will fulfill a prophecy by bringing balance to the Force. At Anakin's insistence, Qui-Gon enters Anakin into the Boonta Eve Podrace in a bid with Anakin's master, Watto, to gain the needed parts as well as Anakin's freedom. Anakin eludes several obstacles including rival racer Sebulba to win the race, gaining his freedom and bankrupting Watto. After hesitation, Anakin leaves his mother and his droid, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), behind on Tatooine to go with the Jedi. As the group prepares to depart, they are attacked by the Sith apprentice Darth Maul (Ray Park), who battles Qui-Gon until the heroes escape.
On Coruscant, Qui-Gon informs the Jedi Council of the mysterious, well-trained attacker. The Council becomes concerned that this may indicate the reappearance of the Sith, an opposing order that followed the dark side of the Force and had long ago disappeared. Qui-Gon informs the Council about Anakin, hoping that he can be trained as a Jedi. After testing the boy the Council refuses, worried that he is too old for training and that the fear and anger that he harbors will cloud his future. Meanwhile, Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) of Naboo persuades Amidala to call a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum. The vote removes Valorum from power and leads to Palpatine's nomination for the position, which Amidala considers too late to be effective. To stop the Federation invasion by herself, the Queen decides to return to Naboo with her security team, the two Jedi, R2-D2, Anakin, and Jar Jar.
On Naboo, Padmé reveals herself as Queen Amidala and forms an alliance with the Gungans for the battle against the Trade Federation. The Gungans march into battle to divert the Federation army away from the capital, allowing the others to infiltrate the palace. Once inside the palace hangar, the Jedi free several Naboo pilots, who regain their starfighters and assault the Federation droid ship. As they make their way to the throne room, the infiltration team is confronted by Darth Maul. Qui-Gon and Obi Wan engage Maul while the others take an alternate route. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan duel with the Sith Lord amongst the catwalks of a massive power-generating reactor core. Obi-Wan is briefly delayed, separating him from Qui-Gon and Maul. Meanwhile, Queen Amidala and her forces fight their way into the palace and capture Nute Gunray, Viceroy of the Trade Federation. Anakin - who inadvertently joined the dogfight in space - destroys the droid-control ship's reactor with proton torpedoes, which deactivates the droid army in the midst of taking Gungan prisoners. In the reactor core, Qui-Gon re-engages Darth Maul singlehandedly, but is mortally wounded. Obi-Wan catches up with and defeats Maul in another intense lightsaber battle. With his final breath, Qui-Gon instructs Obi-Wan to train Anakin to become a Jedi.
In the aftermath, the newly elected Supreme Chancellor Palpatine congratulates Queen Amidala on her victory and promises to watch Anakin's career with great interest. Meanwhile, the Jedi Council promotes Obi-Wan to the level of Jedi Knight, and Yoda reluctantly accepts Obi-Wan's request to train Anakin as his padawan. During Qui-Gon's funeral, Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) and Yoda (Frank Oz) agree that the person who killed Qui-Gon had to have been a Sith, but as the Soth are known to have only a master and an apprentice, they are unsure which was killed. A large celebration is held on Naboo to celebrate the world's liberation and the newborn alliance between the Naboo and the Gungans.
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Star Wars (film)
1977 American epic space-opera film directed by George Lucas
"A New Hope" and "Star Wars IV" redirect here. For the fourth film released, see Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. For other uses, see A New Hope (disambiguation). For more uses of Star Wars, see Star Wars (disambiguation).
Star Wars (retroactively titled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is a 1977 American epicspace-opera film written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness, David Prowse, James Earl Jones, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker and Peter Mayhew. It is the first installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, the first of the franchise to be produced, and the fourth episode of the "Skywalker saga".
Lucas had the idea for a science-fiction film in the vein of Flash Gordon around the time he completed his first film, THX 1138 (1971) and began working on a treatment after the release of American Graffiti (1973). Star Wars takes place "a long time ago", in a fictional universe inhabited by both humans and various alien species; most of the known galaxy is ruled by the tyrannical Galactic Empire, which is only opposed by the Rebel Alliance, a group of freedom fighters. The narrative of the film focuses on the hero journey of Luke Skywalker (Hamill), an everyman who becomes caught in the galactic conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion after coming into possession of two droids, R2-D2 (Baker) and C-3PO (Daniels), who are carrying the schematics of the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star. While attempting to deliver the droids to the Rebellion, Luke is joined by wizened Jedi MasterObi-Wan Kenobi (Guinness), who teaches him about the metaphysical power known as "the Force", cynical smuggler Han Solo (Ford), his Wookiee companion Chewbacca (Mayhew), and Rebellion leader Princess Leia (Fisher). Meanwhile, Imperial officers Darth Vader (Prowse, voiced by Jones), a Sith Lord, and Grand Moff Tarkin (Cushing), the commander of the Death Star, seek to retrieve the stolen schematics and locate the Rebellion's secret base.
After a turbulent production, Star Wars was released in a limited number of theaters in the United States on May 25, 1977, and quickly became a blockbuster hit, leading to it being expanded to a much wider release. The film opened to critical acclaim, most notably for its groundbreaking visual effects. It grossed a total of $775 million (over $550 million during its initial run), surpassing Jaws (1975) to become the highest-grossing film at the time until the release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). When adjusted for inflation, Star Wars is the second-highest-grossing film in North America (behind Gone with the Wind) and the fourth-highest-grossing film in the world. It received ten Oscar nominations (including Best Picture), winning seven. In 1989, it became one of the first 25 films that was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". At the time, it was the most recent film in the registry and the only one chosen from the 1970s. In 2004, its soundtrack was added to the U.S. National Recording Registry, and was additionally listed by the American Film Institute as the best movie score of all time a year later. Today, it is widely regarded by many in the motion picture industry as one of the greatest and most important films in cinema history.
The film has been reissued multiple times with Lucas's support—most significantly with its 20th-anniversary theatrical "Special Edition"—incorporating many changes including modified computer-generated effects, altered dialogue, re-edited shots, remixed soundtracks and added scenes. The film became a pop-cultural phenomenon and launched an industry of tie-in products, including novels, comics, video games, amusement park attractions, and merchandise including toys, games, clothing and many other spin-off works. The film's success led to two critically and commercially successful sequels, The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), and later to both a prequel and sequel trilogy, two anthology films, and various spin-off TV series.
Amid a galactic civil war, Rebel Alliance spies have stolen plans to the Galactic Empire's Death Star, a massive space station capable of destroying entire planets. Imperial Senator Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, secretly one of the Rebellion's leaders, has obtained its schematics, but her starship is intercepted by an Imperial Star Destroyer under the command of the ruthless Darth Vader. Before she is captured, Leia hides the plans in the memory system of astromech droidR2-D2, who flees in an escape pod to the nearby desert planet Tatooine alongside his companion, protocol droidC-3PO.
The droids are captured by Jawa traders, who sell them to moisture farmers Owen and Beru Lars and their nephew Luke Skywalker. While Luke is cleaning R2-D2, he discovers a holographic recording of Leia requesting help from an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Later, after Luke finds R2-D2 missing, he is attacked by scavenging Sand People while searching for him, but is rescued by elderly hermit "Old Ben" Kenobi, an acquaintance of Luke's, who reveals that "Obi-Wan" is his true name. Obi-Wan tells Luke of his days as one of the Jedi Knights, the former peacekeepers of the Galactic Republic who drew mystical abilities from a metaphysical energy field known as "the Force", but were ultimately hunted to near-extinction by the Empire. Luke learns that his father fought alongside Obi-Wan as a Jedi Knight during the Clone Wars until Vader, Obi-Wan's former pupil, turned to the dark side of the Force and murdered him. Obi-Wan gives Luke his father's old lightsaber, the signature weapon of Jedi Knights.
R2-D2 plays Leia's full message, in which she begs Obi-Wan to take the Death Star plans to her home planet of Alderaan and give them to her father, a fellow veteran, for analysis. Although Luke initially declines Obi-Wan's offer to accompany him to Alderaan and learn the ways of the Force, he is left with no choice after discovering that Imperial stormtroopers have killed his aunt and uncle and destroyed their farm in their search for the droids. Traveling to a cantina in Mos Eisley to search for transport, Luke and Obi-Wan hire Han Solo, a smuggler with a price on his head due to his debt to local mobster Jabba the Hutt. Pursued by stormtroopers, Obi-Wan, Luke, R2-D2 and C-3PO flee Tatooine with Han and his Wookieeco-pilotChewbacca on their ship the Millennium Falcon.
Before the Falcon can reach Alderaan, Death Star commander Grand Moff Tarkin destroys the planet in a show of force after interrogating Leia for the location of the Rebel Alliance's base. Upon arrival, the Falcon is captured by the Death Star's tractor beam, but the group manages to evade capture by hiding in the ship's smuggling compartments. As Obi-Wan leaves to disable the tractor beam, Luke persuades Han and Chewbacca to help him rescue Leia after discovering that she is scheduled to be executed. After disabling the tractor beam, Obi-Wan sacrifices himself in a lightsaber duel against Vader, allowing the rest of the group to escape the Death Star with Leia. Using a tracking device, the Empire tracks the Falcon to the hidden Rebel base on Yavin IV.
The schematics reveal a hidden weakness in the Death Star's thermal exhaust port, which could allow the Rebels to trigger a chain reaction in its main reactor with a precise proton torpedo strike. While Han abandons the Rebels after collecting his reward for rescuing Leia, Luke joins their X-wing starfighter squadron in a desperate attack against the approaching Death Star. In the ensuing battle, the Rebels suffer heavy losses as Vader leads a squadron of TIE fighters against them. Han and Chewbacca unexpectedly return to aid them in the Falcon, and knock Vader's ship off course before he can shoot down Luke. Guided by the disembodied voice of Obi-Wan's spirit, Luke uses the Force to aim his torpedoes into the exhaust port, destroying the Death Star moments before it fires on the Rebel base. In a triumphant ceremony at the base, Leia awards Luke and Han medals for their heroism.
See also: List of Star Wars characters and List of Star Wars cast members
- Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker: A young adult raised by his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, who dreams of something more than his current life and learns about the Force and the Jedi. Lucas favored casting young actors who lacked long experience. To play Luke (then known as Luke Starkiller), Lucas sought actors who could project intelligence and integrity. While reading the script, Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely, and he was cast instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in Brian De Palma's Carrie (Lucas shared a joint casting session with De Palma, a longtime friend).Robby Benson, Will Seltzer and Charles Martin Smith also auditioned for the role.
- Harrison Ford as Han Solo: A cynical smuggler hired by Obi-Wan and Luke to take them to Alderaan in his ship, the Millennium Falcon, co-piloted with Chewbacca. Lucas initially rejected casting Ford for the role, as he "wanted new faces"; Ford had previously worked with Lucas on American Graffiti. Instead, Lucas asked Ford to assist in the auditions by reading lines with the other actors and explaining the concepts and history behind the scenes that they were reading. Lucas was eventually won over by Ford's portrayal and cast him instead of Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte,Sylvester Stallone,Bill Murray,Christopher Walken, Burt Reynolds, Jack Nicholson, James Caan,Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, or Perry King (who later played Han Solo in the radio plays).
- Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa: The princess of the planet Alderaan who is a member of the Imperial Senate and, secretly, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance. Many young Hollywood actresses auditioned for the role of Princess Leia, including Amy Irving,Terri Nunn (also a singer), Cindy Williams,Linda Purl,Karen Allen, and Jodie Foster.[a] Foster turned down the role because she was already under contract with Disney and working on two films at the time. Fisher was cast under the condition that she lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) for the role.
- Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin: The commander of the Death Star. Lucas originally offered the role to Christopher Lee but he declined. Lucas originally had Cushing in mind for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Lucas believed that "his lean features" would be better employed in the role of Tarkin instead. Lucas commended Cushing's performance, saying "[He] is a very good actor. Adored and idolized by young people and by people who go to see a certain kind of movie. I feel he will be fondly remembered for the next 350 years at least." Cushing, commenting on his role, joked: "I've often wondered what a 'Grand Moff' was. It sounds like something that flew out of a cupboard."
- Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi: An aging Jedi Master and veteran of the Clone Wars who introduces Luke to the Force. Lucas' decision to cast "unknowns" was not taken favorably by his friend Francis Ford Coppola and the studio. Lucas felt Obi-Wan Kenobi should be played by an established actor. Producer Gary Kurtz said, "The Alec Guinness role required a certain stability and gravitas as a character... which meant we needed a very, very strong character actor to play that part." Before Guinness was cast, Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune (who starred in many Akira Kurosawa films) was considered for the role. According to Mifune's daughter, Mika Kitagawa, her father turned down Lucas' offers for Kenobi and Darth Vader because "he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai... At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride." Guinness was one of the few cast members who believed that the film would be successful; he negotiated a deal for 2.25% of the one-fifth gross royalties paid to Lucas, which made him quite wealthy in later life. He agreed to take the part of Kenobi on the condition that he would not have to do any publicity to promote the film. Lucas credited him with inspiring the cast and crew to work harder, saying that Guinness contributed significantly to the completion of the filming. Harrison Ford said, "It was, for me, fascinating to watch Alec Guinness. He was always prepared, always professional, always very kind to the other actors. He had a very clear head about how to serve the story."
- Anthony Daniels as C-3PO: A protocol droid affiliated with the Rebellion who is "fluent in over six million forms of communication". Daniels auditioned for and was cast as C-3PO; he has said that he wanted the role after he saw a Ralph McQuarrie drawing of the character and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face. Initially, Lucas did not intend to use Daniels' voice for C-3PO. Thirty well-established voice actors read for the voice of the droid. According to Daniels, one of the major voice actors, believed by some sources to be Stan Freberg, recommended Daniels' voice for the role.Mel Blanc was considered for the role, but according to Daniels, Blanc told Lucas that Daniels was better for the part.Richard Dreyfuss was also considered.
- Kenny Baker as R2-D2: An astromech droid and C-3PO's companion, who is carrying the Death Star plans and a secret message for Obi-Wan from Princess Leia. When filming was under way in London, where additional casting took place, Baker, performing a musical comedy act with his acting partner Jack Purvis, learned that the film crew was looking for a small person to fit inside a robot suit and maneuver it. Baker, who was 3 feet 8 inches (1.12 m) tall, was cast immediately after meeting George Lucas. He said, "He saw me come in and said 'He'll do' because I was the smallest guy they'd seen up until then." He initially turned down the role three times, hesitant to appear in a film where his face would not be shown and hoping to continue the success of his comedy act, which had recently started to be televised. R2-D2's recognizable beeps and squeaks were made by sound designerBen Burtt imitating "baby noises", recording this voice as it was heard on an intercom, and creating the final mix using a synthesizer.
- Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca: A 200-year-old Wookiee, Han Solo's sidekick, and first mate of the Millennium Falcon. Mayhew learned of a casting call for Star Wars, which was being shot in London, and decided to audition. The 7-foot-3-inch (2.21 m) tall actor was immediately cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. He recounted, "I sat down on one of the sofas, waiting for George. Door opened, and George walked in with Gary behind him. So, naturally, what did I do? I'm raised in England. Soon as someone comes in through the door, I stand up. George goes 'Hmm [looked up].' Virtually turned to Gary, and said 'I think we've found him.' As a result of his height, Mayhew was eligible for either the role of Chewbacca or Darth Vader, ultimately choosing the former because he wanted to play a hero in the story. Mayhew modeled his performance of Chewbacca after the mannerisms of animals he saw at public zoos.
- David Prowse as Darth Vader: Obi-Wan's former Jedi apprentice, who fell to the dark side of the Force and became a Sith lord serving the Galactic Empire.
- James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader. Lucas originally intended for Orson Welles to voice the character after dismissing Prowse due to his West Country English accent (which led to him being nicknamed, within the cast, as "Darth Farmer"). However, determining that Welles' voice would be too familiar to audiences, Lucas instead cast then-relatively less recognizable Jones.
Other actors include Phil Brown and Shelagh Fraser as Luke's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru; Jack Purvis, Kenny Baker's partner in his London comedy act, as the Chief Jawa in the film; and Eddie Byrne as Vanden Willard, a Rebel general.Denis Lawson and Garrick Hagon played rebel pilots Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter (Luke's childhood friend), respectively. Don Henderson and Leslie Schofield appear as Imperial Generals Cassio Tagge and Moradmin Bast, respectively, and Richard LeParmentier plays Admiral Motti.Alex McCrindle portrays General Jan Dodonna, Alfie Curtis portrays Dr. Evazan, and Peter Geddis portrays Captain Raymus Antilles. Michael Leader plays a minor role as a Stormtrooper known for accidentally hitting his helmet against a door. Heavily synthesised audio recordings of John Wayne from earlier films were used as the voice of the Imperial spy Garindan.Robert Clarke appears as Imperial officer Wulff Yularen and Patrick Jordan plays another Imperial officer, Siward Cass.
Lucas had the idea for a space-fantasy film in 1971, after he completed directing his first full-length feature, THX 1138. Originally, Lucas wanted to adapt the Flash Gordon space adventure comics and serials into his own films, having been fascinated by them since he was young. He later said:
I especially loved the Flash Gordon serials ... Of course I realize now how crude and badly done they were ... loving them that much when they were so awful, I began to wonder what would happen if they were done really well.
At the Cannes Film Festival following the completion of THX 1138, Lucas pushed towards buying the Flash Gordon rights, but they were already tied-up with Dino De Laurentiis. Lucas later recounted:
I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn't obtain the rights to the characters. So I began researching and went right back and found where Alex Raymond (who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers) had got his idea from. I discovered that he'd got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books. I read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905. That was the first story in this genre that I have been able to trace. Jules Verne had got pretty close, I suppose, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet. A whole new genre developed from that idea.
Director Francis Ford Coppola, who accompanied Lucas in trying to buy the Flash Gordon rights, recounted in 1999: "[George] was very depressed because he had just come back and they wouldn't sell him Flash Gordon. And he says, 'Well, I'll just invent my own.'" He secured a two-film development deal with United Artists; the two films were American Graffiti and a space opera, tentatively titled "The Star Wars" and inspired by Flash Gordon. Lucas would later claim that he had the idea for an original space opera long before 1971, and that he even tried to film it before American Graffiti. Believing that the bleak tone of THX 1138 led to its poor reception, Lucas chose to make Star Wars more optimistic; this is what led to its fun and adventurous tone.
Lucas went to United Artists and showed them the script for American Graffiti, but they passed on the film, which was then picked up by Universal Pictures. United Artists also passed on Lucas' space-opera concept, which he shelved for the time being. After spending the next two years completing American Graffiti, Lucas turned his attention to his space opera. He drew inspiration from politics of the era, later saying, “It was really about the Vietnam War, and that was the period where Nixon was trying to run for a [second] term."
Lucas began writing in January 1973, "eight hours a day, five days a week", by taking small notes, inventing odd names and assigning them possible characterizations. Lucas would discard many of these by the time the final script was written, but he included several names and places in the final script or its sequels. He used these initial names and ideas to compile a two-page synopsis titled Journal of the Whills, which told the tale of the training of apprentice CJ Thorpe as a "Jedi-Bendu" space commando by the legendary Mace Windy. Frustrated that his story was too difficult to understand, Lucas then began writing a 13-page treatment called The Star Wars on April 17, 1973, which had narrative parallels with Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress.
While impressed with the "innocence of the story, plus the sophistication of the world" of the film, United Artists declined to budget the film. Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz presented the film treatment to Universal Pictures, the studio that financed American Graffiti; while they agreed it could be "a very commercial venture", they had doubts about Mr. Lucas' ability to pull it all off, and said that Lucas should follow American Graffiti with more consequential themes. Coppola brought the project to a division of Paramount Pictures he ran with fellow directors Peter Bogdanovich and William Friedkin, but Friedkin questioned Lucas' ability to direct the film and he, along with Bogdanovich, declined to back it.Walt Disney Productions also turned down the film.
Lucas said, "I've always been an outsider to Hollywood types. They think I do weirdo films." According to Kurtz, Lew Wasserman, the studio's head, "just didn't think much of science fiction at that time, didn't think it had much of a future then, with that particular audience." He said that "science fiction wasn't popular in the mid-'70s ... what seems to be the case generally is that the studio executives are looking for what was popular last year, rather than trying to look forward to what might be popular next year." Kurtz said, "Although Star Wars wasn't like [then-current science fiction] at all, it was just sort of lumped into that same kind of category."
Lucas explained in 1977 that the film is not "about the future" and that it "is a fantasy much closer to the Brothers Grimm than it is to 2001." He added: "My main reason for making it was to give young people an honest, wholesome fantasy life, the kind my generation had. We had Westerns, pirate movies, all kinds of great things. Now they have The Six Million Dollar Man and Kojak. Where are the romance, the adventure, and the fun that used to be in practically every movie made?" Lucas would later recontextualize the discussion around the film, saying it was born out of research into "psychological underpinings of mythology", a claim that had been dismissed by Kurtz as self-aggrandizing: "The whole idea of Star Wars as a mythological thing, I think came about because of [later Lucas] interviews that tied it to The Hero with a Thousand Faces" and by Steven Hart and Michael Kaminski: "It is here that the true origin of Star Wars comes from -- not from myth and legend, but from the 'schlock' sold on newspapers stands and played in matinees."
There were also concerns regarding the project's potentially high budget. Lucas and Kurtz, in pitching the film, said that it would be "low-budget, Roger Corman style, and the budget was never going to be more than—well, originally we had proposed about 8 million, it ended up being about 10. Both of those figures are very low budget by Hollywood standards at the time." After Disney rejected the project, Lucas and Kurtz persisted in securing a studio to support the film because "other people had read it and said, 'Yeah, it could be a good idea.'" Lucas pursued Alan Ladd Jr., the head of 20th Century-Fox, and in June 1973 completed a deal to write and direct the film. Although Ladd did not grasp the technical side of the project, he believed that Lucas was talented. Lucas later stated that Ladd "invested in me, he did not invest in the movie." The deal gave Lucas $150,000 to write and direct the film.American Graffiti's positive reception afforded Lucas the leverage necessary to renegotiate his deal with Ladd and request the sequel rights to the film in August 1973. For Lucas, this deal protected Star Wars's potential sequels and most of the merchandising profits.: 19
It's the flotsam and jetsam from the period when I was twelve years old. All the books and films and comics that I liked when I was a child. The plot is simple—good against evil—and the film is designed to be all the fun things and fantasy things I remember. The word for this movie is fun.
—George Lucas, 1977
Since commencing his writing process in January 1973, Lucas had done "various rewrites in the evenings after the day's work." He would write four different screenplays for Star Wars, "searching for just the right ingredients, characters and storyline. It's always been what you might call a good idea in search of a story." By May 1974, he had expanded the treatment for The Star Wars into a rough draft screenplay,: 14  adding elements such as the Sith, the Death Star, and a general by the name of Annikin Starkiller. He changed Starkiller to an adolescent boy, and he shifted the general into a supporting role as a member of a family of dwarfs. Lucas envisioned the Corellian smuggler, Han Solo, as a large, green-skinned monster with gills. He based Chewbacca on his Alaskan Malamute dog, Indiana (whom he would later use as eponym for his character Indiana Jones), who often acted as the director's "co-pilot" by sitting in the passenger seat of his car.
Lucas completed a second draft in January 1975 as Adventures of the Starkiller, Episode One: The Star Wars, making heavy simplifications and introducing the young hero on a farm as Luke Starkiller. Annikin became Luke's father, a wise Jedi knight. "The Force" was also introduced as a mystical energy field. This draft still had some differences from the final version in the characters and relationships. For example, Luke had several brothers, as well as his father, who appears in a minor role at the end of the film. The script became more of a fairy tale quest as opposed to the action/adventure of the previous versions. This version ended with another text crawl, previewing the next story in the series. This draft was also the first to introduce the concept of a Jedi turning to the dark side: the draft included a historical Jedi who was the first to ever fall to the dark side, and then trained the Sith to use it. The script would introduce the concept of a Jedi Master and his son, who trains to be a Jedi under his father's friend; this would ultimately form the basis for the film and, later, the trilogy. However, in this draft, the father is a hero who is still alive at the start of the film. Han Solo and Chewbacca's identities closely resembled those seen in the finished film. According to Lucas, the second draft was over 200 pages long, and led him to split up the story into multiple films spanning over multiple trilogies.
