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Widely considered to the best of the trilogy, and I think I agree. A lot of the elements that I, personally, find quintessentially Star Wars come from here—Han and Leia’s relationship, Lando Calrissian, Yoda, hints of Vader, and, of course, the reveal, which is how I was introduced to the franchise. (Never watched it as a kid, although my brother had. Then again, he is a decade older than me.) Han and Leia’s relationship here really struck me this go round; it’s something delicate between two very cynical people who know better, and it’s interesting to watch Han, in his own way (“You could use a good kiss!” comes across not well for me), actually be tender with her. The moment they share when he tells her the repairs are done and he’ll be gone soon—God, she repeats him and just looks at him, and he can’t tell her that he won’t run, because he will. 

And, while weirdly paced, Luke’s encounter with his own fear that he will become Darth Vader is one of the shots from this series that actually haunts me; just Luke’s face in the helmet. The whole Dagobah sequence is oddly paced, come to think of it.

Oh, and “There is another” makes me think Leia was going to have a much bigger role, because of course it’s Leia. TVTropes tells me it was initially going to be another sister, which explains tons, of course. 

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I’ve been craving film recently, so I hied myself down to a used media store and bought the Star Wars trilogy on mostly untampered VHS—it’s the 1995 “IT’S THE LAST TIME YOU CAN BUY THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY, GET ON THAT” release, so it’s not technically theatrical, but the tweaks are extremely minimal. I did see the original trilogy in high school, either on the 2004 DVDs or the Special Edition VHSes (I’ve a crap memory, which is why I do this!), but something was off. Part of it was that I wasn’t quite ready for old-school sci-fi, but part of it was the incongruity of the edits, especially the special effects added in. They just didn’t look seventies. It didn’t grab me.

This time around, much better. The pacing is tighter, Han is dangerous, and it manages to both feel very late seventies and timeless. I dig sci-fi and fantasy like that, hence my weird thing for eighties fantasy. (It’s not love. But it’s certainly fascination.) This round, Luke came out the best for me. Luke, especially in the first film, has this coltish, girlish charm to him even when he’s whining though the movie; he’s either very excited, frustrated, or sad. But it works, and Mark Hamill is dreamy. Come to think of it, so is Harrison Ford. Han worked for me a lot better this time around; I had no idea killing Greedo was so essential to the Han I know from pop culture! As for Leia, she really comes into her own in the other two films, although she’s not too shabby here. In fact, I think a lot of the identity of the trilogy lies in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

As for the edits… Star Wars feels brighter, vibrant, and more violent here; more swashbuckling. I don’t think the edits ruin the movie, but I do think they hurt the film, because they’re not integrated well. And in some way, there’s no way it can impress me, because I grew up in a post-Star Wars world; in fact, post-post-Star Wars, because I’m young enough that people inspired by Star Wars to go into visual effects were working when I started watching movies proper. There needs to be a name for this phenomenon; when you finally witness the ur-text everybody references. Ur-texting!

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A very interesting and even-handed look at the conflict between George Lucas and his fans, exploring the question of who really owns a story and the complications of living authors. While I appreciated that they discussed the rape metaphor being thrown around, putting that over a shot of a bunch of slave Leias at con? Not cool. Still, pretty solid. 

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Michael Barryte takes the decade-old clunker and fixes it. As in, sets the groundwork for a prequel trilogy focused around Obi-Wan Kenobi, makes Anakin likable, and, of course, eliminates Jar Jar. This dude knows his stuff.

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Eralk Fang

July 2016

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