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Sunday, May 27, 2012

What Makes Star Wars So Different From Other Space Epics?

(Photo removed due to copyright reasons.)
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sorry about not checking in for the last two or three weeks.  There's been so much going on such as my parents visiting from Fresno and work at my day job. But I'm back on track so expect a post each week again.

Not only was this past Friday Geek Pride Day but it was also Towel Day for the ones who know Douglass Adams' satirical series of novels, The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. On top of that, it was the 35th anniversary of the first Star Wars film, A New Hope. Strangely enough to some, the movie wasn't even given that secondary title until several years later. I'll always know it as just Star Wars, though; it's just so '70s that way. I guess you can blame that one on my era-centricity as I like to call it. Or better yet, my '70s geekism. 

Anyway, Friday was a day that many Adams' fans wore towels. I wore one off and on (with my clothes on, that is) but can't really say I demonstrated my geekdom since I hadn't left the house all that day; I was stuck inside working on my article in commemoration of the anniversary of the first Star Wars movie. Well, it was sort of a commemoration. The article is actually a short history of the movies inspired by the first Star Wars movie during those years that George Lucas's blockbuster space epic sparked an entire craze. Not only did Star Wars fandom hit everywhere and nearly everyone (even non geeks it seemed), but movie directors and studios of that time felt they could make big money off of their own "Star Wars" films. These films are all too often called rip-offs, but have also been referred to as knock-offs. I prefer calling them inspired movies, in this case Star Wars-inspired. Maybe that's just a nice way of saying rip-off, but when you think about it art inspires art.

We can't forget that Star Wars itself wasn't born within a vacuum. It was inspired by movies before it such as old space epic movie serials like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. But what makes a movie or story of any medium good is not always necessarily how new and unique it is but sometimes how new or unique it's told. George Lucas told his space epic setting it in a galaxy that has never come in contact with our own, an imaginary galaxy, hence the opening of each Star Wars film, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . " and so gave his epic a fairy tale flavor. It is a story that makes us forget that our own world exists transporting us to a totally different world (or more like worlds).

This more overt fairy tale, legendary quality to a science fiction (or space fantasy as many like to call it) film is probably one of the things that made Star Wars so unique. Before that, most science fiction was centered in our own reality and so was always about Earthlings in conflict with beings of other planets. Of course, we can't forget that on top of this quality were the special effects that were like no others anyone had seen since Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. But Space Odyssey was a more hard science fiction film, whereas Star Wars was made to where the science and technology and did not matter.  Therefore Star Wars was made to be a mostly fun, entertaining movie rather than one that speculated on a future science so much. Also, by the time Star Wars came out, the special effects were already advanced to a more noticeable degree.

A great article that I read earlier this afternoon was one by a fellow Examiner and is about the monsters in the Star Wars films. If there's anything I've liked most in Star Wars it's been the monsters such as the humanoid ones in the first movie's cantina scene, the robotic At-Ats in the second film, and the rancor in the third. Not to mention, the beasts in the arena of the second prequel, Attack of the Clones.

Are you wondering what the best sci fi/fantasy movies to see on the big screen this summer are? My Examiner article from earlier last week makes some suggestions, so please take a look at it.

I'll leave you with that for now.

Until next time . . .

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