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January 30, 1997 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-30

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'' r t N R 't " a I . f i 19



The Iv jchga4avWeeketo

'Star Wars' a
hit at Briarwood

EISound and Furyr
BY DEAN BAKoPOULOS y....*._. ... ..._ *

This article first appeared in the June
16, 1977 edition of The Michigan Daily.
By Dense Fox
It has been called a "fantasy," a com-
bination of an Abbot and Costello com-
edy and a Romeo and Juliet story, a
movie for children, "the best picture of
the year," "superb," a movie for every-
one, a "fairytale" and much more.
Crowds have to be turned away in
every city it has played in. Many say
that they will see it two or three times.
So far it has made more money in its
first week than any other movie in his-
tory, including "Jaws."
The movie is "Star
Wars," and the stock in
20th Century Fox had t
soared in value since the
picture has been
"It was like a sleeper,"
says the manager of
Briarwood Movies,
Steve Klyun where "Star
Wars" made its debut
last night. "It wasn't expected to do real
"Star Wars" is a movie that appeals to
everyone from your ten-year old daugh-
ter to your eighty-year old next door
Both science fiction fans and the
people who hate the stuff swear by the
At Briarwood, people could only buy
their tickets a half hour before show
time to avoid the long lines. Many had
to be turned away, or get tickets for a
later showing.
"We saw the commercials on TV and
knew it would be great," says "ex trekkie"
Randy Foley. "People I know went all the


way to Southfield to see it," he says.
Another waiting in line, Doug
Clinksrales, said he heard so much
about it and could hardly wait to see the
movie. "I'm filled," he explained.
"Star Wars" is a movie about good
and evil, and it doesn't leave you in
doubt about who the good guys are.
They naturally wear white and the evil
ones wear black.
The plot is simple enough. The heroes
must rescue the Princess and save the uni-
verse from Lord Darth Vader and his evil
cohorts. The hero is a cross between Flash
Gordon and Prince
Weekend~ Valiant and 'the Princess
S M departs from the tradition-
al princess role by doing
battle herself instead of
screaming in despair.
The movie is a fanta-
sy, and creatures of
every shape, color, size
and origin imaginable
appear, some speaking
with accents, some just
grunting or bleeping.
Throughout the movie, the audience
clapped, cheered and hissed and when
the heroes got into a tight situation, the
audience was pulling for them, at the
edge of their seats in anticipation.
"It was fun, it was delightful,"
responded Edie Williams about "Star
Wars." "We will have to bring our five-
year old daughter," she said.
Another viewer, Cindy Briggs, who
was wearing a "Star Wars" tee shirt,
responded, "It was really good. Every
scene was something new." About its
universal appeal, she said, "You can be
relaxed and entertained. They have con-
quered the world."

It's back and I'm giddy. And so is
everybody else. "Star Wars," one of the
most groundbreaking films ever made,
returns to the big screen some 20 years
after its debut. The country is in a frenzy.
How can this be? How many other sci-
fi action pictures still remain marketable,

let alone watchable 20
years after the fact? Why
has "Star Wars" remained
at the forefront of
American pop culture?
Yes, it's fun and exciting, a
part of our childhood
years. Something more is
involved in this mystique.
Think about this idea
for a minute: Who's the
last big-screen villain who
really made you tremble,


remain tucked away in the
Today, we have brainless
flicks like "Independence
Day," where the good guys
are, of course, us
Americans, and the bad
guys are aliens.
"Independence Day" is def-
initely no epic struggle
between good and evil.
Even intelligent films
rarely pit good against evil

have to represent the evil in the world?
And where have all the heroes gone?
The villain and the hero, as we once
knew them, are dead. Occasionally a
writer will offer up a brilliant evil char-
acter, or possibly, a true valiant hero, but
for the most part, the villain and the hero

perhaps that's because we lapsed into a
world where we now hail the postmod-
ern anti-hero: The victim of circum-
stance, who, despite getting slapped
around by himself and everyone else,
decides to endure. Deciding to endure?
What? That makes a hero?
And so, with all else failing, here in
1997, we look back to "Star Wars."
"Star Wars" gives us a clear-cut tale of
good and evil, the story of the
oppressed Rebels, held down by the
heavy hands of the richer, bigger,
Republican-voting Dark Side.
The "Star Wars" trilogy ends with a
final act of justice, and the end of the
Dark Side - which brings us to the other

great appeal of the "Star N
our generation. Admittedl
eration seem godless, or
less. And so, this story c
and "The Force" appeals t
deeper level. We want so I
that a supernatural force
out there. Something div
Luke and Leia, some sile
tice exists in the Universit

Harrison Ford as Han Solo Alec Guniess as Obi-Wan Keno
Even in 77 Star Wars' labeled


This story first appeared in the June
17, 1977 edition of The Michigan Daily.
By Christopher Potter
The brief but narcotic wait has ended
- the cinematic Pied Piper has hit town
at last. Its lure is universal, as the throngs
of grinning representatives of all ethnic-
ities and ages milling through the south-
west corner of Briarwood Center will
attest. The name of this month-old leg-
end is "Star Wars," and although barely
into national circulation, the film has
burgeoned into the epic American phe-
nomenon (Farrah who?).
Its formula is simple and irresistible:
For two mystic hours, all us collective
Walter Mittys can be lasered out of our
underachieved realities into the farthest,
deepest corners of the cosmos where
sorcery reigns, shades of gray cease to
exist and Idi Amin would surely get his.
But Pied Pipers usually turn out to be
quirky types at best, sometimes plung-

