With the success of Star Wars in 1977 and The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, George Lucas began work on the completion of his Trilogy with Revenge of the Jedi. Audiences were eager for the next installment - What would become of Han Solo? Is Darth Vader really Luke Skywalker's father? Lucas, as with the last film, provided the story and co-wrote the screenplay, but left the directorial efforts to someone else. Richard Marquand held the reigns for this outing, but Lucas was on set constantly and oversaw all facets of production. At some point after the first teaser trailer had been produced - well into principle photography, it was decided to change the title of the film. Since it would be uncharacteristic for a Jedi to seek revenge, that turned out to be a bad title. So, Revenge of the Jedi was renamed Return of the Jedi.

Return of the Jedi picks up a few months from where The Empire Strikes Back leaves off. The Emperor has commissioned the construction of another - more powerful Death Star. During construction it is protected by a shield generated from the forest moon of Endor. Darth Vader and the Emperor are overseeing final construction and waiting in anticipation of an attack from Rebel forces that the Emperor has foreseen. Meanwhile, Luke, Leia, Lando, Chewie and the droids are off to Tatooine to rescue Han Solo from the Jabba the Hutt. After Han is free and Jabba has been dispatched, Luke returns to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training only to find that Yoda has fallen ill and will soon die. But not before passing on more of the Skywalker family tree. The Rebel forces are successful, Luke fights Vader, Vader kills the Emperor to save his son, the Death Star is destroyed and we end with a celebration of the Rebel forces with their new Ewok friends and the salvation of Anakin Skywalker.


Viewed by many to be the weakest chapter in the Star Wars saga (up to that point), Return of the Jedi suffers from several problems. Once Han Solo is freed from the carbonite, it seems that all the 'good' parts of him were lost during the reanimation process. It's been rumored that Harrison Ford had asked that Han Solo be killed in this installment - for what reason is unknown. But his portrayal of our swashbuckling former space pirate is somewhat ... less. Luke Skywalker is so much like his father. He broods through the whole film - dressed always in black seeming intent on self destruction and unable to handle his destiny. It is unclear how he became so much more in tune with the force (if you can call it that) between the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi.

Further complicating issues are the Ewoks. It would seem that the same Rebellion - that was so strong and self sufficient in the first two installments are incapable of doing anything in this film without the assistance of a tribe of 2-foot tall miniature Wookies. All this has done for the film is increases its "cuteness" factor - and more importantly - offer an opportunity to sell more Star Wars toys.

George Lucas wasted no time in following up his box office smash Star Wars with the next chapter in the saga. Marking this next as Episode V, it was about this time that the reported plan from Lucas would be a trilogy of trilogies. This later turned out not to be the case as the film productions became too spread apart - with the current schedule, the series would not be complete until at least 2015. So, it was decided to stop at Episode VI. Far too stressed out from the first installment, Lucas turned over the directorial duties to Irvin Kershner.

Episode IV left us with the destruction of the Death Star, but not the evil Empire or the dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. The Rebels lead by Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker are successfully evading the Empire to the point where they are searching every planet in the galaxy. Han Solo has remained with the Rebels, but with the price on his head from Jabba the Hutt, he dare not stay any longer. As he readies to leave, the Empire finds the encampment on the frozen world of Hoth and the Rebels are forced to flee. Luke departs for the Dagobah system to continue his Jedi training under Jedi Master Yoda, while Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO continue to evade the Empire in the Millennium Falcon. Their escape takes them to the cloud city of Bespin where we meet the previous owner of the Falcon, Lando Calrissian, who is the administrator of the city. Unfortunately, the Empire has already arrived and is setting a trap to capture Luke Skywalker. With Leia, Han and the others as bait.

The Empire Strikes Back managed to open on just 126 screens in May 1980. As with the first installment word of mouth quickly spread and with good cause - many consider Empire to be the strongest of any of the five films made to date. By it's fifth week, the film had picked up another 700 screens and by the end of July, ten weeks into it's run, it was playing on nearly 1,300 screens across the country.

