A documentary detailing the Star Wars
phenomenon from George Lucas
at the University of Southern California
film school working on his 20 minute short THX: 1138
to the present day, in which Star Wars
continues to be one of the biggest pop culture staples of all time.
The film was directed mostly by the Emmy Award winning documentarian Kevin Burns ("I Remember Barbra" and constant contribution to A&E's "Biography" program) with assistance from Edith Becker, who had previously collaborated with Burns on Inside The Playboy Mansion, which was a fascinating look into one of America's most recognized residences. The film was written by Ed Singer, who has made documentaries detailing Hollywood's creature feature as well as producing reality television. Providing a fine narration for the piece is established voice actor Robert Clotworthy.
The film aired on A&E on September 12th, 2004, yet when the Star Wars Trilogy DVD was released nine days later, the full two and a half documentary was included on the bonus features disc. The film contains interviews with just about every single major and not so major person involved in the Star Wars creation. It also contains fascinating, never before seen b-roll footage taken on the set and behind the scenes during the creation of the films. It may be perhaps the most informative commentary on the Star Wars phenomenon to ever surface.
The film is chock load of fascinating tidbits and footage from and about the films and their creation. Such as:
* The film shows audition footage for the first film. We see Cindy Williams, of Laverne & Shirley fame, and Terri Nunn, who would go on to be the lead singer of Berlin, read for Princess Leia. We also see William Katt read for Luke Skywalker and Kurt Russell read for Han Solo. As well as seeing Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford read for their respective characters.
* Raw footage from A New Hope showing former weightlifting champion David Prowse, the man in the Darth Vader suit, doing the lines for Darth Vader in his thick British accent before James Earl Jones had been brought in to do the voice.
* Footage of the original idea for the Rancor, a man in a suit. A hilarious failure ensues.
* Anthony Daniels, the C3P0 voice and body actor having a panic attack while filming the scene when Salacious Crumb gouges one of his eyes out and having to be rushed out of the suit.
* A look into how the divorce of Marcia Griffin and George Lucas early in Return of the Jedi's theatrical release ruined the experience for Lucas.
* Stories about R2D2 actor Kenny Baker being accidentally forgotten about on the A New Hope set. The cast & crew of the film would break for lunch and leave Kenny on the set in the hollow R2D2 outfit and Kenny had to cry for help and they would soon realize what they had done and ran back to help him.
* Mark Hamill stating how shooting the Dagobah scenes in The Empire Strikes Back became depressing after awhile. For weeks on end, he was the only actual human actor on the call board.
* "Empire" director Irvin Kershner tells of how the crew were completely snowed into their hotel in Norway and ended up shooting cutaways with Mark Hamill running in the snow outside the hotel. Some of these takes made it into the final cut, around after he escapes from the Wampa's cave.
* A look into the “Empty Box” campaign of Christmas 1977. Since they were no Star Wars toys for Christmas that year and a huge demand, empty boxes of toys were given with a promise that the actual toys would be shipped between February and June the next year. Somehow, the plan was a huge success.
* A detailed description of how the "father twist" was handled. A “dummy” page was inserted into the script for "The Empire Strikes Back." Director Irvin Kershner took Mark Hamill aside moments before they shot it and told him the twist. He said that David Prowse would say a bunch of stuff that “doesn’t count”, but he should “use his own rhythm compared to what he’s (David) doing” yet act based on what the line would be. David Prowse delivered the line “Obi Wan killed your father.” Nobody on the entire production crew of The Empire Strikes Back knew of the twist except Lucas, Kershner and Hamill. The day that James Earl Jones had to record the now famous line and thus was told, he thought “No, the character’s lying, and I really don’t know how they’ll figure that lie out.”
The film also effectively paints the portrait of not only the Star Wars films, but the times leading up to them. At one point, putting the release of A New Hope up against the backdrop of the end of the war in Vietnam. The film's prequels are briefly mentioned two hours and 24 minutes into a two and a half hour long film.