Star Wars was dying. Die-hard fans of the 35-year-old franchise had all but given up hope of ever seeing their beloved characters – the Skywalkers, the Solos, Chewie, C-3PO and R2D2 on the big screen again. Tarnished by sub-par prequels, endless tinkering to the original trilogy and an ageing George Lucas unable to let go of his baby, the fate of Star Wars seemed frozen in carbonite. So, what happened recently was something fans will never forget: Disney bought Lucasfilm for four billion dollars and announced the release of Episode VII in 2015!
The Internet and social media were immediately swarmed by a legion of Star Wars fans who attacked every platform, collectively going through a range of emotions like the seven stages of a break up – shock, denial, isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance! Emperor George Lucas had handed over the reins of Lucasfilm to Disney. This was scary to say the least, because the last prequel trilogy had destroyed all faith, and had also ruined the love and mass appeal the original Star Wars had created over the years. The questions going through everyone’s mind were: Are we going to see cartoons with Mickey Mouse as Han Solo and Mini Mouse as Princess Leia? Is Leia now officially a Disney princess? Will future Star Wars movies have even more fluffy, furry little creatures (Remember the Ewoks?) so Disney can sell more stuffed toys in their stores? Darth Vader was going to Disneyland! Well, whether all this happens or not, we saw some of the most creative movie collaborations brought to life because Disney plus Star Wars is just pure mash-up gold! Once the dust settled and the initial outrage subsided, fans started to realise – what had been my initial instinct on hearing the shocking news – that this is the best thing that could have happened to a Star Wars fan!
On the brighter side…
Just think about this for a second. Disney now owns Marvel, Pixar (which, by the way, was also founded by George Lucas) and Lucasfilm! That is massive! Those are three companies that have made some of our favourite films ever: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Iron Man, The Avengers, Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and so many more. When Disney took over Marvel a few years ago, the reactions by the fans had been the same, that our favourite superheroes would be turned into a line of stuffed toys. But Disney has only gone from strength to strength, choosing directors and writers wisely to churn out one blockbuster after the other in the last few years and singularly ruling the summer box-office. They even managed the impossible by putting together an ensemble superhero cast in The Avengers and actually coming out with an amazing and highly entertaining movie for fan boys and newbies alike!
Star Wars itself is an old brand now. It has been around since Episode IV came out in 1977. Since then it has ingrained itself in popular culture like no other movie franchise has ever done, with its movies, DVDs, toys, board games, action figures, books, comics, and numerous other merchandise for kids and adults. This single movie franchise has made a staggering 33 billion dollars worldwide. But George Lucas’ initial magic has died over the years. Even in the original trilogy, he was infamous for his wooden writing and bad direction. The best episode of that trilogy, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, was actually directed by his film-school teacher Irvin Kershner. And the latest prequels proved that he should have handed over the reins of his baby to someone young and fresh a long, long time ago. Now, with Disney holding all the cards, the possibilities are endless! Imagine Peter Jackson directing Episodes VII-IX, and bringing out the magic of Lord of The Rings in Star Wars!
With Pixar, Disney has the likes of Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton at its disposal. According to the rumour mill running at full speed now (expect it to go on for another two years), there are several directors Disney is supposedly looking at for bringing Episode VII to the big screen: Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), Steven Spielberg (ET, Indiana Jones), Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium), Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Black Swan), JJ Abrams (Star Trek), Joss Whedon (Serenity, The Avengers). Each of these directors presents a juicy proposition for breathing fresh life into a great movie franchise with a vast universe of unexplored stories and characters. Whatever happens, one thing is for sure… this is an epic movie event and come 2015, when Star Wars VII thunders its way onto theatres, I will be first in line, and you will not be far behind to once again meet our friends from a galaxy far, far away! May the force be with Disney!
Star Wars for dummies
It is basically the story of Good vs Evil – the rebel Alliance fighting for freedom against the evil Galactic Empire.
The Jedi are a religious group in the Star Wars universe. The Jedi use a power called the Force and weapons called Lightsabers. They are bound to a code of morality and justice.
The Force is the binding, metaphysical, and ubiquitous power in the fictional universe of the Star Wars galaxy that gives the Jedi their power. It also has a dark side.
The main antagonists of Star Wars are the Sith. They are capable of using the dark side of the Force.
The main characters:
Luke Skywalker A Jedi Knight, played by Mark Hamill
Princess Leia Luke’s twin sister – she is also a Jedi Knight – played by Carrie Fisher
Anakin Skywalker/ Darth Vader Father of Luke and Leia, Lord of the Sith (voiced by James Earl Jones)
Han Solo Rebel leader, Leia’s lover, played by Harrison Ford
Yoda Jedi master, voiced by Frank Oz
C-3PO Protocol droid, played by Anthony Daniels
R2D2 Astromech droid, played by Kenny Baker
Obi-Wan Kenobi Jedi master, played by Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor
Emperor Palpatine Evil Sith Lord (Played by Ian McDiarmid)
Things you didn’t know
The plot and characters of Star Wars are inspired by a 1958 Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, directed by Akira Kurosawa, Flash Gordon serials and Joseph Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
It took three actors to portray Darth Vader: James Earl Jones’ voice, the face of Sebastian Shaw and the body of David Prowse. Frank Oz (who was the voice of Yoda) also voices The Muppets’ Miss Piggy.
The sound of Vader’s breathing? It’s a scuba regulator. The character of Han Solo was based on Lucas’ friend Francis Ford Coppola who directed The Godfather. Other candidates for the role of Han Solo were Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken and Al Pacino.
Chewbacca was based on George Lucas’ dog Indiana, who was also the inspiration for the name Indiana Jones. R2D2 is named after a piece of film jargon: Reel 2 Dialog 2.
Star Wars is the most successful movie-related toy line-up ever sold. In 1996, 37 per cent of the toys sold in the United States were Star Wars products. The music is named by the American Film Institute as the ‘Greatest Film Score of All Time’. Universal Studios rejected producing Star Wars, the greatest mistake the studio has ever made.
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