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Star Wars Movie Series

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  • "A New Hope" made nearly $461 million in the U.S., was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won seven.
  • "The Empire Strikes Back" made $290 million in the U.S., was nominated for four Academy Awards and won two.
  • "Return of the Jedi" made $309 million in the U.S., was nominated for four Academy Awards and won one.

by Cathy Richey


Star Wars: A New Hope premiered in the spring of 1977, followed by its two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back in 1981 and Return of the Jedi in 1983. It quickly became apparent that this was a science fiction trilogy unlike any previous movies of this genre, a fact emphasized by the way the movie shattered previous box-office records and won awards, including seven of the ten Academy Awards for which it was nominated.

The movies tell the story of Luke Skywalker (actor Mark Hamill) who—together with his Jedi mentors Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi (Alec Guinness) and Yoda, his friends Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and his two trusty androids C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker)—battles Darth Vader (David Prowse; voice, James Earl Jones) and the evil Empire to restore peace to the Galaxy.

The most obvious difference between Star Wars and its predecessors was the special effects. Computer graphics were still in their infancy in 1977, and much of the technology needed to realize director George Lucas's vision had to be developed as the production of Star Wars progressed. The advancement of computerized special effects can be seen by comparing the initial trilogy with the "special edition" versions released in 1997—Lucas had to wait for technology to catch up with his initial vision for scenes such as the Mos Eisley spaceport in Star Wars and Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.

The special effects in the original trilogy stunned moviegoers. For the first time, spaceships were depicted as vehicles that looked as if they had been through many battles instead of appearing as shiny flying saucers. Battle scenes looked real, and moviegoers felt as if they were in the middle of the action. Aliens displayed a wide variety of appearances rather than simply looking like bulbous-headed humans with three fingers.

The Star Wars trilogy represented the variety of worlds that humans might encounter throughout a galaxy. Planets ranged from the desert planet of Tatooine orbiting a double star to Yoda's swamp world of Dagobah, from the ice-covered world of Hoth to the Bespin with Lando Calrissian's Cloud City.

Star Wars presented an array of new weapons such as the light saber and a new power, the Force, which could be used for either good or evil. Some of the concepts, such as creatures living on airless asteroids and spaceships traveling at speeds greater than the speed of light, are definitely in the realm of science fiction.

Nevertheless, there were enough scientifically reasonable concepts in the movies to make everything seem possible at some other time or place in the universe.

As a proponent of space exploration, Lucas hoped that Star Wars would excite the younger generation about space and its exploration. Lucas has said, "I would feel very good if someday they colonize Mars . . and the leader of the first colony says 'I did it because I was hoping there would be a Wookiee up there.'" 

Star Wars "end" series:

  1. Star Wars Film 1 (1977): A New Hope.
  2. Star Wars Film 2: The Empire Strikes Back.
  3. Star Wars Film 3: Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars prequels:

  1. Star Wars Film 4: The Phantom Menace.
  2. Star Wars Film 5:  Attack of the Clones.
  3. Star Wars Film 6:  Revenge of the Sith.
About the author: Cathy and her Doberman Trooper conduct research into all kinds of topics and produce articles like the one you see here. To contact Cathy, write to Get the facts from Cathy, and let the Cathy Factor give you an edge.


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