The Force Awakens is literally only a few days away from releasing now and, in honour of the HUGELY anticipated return of the Star Wars franchise, I have decided to go back and revisit and re-view each of the prior films in the beloved franchise every day this week. And, starting my Episode VII countdown today is my review of the film that started it all: 1977's original Star Wars.

Back when George Lucas announced a sci-fi feature film set in the depths of space set "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", very few - if any - would have predicted the success of it and the franchise it started today. However, when the film released on May 25th, 1977, it became an instant classic and a global phenomenon. The film not only led to what is, unarguably, cinema's most iconic pop culture franchise today but it also revolutionised the industry and the sci-fi genre, leading to a boom of such films in the late 1970's and early 1980's - all inspired by Star Wars. Even today, just under 40 years since its initial release, the film is widely regarded and regularly watched. Even today, the original Star Wars film is still huge and referenced all the time - to the extent that there's such hype surrounding the 7th instalment, even after such a long time period. Everybody that is anybody has seen the film. It's iconic. It's cinematic perfection. It's freaking Star Wars!

If you're somehow unfamiliar with the premise of the film, it follows the hopeful and optimistic youngster Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that longs to get off of his home planet of Tatooine and explore the vast galaxy and make something of his life. However, he's grounded due to helping his aunt and uncle on their farm for the forthcoming harvest. Meanwhile, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), a leader in the rebel resistance, has uncovered the plans of an evil Sith Lord, Darth Vader (David Prowse), who has constructed a powerful weapon known as the Death Star, with the ability to wipe out entire planets. Sending a distress signal to an old Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), the message is accidentally intercepted by Luke, who must find Obi-Wan and warn him of Vader's plans. Teaming up with the Jedi Knight, along with a cocky pilot (Harrison Ford), his furry companion Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and two droids - C-P30 (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) - they must rescue Princess Leia and put a stop to Darth Vader's plans and destroy his Death Star.

This was the first film of its kind, boasting such an ingenious and ambitious premise set in the depths of the galaxy. However, at its heart, it was also a relatable story about a boy wanting more from the world and going on an adventure to discover himself and his purpose in life. It was also a story of friendship, between the most unlikely of friends - a cocky pilot, a hopeful young Jedi and a rebel princess. What made this film so brilliant was it's accessibility; it was a film for everyone and anyone. It was the first film that actually managed to unite people; the first film that broke the barriers of race, culture, sexuality etc. and brought people together for a celebration of cinema. Heck, this film has shaped the way people think - becoming such a phenomenon that there's entire days and religions devoted to the world of Star Wars, which all began here. It inspired a generation and those to come too - with kids today still watching (and loving!) the film. There's an awe-inspiring, wondrous feel attached with the original, evident in moments like the Millennium Falcon jumping into hyper speed or the X-Wings and TIE Fighters battling it out in front of the daunting Death Star, amongst all the stars, to name a couple. Even today, newcomers to the franchise can still watch this film and feel so in awe by it all, soaking in all the magic and fun of this illustrious world.
Not only was its audacious premise so unique and revolutionary but nearly everything else about Star Wars was too. For starters, this film introduced us to several of cinema's most iconic characters ever: the likes of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca C-3P0 and R2-D2. We were also given one of the galaxy's greatest villains ever, Darth Vader: an antagonist so intimidating and badass that his sheer presence gave you goosebumps (he's still hot in merchandise even today). The score is also masterful, with John Williams' titular track one of the most renowned theme tracks ever and his Imperial March another renowned smash-hit. The sound; the cinematography; the costumes; the editing but, most of all, the visuals were all - and still are - utterly breathtaking, revolutionising films to come and playing a MASSIVE part in the way the industry is today and just why the sci-fi genre is as successful as it is. The 1977 SFX and CG still hold up extremely well today, almost 4 decades later. The use of practical effects and props was incredible too and the space setting and atmosphere still look and feel believable and, visually, stunning - more so than even some of the films releasing nowadays.

As far as the acting goes, it's (again) hard to fault Star Wars. Everyone brought their A-game to this feature and, even now, despite the cast all being mega-stars, I still only see the characters on-screen and not the actors. Carrie Fisher is a true delight as the brave and selfless Princess Leia, as one of the greatest heroines ever. To those saying that female characters have always been side-lined and weak in films, take a look at Star Wars as an example to prove you wrong. Alec Guiness brought a lot of warmth and wisdom to the aging Obi-Wan. David Prowse was also magnificent, so menacing and intimidating and dark as our antagonist, accompanying this formidable character so well. Harrison Ford was a standout as Han Solo. Bringing a lot of charisma and wit to the character, the actor shined in one of the earlier performances of his career - one of the best too. However, and undoubtedly, this was Mark Hamill's show to steal - and that's exactly what he did. There was something so relatable and human and real about his adventure-inspired Luke Skywalker and Hamill brought a lot of heart and emotion to the character. The chemistry between everyone was so palpable too, making these characters and their relationships that more believable and interesting and making the audience incest that bit more in all their stories'.

Honestly, it's hard to fault Star Wars. What can be said about it that hasn't already? The film was, and still is, so perfect. Revolutionary; awe-inspiring and stunning, it's a movie that has actually changed the world. It's one of those rare occasions in which a film is flawless and it's one of those rare films that you can view countless times, over and over again, and still be entertained by and still be surprised by and one in which you can always find something new. From everything from a compelling premise to beautiful visuals and a resounding score, this is an astonishingly good piece of work - made all the more impressive by the fact that it released so long ago, in 1977. This is a damn entertaining, damn fun and just damn good film. The original Star Wars is iconic and beloved and it started one of the biggest franchises ever and it's evident why, because it's a masterpiece of cinematic finesse and an achievement that reaches for the stars in its ambition and soars high and mighty.

VERDICT:
One of the galaxy's greatest films, that kicked off one of the galaxy's greatest franchises, Star Wars is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.


About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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