SYNOPSIS
"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

These famous words set the tone for what has become one of the most successful movies ever made: Star Wars is the epic story of Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), leader of the Rebel forces fighting against the all-powerful, evil Empire. The Princess is captured by the villainous Darth Vader (David Prowse & James Earl Jones), the Dark Lord of the Sith and right hand man of the Galactic Emperor. Before she is captured, Princess Leia sends her faithful droid, R2-D2, accompanied by C-3PO, into space to search for a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), to enlist his aid in helping the Rebel Alliance. After landing on the planet Tatooine, the droids are captured by a band of scrap-collecting Jawas who sell them to moisture farmer Owen Lars and his nephew, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). As Luke is repairing R2-D2, the droid emits a holographic message from the lovely Princess Leia, a message which intrigues young Skywalker, who yearns for adventure. When R2-D2 runs away to carry out his mission, Luke and C-3PO pursue the little droid and encounter the mysterious Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi.

Meanwhile Darth Vader and his Imperial Forces are searching for R2-D2 and the data tapes containing the Rebel plans. The droids are traced to Uncle Owen's home and, when Luke returns there, he finds that the Imperial troops have murdered his family. Realizing that there is no longer any reason for him to stay on Tatooine, he decides to go with Ben Kenobi to Alderaan. Ben, one of the legendary Jedi Knights, begins to teach Luke the ways of the Force. To secure their safe passage to Alderaan, Ben and Luke employ the services of dashing Han Solo (Harrison Ford), captain of the Corellian ship, the Millennium Falcon, and his Wookiee co-pilot, Chewbacca.

Adventure follows adventure as Ben Kenobi, Luke, the droids, and the crew of the Falcon pursue Darth Vader and the Imperial Forces into the far reaches of the galaxy in their attempt to rescue the Princess. Lightsaber battles, hair-raising escapes, and spectacular space battles set the stage for one of the most exciting movies ever: Star Wars.


OVERVIEW
In May 1977, George Lucas introduced the world to his vision of Science Fiction. Prior to this, George Lucas had offered us the cult favorite THX-1183 and the excellent period piece American Graffiti. We are introduced at the outset to R2-D2 and C-3PO, a pair of droids who will be the thread that ties all six of the Star Wars threads together. They are fleeing from the evil Galactic Empire with secret plans for their newest destructive weapon - the Death Star. From the very first frame, it is clear that this is a good vs. evil story. The Rebels have come to Tatoonie to enlist the aid of former Jedi Knight, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to help them in their struggle against the Empire.

The droids come into the care of Luke Skywalker, the nephew of moisture farmers, who longs for more than droid repair and working in the desert with his Uncle. The arrival of R2-D2 and C-3PO appear to be his ticket off of Tatoonie and they do make it so he can leave - but not in the way he expected. The droids find Obi-Wan and deliver their important message from Princess Leia. From here, the adventure takes flight as Obi-Wan, Luke and the droids enlist freighter/smuggler pilot Han Solo to take them to Alderaan. Along the way, Obi-Wan begins to instruct Luke in the ways of the Force - an energy that binds all things in the galaxy - and Luke wants to become a Jedi Knight, as Obi-Wan once had been.

Star Wars literally snuck into theaters in May 1977, playing on only 43 screens nationwide. Word of mouth quickly spread and Twentieth Century Fox rushed additional prints of the space adventure into theaters. But regardless of how many many theaters played the film, admission lines would form around the block of the movie houses and down the halls of the shopping malls. Star Wars became one of those films that would be seen over and over again - and each viewing would bring forth another facet that had previously been unseen. It was truly a phenomenon.

George Lucas follows Attack of the Clones with a three year gap and presents us with the "reportedly" final chapter in the Star Wars saga - Revenge of the Sith. Initial response to the title was strong - noting that original title for Episode VI was Revenge of the Jedi but was changed at the last minute - now the title gets to be used in a more appropriate manner.

