Monday, March 1, 2010

1978 Hugo for Dramatic Presentation, 1977 Saturn - STAR WARS

The little-known, pulpy 1977 gem, Star Wars, begins with the escape of two robots from a spectacular battle in space. The robots meet a whiny young dirt-farmer named Luke Skywalker, who soon learns that he has the potential to become mystical warrior known as a “Jedi Knight. Luke hires a spaceship and joins up with an old man, a princess, a raffish rogue, and a very hairy basketball player to fight the evil Jedi, Darth Vader and the “evil empire” (man, this movie rips off a lot of Ronald Reagan material from the ‘80s). There are lots of exciting starship dog-fights, laser-fights/chase scenes, and sword fights (with futuristic “lightsabers”) along the way.

This is a welcome return to space opera. The film awards have gone to dystopian futures six out of the last eight awards (and the other two were comedies with contemporary settings and a few fantastic elements). I’m probably the first person ever to observe this, but the plot resembles the fantasy genre more than science fiction in many ways. Sure, it has spaceships and laser-swords, but it also takes place in a mythical past and is full of princesses, knights and wizards. Either way, it's a call-back to an older style of sci-fi adventure that was already out of fashion in the early fifties (where we started with this blog). This film is about a 12 on the 10-point escapist-fun scale. I’m surprised it doesn’t have a bigger following.

The special effects look pretty amazing too, especially considering that this film is over thirty years old. It’s aged even better than 2001, and it makes the previous year's Logan's Run, which actually won an effects Oscar, look like crap. The original edition is hard to find, and you’re probably more likely to run across the cheap-looking ‘90s “Special edition” with totally unnecessary additions. It’s a good argument for why models look cooler that computer graphics (at least until this decade).

You probably haven’t seen this film, but, if you’re a sci-fi or fantasy fan to any degree, you should! See how great it looks:

Grade: A

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