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    Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy [21]

    Movie Reviews
    This documentary, which appears on the fourth DVD in the newly released Star Wars Special edition DVD set, stands alone and can be rated as a movie itself. Many purchasers of the DVD trilogy may ignore this film until they have watched the other three movies. They may also think it is a rehash of other documentaries and may not watch it at all. They would be making a mistake. This is the "Now it can be told" story set 30 years later about the politics and really dirty business of making of the Star Wars movie by George Lucas.

    If you remember The Making of Star Wars, which aired on TV in September 1977, we saw a behind the scenes look at the shooting and special effects. We learned how the blue screen worked and gained a healthy respect for the actors who had to say, "That's no moon" while looking out at a blank wall. We also saw the ILM effects and the motion camera developed by John Dykstra. The Making of Star Wars, if it could be purchased (like the Corn Pops re-voiced giveaway), still is interesting. All of the interviewees were riding the first wave of popularity of, what seemed then, merely the biggest movie of 1977.

    This movie is completely different. Thirty years later, all the dirt can be brought to life. Of course, since this is George's baby, it is his side of the story. But there is enough evidence to show that his story is not far from the truth. There are many people that really were not remembered for the full credit they deserved, although many won academy awards and were paid handsomely. Alan Ladd Jr., former head of 20th century fox, backed Lucas against the board of directors. Ralph MaQuarrie's illustrations were the initial designs for the look and feel of the movies. They also enabled Lucas to sell the movie to Fox. John Williams' Oscar-winning orchestral score really gave this movie the punch it needed and went against the grain since the standard for Sci Fi was the aeolian harp-inspired synthesized music (think Dr. Who) and disco was everywhere. The film editing of Marcia Lucas, Richard Chew and Paul Hirsch saved the movie. They were Oscar Winners for their effort, but now you see that they do not just give those non-acting awards away. Ben Burtt also got a special Oscar for his actors' sounds, but the you see from the documentary how sound really carried this picture as much as the effects and music.

    There are 40 interviews, each taking place where and when it could. The documentary includes a piece with stuntman Peter Diamond, who died unexpectedly of a stroke in March 2004.

    One portion of the movie has Walter Cronkite talking about how Star Wars pulled the country out of its post-Nixon, post-Vietnam doldrums. This seems to be quite the gratuitous ego trip for George Lucas. On the other hand, many are of the opinion that Star Wars changed the world in the 1970's much as the Beatles songs did in the 1960's.

    There are several things that we see that I think we have not before or for a long time:
    • Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca doing his lines so that Harrison Ford can understand them. He is a huge guy and would make quite an impression on you if you met him in person. He is tall and has a huge head of hair.
    • Original opening crawl of Star Wars without "Episode IV"
    • David Prowse's recorded dialogue for Darth Vader: West country accent* talking through a plastic mask just does not do justice to: "You're a part of the Rebel Alliance...and a traitor. Take her away! " (All these years we were led to believe that Prowse got the shaft by having James Earl Jones redo his lines.)
    • "We thought that those ILM guys were a bunch of hippies; and they had no shots completed yet!" In the Making of Star Wars, these guys got a lot of praise. But in fact, they scared the crap out of Lucas because the shooting was completed and there were no effects. Lucas alludes to this in the Maltin Interviews, but this shows he had to go to Van Nuys and crack the whip over these clowns to get their work done.
    • There are black and white screen test shots with various actors reading for parts. Kurt Russell (known to the world as Dexter Riley from his recent Disney movies) is shown reading the screen test dialogue for Han Solo. We already knew, from the Original trilogy VHS interviews with Leonard Maltin, that the casting of Harrison as Solo was just luck because he read the Solo dialogue as a stand-in when they had other actors reading for the other parts.
    • Mark Hamill jokes about how crappy this movie looked while filming and how the whole thing was going to be a bust.
    • Some of the cutting room floor footage was shown with C3PO driving the landspeeder with Luke repairing something that just looked corny and two dimensional.
    • Billy Dee Williams has about 20 more pounds on his face, minus the hair.
    • The editors reveal that the Tusken Raider (Peter Diamond) raising his gaffi stick victoriously three times over Luke was a back and forth scroll over the same piece of footage three times. I always had guessed that, but I see it was the only way to make that take work.

    From the Star Wars.Com description:
    This two-and-a-half hour documentary traces the evolution of the saga, from a low-budget labor-of-love space saga to the movie phenomenon that defied the odds and reinvented the rules.

    This comprehensive documentary features all new interviews with George Lucas and more than 40 members of the cast and crew from the original trilogy, as well as a host of filmmakers and media personalities. Empire of Dreams includes some never-before-seen behind-the-scenes footage from the making of the three films.

