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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

A return to a galaxy far, far away: A ‘Star Wars’ retrospective

Claire Kirner

The 1983 film “Return of the Jedi” is fast approaching the 40th anniversary of its release. The third installment of the space opera franchise “Star Wars” has captivated audiences since its release, and it helped jumpstart the franchise. So in honor of the film’s anniversary, let us take a look at the history of “Star Wars,” and what Lucasfilm’s plans are for the future. 

The first film released in the “Star Wars” franchise was the 1977 film “A New Hope.” Released on May 25, 1977, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” takes place in a fictional universe with a unique magic system. It stars Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, a moisture farm worker who must learn the ways of a mystical power known as the Force from Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness. The film also starred Harrison Ford as scoundrel Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa and James Earl Jones as Darth Vader. Upon the film’s release, it became a huge blockbuster and launched many of the stars’ careers in the film industry. The film’s score, conducted by John Williams, went on to be one of the most recognizable scores in film history. 

Because of the film’s massive success, there were two sequels released over a period of six years. The “second film” of the series was released in 1980 titled “The Empire Strikes Back” and, obviously, “Return of the Jedi” was released in 1983. Due to the success of this trilogy of films, Lucasfilm released a second trilogy, which was called the prequel trilogy. “The Phantom Menace” was the first of the prequel trilogy and was released in 1999, “The Attack of the Clones” was in 2002 and “Revenge of the Sith” was in 2005. This trilogy focuses on Luke Skywalker’s father, Anakin Skywalker, and how he turned into Darth Vader. 

Then it took a whole decade for a brand new trilogy to come out, and it took an odd turn in terms of plot. The trilogy’s first film was released in 2015 and was titled “The Force Awakens.” Two years later, “The Last Jedi” graced the silver screen, followed by “The Rise of Skywalker” in 2019. Between the releases of the sequel trilogy, there were two anthology films released: “Rogue One” in 2016 and “Solo” in 2018. 

The “Star Wars” franchise is one of the most recognizable science fiction franchises in popular culture. Many people go to conventions, dressed as Jedi, Sith or their favorite “Star Wars” characters. Many people attend events based on “Star Wars,” and the franchise is one of the most profitable brands with merchandise. There are even “Star Wars”-themed lands in both Disneyland in Anaheim, California and in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The franchise has also released many other media on the screen, including the TV shows “The Mandalorian,” “Andor,” “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” The franchise even had an abysmal holiday special that was released Nov. 17, 1978, which the creator of Lucasfilm, George Lucas, has given his two cents about, saying in the past that if he found any physical copy of the special, he would take a sledgehammer to the copy. 

There are other exciting projects that are to be released under the “Star Wars” mantle, including a television series about Ahsoka Tano from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” starring Rosario Dawson, and a television series about Lando Calrissian from “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”

Overall, as a huge “Star Wars” fan, I am very excited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of “Return of the Jedi” and am hopeful for Lucasfilm’s future projects.