Lucas began to rewrite this draft, creating a synopsis for the third draft. During work on this rewrite, Lucas began researching the science-fiction genre by watching films and reading books (including J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit) and comics. He also claims to have read scholastic works like Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces,James George Frazer's The Golden Bough, and even Bruno Bettelheim's The Uses of Enchantment. These claims are doubted by Michael Kaminski and Chris Taylor, with Kaminski pointing out that Bettelheim's book would not come out until after Star Wars was filmed and adding that "the original trilogy-Campbell connection is greatly exaggerated and practically non-existent", noting that, in fact, the second draft is "even closer to Campbell's structure" than the third.
According to Lucas, he wrote a rough draft of about 250–300 pages long, which contained the outline for the entire original Star Wars trilogy. He realized that it was too long for a single film, and decided to subdivide it into a trilogy. Lucas stated that the story evolved over time and that "There was never a script completed that had the entire story as it exists now [in 1983] ... As the stories unfolded, I would take certain ideas and save them ... I kept taking out all the good parts, and I just kept telling myself I would make other movies someday." He later described that, having split the script into three episodes, "the first part didn't really work", so he had to take the ending off of Episode VI and put it in the original Star Wars, which resulted in a Death Star being included in both films.[b] In 1975 Lucas suggested he could make a trilogy, which "ends with the destruction of the Empire" and a possible prequel "about the backstory of Kenobi as a young man." After the film's smash success, Lucasfilm announced that Lucas had already written "twelve stories in the Adventures of Luke Skywalker" which, according to Kurtz, were set to be "separate adventures rather than direct sequels."
During the writing of the third draft, Lucas hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of certain scenes, several of which Lucas included with his screenplay when he delivered it to 20th Century-Fox. On February 27, the studio granted a budget of $5 million; this was later increased to $8.25 million.: 17:30 Subsequently, Lucas started writing with a budget in mind, conceiving the cheap, "used" look of much of the film, and (with Fox having just shut down its special effects department) reducing the number of complex special effects shots called for by the script. The third draft, dated August 1, 1975, was titled The Star Wars From the Adventures of Luke Starkiller. This third draft had most of the elements of the final plot, with only some differences in the characters and settings. The draft characterized Luke as an only child, with his father already dead, replacing him with a substitute named Ben Kenobi. This script would be re-written for the fourth and final draft, dated January 1, 1976, as The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. Lucas worked with his friends Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck to revise the fourth draft into the final pre-production script.
Lucas finished writing his script in March 1976, when the crew started filming. He said, "What finally emerged through the many drafts of the script has obviously been influenced by science-fiction and action-adventure I've read and seen. And I've seen a lot of it. I'm trying to make a classic sort of genre picture, a classic space fantasy in which all the influences are working together. There are certain traditional aspects of the genre I wanted to keep and help perpetuate in Star Wars." During production, he changed Luke's name from Starkiller to Skywalker and altered the title to The Star Wars and later Star Wars. He would also continue to tweak the script during filming, including adding the death of Obi-Wan after realizing he served no purpose in the ending of the film.
For the film's opening crawl, Lucas originally wrote a composition consisting of six paragraphs with four sentences each. He said, "The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you're not using too many words that people don't understand. It's like a poem." Lucas showed his draft to his friends. Director Brian De Palma, who was there, described it: "The crawl at the beginning looks like it was written on a driveway. It goes on forever. It's gibberish." Lucas recounted what De Palma said the first time he saw it: "George, you're out of your mind! Let me sit down and write this for you." De Palma and Jay Cocks helped edit the text into the form used in the film.
George Lucas recruited many conceptual designers, including Colin Cantwell, who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), to conceptualize the initial spacecraft models; Alex Tavoularis to create the preliminary conceptual storyboard sketches of early scripts; and Ralph McQuarrie to visualize the characters, costumes, props and scenery. McQuarrie's pre-production paintings of certain scenes from Lucas's early screenplay drafts helped 20th Century-Fox visualize the film, which positively influenced their decision to fund the project. After McQuarrie's drawings for Lucas's colleagues Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins (who were collaborating for a film) caught his interest, Lucas met with McQuarrie to discuss his plans for the untitled space fantasy film he wanted to make. Two years later, after completing American Graffiti, Lucas approached McQuarrie and asked him if he would be interested "in doing something for Star Wars." McQuarrie produced a series of artworks from simple sketches; these set a visual tone for the film, and for the rest of the original trilogy.
Star Wars has no points of reference to Earth time or space, with which we are familiar, and it is not about the future but some galactic past or some extra-temporal present, it is a decidedly inhabited and used place where the hardware is taken for granted.
—Lucas on his "used future" backdrop
The film was ambitious as Lucas wanted to create fresh prop prototypes and sets (based on McQuarrie's paintings) that had never been realized before in science fiction films. He commissioned production designers John Barry and Roger Christian, who were working on the sets of the film Lucky Lady (1975) when Lucas first approached them, to work on the production sets. Christian recounted in 2014: "George came to the set I was doing, it was an old salt factory design and he helped me shovel salt, just like two students in plaid shirts and sneakers. And we spoke and he looked at the set and couldn't believe it wasn't real." They had a conversation with Lucas on what he would like the film to appear like, with them creating the desired sets. Christian said that Lucas "didn't want anything [in Star Wars] to stand out, he wanted it [to look] all real and used. And I said, 'Finally somebody's doing it the right way.'"
Lucas described a "used future" concept to the production designers in which all devices, ships, and buildings to do with Tatooine or the Rebels looked aged and dirty, as opposed to the sleeker designs of the Empire. Lucas also wanted the spaceships to look "cobbled together, as opposed to a sleek monoshape." Barry said that the director "wants to make it look like it's shot on location on your average everyday Death Star or Mos Eisley Spaceport or local cantina." Lucas believed that "what is required for true credibility is a used future", opposing the interpretation of "future in most futurist movies" that "always looks new and clean and shiny." Christian supported Lucas's vision, saying "All science fiction before was very plastic and stupid uniforms and Flash Gordon stuff. Nothing was new. George was going right against that."
The designers started working with the director before Star Wars was approved by 20th Century-Fox. For four to five months, in a studio in Kensal Rise, England, they attempted to plan the creation of the props and sets with "no money." Although Lucas initially provided funds using his earnings from American Graffiti, it was inadequate. As they could not afford to dress the sets, Christian was forced to use unconventional methods and materials to achieve the desired look. He suggested that Lucas use scrap in making the dressings, and the director agreed. Christian said, "I've always had this idea. I used to do it with models when I was a kid. I'd stick things on them and we'd make things look old." Barry, Christian, and their team began designing the props and sets at Elstree Studios.
According to Christian, the Millennium Falcon set was the most difficult to build. Christian wanted the interior of the Falcon to look like that of a submarine. He found scrap airplane metal "that no one wanted in those days and bought them." He began his creation process by breaking down jet engines into scrap pieces, giving him the chance to "stick it in the sets in specific ways." It took him several weeks to finish the chess set (which he described as "the most encrusted set") in the hold of the Falcon. The garbage compactor set "was also pretty hard, because I knew I had actors in there and the walls had to come in, and they had to be in dirty water and I had to get stuff that would be light enough so it wouldn't hurt them but also not bobbing around." A total of 30 sets consisting of planets, starships, caves, control rooms, cantinas, and the Death Star corridors were created; all of the nine sound stages at Elstree were used to accommodate them. The massive rebel hangar set was housed at a second sound stage at Shepperton Studios; the stage was the largest in Europe at the time.
See also: List of Star Wars filming locations
In 1975, Lucas formed his own visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) after discovering that 20th Century-Fox's visual effects department had been disbanded. ILM began its work on Star Wars in a warehouse in Van Nuys. Most of the visual effects used pioneering digital motion control photography developed by John Dykstra and his team, which created the illusion of size by employing small models and slowly moving cameras.Brian Johnson also turned down the opportunity to work on the film because he was busy working on Space: 1999.
Lucas tried "to get a cohesive reality" for his feature. Since the film is a fairy tale, as he had described, "I still wanted it to have an ethereal quality, yet be well composed and, also, have an alien look." He designed the film to have an "extremely bizarre, Gregg Toland-like surreal look with strange over-exposed colors, a lot of shadows, a lot of hot areas." Lucas wanted Star Wars to embrace the combination of "strange graphics of fantasy" and "the feel of a documentary" to impress a distinct look. To achieve this, he hired the British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. Originally, Lucas's first choice for the position was Geoffrey Unsworth, who also provided the cinematography for 2001: A Space Odyssey. Unsworth was interested in working with the director, and initially accepted the job when it was offered to him by Lucas and Kurtz. He eventually withdrew to work on the Vincente Minnelli-directed A Matter of Time (1976) instead, which "really annoy[ed]" Kurtz. Lucas called up for other cinematographers, and eventually chose Taylor, basing his choice on Taylor's cinematography for Dr. Strangelove and A Hard Day's Night (both 1964). On his decision, Lucas said: "I thought they were good, eccentrically photographed pictures with a strong documentary flavor."
Taylor said that Lucas, who was consumed by the details of the complicated production, "avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture." Taylor also said, "I took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia." Taylor was aware of the "enormous amount of process work" to follow principal photography and believed "a crisp result would help."
During production, Lucas and Taylor—whom Kurtz called "old-school" and "crotchety"—had disputes over filming. With a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the film himself. His lighting suggestions were rejected by Taylor, who believed that Lucas was overstepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions, sometimes even moving lights and cameras himself. Taylor refused to use the soft-focus lenses and gauze Lucas wanted after Fox executives complained about the look. Kurtz stated that "In a couple of scenes ... rather than saying, 'It looks a bit over lit, can you fix that?', [Lucas would] say, 'turn off this light, and turn off that light.' And Gil would say, 'No, I won't do that, I've lit it the way I think it should be—tell me what's the effect that you want, and I'll make a judgment about what to do with my lights.'"
Originally, Lucas envisioned the planet of Tatooine, where much of the film would take place, as a jungle planet. Gary Kurtz traveled to the Philippines to scout locations; however, because of the idea of spending months filming in the jungle would make Lucas "itchy", the director refined his vision and made Tatooine a desert planet instead. Kurtz then researched all American, North African, and Middle Eastern deserts, and found Tunisia, near the Sahara desert, as the ideal location. Lucas later stated that he had wanted to make it look like outer space.
When principal photography began on March 22, 1976, in the Tunisian desert for the scenes on Tatooine, the project faced several problems. Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to malfunctioning props and electronic breakdowns. Moreover, a rare Tunisian rainstorm struck the country, which further disrupted filming. Taylor said, "you couldn't really see where the land ended and the sky began. It was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur." Given this situation, Lucas requested heavy filtration, which Taylor rejected, who said: "I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean ... But George saw it differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused." This difference was later settled by 20th Century-Fox executives, who backed Taylor's suggestion.
Filming began in Chott el Djerid, while a construction crew in Tozeur took eight weeks to transform the desert into the desired setting. Other locations included the sand dunes of the Tunisian desert near Nafta, where a scene featuring a giant skeleton of a creature lying in the background as R2-D2 and C-3PO make their way across the sands was filmed. When actor Anthony Daniels wore the C-3PO outfit for the first time in Tunisia, the left leg piece shattered down through the plastic covering his left foot, stabbing him. He also could not see through his costume's eyes, which was covered with gold to prevent corrosion. Abnormal radio signals caused by the Tunisian sands made the radio-controlled R2-D2 models run out of control. Kenny Baker, who portrayed R2-D2, said: "I was incredibly grateful each time an [R2] would actually work right." After several scenes were filmed against the volcanic canyons outside Tozeur, production moved to Matmata to film Luke's home on Tatooine. Lucas chose Hotel Sidi Driss, which is larger than the typical underground dwellings, to shoot the interior of Luke's homestead. Additional scenes for Tatooine were filmed at Death Valley in North America.
