May the twenty-fifth be with you.

Film So Happy Birthday Star Wars, everybody's favourite film (inc). Thirty years and the franchise is still kicking, albeit in comics and novels and computer games and what not marking time until it turns up on television in some form. I'm just old enough not to remember the original release and maintain that I saw Empire Strikes Back before Star Wars although it was such a long time ago I can't really remember. I do remember a double bill of those two at the Woolton Cinema one afternoon with an ice cream and Kiora in the middle.

There have been all kinds of curious reports on television and radio all day. Jayne Nelson talks about giving an interview here, and a slightly startled sounding David Malcolm appeared on Radio Four's Front Row to talk about going to a special screening in London weeks before the release when George Lucas was apparently still sounding out opinion on whether the film was worth releasing. David told him it was (good man) and the rest is history.

For a while, the myth was that on release the original film received the kinds of notices greeting the final(ish) Pirates of the Caribbean film now (you can hear Mark Kermode being particularly angry opinion hear). Imagine my surprise when I look up Malcolm's own words here and find and indeed he was pretty positive about the thing. What's lovely about that review is that ultimately describes why the the film was a success -- the timeless qualities and the familiar aspects blended into something that no one had seen before.

When The Matrix was released in 1999, everyone called it the new Star Wars (and let's not forget that was the same year that there real was a new Star Wars film released). And yet just seven years later that film is hardly thought of with the same affection. If there are Matrix conventions the profile isn't as high. Partly this is to do with the lack of new product but to an extent it was simply because at its core it was smoke and mirrors and actually essentially doing everything Star Wars did all those years before. It also had those timeless qualities, same familiar aspects and in bullet time something no one had seen before.

But one they'd gone, there wasn't an expanding universe for people to become lost in and be curious about. In fact the two sequels (which I still maintain were pretty good films) went so far into explaining away the magic, they literally sapped the mystery out of the franchise. Looking up at the box set that contains the three movies and the Animatrix spin-offs in its lovely green box you don't feel as though there's anything else you need to know. In Star Wars, it's like you're watching the tip of a narrative iceberg, that there are hundreds of stories of which you're just seeing one. I think that's why its survived -- it has the power to open up the imagination.

Malcolm also mentioned in the Front Row interview how amazing it was, at least at the UK release to see people queuing up around the cinema to see the film. Looking at this review from The Times, I'm not surprised. The competition was The Deep and Goodbye Emmanuelle. Tough choice that.

No comments: