Canadian Media

Presented below are a number of articles and clippings from assorted Canadian newspapers and magazines from the original Star Wars trilogy. These clippings have been transcribed exactly as they were originally written - spelling mistakes and all.

Trilogy Movie Reviews:     Star Wars    The Empire Strikes Back    Return of the Jedi

Star Wars Movie Review: (July 23, 1977)

Star Wars is the ultimate Saturday afternoon at the movies with a 1948 mentality and 1977 technology. It is a perfect mindless film for children of all ages and should provide fun if not substance for the whole family.

Star Wars is technology carried to the ultimate with something like 234 special effects that make 2001 look like Buck Rogers. It is relentlessly black and white, (metaphorically speaking; the film itself of course is in color) even to the costumes of the protagonists and antagonists. It is a serial (for there will be sequels you can bet your 20th century stock option) so glossy, so ultra special that people thrill to the nonsense as if they were six again. And that's pretty special no matter how barren the screenplay is of thought.

Immediately after the reverse crawl, opening titles and explanatory note we are thrown into an Intergalactic struggle between the good and bad forces. The evil Darth Vader plans to take over the worlds (note the plural; he's no piker) or blow them up by pressing a computer button. Against him is Luke Skywalker {Mark Hamill) a callow youth with ambition and honor, Harrison Ford as a cynical but dependable space ship pilot and Carrie Fisher as a boring spaced out princess whose territory is under seige.

These do-gooders are aided by Ben Kenobi (Alec Guiness) a throwback to King Arthur's Court who believes in the 'Force', a mystical, magical, mental concentrate that compresses God, nature, self-confidence and the essence of good into one laser-like quality capable of defying gravity, destroying enemies and finding a parking space on Fridays at noon.

Also on the good guys team are two talking pieces of metal. The first is a den-mother humanoid called Threepio who worries constantly about an independent minded walking garbage can with warning lights called Artoo Detoo.

As in 2001 when the voice of the computor Hal, (Douglas Rain currently toiling at Stratford) was the most compelling 'character' Threepio and Artoo Detoo are clearly the winners in the fight for the audience's minds and hearts. Artoo Detoo 'speaks' in grunts and whirls but he is capable of bad language (for which Threepio bops him on the head) and enormous audience identification.

There is also a Wookie - essentially a gorilla with more brains than most space jockeys - who can pilot a space ship, and various and sundry characters humanoid, anthropoid and metallic to dazzle and delight.

You'll look in vain for the kind of intelligence that created a film such as The Incredible Shrinking Man; not that the people who made this film weren't intelligent its just that they don't give the audience much credit for any.

The technical effects, special effects. photography sets, costumes and props are wonderful and nearly everybody deserves an award.

Director George Lukas (American Graffiti) says he made the film for 14.year-olds because this is what he remembered best about growing up. Fourteen year-olds or 40 year olds; nearly everybody will find something to enjoy in this spectacular entertainment. It should be suitable for children over the age of six. Lucas and his team are to be congratulated for their work; it is special.

The Empire Strikes Back Movie Review: (May 21, 1980)

There is no question that The Empire Strikes Back is the film to see or to have seen this summer. It is an intelligent soap opera, setting adults into realistic situations: the grownups will have a good time. It is a fast-paced action adventure laced with broad gesture: the kids will be captivated. And while it's not quite the comic strip that Star Wars seemed to be when it appeared two years ago, it's still a treat from start to finish.

Latest in nine-part cycle

Empire is part five of creator George Lucas's projected nine-part film cycle: Star Wars was part four, and the first film of the second trilogy. The third film, due in 1983, will finish the story of the Empire's malevolence. Confused? Don't worry. Empire makes sense whether or not you've seen Star Wars, though there can't be many people who haven't.

Most of the action this time centres on Luke Skywalker's attempts to reunite with Han Solo and Princess Leia, who have been captured by Darth Vader. But more than in Star Wars, the action is downplayed in favor of character, and the character most developed, as he struggles with the dark side of The Force and with the immature side of his own nature, is Luke's. That struggle is presented most engagingly in a long, delightful mid-movie sequence in which Luke, separated from Hans and the Princess, is instructed by Obi-Wan Kenobi to seek instruction, much in the style of a pupil seeking enlightenment from a Zen master - from Yoda, Obi's own teacher in the ways of The Force. Luke's scenes with the muppet-style master on a swampy planet provide the most concentrated revelations so far about the mysterious Force, a power for both good and evil which has split the Empire apart.

And the same scenes serve, in a wonderfully subliminal way, to preach a doctrine of non violence and passive resistance: an ideal counterbalance to the competitive and aggressive ways of life offered youngsters by most of their entertainments. They also reveal Luke's potentially tragic shortcomings: impatient to confront Darth Vader, driven to a frenzy by receiving word that his companions have been captured, incapable of sacrificing his friends to a greater good, he rushes from Yoda and his training too soon, before he has mastered The Force or even understands it, to attempt a rescue.

That attempt brings him face to face with Vader, and their set-to is as swashbuckling an affair as anything Errol Flynn ever extricated himself from.

In the course or their thrusts and parries there comes a revelation which shakes what little faith Luke has in the good of The Force, so shocking is its nature; and it sets up part three of the middle trilogy, in the tradition of all the best serials.