    I highly recommend that all Star Wars fans watch THIS MOVIE FIRST before seeing the other Special Editions. All the people who worked on this movie were as amazed as we all were when the movie was shown with music, effects, and acting all put together. We already know the changes in the Special Edition and then the Changes from the Special Edition to this DVD trilogy version. And Greedo still shoots first. {BB} * The original review I had put Scottish brogue instead of West country. See the discussion below.

    Added: September 17th 2004
    Reviewer: BB
    29 Point Scale Score: 21    [21]

    Related Link (IMDB): IMDB
    Hits: 21552
    Language: english


    [ Back to Movie Reviews Index |

    Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy [21]
    Posted by BB on 2004-09-20 05:26:53
    My Score: 21    [21]

    Mr. Pincott makes a fair point. And I see that I have offended his sensibilities. Since this review, I have watched part of Episode IV with the comments turned on. Carrie Fisher mentions that Mr. Prowse has a Dorset accent. She also seems frustrated that he would ask for re-takes when no one can see his lips moving under the mask.

    I have neither been to the West country nor Scotland. Nor have I ever met any person from the West Country. I have been to the Yorkshire Dales. That is the only regional accent from England I would be able to recognize with any certainty. And I only happen to know that Dorset is in the West Country because of a Monty Python skit about Thomas Hardy.

    I live in a region of the United States where our local accent could easily be confused with a Canadian accent to the uninitated. And a Canadian would become rightously indignant upon hearing such a comparison.

    All I ever knew about Mr. Prowse was that he was tall and his voice was replaced by the voice of James Earl Jones. I never knew why until seeing this Empire of Dreams, which I mention in the review. The rumor I had heard over the years was that David''s voice was good and that he had done all of the lines. Then he was surprised to hear someone else's voice in the movie and was upset.

    UK readers can be upset about it, but there are probably hundreds of millions of English speakers outside the UK that think the line, "Ah, Miss Lark, thank you. Crikey. Bless you, guv", spoken by Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins is completely authentic C0ckney; and that Dick himself was born under the bells of St Mary-le-Bow.

    Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy [21]
    Posted by Supersexyspacemonkey on 2004-09-19 21:35:17
    My Score: 29    [29]

    Mr. Pincott needs to reconsider whom he labels as "ignorant," when one man's simple error provokes a hyperbolized rant against Americans, and American film, and a pseudo-moralistic pontification on the sad state of a world failing to embrace the age of communication.

    First, the notion that Americans somehow believe all the English to speak in the same BBC English is in itself an ignorant and uninformed accusation; the statement is an overused and obsolete cliche no doubt popular as shallow anti-Yank rhetoric, but is quite inaccurate nontheless. One would literally have to live under a rock to fail to discern the massive variety of British Englishes spoken in even commercial Hollywood releases, not to mention European pictures. If I were as intellectually inane, I would retort with the cliche that all Brits think that all Americans talk like John Wayne. But of course, educated people are above making/promoting such crude stereotypes.

    Second, a mere knowledge of the fact that people in England speak in a plethora of regional vernaculars and accents does not mean that any English-speaking person should automatically know the names of all these varieties, where they are spoken, and recognize them instantly, nor should failure to meet this unrealistic and ridiculous standard justify the unnecessary pejorative of "ignorant."

    Finally, even if, for the sake of argument, it might be argued that the critic who composed this review is an ignoramus (which I do not believe), it is exponentially more ignorant on the part of Mr Pincott to spew a hatemongering rant, and resort to cheap retaliatory generalizations, which not only mimic the very qualities supposedly being criticized, but expose a most hypocritical and arrogant ultranationalistic motive.

    Keep to the point, sir, correct the error, and move on without trying to start WWIII. No need to be rude towards an entire culture just because somebody's technical mistake offended your childish sensibilities.

    Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy [21]
    Posted by ppincott on 2004-09-19 09:33:15
    My Score: 29    [29]

    Just read the review , very good , however rather annoyed that the author refers to Dave Prowse reading his lines in a "scottish brogue" accent, as any one who has followed Star Wars for years, and read about the actors, they would be aware Dave Prowse is not Scottish, (apologies for any Scots this is'nt against you), but from England.
    The accent he speaks in, is from the the city of Bristol , located in the West Country of England , I take it the author of this review is from America , and thus us Brits get lumped together , and anyone who does'nt speak like the Queen, Micheal Caine, or (god help us ), in the fake cokerney, of Mary Poppins' Dick Van Dyke, must'nt be English.
    This is'nt the case, we have many different accents, surely the twangs of a Livipudlian or Geordie accent, must be known to you.
    Its a shame with mass communication, multi media, the internet, and the merging of many cultures, that this ignorance still exists.
    Especially, as previously stated, when it is well documented that Dave Prowse is English, not Scottish, and any one pertaining to be a Star Wars fan would know this.

    Patrick Pincott

    Group29 Productions

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