ing their disciples into abysses terrify- saintly collection of space
ing to contemplate, despite the very including an idealistic teenag
best of intentions. daredevil space jockey and
I'm afraid of "Star Wars." "Wookie" (read Cowardly Li
Is domestic film an art or a business? old, almost forgotten "life forc
In sixty years of cinema the question has ly provides the key to destru
never been effectively resolved, and if bad guys. Best and brightest, o
this struggle is ever to be resolved on the the robots 3PO and R2-D2, a
side of art, the qualities of innovation, Jeff combo that seems destin
maturity and above all courage are need- and waddle into the ranksc
ed now more than ever before. Imitation mythical of comic ofibeats.
has become virtually the name of the "Star Wars"' technical virtu
game of late, as economic strictures with- zling and breathless - at leas
er the gambler's instinct and seduce the anything Stanley Kubrickr
Hollywood money-man into milking a "2001: A Space Odyssey."
proven winner again and again and again. Kubrick often seemed conter
I fear for the future of film in this coun- sit back and glory in techno
try, and it would be starkly ironic if "Star own sake, Lucas had shaped
Wars," one of the most glorious achieve- trated his effects into a whirlin
ments in American cinema, should turn a movie, driving with a white
out to be the necessary stake for the cellu- sity that never lets up, pulsati
loid philistines to drive through the heart cally like the fantastic ships
of originality for years to come. through Lucas' and our unive
If I knock "Star Wars," even indirectly, In structure and pace, "Star
I feel like I'm knocking Christmas: I closest thing to a perfect fil
think that in its purest terms it is probably seen, yet it never loses itsi
the most entertaining film ever made, unassuming verve and good h
one which will be eagerly awaited annu- for a second do you feel Luc
ally by future generations of kids huddled "Look, what a great director I
around their 4-D projection screens as simply telling a story. Perfectl
the once-a-year "Wizard of Oz" is today. Any yet ... and yet. Intern
"Star Wars"' advance publicity all the unanimous praise fo
placed so much emphasis on being an one finds an underlying curr
un-intellectualized space opera of the A good entertaining film w
Buck Rogers ilk that I fearfully antici- No bloody violence! A fi
pated the eventual emergence of a whole family!" True enough
Wagnerianly pompous, cliche-ridden ties I'm not about to knock. E
antique, or even worse, an exercise in be at the expense of everythi
high-budget intergalatic camp. Economically, "Star Wars'
(Remember "Flash Gordon?") num opus; within a year it w
Such fears proved blessedly inaccurate. grossed "Jaws," a feat
By director-writer George Lucas' own unthinkable. It will of cour
definition, "Star Wars" isn't sci-fi, it's dozen or so interior sci-fi s
pure fairy tale, a multi-media realization what of its effect on mainstre
of childhood fantasies, maintained and The controlling money-men
cherished in a world too often consigned thetic zombies, but they're a]
to the brutes, the technocrats and the gray ic sharpies: If a "family" fil
flannel suit. To spin his magic Lucas Wars" makes millions, migh
shamelessly and lovingly dips into the Love of Benji" do just asv
cowboy and world war ace flying genres, sequel, and another one aft
and pays reverent tribute to his logical world of Disneyana, will v
predecessors from Oz, in any number of another "Last Tango in Paris
ways. And it all wonderously works. be damned - it's a loser.
It's hardly necessary to re-summarize a Go, of course, to "Star
plot which has become immortal in a mat- afterwards resolve, perhaps,
ter of weeks: Forces of evil have gained of your neighborhood art
sway over much of a "far away galaxy" well. Cinematic versatility j'
P d aganst the heavies are a motley but at stake.

er, a cynical
his 8-foot
ion) partner,
ce" ultimate-
ction of the
fcourse, are
nd Mutt and
ed to squeak
of the most
uosity is siz-
st as good as
managed in
But where
nt to simply
ology for its
and orches-
ng dervish of
e-heat inten-
ing rhythmi-
which soar
Wars" is the
m I've ever
umor. Never
as shouting,
am" --he's
ningled with
r this film,
ent: "At last!
with no sex!
ilm for the
h, and quali-
But will they
ing else?
"is the mag-
ill have out-
se inspire a
pinoffs, but
am movies?
may be aes-
[so econom-
rm like "Star
tn't "For the
well? And a
er that? In a
we ever see
s?" Maturity
Wars"; but
, to visit one
theaters as
ust could be

who was the epitome of evil throughout
your childhood? Right. Darth Vader.
And who held the key to defeating
the evil Darth Vader and his minions of
Storm Troopers? What brave souls
would stand and face the Dark Side?
Why Luke, Han, Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2
and Chewy, that's who!
"Star Wars" is one of the only lasting
good-triumphing-over-evil stories that
our generation has seen. Increasingly,
the notion of good vs. evil has faded
from American pop culture. Part of
"Star Wars"' lasting luster is its uplift-
ing tale of good overcoming evil.
In the past, Western culture was ripe
with evil beings - dastardly villains and
fire-breathing dragons. But who do we


'° --..

anymore. For example, even Quentin
Tarantino does not create characters who
are all bad or all good. While his charac-
ters are usually fantastically fleshed out,
they don't satisfy our base need to watch
a good person kick a bad person's butt.
Film is not the only genre that has lost
the art of a the good-vs.-evil.
Contemporary literature is so devoid of
villains that Sherlock Holmes would be
shining shoes if he were trying to find
work in today's literary scene. Nobody is
writing about villains anymore. Maybe
some bad-decision makers, but very few
really loathsome bad guy-types.
Heroes, too, are a rarity in contempo-
rary fiction. There's no one taking a
stand against evil in these stories. Or

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