Star Wars IV – A New Hope (1977)
One of the things I always wanted to do with this column is to give people a reason to go and see other movies besides the same dozen or so we see again and again. But with all other volumes of articles about the most famous franchise from George Lucas ranging from the entire Star Wars Saga (including The Originals, The Prequels, The Force Awakens, with Rogue One coming to theaters in mere months, and "Star Wars Rebels" on television…) could there ever be a rant to get you to watch The Original Star Wars again through a different lens?
How about viewing Star Wars (1977) not as it stands as a Sci-Fi adventure and a classic, but as a commentary and indictment against the establishment that existed when it was first written, filmed, scored and edited when released in the mid-Seventies? More succinctly; viewing “Star Wars” an anti-establishment film.
Star Wars (1977) was in fact supposed to be a broad generational fairy tale that was a mixture of one part tribute to the SF serials of Geroge Lucas's youth, and one part social commentary about what was going on in the world when the story was written during the first half of the Nineteen-Seventies. Some of the strife mentioned in this movie includes Vietnam, Kent State shooting, Western Imperialism via mega-corporations, the nameless and faceless Military Industrial complex hostile take-over of western democracy, genocide… and for extra measure, there's the blatant reference to modern materialism and militarization' s irradiation of religion.
Thrown in for extra measure, some great special effects and above par acting from many unknown (at the time) actors with a handful of cinematic legends like Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing, set design and incredible attention to detail that gives the Star Wars universe that ‘lived in’ look.
The original concept of Star Wars wasn't supposed to be a mere popcorn movie, wholesome family entertainment; rather George and Company's unadulterated, full-throttle commentary about the eternal struggle between good and evil and how such evil will continue to proliferate beyond our own horizons here on Earth.
Now, if you’re not convinced, then I enter into evidence the few cut scenes between Luke Skywalker and Biggs Darklighter which gives much greater detail about the fight between The Empire and The Rebellion and why people chose to join the fight.
BIGGS: Luke, I didn't come back just to say goodbye…I shouldn't tell you this but you're the only one I can trust… and if I don’t come back, I want somebody to know.
Luke’s eyes are wide with Biggs’ seriousness and loyalty.
LUKE: What are you talking about?
BIGGS: I made some friends at the Academy.
(He whispers) …when our frigate goes to one of the central systems, we’re going to jump ship and join the Alliance…
Luke, amazed and stunned, is almost speechless.
LUKE: Join the rebellion?! Are you kidding! How?!?
BIGGS: Quiet down will ya! You got a mouth bigger than a meteor crater!
LUKE: I’m sorry. I’m quiet. (He whispers) Listen how quiet I am. You can barely hear me…
Biggs shakes his head angrily and then continues.
BIGGS: My friend has a friend on Bestine who might help us make contact.
LUKE: You’re crazy! You could wander around forever trying to find them.
BIGGS: I know it’s a long shot, but if I don’t find them I’ll do what I can on my own… It’s what we always talked about. Luke, I’m not going to wait for the Empire to draft me into service. The Rebellion is spreading and I want to be on the right side – the side I believe in.
LUKE: And I’m stuck here…
BIGGS: I thought you were going to the academy next term. You’ll get your chance to get off this rock.
LUKE: Not likely! I had to cancel my application. There has been a lot of unrest among the sandpeople since you left… they’ve even raided the outskirts of Anchorhead.
BIGGS: Your uncle could hold off a whole colony of sandpeople with one blaster.
LUKE: I know, but he’s got enough vaporators going to make the place pay off. He needs me for just one more season. I can’t leave him now.
BIGGS: I feel for you, Luke, you're going to have to learn what seems to be important or what really is important. What good is all your uncle's work if it's taken over by the Empire?…
You know they’re starting to nationalize commerce in the central systems… it won’t be long before your uncle is merely a tenant, slaving for the greater glory of the Empire.
LUKE: It couldn’t happen here. You said it yourself. The Empire won’t bother with this rock.
BIGGS: Things always change.
LUKE: I wish I was going… Are you going to be around long?
BIGGS: No, I’m leaving in the morning…
LUKE: Then I guess I won’t see you.
BIGGS: Maybe someday… I’ll keep a lookout.
LUKE: Well, I’ll be at the Academy next season… after that who knows. I won’t be drafted into the Imperial Starfleet that’s for sure… Take care of yourself, you’ll always be the best friend I’ve got.
BIGGS: So long, Luke.
If this script for this deleted scene isn't an allegory about America's involvement in Vietnam and young men fleeing the first chance they get to go elsewhere to avoid getting drafted, and the wide-scale hostile takeover of commerce by The State, the youth of America becoming more rebellious and anti-authority, and countless other concerns that people were facing in the 1970's, then I’m at a loss.
But then… maybe “Star Wars” wouldn’t have been such a fun movie with the serious overtone if that scene with Luke and Biggs was left in?
This little bit of dialog with this serious (albeit a little clunky) could have pushed "Star Wars" over the top and beat Annie Hall for "Best Picture." It's exactly what the Holywood elitists were looking for at the time, movies that challenged and attacked the status quo. In the years before and after the release ofOriginal Star Wars, bear in mind what other movies were released during that period that won Oscars had similar anti-establishment sentiments. Two of them that are noteworthy is one of Mr. Lucas’ earlier works, “American Graffiti” which was nominated for Best Picture and “THX-1138,” which was a great pre-curser to the original "Star Wars" which also featured a dystopic future with faceless drones or troops as law enforcement officers.
The actual movie itself is also an act of rebellion, it was a form of guerrilla filmmaking – a low budget movie that fought against the major studio establishment and battled for mere existence every step of the way. It was an anti-establishment movie, about an anti-establishment cause, created during a time when being anti-establishment was very much in vogue.
One of the other aspects of The Original Star Wars film is the commentary about how a rigid, unyielding fascist government can collapse due to the efforts of only a few non-conformists. You could make the case that "The Death Star" is a metaphoric symbol of such a dictatorial governing body; its size serves as a symbol of hubris and its vulnerability is a reminder that everything has a weakness that can be exploited it just takes intelligence to find it and bravery to exploit it.
Not only were these important messages to receive when you're a child growing up in a turbulent world; nothing is impossible when you strive to become the right person at the right time. The overall message and themes were exactly that, with George Lucas's original vision of that movie he was that right person at the right time, and naturally, he became a hero to adults and children alike.
There's, even more, evidence of what George Lucas originally intended in the original concept of Star Wars that's explored in greater detail of the Novelization ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster which utilized many of Mr. Lucas's notes and background details. If you can get yourself a copy of it (or get your own off your shelf… don't lie; I know most of you have one!) read the introduction in the beginning. There is so much of that in the mere "Journal Of The Whills" that demonstrate how The Original Star Wars (later retitled ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope') is not a mere children's action adventure movie. Never was supposed to be a children's movie, and was never to be geared just towards children.
It has aspects that are fun for children and have countless toy tie-ins, but that doesn't dilute from the original intent. If anything, those aspects serve as indoctrination into a much larger view of the universe.
As I began with, there have been volumes of text written about why "Star Wars" remains so special and how it captured the imaginations of people throughout the western world. Many of us (now I'm one of those authors, too?) might be over-examining things and maybe by ideas are also a bit of a stretch. That's OK, too. Regardless, I believe "Star Wars" in its original incarnation.
Go out on the internet and read up on the events that were current in the 1970’s and immediately watch the original “Star Wars” again then come back and tell me what you think in the comment box below.