Star Wars IV - A New Hope was the film that kicked off the interest in Science Fiction films, before it, the genre had only modest success. George Lucas had trouble convincing movie executives that the film would make money and to put their faith in him to make the film. Eventually, 20th Century Fox conceded and gave him ten million dollars to make the film. They had so little faith in the project that they gave him all the licencing authority. The film stormed through the box office and was the highest grossing film until Jurassic Park was released. If we didn`t have Star Wars IV, A New Hope or it had been a failure, we would never have had the Star Trek Movies, alien Quadrilogy, Star Trek Next Generation, Flash Gordon (80`s Film), Buck Rogers or Battlestar Galatica.
The old black and white original series of Flash Gordon was one of the many influences on George, especially with the writing at the start. The writing had appeared in the black and white Flash Gordon series of the 1930s. George had even once tried to get the rights to Flash Gordon but he failed so created his own unique space fantasy. Just imagine that if he had indeed obtained the rights to Flash, would be in awe of those films as we do Star Wars now. Most likely because it was the special effects that influenced our love for the films in addition to the storyline.
It was originally conceived as a series of nine films, the middle three were to be filmed first, the reason George gave was that they were the strongest of the nine. It took him a long time to get round to developing the prequels because he wanted to concentrate on other projects including such turkeys as Howard the Duck and Tucker. The films were re-released in 1997 and it proved their magic hadn`t left.
The films shouldn`t be seen as three separate franchise but three groups of the same franchise. The third group are the sequels which as of 2013 have yet to be made.
The films are set long ago in a galaxy far far away, one which we wouldn`t be able to see without the most powerful telescope. There are no mention of Earth or of our solar system, no mention of which constellation we should be looking at. Star Wars is pure fantasy as opposed to Star Trek which is grounded in pyschics (that is if for can believe we can travel to planets out there.).
The first Star Wars film was essentially an updated story of a peasant who sets out to rescue a princess with a magician helping him. In Star Wars, the magicians are either Jedi who use the powers for good and Sith who use the Force for evil. The Force can`t be used to turn someone into another form like what Ergo from Krull could do. The Force could be used to move objects around the place, mind control push back an attacking force. The Force according to lore in Star Wars - The Old Republic online game was discovered on the planet Tython but it is open to debate. Dead Jedi are able to come back as a ghost to continue mentoring their padawans as we have seen with Obi-Wan Kenobi returning after being killed by Darth Vader. There are rumours that Palpatine may be back for the sequels as a ghost as he instructs a new Sith Lord to take control of the galaxy. There are a number of people who dress up as a Jedi and proclaim that is their faith. In the UK, the Guardian newspaper reports that in 2001, 330,000 said Jedi was their religon on the Government census but dropped to 176,632 in the 2011 census.
Palpatine is the main protagonist in all the films although he is only mentioned in a New Hope. Palpatine starts off a lowly senator from the planet Naboo who uses his alter ego Darth Siduous to plant the seeds of his rise to power. He manages to corrupt greedy Trade Federation in starting a crisis with new tax on trade routes from Naboo. The crisis enables Palpatine to gain control of the Galactic Senate then have his own army, the clone soldiers made by the cloners on Kamino. Whilst trying to gain control of the Senate, he also manages to corrupt Anakin Skywalker over fears over Padme Amidala, Anakin`s wife life. Once General Grevious is killed by Obi-Wan Kenobi, he takes absolute power in the galaxy.
In the originals, he appears in holographic format to give commands to Darth Vader. In the third and final film of the originals, Star Wars VI - Return of the Jedi , Palpatine moves to the Death Star to oversee the completion of the new world and ultimately see the destruction of the Rebel Alliance fleet. In the final scenes, the prophecy of Anakin Skywalker is fulfilled as Darth Vader kills the Emperor by throwing him down a chute.
The first story was an updating of the old story of a peasant hero rescuing the princess. George Lucas took inspiration from other stories including an old black and white Japanese movie in which the story is seen through the eyes of the lowest importance, the slaves but in the first film it was the robots C-3PO and R2-D2. Attention of the main characters then switches from them to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. The part where Han Solo and Luke Skywalker are to be killed by being thrown into the Pit in `Return of the Jedi` is influenced by Pirate Stories of prisoners being forced to walk the plank.
The films always tried something new, which visually was the planets; Lucas tried to avoid having two planets the same. Although Yavin IV and Moon of Endor were the same, you never really got to see much of Yavin IV so he reused the planet landscape later for Moon of Endor, in the respect that both planets are forrest worlds. Tatooine -> Desert, Dagobah -> Swamp, Yavin IV and Moon of Endor -> Forest, Hoth -> Snow, Bespin -> cloud Planet,. In the later prequel films, Genosis -> Mars Like, Naboo -> Forested Community, Coruscant -> City Planet, Kamino -> Waterworld.
