Star Wars: An Explication – Part 6

In these essays, and even in other writings on the franchise, I have often made special note of Star Wars’ backward-looking quality. These are films that push the medium forward into an exciting new future with groundbreaking special effects, and yet both textually and meta-textually, they are always concerned with the past. With Episode I, over two months ago, we started at the beginning and looked ahead to the story’s ending. Episode VI – as the third film released, as the sixth film in the saga, and as the final installment in this series of essays – is profoundly concerned with looking backwards. Its title is apt; Return of the Jedi is, in so many ways, about the action of returning…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 5

It has become conventionally accepted wisdom that The Empire Strikes Back is the greatest blockbuster sequel of all time, and one of the best cinematic sequels generally speaking; the only competition that springs to mind is Coppola’s The Godfather: Part II. It should come as little surprise that I’m not inclined to disagree with this assessment. The original Star Wars is one of the greatest American films of all time and a milestone in blockbuster history, but I’ve long maintained that The Empire Strikes Back is even better, and without it, I suspect the saga’s cultural impact would not have been quite so profoundly enduring. The stakes are higher and the world is expanded, but this sequel does not simply go “bigger,” trying to top its predecessor in terms of spectacle. The key to its success is that it also goes deeper, doubling down on characters and relationships that continue to grow and develop…Read On

Star Wars: An Explication – Part 4

On May 25, 1977, those words marked the American public’s first entrance into George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. Much ink has been spilled trying to account for the film’s success – its innocence was a welcome alternative to the predominantly cynical cinema that surrounded it, American audiences were particularly hungry for escapism – but no single explanation can quite justify Star Wars’ staying power, or how exponentially Lucas’ saga has grown since that first film…Read On