After two-and-a-half weeks of filming in Tunisia, production moved to Elstree Studios, near London, to film interior scenes. Elstree was chosen as a studio over other options in Hollywood or elsewhere. Star Wars required the use of nine different sound stages simultaneously, which most studios couldn't accommodate. Because of stricter working conditions, filming in Britain had to finish by 5:30 pm, unless Lucas was in the middle of a scene.
Despite Lucas's efforts, his crew had little interest in the film. Most of the crew considered the project a "children's film", rarely took their work seriously, and often found it unintentionally humorous. Actor Baker later confessed that he thought the film would be a failure. Harrison Ford found it strange that "there's a princess with weird buns in her hair", and called Chewbacca a "giant in a monkey suit."
The Elstree sets designed by John Barry, according to Gilbert Taylor, "were like a coal mine." He said that "they were all black and gray, with really no opportunities for lighting at all." To resolve the problem, he worked the lighting into the sets by chopping in its walls, ceiling and floors. This would result in "a 'cut-out' system of panel lighting", with quartz lamps that could be placed in the holes in the walls, ceiling and floors. His idea was supported by the Fox studio, which agreed that "we couldn't have this 'black hole of Calcutta.'" The lighting approach Taylor devised "allowed George to shoot in almost any direction without extensive relighting, which gave him more freedom." In total, the filming in Britain took 14-and-a-half weeks.
Lucas commissioned computer programmer Larry Cuba to create the animated Death Star plans shown at the rebel base on Yavin 4. This was written with the GRASS programming language, exported to a Vector Generalmonitor and filmed on 35 mm to be rear-projected on the set. It is the only computer animation in the original version of the film. The Yavin scenes were filmed in the Mayan temples at Tikal, Guatemala. Lucas selected the location as a potential filming site after seeing a poster of it hanging at a travel agency while he was filming in Britain. This inspired him to send a film crew to Guatemala in March 1977 to shoot scenes. While filming in Tikal, the crew paid locals with a six-pack of beer to watch over the camera equipment for several days.
While shooting, Lucas rarely spoke to the actors, who believed that he expected too much of them while providing little direction. His directions to the actors usually consisted of the words "faster" and "more intense". Kurtz stated that "it happened a lot where he would just say, 'Let's try it again a little bit faster.' That was about the only instruction he'd give anybody. A lot of actors don't mind—they don't care, they just get on with it. But some actors really need a lot of pampering and a lot of feedback, and if they don't get it, they get paranoid that they might not be doing a good job." Kurtz has said that Lucas "wasn't gregarious, he's very much a loner and very shy, so he didn't like large groups of people, he didn't like working with a large crew, he didn't like working with a lot of actors."
Ladd offered Lucas some of the only support from the studio; he dealt with scrutiny from board members over the rising budget and complex screenplay drafts. Initially, Fox approved $8 million for the project; Gary Kurtz said: "we proceeded to pick a production plan and do a more final budget with a British art department and look for locations in North Africa, and kind of pulled together some things. Then, it was obvious that 8 million wasn't going to do it—they had approved 8 million." After requests from the team that "it had to be more," the executives "got a bit scared." For two weeks, Lucas and his crew "didn't really do anything except kind of pull together new budget figures." At the same time, after production fell behind schedule, Ladd told Lucas he had to finish production within a week or he would be forced to shut down production. Kurtz said that "it came out to be like 9.8 or .9 or something like that, and in the end they just said, 'Yes, that's okay, we'll go ahead.'" The crew split into three units, with those units led by Lucas, Kurtz, and production supervisor Robert Watts. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.
Lucas had to write around a scene featuring a human Jabba the Hutt, which was scrapped due to not being in focus, as well as budget and time constraints. Lucas would later claim he wanted to superimpose a stop-motion creature over the actor—which he did with computer-generated imagery (CGI) in the 1997 Special Edition. All of the original script drafts describe Jabba as humanoid, with the notion of him being an alien not coming up until work on the 1979 re-release. According to Greedo actor Paul Blake, his own character was created as a result of Lucas having to cut the Jabba scene.
During production, the cast attempted to make Lucas laugh or smile, as he often appeared depressed. At one point, the project became so demanding that Lucas was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion and was warned to reduce his stress level.Post-production was equally stressful due to increasing pressure from 20th Century-Fox. Moreover, Mark Hamill's car accident left his face visibly scarred, which restricted re-shoots.
Star Wars was originally slated for release on Christmas 1976; however, its production delays pushed the film's release to mid-1977. Editor John Jympson began cutting the film together while Lucas was still filming in Tunisia; as Lucas noted, the editor was in an "impossible position" because Lucas had not explained any of the film's material to him. When Lucas watched Jympson's rough cut for the first time, he disliked what he saw. J. W. Rinzler wrote that "Jympson's selection of takes was questionable, and he seemed to be having trouble doing match-cuts." Lucas was prepared to give Jympson more time; Jympson disliked Lucas' working style. As production went on, Lucas still disapproved of Jympson's cut and fired him halfway through the film's production. He commented: "Unfortunately it didn't work out. It's very hard when you are hiring people to know if they are going to mesh with you and if you are going to get what you want. In the end, I don't think he fully understood the movie and what I was trying to do. I shoot in a very peculiar way, in a documentary style, and it takes a lot of hard editing to make it work." After attempting to persuade Jympson to cut the film his way, Lucas replaced him with Paul Hirsch, Richard Chew and his then-wife, Marcia Lucas, who was also cutting the film New York, New York (1977) with Lucas's friend Martin Scorsese. Richard Chew considered the film to have been cut in a slow, by-the-book manner: scenes were played out in master shots that flowed into close-up coverage. He found that the pace was dictated by the actors instead of the cuts. Hirsch and Chew worked on two reels simultaneously.
Jympson's original assembly contained a large amount of footage which differed from the final cut of the film, including several alternate takes and a number of scenes which were subsequently deleted to improve the narrative pace. The most significant material cut was a series of scenes from the first part of the film which introduced Luke Skywalker. These early scenes, set in Anchorhead on the planet Tatooine, presented the audience with Luke's everyday life among his friends as it is affected by the space battle above the planet; they also introduced the character of Biggs Darklighter, Luke's closest friend who departs to join the rebellion. Chew explained the rationale behind removing these scenes as a narrative decision: "In the first five minutes, we were hitting everybody with more information than they could handle. There were too many story lines to keep straight: the robots and the Princess, Vader, Luke. So we simplified it by taking out Luke and Biggs." In an examination of this early cut, which has come to be called the "Lost Cut", David West Reynolds noted the film adopted a "documentary-like" approach that emphasized "clarity, especially in geographic and spatial relationships" over "dramatic or artistic concerns". As a result, the film was more "leisurely paced". Reynolds estimated this early cut contained "30-40%" different footage from the final cut, with most of the differences coming from extended cuts or alternate takes rather than deleted scenes.
After viewing a rough cut, Alan Ladd likened the early Anchorhead scenes to "American Graffiti in outer space." Lucas was looking for a way of accelerating the storytelling, and removing Luke's early scenes would distinguish Star Wars from his earlier teenage drama and "get that American Graffiti feel out of it." Lucas also stated that he wanted to move the narrative focus to C-3PO and R2-D2: "At the time, to have the first half-hour of the film be mainly about robots was a bold idea."
Meanwhile, Industrial Light & Magic was struggling to achieve unprecedented special effects. The company had spent half of its budget on four shots that Lucas deemed unacceptable. With hundreds of uncompleted shots remaining, ILM was forced to finish a year's work in six months. Lucas inspired ILM by editing together aerial dogfights from old war films, which enhanced the pacing of the scenes.
Sound designer Ben Burtt had created a library of sounds that Lucas referred to as an "organic soundtrack." Blaster sounds were a modified recording of a steel cable, under tension, being struck. The lightsaber sound effect was developed by Burtt as a combination of the hum of idling interlock motors in aged movie projectors and interference caused by a television set on a shieldless microphone. Burtt discovered the latter accidentally as he was looking for a buzzing, sparking sound to add to the projector-motor hum. For Chewbacca's growls, Burtt recorded and combined sounds made by dogs, bears, lions, tigers, and walruses to create phrases and sentences. Lucas and Burtt created the robotic voice of R2-D2 by filtering their voices through an electronic synthesizer. Darth Vader's breathing was achieved by Burtt breathing through the mask of a scuba regulator implanted with a microphone, which began the idea of Vader having been a burn-victim, which was not the case during production.
In February 1977, Lucas screened an early cut of the film for Fox executives, several director friends, along with Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin of Marvel Comics who were preparing a Star Wars comic book. The cut had a different crawl from the finished version and used Prowse's voice for Darth Vader. It also lacked most special effects; hand-drawn arrows took the place of blaster beams, and when the Millennium Falcon fought TIE fighters, the film cut to footage of World War IIdogfights. The reactions of the directors present, such as Brian De Palma, John Milius, and Steven Spielberg, disappointed Lucas. Spielberg, who said he was the only person in the audience to have enjoyed the film, believed that the lack of enthusiasm was due to the absence of finished special effects. Lucas later said that the group was honest and seemed bemused by the film. In contrast, Ladd and the other studio executives loved the film; Gareth Wigan told Lucas: "This is the greatest film I've ever seen" and cried during the screening. Lucas found the experience shocking and rewarding, having never gained any approval from studio executives before. The delays increased the budget from $8 million to $11 million.
With the project $2 million over budget, Lucas was forced to make numerous artistic compromises to complete Star Wars. Ladd reluctantly agreed to release an extra $20,000 funding and in early 1977 second unit filming completed a number of sequences including exterior desert shots for Tatooine in Death Valley and China Lake Acres in California, and exterior Yavin jungle shots in Guatemala, along with additional studio footage to complete the Mos Eisley Cantina sequence.
Main article: Star Wars (soundtrack)
On the recommendation of his friend Steven Spielberg, Lucas hired composer John Williams. Williams had worked with Spielberg on the film Jaws, for which he won an Academy Award. Lucas originally hired Williams to consult on music editing choices and to compose the source music for the music, telling Williams that he intends to use extant music. Lucas believed that the film would portray visually foreign worlds, but that the musical score would give the audience an emotional familiarity; he wanted a grand musical sound for Star Wars. Therefore, Lucas assembled his favorite orchestral pieces for the soundtrack, until Williams convinced him that an original score would be unique and more unified, having viewed Lucas' music choices as a temp track. However, a few of Williams' eventual pieces were influenced by the temp track: the "Main Title Theme" was inspired by the theme from the 1942 film Kings Row, scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold; and the track "Dune Sea of Tatooine" drew from the soundtrack of Bicycle Thieves, scored by Alessandro Cicognini. Lucas would later deny having ever conceived using extant music for the film.
In March 1977, Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to record the Star Wars soundtrack in 12 days. The original soundtrack was released as a double LP in 1977 by 20th Century Records. 20th Century Records also released The Story of Star Wars that same year, a narrated audio drama adaptation of the film utilizing some of its original music, dialogue, and sound effects. The American Film Institute's list of best film scores ranks the Star Wars soundtrack at number one.
Cinematic and literary allusions
See also: Star Wars sources and analogues
According to George Lucas, different concepts of the film were inspired by numerous sources, such as Beowulf and King Arthur for the origins of myth and religion. Lucas had originally intended to remake the 1930s Flash Gordon film serials but was unable to obtain the rights; thus, he resorted to drawing from Akira Kurosawa's 1958 film The Hidden Fortress and, allegedly, Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces.Star Wars features many elements derived from Flash Gordon, such as the conflict between rebels and Imperial Forces, the wipes between scenes, the fusion of futuristic technology and traditional mythology, and the famous opening crawl that begins each film. The film has also been compared to The Wizard of Oz.
The influence of The Hidden Fortress can be seen in the relationship between C-3PO and R2-D2, which evolved from the two bickering peasants, Tahei and Matashichi, and a Japanese family crest seen in the earlier film is similar to the Imperial Crest. Star Wars also borrows heavily from another Kurosawa film, Yojimbo (1961). In both films, several men threaten the hero, bragging about how wanted they are by the authorities, and have an arm being cut off by a blade; Kuwabatake Sanjuro (played by Toshiro Mifune) is offered "twenty-five ryo now, twenty-five when you complete the mission", whereas Han Solo is offered "Two thousand now, plus fifteen when we reach Alderaan." Its sequel Sanjuro (1962) also inspired the hiding-under-the-floor trick featured in the film. Another source of influence was Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which inspired the film's visual approach, including long-lens desert shots. There are also thematic parallels, including the freedom fight by a rebel army against an empire, and politicians who meddle behind the scenes.
