With his release date of May 25, 1977 approaching, George Lucas was heard reminding himself of the average grosses of Disney programmers. He was sure the film was going to tank. Films like The Apple Dumpling Gang or The Love Bug, light-adventures that eked out a profit despite their identification with children, even in the unsteady theatrics of the dour, 'realistic' and recessional 70's. Sure his film was destined for mediocre box office or worse, he would tell himself it at least might break even. Only Fox executive Garth Wigan and fellow director Steven Spielberg knew the reach Star Wars was toying with. No one could have prepared him, the industry, or even moviegoers of what was to follow. Lucas was about to continue a revolution Disney had begun.
Lucas's colorful, 8.5 million dollar experiment named Star Wars was a reconfiguration of motion-media. It might be the first universal experience of the space-age on our planet since it gave Earth an anonymous presence while obviously referring to systems of conflict and symbols deeply embedded in our consciousnesses. It liberally stole from earth-based conflicts (2001, Hidden Fortress, Dam Busters) and removed their identities, challenging us to recode conflict as inter-spheric. Between spheres; without the notion of UFO's or us as conquerer. In effect Star Wars' first revolution was its name, a two-word brand that turns our eyes away from borders and island nations and ethnic conflict and makes us imagine conflicts like ours expanded massively using many of the lingual forms developed in the 20th century as parallels (they are labelled stormtroopers as if this is a WWII film in translation, and in reverse, their leader is named Darth Vader a name now in German; in reverse: Dark Water). Lucas' intellect has never been in doubt (watch him out Antonioni the master of mirrors in THX-1138), but this film necesarily hides it in an effort to let the fun deliver its messages subliminally. Star Wars is the masterpiece no on can actually see, it reverses 2001's brainy breathing-pacing to offer breathlessness and orgasmic, noisy explosions in a sound-filled vacuum. Its true source, what the name actually means, will be explored in the final chapter here. Maybe you can guess it. On today, Star Wars' 32nd birthday, mstrmnd will begin carefully examining Star Wars as a formed glyphic puzzle. An ascendant tool to alter our awarenesses, challenge our beliefs and lead us out of black and white conflicts where good and evil are used in mirror to one another, Star Wars relies on basic forms pulled from our shared mythologies updated to retool them as ancient or modern, depending on where you are looking from. Star Wars is in effect a blending of western and eastern consciousnesses. A west coast meets east coast lens studying our totality in conflict. Remember that THX's crawl to the surface ends in a sunset that continues as American Grafitti begins. And that an airplane ends American Grafitti as it climbs. Star Wars begins above a planet.
Color coded, the Star Wars films begin with Lucas' former logo, basic Helvetica greens that started in THX-1138. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is colored blue. And with the blast of music that predicts its unceasing emotional explosions, the curved black and yellow Star Wars logo recedes quickly (a reverse explosion), until it disappears, and to the steady marching of the beat, text appears below us, like soldiers marching to war in formation. It speaks of a CIVIL WAR, a paradoxical phrase borrowed from our own past.
Using the Fox Fanfare music as a guide, Lucas and John Williams continue the uptempo key and Star Wars begins with a British Marching Fanfare, the type of music used liberally to code the colonial might of the British as they conquered one nation to the next from the late 18th through the 19th centuries. Incredibly this same musical form arrived in film to showcase both these excesses (Gunga Din) as well as the force required to expel or interact with subsequent mega-wars 1 and 2 (Bridge on the River Kwai). In effect, this theme is coded by the conquering, it is unusually successful since it is both propellant and satiric. Perversely, as the crawl disappears into the starfield, peaceful music plays. None of the stars are at any form of war, he shows you the starfield we see when looking into outer space from earth. Peaceful. And now you see the idea of any literal Star Wars is as paradoxical as a Civil War. You are about to watch an adventure film that is coded in parallel to a satirical film.
to be continued