It's been 35 years since George Lucas' brainchild, "Star Wars," premiered in theaters, launching a multibillion-dollar franchise -- along with Harrison Ford's acting career -- and eventually making every fanboy's wet dream come true: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa in the iconic golden bikini.
Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford played Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Han Solo, respectively, in "Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope."
To say the "Star Wars" franchise found a cult following would be a dramatic understatement. The films that gave us "The Force" are among the most recognizable pop cultural institutions in the history of mass-market entertainment. The movies spawned at least one pseudo-religion (Jediism), countless spoofs (e.g., the "Blue Harvest" episode of "Family Guy"), and an estimated $15 billion in toy sales alone, according to a Wired report, which also estimates the entire franchise has earned about $33 billion in revenue.
Some of the special effects in the first "Star Wars" film (aka "Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope") are almost laughable by today's standards -- particularly for those who are accustomed to "Avatar"-level computer-generated imagery -- but they were considered groundbreaking in 1977. There were high-speed chases and space battles. There were lasers and lightsabers.
Technological advances since its original release could have made the images more defined and the sounds sharper, while advances in the makeup department could have given Chewbacca a more emotive face, but, at the time, it was all very cool.
Despite the monumental popularity of "Star Wars," very few would argue that any films in the series were perfect movies -- although most would agree "Star Wars: Episode V -- The Empire Strikes Back" came the closest. Here are some of what we consider the highs and lows of the series:
Everyone's favorite Wookiee didn't have much to say -- well, at least not much that we could understand, anyway -- but he was Han Solo's best buddy, and he possessed some mad pilot skills. He was loyal and good to have around while navigating an asteroid field. We should all have at least one Chewbacca in our lives, albeit with less hair.
Hated: Jar Jar Binks
He looked (and probably felt) slimy, had a voice that could make your ears bleed, and was generally superannoying -- a smear on Gungans everywhere.
Loved: C-3PO And R2-D2, The Dynamic Duo
We couldn't understand what the blue-and-white robot was saying, but judging by C-3PO's responses to his many bleeping sounds, he was one spunky -- and possibly foul-mouthed -- little guy. Their idiosyncratic dialogue was among the best in the entire series.
Hated: 'I Love You,' 'I Know'
Han Solo is about to be frozen in carbonite at the end of "The Empire Strikes Back" when Princess Leia, in a one-sided moment of passion, tells him she loves him. His response? "I know." Although Leia forgave the affront -- even saving his life in the next movie -- George Lucas came to regret that scene. Harrison Ford revealed in 2010 that he and "The Empire Strikes Back" director Irvin Kershner filmed the scene with a different line than the one in the script: "It didn't go down so well with George at the time," Ford said, according to a report on the pop culture website YouBentMyWookie.com. "He would have been a lot happier with the scripted line, which is 'I love you, too,' but I felt, and Kersh agreed, that there was the opportunity for a more character 'smelling' moment."
Yoda was a tad stuffy -- and in reversed sentences, he spoke -- but you still didn't want to mess with him. He may have been past his prime, but he held his own in a lightsaber battle with Count Dooku in "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones."
They looked like cute, cuddly teddy bears, and they ultimately helped the Jedi forces, but these furry little guys had lethal spears and scary, glassy-eyed faces that made one want to run up the nearest tree.
Loved: Princess Leia And Han Solo
Science fiction isn't known for presenting relatable romances, but Princess Leia and Han Solo's cat-and-mouse courtship is a romance that fans of all genres can get behind.
Hated: Luke's And Leia's Borderline Incest
Luke and Leia didn't know they were brother and sister until "Star Wars: Episode VI -- Return of the Jedi." But we really wish they had figured out their blood relation before Leia kissed her brother on the lips in "The Empire Strikes Back." True, she only did it to make Han Solo jealous, and true, we didn't even know they were related by blood until the next film, but finding out about the sibling relationship after the fact still left a bad taste. We didn't need to see that.
Loved: Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi
The name has become synonymous with any great teacher. Whether Obi-Wan is being played by Ewan McGregor or the great Alec Guinness, he is by far one of the most likeable characters in the "Star Wars" universe, and one of the greatest mentors of all time. He takes over Anakin Skywalker's Jedi training after the death of Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson), and while that doesn't exactly bode well for humanity, he ultimately gets Luke Skywalker away from the moisture farm-life on Tatooine, facilitating the end of the evil empire. Hooray!
Hated: 'Romantic' Dialogue Between Padme Amidala And Anakin Skywalker
Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman made an attractive-looking on-screen couple, but their dialogue was cringe-worthy. In one scene in "Attack of the Clones," before Anakin and Padme are sent into an arena to meet their doom ("Hunger Games," anyone?), Padme finally tells Anakin that she loves him. His "Twilight-esque" response: "You love me? I thought that we had decided not to fall in love. That we would be forced to live a lie, and that it would destroy our lives." Her response? "I think our lives are about to be destroyed anyway." Shudder. Wince.
The "Star Wars" films were far from being perfect, and while the first movie in the series to come out might not fly by today's standards, it still paved the way for more sci-fi fun. How will you commemorate the anniversary of the screening of this iconic film? By watching the films? Breaking out the action figures? Digging out the lightsaber?
Regardless: May the Force be with you.
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