Tatooine is similar to the desert planet of Arrakis from Frank Herbert's Dune series. Arrakis is the only known source of a longevity spice; Star Wars makes references to spice in "the spice mines of Kessel", and a spice freighter. Other similarities include those between Princess Leia and Princess Alia, and Jedi mind tricks and "The Voice", a controlling ability used by the Bene Gesserit. In passing, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are "moisture farmers"; in Dune, dew collectors are used by Fremen to "provide a small but reliable source of water." Frank Herbert reported that "David Lynch, [director of the 1984 film Dune] had trouble with the fact that Star Wars used up so much of Dune." The pair found "sixteen points of identity" and they calculated that "the odds against coincidence produced a number larger than the number of stars in the universe."
The Death Star assault scene was modeled after the World War II filmThe Dam Busters (1955), in which Royal Air ForceLancaster bombers fly along heavily defended reservoirs and aim bouncing bombs at dams, to cripple the heavy industry of Germany's Ruhr region. Some of the dialogue in The Dam Busters is repeated in the Star Wars climax; Gilbert Taylor also filmed the special effects sequences in The Dam Busters. In addition, the sequence was partially inspired by the climax of the film 633 Squadron (1964), directed by Walter Grauman, in which RAF de Havilland Mosquitos attack a German heavy water plant by flying down a narrow fjord to drop special bombs at a precise point, while avoiding anti-aircraft guns and German fighters. Clips from both films were included in Lucas's temporary dogfight footage version of the sequence. There are also similarities in the Death Star trench sequence to the bridge attack scene in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.
The opening shot of Star Wars, in which a detailed spaceship fills the screen overhead, is a reference to the scene introducing the interplanetary spacecraft Discovery One in Stanley Kubrick's seminal 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The earlier big-budget science fiction film influenced the look of Star Wars in many other ways, including the use of EVA pods and hexagonal corridors. The Death Star has a docking bay reminiscent of the one on the orbiting space station in 2001. Although golden and male, C-3PO was inspired by the silver female robot Maria, the Maschinenmensch from Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.
While the film was in production, a logo was commissioned from Dan Perri, a title sequence designer who had worked on the titles for films such as The Exorcist (1973) and Taxi Driver (1976). Perri devised a foreshortenedSTAR WARSlogotype consisting of block-capital letters filled with stars and skewed towards a vanishing point. This logo design was originally conceived to follow the same perspective as the film's opening crawl. In the end, Perri's logo was not used for the film's opening title sequence, although it was used widely on pre-release print advertising and on cinema marquees.
The logotype eventually selected for on-screen use originated in a promotional brochure that was distributed by Fox to cinema owners in 1976. This brochure was designed by Suzy Rice, a young art director at the Los Angelesadvertising agency Seiniger Advertising. On a visit to ILM in Van Nuys, Rice was instructed by Lucas to produce a logo that would intimidate the viewer, and he reportedly asked for the logo to appear "very fascist" in style. Rice's response to her brief was to use an outlined, modified Helvetica Black. After some feedback from Lucas, Rice decided to join the S and T of STAR and the R and S of WARS. Lucas signed off on the brochure in between takes while filming inserts for the Mos Eisley Cantina scene. Gary Kurtz was impressed with Rice's logo and selected it over Perri's design for the film's opening titles, after modifying the letter W to flatten the pointed tips originally designed by Rice. This finalized the design of one of the most recognizable logos in cinema design, although Rice's contribution was not credited in the film.
For the US release in 1977, 20th Century-Fox commissioned a promotional film poster from the advertising agency Smolen, Smith and Connolly. They used the freelance artist Tom Jung who was given the brief of "good over evil." His poster, known as Style ‘A’, depicted Luke Skywalker standing in a heroic pose, brandishing a shining lightsaber above his head, with Princess Leia below him, and a large, ghostly image of Darth Vader's helmet looming behind them. Some Fox executives considered this poster "too dark" and commissioned the Brothers Hildebrandt, a pair of well-known fantasy artists, to rework the poster for the UK release. When the film opened in British theaters, the Hildebrandts' Style ‘B’ poster was used in cinema billboards. Fox and Lucasfilm subsequently decided that they wanted to promote the new film with a less stylized and more realistic depiction of the lead characters. Producer Gary Kurtz turned to the film poster artist Tom Chantrell, who was already well known for his prolific work for Hammer horror films, and commissioned a new version. Two months after Star Wars opened, the Hildebrandts' poster was replaced by Chantrell's Style ‘C’ poster in UK cinemas.
Charles Lippincott was the marketing director for Star Wars. As 20th Century-Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing T-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation, and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. A fan of science fiction, he used his contacts to promote the film at the San Diego Comic-Con and elsewhere within science-fiction fandom.
While initially being released only in a limited theatrical run, Star Wars was an unprecedented success for 20th Century-Fox, soon becoming a blockbuster hit and expanding to a much wider release. It would eventually see many theatrical and home video re-releases.
Premiere and initial release
Worried that Star Wars would be beaten out by other summer films, such as Smokey and the Bandit, 20th Century-Fox moved the release date to May 25, the Wednesday before Memorial Day. However, fewer than 40 theaters ordered the film to be shown. In response, the studio demanded that theaters order Star Wars if they wanted the eagerly anticipated The Other Side of Midnight based on Sidney Sheldon's 1973 novel by the same name.
On opening day I ... did a radio call-in show ... this caller, was really enthusiastic and talking about the movie in really deep detail. I said, 'You know a lot about the film.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah, I've seen it four times already.'
—Producer Gary Kurtz, on when he realized Star Wars had become a cultural phenomenon
Star Wars debuted on Wednesday, May 25, 1977, in fewer than 32 theaters, and eight more on Thursday and Friday. Kurtz said in 2002, "That would be laughable today." It immediately broke box office records, effectively becoming one of the first blockbuster films, and Fox accelerated plans to broaden its release. Lucas himself was not able to predict how successful Star Wars would be. After visiting the set of the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Spielberg disagreed, and believed Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade 2.5% of the profit on each other's films; Spielberg took the trade, and still receives 2.5% of the profits from Star Wars.
Amidst Fox pessimism, Lucas elected to forgo his option to an extra $500,000 fee for directing Star Wars, in exchange for obtaining the merchandising and sequel rights for the movie from Fox.The Other Side of Midnight was supposed to be the studio's big summer hit, while Lucas's movie was considered the "B track" for theater owners nationwide. While Fox requested Mann's Chinese Theatre, the studio promised that the film needed only two weeks. Fearing that the film would fail, Lucas had made plans to be in Hawaii with his wife Marcia. Having forgotten that the film would open that day, he spent most of Wednesday in a sound studio in Los Angeles. When Lucas went out for lunch with Marcia, they encountered a long line of people along the sidewalks leading to Mann's Chinese Theatre, waiting to see Star Wars. He was still skeptical of the film's success, even with enthusiastic reports from Ladd and the studio. While in Hawaii, it was not until he watched Walter Cronkite discuss the gigantic crowds for Star Wars on the CBS Evening News that Lucas realized he had become very wealthy. Francis Ford Coppola, who needed money to finish Apocalypse Now, sent a telegram to Lucas's hotel asking for funding. Even technical crew members, such as model makers, were asked for autographs, and cast members became instant household names; when Ford visited a record store to buy an album, enthusiastic fans tore half his shirt off.
The film was a huge success for 20th Century-Fox, and was credited for reinvigorating the company. Within three weeks of the film's release, the studio's stock price had doubled to a record high. Prior to 1977, 20th Century-Fox's greatest annual profits were $37 million, while in 1977, the company broke that record by posting a profit of $79 million.
Although the film's cultural neutrality helped it to gain international success, Ladd became anxious during the premiere in Japan. After the screening, the audience was silent, leading him to fear that the film would be unsuccessful. Ladd was reassured by his local contacts that this was a positive reaction considering that in Japan, silence was the greatest honor to a film, and the subsequent strong box office returns confirmed its popularity.
After two weeks William Friedkin's Sorcerer replaced Star Wars at Mann's Chinese Theatre because of contractual obligations; Mann Theatres moved the film to a less-prestigious location after quickly renovating it. When Star Wars made an unprecedented second opening at Mann's Chinese Theatre on August 3, 1977, after Sorcerer failed, thousands of people attended a ceremony in which C-3PO, R2-D2 and Darth Vader placed their footprints in the theater's forecourt. At that time Star Wars was playing in 1,096 theaters in the United States. Approximately 60 theaters played the film continuously for over a year; in 1978, Lucasfilm distributed "Birthday Cake" posters to those theaters for special events on May 25, the one-year anniversary of the film's release.Star Wars premiered in the UK on December 27, 1977. News reports of the film's popularity in America caused long lines to form at the two London theaters that first offered the film; it became available in 12 large cities in January 1978, and other London theaters in February.
See also: Changes in Star Wars re-releases
Star Wars was re-released theatrically in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1982, with the subtitlesEpisode IV and A New Hope being added in 1981. The film was digitally remastered with some altered scenes in 1997 for a theatrical rerelease, dubbed the "Special Edition." Since its original release, the film has also been dubbed and subtitled into numerous languages. In 2010, Lucas announced that all six previously released Star Wars films would be scanned and transferred to 3D for a theatrical release, but only 3D versions of the prequel trilogy were completed before the franchise was sold to Disney in 2012. In 2013, Star Wars was dubbed into Navajo, making it the first major motion picture translated into a Native American language.
The subtitles Episode IV and A New Hope were first published on a title page for the film's script in the 1979 book The Art of Star Wars,[c] in what Kaminski calls "outright forgery", remarking that "the script itself wasn't even the authentic revised fourth draft, but more like a transcription of the finished film, edited and combined with the real fourth draft." The title was changed when the film entered re-releases. Official sources state that the change was made at the theatrical re-release of April 10, 1981.[d]
The retronymic inclusion of subtitles brought the film into line with the introduction to its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, which was reconcieved during rewrites as "Episode V" and eventually released as such in 1980. Lucas claims this was intended from the beginning, and was only dropped to avoid confusing audiences: "Star Wars was the fourth story in the saga and was to have been called 'Star Wars, Episode Four: A New Hope'." In 2014, Kurtz recalled they had toyed with the idea "of calling it Episode III, IV, or V."[e] Hamill recalls having asked Lucas "Why are we doing episode four?" and being answered that Lucas wanted "to give the audience a feeling that they'd missed something and that they were coming into the middle of this story" or that it was "the most commercial section" of the overriding story. Kaminski, however, points out that all early drafts carry an "Episode One" subtitle, and that even early drafts of the sequel are called "Episode II."
After ILM began to create CGI for Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Jurassic Park, Lucas decided that digital technology had caught up to his "original vision" for Star Wars. For the film's 20th anniversary in 1997, Star Wars was digitally remastered with some altered scenes and re-released to theaters, along with The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, under the campaign title Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition. This version of the film runs 124 minutes.
The Special Edition contains visual shots and scenes that were unachievable in the original release due to financial, technological, and time constraints; one such scene involves a meeting between Han Solo and Jabba the Hutt. The process of creating the new visual effects for Star Wars was featured in the documentary film, Special Effects: Anything Can Happen, directed by Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt. Although most changes are minor or cosmetic in nature, many fans and critics believe that Lucas degraded the film with the additions. A particularly controversial change in which a bounty hunter named Greedo shoots first when confronting Han Solo has inspired T-shirts bearing the phrase "Han Shot First."
Star Wars required extensive recovery of misplaced footage and restoration of the whole film before Lucas's Special Edition modifications could be attempted. It was discovered that in addition to the negative motion picture stocks commonly used on feature films, Lucas had also used Color Reversal Internegative (CRI) film, a reversal stock subsequently discontinued by Kodak. CRI proved to deteriorate faster than negative stocks did, although it theoretically was of higher quality, as it saved two generations (an interpositive followed by an internegative), where employed. Because of this, the entire composited negative had to be disassembled, and the CRI portions cleaned separately from the negative portions. Once the cleaning was complete, the film was scanned into the computer for restoration. In many cases, entire scenes had to be reconstructed from their individual elements. Digital compositing technology allowed the restorers to correct for problems such as misalignment of mattes and "blue-spill."
