BD has been around for a long time watching movies, and he was lucky enough to catch the original Star Wars in theaters when it was released in 1977. This week he takes you through what it was like growing up around this cultural phenomenon.
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Today’s show, Star Wars, episode IV…wait for it.
D: Star Wars?!…”YES, YES…Carry on.”
What’s up everyone, welcome back once again, to the Devils in the details. I’m BD, and thank God it’s Friday.
In 1977, I was a nine-year-old kid, who had no idea how good he had it.
My family was never, by any means, a rich family, my parents worked very hard to be able to raise three kids.
And during the summers, we would go camping, at a trailer park.
My folks bought a trailer and off we’d go, every summer, the day after school let out.
We would spend the entire summer out there, It saved my parents a lot of money, to be able to shut down the house completely, and pay the bare minimum’s on utilities.
And I loved it, it was great growing up that way, having two addresses.
I had my all year long school buddies, then I had my summer friends, Who I couldn’t wait to get back to every month of June.
Now, my birthday is in July, and every year my mom would ask me, just before the big day would roll around, she’d say: “BD, what would you like for your birthday this year?”
And in the summer of 1977, well there was only one answer to that!
I want to go see Star Wars.
She looked at me and said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, go see your dad”.
So I did, I told him what I wanted for my birthday, and he said OK, hop in the car.
Now of course, there were no theatres in the vicinity of trailer Park land, but there was a drive-in theatre.
And off we went. Now you have to realize that I live in a French province, so the first time I ever saw Star Wars, it was dubbed in French.
But that really didn’t matter, because I still left that drive-in out theatre looking like this.
And Star Wars was such a giant smash success, that even by the time summer was over, and we got back to our suburban home, it was still in theatres, so I got to go see it with all my friends, in English. And every time I came out of the theatre, I still looked like this.
Star Wars had different release dates in different countries, but in Canada it came out on June 24th 1977, and it quickly rose to the top of the box office and almost instantly became a worldwide pop-culture hit.
Everyone in the world was talking about it, every conversation shifted towards it.
BD: so what do you want to do tonight?
D: I don’t know, what would Vader do?
Star Wars was absolutely everywhere, George Lucas had the foresight of retaining control of licensing and merchandising rights before “A New Hope” was even released. And it wasn’t called A new Hope until 1981, It’s original title was actually “The” Star Wars.
Anyways, the merchandising seeped into everybody’s every day life. It was Star Wars everything, cups, t-shirts, shoes, backpacks, watches, hats, bed sheets, underwear, ties, bottle openers, enema sets, trading cards, Lunchboxes, and toys, oh my God the toys. Every single kid I knew had Star Wars toys including me. Christmas and your birthday could not come fast enough.
Back then, we didn’t have the Internet, if you wanted to find out more about something, it was either in print, or in the form of a either a televised entertainment show or documentary.
And that’s when the spark, for my love of cinema, was ignited. I had millions of questions, and not enough answers. How had they created a galaxy so far far away, that I could relate to completely?
The key to that, was in the story itself. A story as old as time. Lucas didn’t create the story of the princess and the white knight, he simply modernized it, re-themed it if you will.
Even he admits that some of the core inspirations for the Star Wars story were based on Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress combined with the Flash Gordon series dating as far back as the 1930’s.
Time to dive into some details here. In 1977, there was little to no CGI the filmmakers could rely on. So almost everything you see in the original film, before Lucas went back and, well we all know what he did.
The filmmakers Had to rely on practical effects, they had to build everything from scratch, and so all kinds of models, sets, wardrobe and props were created.
A lot of The films original concepts had to be reworked and tweaked to be able to be used practically, like the land speeder for example, which is completely different from original concept to finished design. You certainly would not of been able to fit Luke, Ben, C-3PO and R2-D2 into what the speeder looked like in its initial form.
The iconic millennium falcon, turned out to be nothing like it was originally sketched. The Falcons original design, was actually what eventually became the blockade runner.
And the blockade runner itself, had a little bit of a controversy attached to it because at the time, there was a show in England called Space: 1999 and the producers felt that Lucasfilm had copied their design. After finding out, Lucas simply said about the Falcon, flatten it, make it look like a burger.
The death Star was another prop that had to be built, and while researching the original death star prop, I came across a few conflicting stories about its creation.
Lorne Peterson Who worked on the film, did have this to say about it.
The visuals that you do see of the death Star in the film, are in large part, matte paintings.
One of the techniques that were used in the film was stop motion animation , growing-up as a kid I was in love with claymation , watching films like Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts and of course King Kong.
And so I was completely mesmerized when I got a glimpse of the chessboard on the checkered table inside the millennium falcon where the chest pieces were animated and alive.
The classic warplanes designed for the space battles, the X-Wing fighter, versus the tie fighter.
The X wing fighter’s body was based on dragsters. That’s why the long noses.
And another important part of their design was for them to look weathered, beaten, dirty, rebellious , as opposed to clean, slick and shiny.
The tie fighter concept, although looked a little simpler in design, was done on purpose, It had to look more military, it was a round ball with a spindle through it leading to two flat panels.
The entire ship was hexagon shaped. Originally, Darth Vader’s tie fighter wasn’t any different than any of the other Ties, but they quickly realized that if they didn’t differentiate his ship, how would the audience know which one he was in during the climactic space battle.
The models for both types of ships were expertly crafted with an astonishing amount of detail which was necessary for them to be believable, they had to look and feel huge to be convincing in front of the bright lights and cameras.
The sounds from the film, are firmly ingrained in my memory. And it was interesting to find out how some of them were created.
Ben Burt describes what he used to create Chewbacca’s voice.
And of course there’s Darth Vader, voiced by the legendary James Earl Jones. Vader’s breathing was created by using scuba diving equipment.
Then there are The light sabres. Almost everyone in the world knows what this sound is.
It was interesting to find out that the light sabre sound was actually discovered by accident.
Another one of my favourite sounds in the film, came from the laser blasters, I found the story of their creation also very interesting.
Choosing John Williams as the composer for the film, was one of Lucas’s most brilliant choices. Hearing the opening title sequence to any of the Star Wars films, immediately excites any fan of the franchise.
I gotta go watch it right now! I’ll be back.
Still here? Great. Another thing I realized, as I got older obviously, was that Lucas had cast a bunch of unknown actors.
Save for Sir Alec Guinness of course. But Mark Hammill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were pretty much plucked from obscurity.
Star Wars was their launch pad, propelling them into extremely successful careers.
Now Who could talk about Star Wars without mentioning our beloved droids. C-3PO, played by Anthony Daniels and R2-D2 played By Kenny Baker.
OK, granted, Baker didn’t have any lines, but he did have to operate some of the controls inside of R2-D2, mainly the dome before it was upgraded to be controlled remotely.
Both actors were super troopers, suiting up in full costumes under the blistering Tunisian sun.
Anthony Daniels did have this To say about the production.
And although Kenny Baker had no lines, R2-D2 still needed a voice.
Another factoid if you will, is that Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels, are the only two actors to be in all six films.
I consider myself lucky, to have been able to have Star Wars be a part of my life ever since its inception. It’s wonderful to have been able to share my passion with so many people, and I can’t wait to see what Star Wars holds for all of us in the future.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s video, as always thank you so much for tuning in, and supporting us. Please don’t forget to like share and subscribe.
Today’s episode was brought to you by Sligtlylight. Not that one and not that one. Yes, that one.
I’ll see you guys next Friday.