12/17/2014

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill); Star Wars/Lucasfilm
It's easy to say that Star Wars is a landmark movie, a classic of both science fiction and cinema, but what did the critics of the time think of it? That answer is: pretty much the same. We took a look back at ten of the original reviews for the movie and found pretty much uniform acclaim and predictions of success. Here's an overview:

1. Adrian Berry of The Daily Telegraph wrote: "Until recently, space melodrama films have tended to be made with neither imagination nor money. With the brilliant exception of the Clarke-Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey, they have been badly-written B-feature affairs from producers with little knowledge of astronomy or technology. Star Wars is far removed from these shoddy productions. It is the best such film since 2001, and in certain respects it is one of the most exciting ever made."

2. Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times prophetically wrote: "If I were asked to say with certainty which movies will still be widely known a century or two from now, I would list 2001, The Wizard of Oz,' Keaton and Chaplin, Astaire and Rogers, and probably Casablanca' ... and Star Wars,' for sure."

3. Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: "One of Mr. Lucas's particular achievements is the manner in which he is able to recall the tackiness of the old comic strips and serials he loves without making a movie that is, itself, tacky."

4. A.D. Murphy of Variety wrote: "Like a breath or fresh air, Star Wars sweeps away the cynicism that has in recent years obscured the concepts of valor, dedication and honor."

5. Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune wrote: "Star Wars is not a great movie in the sense that it describes the human condition. It simply is a fun picture that will appeal to those who enjoy Buck Rogers-style adventures."

6. Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader called it "an exhilarating update of Flash Gordon, very much in the same half-jokey, half-earnest mood, but backed by special effects that, for once, really work and are intelligently integrated with the story."

7. Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote: "Parents who suffered dutifully through Logan’s Run in quest of a decent attraction for juveniles may now claim their reward. George Lucas has made the kind of sci-fi adventure movie you dream about finding, for your own pleasure as well as your kids’ pleasure."

8. Derek Malcolm of The Guardian wrote: "Whatever else you think about Star Wars, you can't call it the height of originality. The entirely mindless could go and see it with pleasure. But it plays enough games to satisfy the most sophisticated."

9. An unnamed staff writer of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "Likeable heroes on noble missions and despicable villains capable of the most dastardly deeds are all wrapped up in some of the most spectacular special effects ever to illuminate a motion picture screen. The result is spellbinding and totally captivating on all levels."

10. A dissenting opinion came from Pauline Kael of The New Yorker, who wrote: "Star Wars is like getting a box of Cracker Jack which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas’s own film, subject to no business interference, yet it’s a film that’s totally uninterested in anything that doesn't connect with the mass audience."

What do you think of the original Star Wars?

Related Posts:
10 Science Fiction Movies That Didn't Win Best Picture
8 Changes We Wish Lucasfilm Would Make to Star Wars
6 Greatest Banned Star Wars Toys of All Time

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6 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Funny how they all raved about the special effects. (Which if you go back and watch the original version don't hold up as well as Close Encounters, which came out at the same time.)
I think Siskel summed it up well. Star Wars launched the whole space opera genre.

MedeiaSharif said...

It's cool to see these reviews from that time. Honestly, I haven't seen the film.

DAVID WALSTON said...

Great find! I never have seen the reviews. Star Wars definitely shaped my childhood.

Tony Laplume said...

It's worth reminding that Star Wars was up for Best Picture for that year's Oscars. It lost to Woody Allen's Annie Hall. Much of the critical love probably came from the fact that Lucas had previously directed American Graffiti, featuring youthful angst of a slightly less galactic variety.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Peregrine Fforbes-Hamilton
of the Mayfair Chronicle wrote:

I want to bugger Carrie Fisher.

erictan said...

Ask anyone what is Star Wars? Ask the same people who Pauline Kael was, and well... And ask those questions on Star Wars' 100th Anniversary.

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