When George Lucas updated his original Star Wars trilogy by adding extra scenes, more digital effects, etc. etc. some people thought this was a pretty good idea.  But there have also been a huge number of fans out there that wanted to see the original versions again.  The ones with no special effects.  The one where Han shoots first (I’m not going to bother to explain this.  Just Google “Han shoots first” and I’m sure you’ll be able to read thousands of pages about it.).

For a fairly cheap price, you can have both on this two-disc DVD set.  At the moment, I’ve only watched the second disc containing the original edition, so that will do for this review.

Star Wars is a phenomenon that I came to fairly late in life, despite the fact that I was born the year after its original release.  Being the eldest of five children, my parents were still trying to work out what to let me watch on TV and scary helmets and glowing swords were on the “no” list for a fair while.

Now, the problem with that is, for Star Wars to truly take its effect, I think you need to really get bitten by the bug when you’re young.  Because at heart, this is a kids’ movie.  The story is a classic good guys take on the bad guys tale – in fact, so much so, that the good guys wear white and the bad guys were black.  (I won’t get into a discussion on suspected racism in the film either . . .)

To that extent, it’s perfect weekend afternoon adventure fare (which was incidentally when I watched it a couple of weeks ago).  Watching the original version is an interesting experience, because the picture looks kind of old and faded, but I didn’t mind that so much, because I thought it was handy to be reminded that this film was made in the 70s, rather than trying to fix it up to look like it was made yesterday.  As such, I’ve got to take my hat off to the filmmakers.  The world is really immersive, and despite the fact that the action shifts from interior sets to plastic models (with a detour by way of the desert), you very quickly believe that they shot this film in space.  (Actually, probably all sci-fi films owe their debt to 2001: A Space Odyssey for setting the benchmark for believability.)

There is no real depth to this story, and the fact that the fans love to dig layers and layers deep into the mythology is more, I think, from the joy of analysing a beloved story in-depth rather than there being any real depth to start with.  But, for what it is, a light piece of action-adventure, the film works really well.

3 1/2 out of 5.

Posted in DVD

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