In 1989, the 1977 theatrical version of Star Wars was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry of the United States Library of Congress. 35mm reels of the 1997 Special Edition were initially presented for preservation because of the difficulty of transferring from the original prints, but it was later revealed that the Library possessed a copyright deposit print of the original theatrical release. By 2015, this copy had been transferred to a 2K scan, now available to be viewed by appointment.
In the United States, France, West Germany, Italy and Japan, parts of or the whole film were released on Super 8. The whole film was released for all these countries (including subtitled silent editions and an American Spanish-language edition), except for Italy, where the film (titled "Guerre stellari") was released by IE International as eight brief scenes: Battaglia spaziale ("Space battle", the Battle of Yavin), Duello col laser ("Duel with the laser",[f] Obi-Wan and Darth Vader's duel), La cattura dell'astronave ("The capture of the spaceship"), La liberazione di Leia ("Leia's liberation", the adventure on the Death Star), Messaggio dallo spazio ("Message from space", Leia giving R2-D2 the plans), SOS nella galassia ("SOS in the galaxy") and Trappola mortale ("Deadly trap", the Falcon being captured by the Death Star). A full Super 8 version of the film was only made available in Italy as a pirate six-reel set.
Clips were also released for the Movie Viewer toy projector by Kenner Products in cassettes featuring very short scenes, including Assault on Death Star, Battle in Hyperspace, Danger at the Cantina and Destroy Death Star.
Star Wars debuted on Betamax,CED,LaserDisc,Video 2000, and VHS between the 1980s and 1990s by CBS/Fox Video. The final issue of the original theatrical release (pre-Special Edition) to VHS format occurred in 1995, as part of "Last Chance to Own the Original" campaign, available as part of a trilogy set and as a standalone purchase. The film was released for the first time on DVD on September 21, 2004, in a box set with The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and a bonus disc of supplementary material. The films were digitally restored and remastered, and more changes were made by Lucas. The DVD features a commentary track from Lucas, Ben Burtt, Dennis Muren, and Carrie Fisher. The bonus disc contains the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy, three featurettes, teasers, theatrical trailers, TV spots, still galleries, an exclusive preview of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, a playable Xbox demo of the LucasArts game Star Wars: Battlefront, and a making-of documentary on the Episode III video game. The set was reissued in December 2005 as part of a three-disc limited edition boxed set without the bonus disc.
The trilogy was re-released on separate two-disc limited edition DVD sets from September 12 to December 31, 2006, and again in a limited edition tin box set on November 4, 2008; the original versions of the films were added as bonus material. The release was met with criticism as the unaltered versions were from the 1993 non-anamorphic LaserDisc masters and were not re-transferred using modern video standards. The transfer led to problems with colors and digital image jarring.
All six Star Wars films were released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc on September 16, 2011 in three different editions, with A New Hope available in both a box set of the original trilogy and with all six films on Star Wars: The Complete Saga, which includes nine discs and over 40 hours of special features. The original theatrical versions of the films were not included in the box set. New changes were made to the films, provoking mixed responses.
On April 7, 2015, Walt Disney Studios, 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm jointly announced the digital releases of the six released Star Wars films. Fox released A New Hope for digital download on April 10, 2015.[g] In December 2016, Rogue One (2016) director Gareth Edwards revealed that Lucasfilm had recently completed a 4K restoration of Star Wars, but did not elaborate on whether the restored version was based on the 1977 original or a subsequent re-release.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment reissued the film on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download on September 22, 2019. Additionally, all six films were available for 4KHDR and Dolby Atmos streaming on Disney+ upon the service's launch on November 12, 2019. This version of the film was released by Disney on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray box set on March 31, 2020.
Star Wars remains one of the most financially successful films of all time. The film opened on a Wednesday in 32 theaters expanding to 43 screens on the Friday and earning $2,556,418 in its first six days to the end of the Memorial Day weekend ($10.9 million in 2020 dollars). Per Variety's weekly box office charts, the film was number one at the US box office for its first three weeks. It was replaced by The Deep but gradually added screens and returned to number one in its seventh week, building up to $7 million weekends as it entered wide release ($29.9 million in 2020 dollars) and remained number one for the next 15 weeks. It replaced Jaws as the highest-earning film in North America just six months into release, eventually earning over $220 million during its initial theatrical run ($940 million in 2020 dollars).Star Wars entered international release towards the end of the year, and in 1978 added the worldwide record to its domestic one, earning $410 million in total. Its biggest international market was Japan, where it grossed $58.4 million.
On July 21, 1978 while still in current release in 38 theaters in the U.S., the film expanded into a 1,744 theater national saturation windup of release and set a new U.S. weekend record of $10,202,726. The gross prior to the expansion was $221,280,994. The expansion added a further $43,774,911 to take its gross to $265,055,905. Reissues in 1979 ($22,455,262), 1981 ($17,247,363), and 1982 ($17,981,612) brought its cumulative gross in the U.S and Canada to $323 million, and extended its global earnings to $530 million. The film remained the highest-grossing film of all time until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial broke that record in 1983.
The release of the Special Edition in 1997 was the highest-grossing reissue of all-time with a gross of $138.3 million, bringing its total gross in the United States and Canada to $460,998,007, reclaiming the all-time number one spot. Internationally, the reissue grossed $117.2 million, with $26 million from the United Kingdom and $15 million from Japan. In total, the film has grossed over $775 million worldwide.
Adjusted for inflation, it had earned over $2.5 billion worldwide at 2011 prices, which saw it ranked as the third-highest-grossing film at the time, according to Guinness World Records. At the North American box office, it ranks second behind Gone with the Wind on the inflation-adjusted list.
What makes the Star Wars experience unique, though, is that it happens on such an innocent and often funny level. It's usually violence that draws me so deeply into a movie—violence ranging from the psychological torment of a Bergman character to the mindless crunch of a shark's jaws. Maybe movies that scare us find the most direct route to our imaginations. But there's hardly any violence at all in Star Wars (and even then it's presented as essentially bloodless swashbuckling). Instead, there's entertainment so direct and simple that all of the complications of the modern movie seem to vaporize.
—Roger Ebert, in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times
The film was met with critical acclaim upon its release. In his 1977 review, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the film "an out-of-body experience," compared its special effects to those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and opined that the true strength of the film was its "pure narrative."Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "the movie that's going to entertain a lot of contemporary folk who have a soft spot for the virtually ritualized manners of comic-book adventure" and "the most elaborate, most expensive, most beautiful movie serial ever made." A.D. Murphy of Variety described the film as "magnificent" and said George Lucas had succeeded in his attempt to create the "biggest possible adventure fantasy" based on the serials and older action epics from his childhood. Writing for The Washington Post, Gary Arnold gave the film a positive review, writing that the film "is a new classic in a rousing movie tradition: a space swashbuckler." However, the film was not without its detractors: Pauline Kael of The New Yorker criticized Star Wars, stating that "there's no breather in the picture, no lyricism", and that it had no "emotional grip."John Simon of New York magazine also panned the film and wrote, "Strip Star Wars of its often striking images and its highfalutin scientific jargon, and you get a story, characters, and dialogue of overwhelming banality."Stanley Kauffmann, reviewing the film in The New Republic, opined that it "was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world's affairs or—in any complex way—sex intruded."
When Star Wars opened in the UK, stating that Lucas's earlier films were better, Derek Malcolm of The Guardian concluded that it "plays enough games to satisfy the most sophisticated."The Daily Telegraph's science correspondent Adrian Berry said that Star Wars "is the best such film since 2001 and in certain respects it is one of the most exciting ever made." He described the plot as "unpretentious and pleasantly devoid of any 'message.'" A few critics found fault in the lack of representation of African Americans in the space fantasy, with a writer for New Journal and Guide calling it "one of the most racist movies ever produced", pointing out that "the force of evil ... is dressed in all black and has the voice of a black man."[h] Lucas felt hurt at the accusations.
The film continues to receive critical acclaim from modern critics. The film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes indicates a 92% approval rating based on 125 reviews with an overall rating of 8.81/10. Its consensus states in summary, "A legendarily expansive and ambitious start to the sci-fi saga, George Lucas opened our eyes to the possibilities of blockbuster filmmaking and things have never been the same."Metacritic reports a weighted average score of 90 out of 100 based on 24 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." In his 1997 review of the film's 20th anniversary release, Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune gave the film four out of four stars, saying, "A grandiose and violent epic with a simple and whimsical heart." A San Francisco Chronicle staff member described the film as "a thrilling experience." In 2001 Matt Ford of the BBC awarded the film five out of five stars and wrote, "Star Wars isn't the best film ever made, but it is universally loved."CinemaScore reported that audiences for Star Wars's 1999 re-release gave the film a "A+" grade.
Gene Siskel, writing for the Chicago Tribune in 1999, said, "What places it a sizable cut above the routine is its spectacular visual effects, the best since Stanley Kubrick's 2001." Andrew Collins of Empire magazine awarded the film five out of five and said, "Star Wars' timeless appeal lies in its easily identified, universal archetypes—goodies to root for, baddies to boo, a princess to be rescued and so on—and if it is most obviously dated to the 70s by the special effects, so be it." In his 1977 review, Robert Hatch of The Nation called the film "an outrageously successful, what will be called a 'classic,' compilation of nonsense, largely derived but thoroughly reconditioned. I doubt that anyone will ever match it, though the imitations must already be on the drawing boards." In a more critical review, Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader stated, "None of these characters has any depth, and they're all treated like the fanciful props and settings." Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix said, "Star Wars is a junkyard of cinematic gimcracks not unlike the Jawas' heap of purloined, discarded, barely functioning droids."
The film garnered numerous accolades after its release. Star Wars won six competitive Academy Awards at the 50th Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. A Special Achievement for Sound Effects Editing went to sound designer Ben Burtt
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The Entire Star Wars Story Finally Explained
By Matthew Jackson/Aug. 15, 2019 4:51 pm EDT/Updated: Jan. 2, 2020 12:50 pm EDT
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a farm boy on a desert planet dreamed of joining a rebellion and saving a princess from a dark lord, and thus, one of the most successful cinematic sagas of all time was born. What began with one space opera in 1977 quickly grew into a media empire that included toys, comic books, video games, TV series, and memorabilia in every possible form. Today, more than 40 years after it first arrived, Star Wars remains a global pop culture phenomenon, and the story still isn't over.
Because of its vast reach, wide web of characters, and ongoing story with multiple threads and subplots, the Star Wars saga as we know it has become a sprawling epic, spanning numerous planets, alien races, and massive cosmic battles. In fact, there's so much stuff happening that sometimes it's hard to keep it all straight in your head. Well, we're here to help. Whether you're new to this whole Star Wars thing or you just want a refresher on one plot point or another, we're here to explain the entire Star Wars story.
The story starts with a dark lord rising
The Star Wars story all began, ironically enough, during a period of relative peace in the galaxy. A thousand years before the events of the Skywalker Saga, the Jedi Order defeated the Dark Side Force users in the Sith Order, and for a little bit, it seemed the Sith were gone for good. "Seemed" is the key word here.
While the Jedi became the keepers of peace in the Galactic Republic, the surviving Sith secretly began plotting to overthrow them, working with only two members at a time in the shadows of Republican prosperity. It was near the end of this millennium of peace that Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord who was also secretly Senator Sheev Palpatine of Naboo, set in motion his plan to eradicate the Jedi and simultaneously seize control of the Republic's government.
But just few years before Palpatine's plan began to gain steam, a seemingly inconsequential event occurred that would eventually affect the whole galaxy. A boy was born to a slave woman named Shmi Skywalker, and she claimed her son hadn't been conceived with a father. She named the kid Anakin, and by the time he was a toddler, he and his mother were both owned by a Toydarian named Watto, and the trio lived on the desert planet called Tatooine. Of course, this Jesus figure wouldn't be stuck on a sand planet for very long.