In the first Star Wars film, it was Luke who had eyes for Princess Leia, in the second film, Star Wars V - The Empire Strike Back, they kissed to upset Solo. At that point in time, you didn`t know they were brother and sister. However as the second film panned out, Han and Leia`s attraction became more evident culminating in the kiss before he is frozen. There was an attempt to make Leia sexier than she was in Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back. This was done by her wearing a bikini in Return of the Jedi to many mens delight. One of the biggest gripes about the way she looked in the first film was the way her hair was done up but in the second and third films, it become free-flowing. Although they were meant to be lovers on screen, they were a few arguments between them. One example of this was that Han had changed the words to the script at the end of `Star Wars V - The Empire Strikes Back`, instead of saying `I Love You` to Leia, he said `I know` Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo thought saying `I Know` was more cocky, more like Solo.
Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher weren`t the first choices for their respective parts. Christopher Walken had been the first choice but as he was unable to do it, Harrison Ford took the position instead. At the time of auditioning for Star Wars, roles for Carrie, the horror film was being auditioned for at the same time. Sissy Spacek had been lined up as Princess Leia and Carrie Fisher as Carrie. The role of Carrie in the film of the same name required the actress to do a nude scene which Ms Fisher wasn`t happy to do so the two actresses swapped roles. The rest is history.
The original name for the third film of the original trilogy was `Revenge of the Jedi` but George Lucas decided revenge is not a trait of the Jedi. Many people were upset about the appearance of the Ewoks being so cute-looking.
What has to be one of the most eagerly awaited prequels of all time finally hit the big screens in 1999. The prequels showed Palpatine rise from a Senator to become the Emperor of the Galaxy. The first film `The Phantom Menace` did not live up to its expectations. One of the reasons was because people couldn`t stand watching Jar Jar in the film. This had a knock-on effect that not as many people watched the second film. Jar Jar was the clumsy oaf who helped the heroes in their battle against the Trade Federation.
The first film is about discovering young Anakin and the rise of Senator Palpatine to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Palpatine using his alter-ego Darth Siduous sets out to manipulate the Trade Federation into starting a crisis with the planet Naboo. The dispute between the two factions (Naboo, Trade Federation) enables Palpatine to become the Chancellor. The films also explains how Anakin Skywalker who would later become Darth Vader began his training as a Jedi.
The second film dealt with the creation of the Clone Army which in the second three films are the dreaded Stormtroopers. We also see the first stages of Anakin moving to the dark side of the force because of his dislike of Obi-Wan and the loss of his mother. A romance starts to blossoms between Anakin and Queen Padme Amidala. In the first film, Padme Amidala was a young woman, in the second film, she had not aged whereas Anakin Skywalker who was a child in the first film is now an adult and ready to romance Padme Amidala. The first film was a let-down but the second film was a marked improvement.
The third film was the best of the three prequels, it was darker that previous and there were no Ewoks running around to ruin it al.. The film showed how Chancellor Palpatine became the Emperor and how Old Republic turned into the Rebel Alliance. The films name was a play on the fact that the original name for Episode VI was Revenge of the Jedi before deciding that Revenge was not a Jedi trait.
Having stalled with their own science-fiction storyline with John Carter, Disney bought Lucasfilm for billions of dollars. Disney plan to release the first sequel in 2015 and then a Star Wars films every three years. The storyline will be original, it will not follow the expanded universe that Timothy Zahn and others wrote about. The director for the first film is J.J. Abrams who directed Star Trek XI and Star Trek - Into Darkness in what amounts to being a massive coup for Disney. Disney have also announced that there will be films based on individual characters and it is rumoured that the first spin-off will be for Yoda.
As mentioned, the storyline will be original, the characters from the originals (Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian) and some from the prequels (e.g. Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO) will return. It rumoured that Palpatine will return as a ghost like what Obi-Wan did in episodes five and six. Some aspects from the extended universe will be incorporated, after all the name of the city planet, Coruscant was devised in the expanded universe. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa), Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Clarissian) are all rumoured to have signed up. As for the droids, not seen anything relating to them yet.
The first film is called Star Wars - The Force Awakens and will feature new characters. The trailer was released at the end of November 2014 to selected cinemas, it didn`t give much away. The shots are of John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and some craft shots. More details to come soon.
In addition to the storyline films, that is Episode VII, VIII etc, they also planned a number of spin-off films. Films that tie into the main story arc but are not directly connected. The first one, Star Wars - Rogue One is the story of how the Rebel Alliance got hold of the Death Star plans in the first place. The film features Felicity Jones and Diego Luna as Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor as they steal the plans from the Galactic Empire.
In addition, they have also casted for the roles of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian for a new trilogy following the smuggler on probably how he won the Millenium Falcon from Lando, how he got tied up with Jabba, the Hutt and then finally how he met Obi-wan Kenobi in the cantina on Tatooine.