- "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"
- Star Wars Film 1 (1977): A New Hope.
- Star Wars Film 2: The Empire Strikes Back.
- Star Wars Film 3: Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars prequels:
- Star Wars Film 4: The Phantom Menace.
- Star Wars Film 5: Attack of the Clones.
- Star Wars Film 6: Revenge of the Sith.
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