A special boy and a new threat
As part of his plan for galactic domination, Sidious acted as a secret advisor to the greedy Trade Federation, and he ordered them to blockade and ultimately invade the peaceful planet of Naboo. Once the Trade Federation arrived on the planet, Sidious slipped back into his Senator Palpatine disguise and advised Naboo's queen, Padme Amidala, that the current chancellor of the Republic wasn't acting in their best interests when it came to fending off this invading army of droids.
Working with his his Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, Sidious was able to manipulate and manufacture tensions in the Republic from both sides. Palpatine was elected chancellor at Amidala's urging, granting him a place of unprecedented power to further his plans. The Trade Federation was ultimately defeated on Naboo, but the underlying damage was done.
Meanwhile, on a mission to protect Amidala, two Jedi Knights — Master Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi — happened upon a young Anakin Skywalker while repairing their starship on Tatooine. Qui-Gon discovered potentially unprecedented levels of Force sensitivity in the boy, who was already an accomplished podracer and mechanic despite his young age. Qui-Gon urged the Jedi Council to train Anakin, but the Jedi were reluctant. But after Qui-Gon's death at the hands of Darth Maul (whose short-lived arrival revealed the return of the Sith), the Council accepted Anakin as Obi-Wan's new apprentice, setting the stage for Skywalker's rise.
The Jedi discover a clone conspiracy
Three key things happened in the ten years between the events of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. First off, tensions within the Republic continued to rise under Palpatine's leadership. Secondly, Anakin Skywalker grew into a young Jedi Knight of considerable Force talents. And finally, Darth Sidious took on a new apprentice — former Jedi Count Dooku, who adopted the Sith name "Darth Tyranus."
Dooku, at Sidious' urging, created some serious tension in the Republic by forming the Separatists, a movement that rapidly gained support. As numerous star systems threatened secession, now-Senator Padme Amidala fought to keep the Republic together, and was nearly assassinated for her trouble. Obi-Wan was dispatched by the Jedi Council to find out who was behind the attempt on her life, while Anakin stayed behind as her bodyguard.
Obi-Wan's investigation uncovered an army of clones, seemingly ordered for the Republic by a dead Jedi Knight and all created from the DNA of a bounty hunter named Jango Fett. This discovery led Obi-Wan to discover a Separatist gathering on the planet Geonosis, while back on the Republic capital of Coruscant, Chancellor Palpatine was granted emergency powers to use the newly discovered clones in the fight against the Separatists, launching the Clone Wars ... which Palpatine was secretly controlling from both sides.
Meanwhile, Anakin and Padme fell in love, and Anakin's own internal anger grew as he discovered the death of his mother on Tatooine. As a result, he vowed he'd never let a loved one die again, and that's not a creepy thing to say at all.
The Clone Wars rock the Star Wars universe
The Clone Wars raged for three years, with Dooku as the figurehead of the Separatist movement and Palpatine as the increasingly powerful chancellor of the Republic. But of course, Sidious was really the secret master of both sides, bossing around Dooku and pulling strings in the Senate.
The war raged across the galaxy, consuming system after system as everyone picked sides. The Jedi Order, who considered themselves peacekeepers rather than soldiers, were tasked with joining the conflict as generals of the clone armies discovered during Attack of the Clones. Jedi Council leaders including Yoda, Mace Windu, and Ki-Adi-Mundi were drawn out of Coruscant to fight on the front lines, hampering their already-clouded vision and judgement as Sidious continued to scheme behind the scenes.
As the conflict raged, Padme remained a force in the Senate, working for unity while believing she could trust Palpatine and his use of emergency powers to end the conflict. As for Obi-Wan and Anakin, they fought on the front lines, and Anakin even took on a Jedi apprentice named Ahsoka Tano. Of course, this whole time, he and Padme fell deeper in love, and they married in secret due to Jedi restrictions on romantic attachments. But as the war went on, Skywalker's darker tendencies grew, particularly when it came to protecting his loved ones, including Tano, who went into exile after growing weary of the Jedi.
The Sith Lord revealed
Ready for the final stage of his plan, Sidious (acting as Chancellor Palpatine) allowed himself to be taken prisoner by Separatist General Grievous. This kickstarted a major rescue mission, and in the following space battle over Coruscant, Obi-Wan and Anakin infiltrated Grievous' ship to rescue Palpatine. Once inside, they found Dooku, and in the battle with the Sith — who took Anakin's hand the last time they fought — Skywalker killed the Separatist leader at Palpatine's behest. Even though he didn't know it yet, Anakin had basically just made himself Sidious' new apprentice.
With Palpatine rescued, the Republic pressed their advantage in the war, and Yoda and Obi-Wan were both sent to the front lines in an effort to finish the conflict once and for all. Back on Coruscant, Padme informed Anakin that she was pregnant, and his dreams became troubled by visions of his wife dying in childbirth. Meanwhile, Anakin was also drawn into a game of espionage between Palpatine and the Jedi. The chancellor appointed him as his liaison on the Jedi Council, a group that requested Anakin spy on the chancellor, who they distrusted. This didn't sit well with Anakin, who grew even closer to Palpatine, especially after the chancellor hinted he might have knowledge that could prevent Padme from dying during childbirth ... or ever.
To push his plan into its final stages, Sidious revealed himself as a Sith Lord to Anakin, while also promising him knowledge. Anakin reported Sidious to Mace Windu, who attempted to arrest the Sith Lord. But naturally, Sidious fought back, and during the battle, Anakin chose to save the Sith and murder Mace Windu, all in the hopes that Sidious could save Padme's life.
The fall of the Jedi
With Mace Windu dead, Anakin pledged himself to the service of Darth Sidious in the hope he could prevent Amidala's death, the one he'd seen in his dreams. Sidious dubbed his new enforcer "Darth Vader," and then ordered him to slaughter everybody inside the Jedi Temple.
This began the Great Jedi Purge under Sidious' Order 66, which required all clone troopers to terminate their Jedi generals on sight. Only a handful of Jedi, like Obi-Wan and Yoda, were able to fend off their attackers. Meanwhile in the Senate, Palpatine used his power to declare the Jedi outlaws, and making matters even worse, he turned the Republic into the Galactic Empire.
To end his self-orchestrated war, Sidious sent Vader to the planet Mustafar to kill all remaining Separatist leaders and shut down the clone army. And that's when Obi-Wan and Yoda made their move, with Kenobi going to fight Vader on Mustafar and Yoda confronting Sidious on Coruscant. Unfortunately, Padme reached Vader first, and when she tried to convince him to see the error of his ways, he nearly choked her to death. In a pair of Force duels, Sidious fought Yoda to a stalemate, while Obi-Wan gained the high ground and defeated Vader by severing his legs and leaving him to die near a lava flow. Big mistake, Obi-Wan, big mistake.
The Star Wars heroes are forced into exile
After facing the Sith, Obi-Wan and Yoda regrouped with Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan, after Kenobi returned from Mustafar with an unconscious Padme. Clinging to life after her husband nearly killed her, Padme gave birth to twins named Luke and Leia before passing away, leaving the children effectively orphaned. Yoda suggested splitting the twins up and placing them in hiding. Leia was adopted by Organa and his wife, while Luke was sent to Tatooine to live with Schmi Skywalker's relatives, the Lars family.
Obi-Wan and Yoda were, as far as they knew, the last remaining Jedi in the galaxy, and both were shaken by how quickly and effectively Sidious had been able to seize power from under their noses. Both went into exile to reflect on this and to plan for an eventual resurgence of the Jedi. Obi-Wan moved to Tatooine to keep watch over Luke, while Yoda moved to the swamps of Dagobah to live in solitude and reflect on a defeat he never saw coming.
In the absence of the Jedi, Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine quickly consolidated his vast power with Vader (now wearing a black, armored life-support suit) by his side, eliminating political opponents as necessary and turning the Empire into a military dictatorship. Even as he celebrated, though, a small group of leaders — among them Bail Organa and Mon Mothma — were already sowing the seeds of rebellion.
Meet Han Solo, a rebel without a cause
Though much of the main thrust of the Star Wars story so far has revolved around the exploits of the Skywalker family, one key player got involved in the struggle to come through a decidedly different path. Han Solo was a Corellian orphan living on the streets and working for a local crime lord when a failed attempt to escape the planet with his girlfriend, Qi'ra, led him to enlist in the Imperial Navy. After three years of service to the Empire, during which time he was expelled from the flight academy and was made an infantryman, Solo deserted and joined up with an outlaw named Beckett in an effort to earn a new life for himself as a pilot.
His path through the underworld of the Outer Rim led him to reunite with Qi'ra, now a trusted lieutenant in the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate. Together they embarked on a journey to steal a valuable shipment of coaxium fuel for Crimson Dawn boss, Dryden Vos. Along the way, Solo met his best friend, Chewbacca, and he obtained his trademark ship, the Millennium Falcon. Plus, he saw the first traces of the Rebellion taking root. At the end of the job, Qi'ra chose to betray and leave Han, leaving him disillusioned and prepared to trust only himself. He would remain a smuggler for the next decade.
Rise of the rebels
In the years after the Great Jedi Purge, Palpatine continued to obsessively pursue any potential leads on former Jedi who were in hiding, and he created an order of elite warriors known as Inquisitors to further this goal, dispatching them throughout the galaxy. Vader also continued this pursuit and remained one of Palpatine's chief enforcers. Even worse, Palpatine also began constructing a massive battle station with the power to wipe out a whole planet.
Meanwhile, a small band of resistance leaders grew more and more organized, and the Rebel Alliance began to take root. The movement was initially a small guerrilla affair with very little chance against the Empire in an open fight, but nearly two decades after the fall of the Jedi, there was a breakthrough thanks to Galen Erso, a Rebel sympathizer who'd been forced to work on the battle station now known as the Death Star. Erso planted a key flaw in the design of the Death Star that would allow the Rebels to destroy it, and he got a message through to his daughter Jyn to let her know about the weak spot. During an all-out battle at Scarif, Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor gave their lives to steal the Death Star plans, giving the struggling Alliance hope.
The Star Wars story gets a bit more hopeful
Nearly 20 years passed between the end of the Clone Wars and the Battle of Scarif, and during that time, Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker had both grown up on their adoptive homeworlds with no knowledge of their true parentage. Leia, now princess of Alderaan, was a key member of the Alliance and managed to flee Scarif with the Death Star plans. When Vader, who had no idea he was dealing with his own daughter, showed up to capture her, she hid the plans in a droid named R2-D2, who escaped to Tatooine in a pod with his counterpart, C-3PO.
On Tatooine the plans fell into the hands of Luke, now a farm boy with dreams of being a Rebel pilot and only a vague awareness of who his father was. After viewing a message from Leia directed at Obi-Wan Kenobi, he sought out the old man, and when the two met up, Obi-Wan revealed he was once a Jedi Knight ... although he kept Vader's identity a secret.
Determined to get the plans to Alderaan, Luke and Obi-Wan booked passage aboard the Millennium Falcon, the ship piloted by Han Solo, only to find the planet had been obliterated, courtesy of the Death Star's commander, Grand Moff Tarkin. And unfortunately for our heroes, the moon-sized battle station was way too close for comfort.
Taking out the Death Star
After our heroes found Alderaan destroyed, the Millennium Falcon was pulled into the Death Star's tractor beam, giving Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, and Han's co-pilot, Chewbacca, the opportunity to sneak aboard and infiltrate the station in search of Leia. While they searched for the princess, Obi-Wan went to disable the station's tractor beam, and Vader sensed his presence. A battle ensued as Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia shot their way out of the station, and Obi-Wan dueled Vader in a long-awaited rematch. Sadly, the Sith Lord took his revenge on his former master, killing him in front of Luke.
Back at the Rebel base on Yavin IV, the Alliance formed a plan to assault the Death Star and exploit its fatal flaw given to them by Galen Erso. Luke volunteered to join the fight, while Han left with the reward money he earned rescuing the princess. The assault commenced even as Tarkin sent the Death Star toward Yavin to destroy the Alliance once and for all, while Vader joined the counterattack in his own fighter. At the last moment, Han returned to help in the battle, shooting Vader out of the sky and leaving Luke free to destroy the Death Star. With the help of the Force, Luke saved the Rebel base and handed the Empire its biggest defeat yet in the Galactic Civil War.