Most of the Star Wars cast is back, playing their parts with engaging fervor: Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (the Princess), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and the ambulatory robots C3PO and R2D2; a strong new character is played by Billy Dee Williams, as a mining-world governor who joins forces with the trio against Darth Vader. And there is Yoda, the master, a marvelous, joyous creation by Lucas and his director for the film, Irwin Kershner.

The wonder of The Empire Strikes Back is how joyous an experience it is. There are special effects to marvel at, and battle sequences to shriek at, and moral dilemmas to agonize at, and plot developments to gasp at, all of them as well-wrought as can be. But under the skilled direction, the polished performances, the taut plotting and the fanciful effects - all gloss attained now and then by other movies, other times, but seldom as well as here - there remains the humanity of the film, a sometimes stymied but nonetheless persistent optimism about the human condition, even as translated to a galaxy light-years into the future.

Like Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back is a movie to feel good about. It comes as close to being a perfect film - a wondrous vision perfectly realized - as any ever made. That's the highest possible praise: it salutes every one of the myriad elements which go into production of a motion picture; from creator and director through actors and special effects crew on to the film editor, composer, supporting players and costume designer.

Return of the Jedi Movie Review: (May 25, 1983)

Star Wars fans rest easy, the force is still very much with George Lucas and company. Six years ago today, in a galaxy far, far away - yet surprisingly close to home - Luke Skywalker and his vibrant, glowing lightsword first dazzled earthbound audiences as George Lucas's modern film trilogy, Star Wars, opened across North America.

It has been three years since the second chapter - the Empire Strikes Back - confirmed that the phenomenal success of Star Wars was no mere flash in the Asteroid Belt. Today, the eagerly awaited concluding chapter - the Return of the Jedi - officially opens in theatres across Canada and the United States. In its own right, it's every bit as good as its two predecessors.

If there were any lingering apprehensions about the magic of Lucas and company perhaps beginning to dim before the three-part epic could be safely wrapped up, this movie, like a well-aimed laser pistol, blasts those doubts to smithereens - and back.

Lucas, the J.R.R. Tolkien of the '80s, conceived this trilogy - actually chapters four, five and six of a trio of trilogies - some years ago and though embellishments may have been added along the way, one begins to feel that Lucas has achieved exactly what he had in mind all along.

Return of the Jedi is a proper concluding episode, picking up all the carefully planted threads and weaving them into a logical - if at times slightly too obvious - final picture. In an industry where sequels are made to mop up any residual popularity and money left behind by the original, Lucas has made each chapter different but quite complementary. Thus each movie can stand on its own as an excellent bit of film adventure, and together all three form a solid piece that cannot be tainted by carbon copying.

The original characterizations and storylines prove too symmetrical to be stretched thin by needless repetition or revival. In the process, Jedi becomes almost too neat. The big surprises - not wanting a seven foot wookie or any of his friends after me I won't reveal anything here - have been well telegraphed and don't really shock. Anyone who hasn't already guessed how several of the key characters are inter-related hasn't been keeping up with his Jedi training.

At best the big revelations spark an "of course" reaction and at worst an "it's getting to be like a soap opera," as one younger fan mumbled out loud during Tuesday night's special preview. Return of the Jedi is filled with a sense of coming home. A strong feeling of deja vu is generated right from the start as the familiar underside of the wedge-shaped Imperial Stardestroyer glides overhead, it's destination yet another Death Star, larger, but unfinished. Soon viewers are back on the sand-swept plains of Luke's home planet, Tatooine, again following the nuts-and-bolts brothers, R2D2 and C3PO - the high tech Laurel and Hardy of the future.

The names of the faces are familiar but the story has a momentum and charm of its own. These two delightful robots are off to help rescue a still-frozen Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the grossest warlord of all time, Jabba the Hutt. Beware, words like slime, slug, crude and disgusting are far too good for Jabba and even robots can get their fingers - or in this case, their feet - burned in the torture chambers of such a diabolical host. Soon all the favourite heroes - Luke (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) are reunited in their efforts to free Solo, who still looks like a wall plaque due to the suspended "carbonite" hibernation he fell into in Empire. But what starts out as a slightly more sinister reprise of the bizarre bar scene in Star Wars soon takes on more frightening proportions as this movie's tribute to old monster films shifts from a repulsive-but-amusing atmosphere to one that's repulsive and downright scary. At this point younger children should be calmed and comforted until the good guys get their act together in a dandy bit of modern swashbuckling and get back to the flash and firepower of war among the stars.

A quick trip back to his teacher, the lovable wise man of the swamp, Yoda, and Luke is ready to take on the mantel of the true Jedi Knight. Despite the scepticism of a freshly-thawed Han Solo - "Boy, I'm out of it for a little while and everyone gets delusions of grandeur" - Hamill's Luke truly does come across as having matured under fire, now at times looking older and more wizened than his friend Solo, the more seasoned, professional adventurer. Technically, the movie is every bit as good as its predecessors but a new setting, the misty moon of Endor, provides two of the movie's highlights - the Rebels' lovable new aliens, the Ewoks, and the breathtaking thrills of rocket cycles hurtling through a forest of giant trees. In the end, Luke must confront both the reptilian charm of the Emperor and the pull of the evil that lurks within all men. The resolution is suitably exciting and the climactic battle goes beyond even the destruction of the original Death Star in terms of speed-of-light excitement and special effects. Afterwards, the Star Wars family parties and the Star Wars fans stand and applaud.

Old Obi-Wan Kenobi wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Obviously, neither did Lucas. Nor will you.