The story takes a turn with a major revelation
Three years passed and the Galactic Civil War raged on while Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie became a more cohesive unit of freedom fighters, carrying out missions on behalf of the Alliance, which moved its base to the remote ice planet of Hoth. After thoroughly searching the galaxy, Vader finally located the base and launched a full-scale assault, prompting a Rebel evacuation. Han, Leia, Chewie and C-3PO fled in the Falcon, while Luke left with R2-D2 in his X-Wing after receiving a message from Obi-Wan's ghost, telling him to seek Jedi training from Yoda on Dagobah.
While Luke trained and grew stronger in the Force, Palpatine sensed his potential as an ally, while Vader realized who Luke truly was and decided to convert him to the Dark Side. Vader also obsessed over finding the Millennium Falcon, and he dispatched a gang of bounty hunters to do just that. As romantic tension simmered between Han and Leia, the Falcon made its way to the gas planet of Bespin, where Solo met his old friend, Lando Calrissian ... who unwillingly gave the Falcon and her crew up to Vader. Luke, sensing his friends were in danger, went to Bespin against Yoda's wishes to save them.
While the bounty hunter Boba Fett froze Han Solo in carbonite to take him to Jabba the Hutt (a gangster Han owed money to), Vader and Luke threw down in an epic lightsaber duel. During the fight, Vader cut off Luke's hand and revealed that he was his father. Devastated and heartbroken, Luke attempted suicide rather than join the Dark Side, but fortunately, he was rescued by Leia, Lando, and Chewie. And soon after, the heroes started plotting to rescue Han.
Rescuing Han Solo
Months passed as Leia, Luke, Chewie, the droids, and Lando developed a plot to rescue Han. (Plus, Luke was busy refining his skills as a Jedi.) Both Leia and Lando infiltrated Jabba the Hutt's palace while in disguise, but Leia was captured after defrosting her boyfriend. Luke then began his phase of the plan, sending C-3PO and R2-D2 ahead as "gifts" for Jabba, then entering himself. Jabba managed to capture Luke, as well, and tried to have both Luke and Han executed by throwing them into a Sarlacc pit. But that's when Luke revealed that he'd hidden his new lightsaber in R2-D2's body, and with the help of Han, Chewie, and Lando, Luke absolutely annihilated Jabba's bodyguards. As for Leia — who'd been turned into Jabba's slave — she strangled the giant worm with her own chains.
After rescuing Han, Luke returned to Dagobah to find Yoda dying. Before his death, Yoda confirmed that Vader was indeed Luke's father, and after Yoda's passing, Obi-Wan's Force ghost informed Luke that Leia was his sister. Determined to complete his training and restore the Jedi, Luke returned to his friends. But in the midst of the war, the Empire had constructed a second Death Star, and Palpatine himself had arrived to oversee its completion and prevent another catastrophe. Seeing a time to strike, the Rebels decided it was time to launch a major attack.
The redemption of Anakin Skywalker
The Death Star II was fitted with a shield around its entire exterior, generated by a satellite dish located on the forest moon of Endor. So the Rebel strike included a covert attack to destroy this shield generator, along with a full-scale fleet assault to destroy the Death Star itself once the shield was down. Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie led the Endor team, while Lando, Admiral Ackbar, and Wedge Antilles led the fleet strike. Of course, Luke had bigger fish to try, and early in the mission, after revealing to Leia that they were siblings, he turned himself in to Vader so he could face his father alone.
As the battle commenced on the ground and in space, Vader brought Luke before the Emperor, who began attempting to convert the young Jedi. Luke resisted until he reached for his lightsaber, launching a duel with Vader. The two fought until Luke overpowered his father with anger, but after realizing he was becoming just like his dad, Luke refused to kill Vader.
Enraged by this, the Emperor began torturing Luke with Force lightning, which led Vader to pick up his master and throw him into the station's reactor core, apparently killing him and redeeming Anakin Skywalker in the process. On Endor, Han and Leia destroyed the shield generator with help from the native Ewoks, and the Rebel fleet completed its mission, destroying the Death Star and effectively ending the Galactic Empire. During the celebration, Luke quietly burned his father's body, and then witnessed Anakin's Force ghost joining Obi-Wan and Yoda on the Light Side again at last.
New villains arise in the Star Wars story
The deaths of Palpatine and Vader caused celebrations to break out across the galaxy, sending the remnants of the Empire into what ultimately became a semi-organized retreat. There were a few battles left to fight in the Civil War, but the Battle of Jakku a year after the Battle of Endor marked the last major conflict, as the Imperial loyalists were defeated and their military prowess crippled.
As the New Galactic Republic began to form with help from major Rebel Alliance figures like Leia and Mon Mothma, the remains of the Empire retreated to the Outer Rim as part of a contingency plan developed by Palpatine. There, they ultimately fell under the command of a mysterious Force user named Snoke, who had a passion for the Dark Side and key knowledge of both the Empire and the Skywalker bloodline. The ashes of the Empire then gave birth to the First Order.
Meanwhile, Han and Leia had a son, Ben Solo, who showed the Force prowess of the Skywalker bloodline. Luke made good on his promise to rebuild the Jedi and started a temple where Ben was a student. Unfortunately, Snoke began to influence Ben's darker tendencies from afar, and the young Jedi turned on Luke, converting some students and slaughtering others. Heartbroken, Luke went into exile. Sensing the threat of Snoke and the First Order, Leia formed an underground movement separate from the Republic, a group known as the Resistance.
Where is Luke Skywalker?
Snoke ultimately brought the First Order out of the shadows three decades after the defeat of the Empire, with the goal of taking over the galaxy and exterminating the last remaining Jedi, Luke Skywalker. With his military commander, General Armitage Hux, Snoke developed a massive system-killing weapon known as Starkiller Base. Meanwhile, through Ben Solo — now a powerful Dark Side warrior known as Kylo Ren — he sought to find Luke Skywalker.
Skywalker's location was secreted away on a piece of starmap obtained by Resistance pilot Poe Dameron and hidden in his droid BB-8. The droid was ultimately found by a Jakku scavenger named Rey, who realized its importance when the First Order came looking for it. Teaming with a First Order deserter (though she didn't know it at the time) named Finn, Rey stole the long-dormant Millennium Falcon and left Jakku, only to run into Han Solo and Chewbacca.
With Han and Chewie's help, Rey and Finn were able to return Luke's map to Leia and the Resistance, but not before Starkiller Base was activated, wiping out the capital of the New Republic and sending the galaxy into a new wave of political chaos. Meanwhile, Rey came across Anakin Skywalker's original lightsaber, which was lost when Darth Vader cut Luke Skywalker's hand off during their duel on Bespin, and that discovery changed the young woman's life forever.
The next hope
With little time to mourn the Republic, General Leia Organa, Han Solo, Finn, and the Resistance launched a desperate attack to destroy Starkiller Base. While there, Han confronted his son, Ben, but this didn't end well. Hoping to prove to Snoke that he'd truly turned to the Dark Side, Kylo Ren murdered his dad. Yeah, the Rebels were able to destroy Starkiller Base ... but at a tremendous cost.
Up on the surface of the base's planet, Rey took up Anakin's lightsaber and dueled Kylo, fulfilling her own suspicion that she could wield the Force after discovering her gifts while in First Order captivity. She defeated Kylo Ren but didn't kill him, and Hux and Kylo evacuated the base to return to Snoke.
After the battle, R2-D2 — who'd been powered down ever since Luke disappeared — revealed that he could complete the partial map which had been hidden in BB-8. Armed with her fledgling Force knowledge, Rey journeyed with R2-D2 and Chewbacca to a remote island on the planet Ahch-To, prepared to ask Luke for help in teaching her the ways of the Force and in destroying the First Order.
Luke is a reluctant master
The First Order wasted no time in attempting to wipe out the Resistance after the destruction of Starkiller Base, sending a fleet to their base on D'Qar as the Resistance attempted to evacuate. Poe Dameron led a massive attack on the First Order fleet against Organa's wishes, and while the Resistance did evacuate, they lost a great many ships and pilots in the process.
While the Resistance fled the First Order fleet, Rey found Luke was unwilling to offer her any assistance, and that he was determined to simply stay on Ahch-To in solitude until he died, believing the hubris of the Jedi is what doomed the galaxy to darkness in the first place. Rey was ultimately able to convince Luke to help her, but even as he taught her the ways of the Force, Rey began sharing secret, Force-connected conversations with Kylo that were secretly engineered by Snoke.
Luke and Rey ultimately had a falling out when she tried to convince him that Kylo, who he'd almost killed years earlier, was capable of redemption. Rey fled the island while Force Ghost Yoda used Force lightning to burn down the first Jedi Temple, signaling an end to the old ways of the Jedi Order.
The last Jedi?
While Rey struggled to learn from Luke, the First Order continued its pursuit of the Resistance, which rapidly ran out of ships and nearly lost Leia during a fighter attack. Amid a number of struggles, including a mutiny by Poe Dameron, Leia and Vice Admiral Holdo staged a last-ditch effort to preserve the Resistance as the remaining fighters made for a hidden base on the planet Crait.
On Snoke's flagship, Rey allowed herself to be captured so she could try to convert Kylo, who initially seemed to be on her side. He even killed Snoke rather than watch Rey die. But after fighting Snoke's guards together, Kylo asked Rey to join him in ruling the galaxy. Rey, heartbroken, declined and fled to the Resistance on Crait.
After Vice Admiral Holdo flew the Resistance flagship into the First Order fleet, crippling their starships, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren led a ground assault on the last of the Resistance on Crait, only to be confronted by Luke Skywalker. Luke faced down the First Order assault and bought the Resistance time to escape on the Millennium Falcon. Luke even declared, "I will not be the last Jedi," suggesting Rey would rise further in the Force. And that's when Luke revealed himself to be a Force projection, with the real Skywalker back on Ahch-To. The strain of projecting his consciousness across the galaxy was too much, and while the Resistance lived to fight on, Luke died peacefully, becoming one with the Force after years of closing himself off from it.
"The dead speak!"
After the Battle of Crait saved the last remnants of the Resistance, the situation was still dire. As Rey trained with Leia to develop her Jedi abilities, other Resistance operatives searched for new allies — and they found one via a secret First Order spy who confirmed the rumors that gripped much of the galaxy: Emperor Palpatine had returned, announcing his intentions to exact vengeance on the galaxy via a mysterious broadcast. This broadcast infuriated Kylo Ren, who sought to hunt Palpatine down on the hidden Sith world of Exegol. The Supreme Leader found the old Emperor, where Palpatine made him an offer: Kylo could rule the galaxy as a new Emperor with the help of a long-hidden fleet of planet killers, if he agreed to kill Rey.
Meanwhile the Resistance went in search of a Sith Wayfinder which could point the way to Palpatine and stop his "Final Order" fleet before it launched in a matter of hours. This journey led them across several planets, where they fought everyone from Ren himself to the Knights of Ren, and along the way Rey grew increasingly wary of her place in the world. This wariness only increased when the group's search led them to a Sith dagger which caused Rey to have horrifying visions. As her anxiety built, Rey discovered a new layer of darkness in her, while Finn and Poe struggled to hold the mission together.
All of the Sith vs. All of the Jedi
Rey's anxieties over who she was built to a peak when Kylo Ren told her that he knew her true heritage: She was the granddaughter of Palpatine himself, which explained both her darkness and her strength in the Force. After learning the truth Rey nearly killed Kylo in battle, but healed him after Leia Organa intervened to save her son with her dying breath. After this, Rey considered going into exile, but was talked into returning to the fight by the spirit of Luke Skywalker, and journeyed to Exegol to confront Palpatine. There, the revived Emperor revealed his true plan: To convert her to become the new Empress and leader of the Sith. Rey refused his offer and fought Palpatine with the help of a redeemed Kylo Ren. When all seemed lost, Rey drew on the power of the spirits of all the Jedi who came before, and helped her to counter the strength of Palpatine, who represented the spirits of all Sith. Outside the Emperor's fortress, a Resistance fleet composed of thousands of random ships fought as one to save the galaxy from the Final Order fleet. In the end, both the Emperor and the fleet were defeated, and the galaxy was saved.
In the aftermath of the battle, Rey forged her own lightsaber and buried those of her teachers in the Tatooine desert. Finally, she revealed that she had taken a new name: Rey Skywalker.