The Clone Wars, begun as Attack of the Clones was winding down has now been raging for three years. Obi-Wan Kenobi and his Jedi in training, Anakin Skywalker have been fighting with the clones against the trade federation. Palpatine's power in the senate continues to grow - as do the powers of the young Jedi Anakin. As this episode opens, Palatine has been kidnapped and Master Kenobi and Anakin have been assigned to rescue him from General Grievous. The resulting rescue and "crash" of the space ship opens the first of a plethora of plot holes this film is riddled with. In this instance, the ship is coming back through the atmosphere, having pieces ripped off by the uncontrolled reentry. The ship is turning into a molten missile. It's interesting that the bridge - which sticks out of the ship on a raised arm - is completely in tact and has not even begun to show the heat of reentry.

After the successful rescue of Palpatine, Anakin is reunited with his wife in secret, Padmé Amidala. She is happy to see him and promptly announces that she is carrying his child. I'm sure that by now everyone knows that she is actually pregnant with fraternal twins, Luke and Leia (yes - they are brother and sister). Almost immediately, Anakin begins to have those nightmares again, this time that Padmé will die in child birth. Obsessed with the knowledge he couldn't save his mother from these nightmares (see the previous film), he vows he will do anything to prevent Padmé's death. To the Dark Side he is going.

As the film unfolds, Palpatine appoints Anakin to be his official emissary to the Jedi council, but they refuse to grant him "Master Jedi" status. They want him to spy on the chancellor and of course, the chancellor wants him to spy on the Jedi. Palpatine confides to Anakin that he is a Dark Lord of the Sith and that he alone can provide Anakin with the power to save Padmé. Anakin warns Mace Windu of Palpatine's true identity and all are convinced he is trying to take more power than he should have. Needless to say the arrest of Palpatine does not go as planned and results in Mace Windu's death and Anakin swearing allegiance to Lord Sidious. Given the new name Darth Vader, Sidious orders the execution of all Jedi and Anakin (Darth Vader) goes to the Jedi temple to complete his conversion to the dark side.

Mass hysteria ensues. All the Jedi are killed. Only Obi-Wan and Yoda survive. At this point, one has to wonder how in tune with the Force are these Jedi anyway? With the exception of a very young warrior, all of them are caught completely unaware. Only Yoda seems to feel the disturbance in the force as each is killed. Most are essentially shot in the back by Clone Warrior troops. One would think this shortcut was done to save screen time. It certainly flies in the face of what Obi-Wan Kenobi decrees to Luke in Episode IV: "A young Jedi named Darth Vader - who was a pupil of mine until he turned to evil - helped the Empire hunt down and destroy the Jedi Knights." While we already know that old Obi-Wan was somewhat liberal with the brush-strokes he used to paint the past for Luke - I would have expected a somewhat more involved "hunting" than what we have here.

Part of the push behind Revenge of the Sith is to tie up several loose ends and bring the two trilogies together. Some of this is accomplished - we see how and why Anakin became encased within the Darth Vader suit. How and why the Skywalker twins are separated and end up on Tatoonie and Alderaan is also explained. We even get a very brief glimpse of how Obi-Wan has been able to communicate with Luke, transcending death itself. What still remains a mystery is why old Obi-Wan has no memory of the droids in Episode IV. We know how they come to be in Leia's possession - as does Obi-Wan.

And while we're on the subject of continuity errors, Episode III opens a huge hole up in Return of the Jedi which now has to be patched. In the Ewok village, Luke asks Leia if she remembers her mother - her real mother. Leia responds "Just a little bit. She died when I was very young." If you've not seen Episode III, I'm going to spoil something for you - Padmé brings Anakin's darkest fears to pass, and with no will to live for herself, dies in childbirth after naming the twins. Clearly with these events, Leia could in no way have any knowledge of her "real" mother - except perhaps by use of the Force. The film also short-circuits the final turn of Anakin to the Dark Side - it is much more defined in the book.

Lucas also returns to the nonsense of the midi-chlorians - only briefly - to explain the ability of using the Dark Side of the Force to create life. This give additional support to the theory I've held for several years that Palpatine is actually Anakin's father. Mull this over in your minds: Father kills father to save son. Isn't that ripe with the fibers that Lucas has been weaving these past 30+ years?

George Lucas followed The Phantom Menace two years later with Attack of the Clones. Many questioned the title chosen for this installment of the STAR WARS saga as possibly the worst title imaginable - even worse that The Phantom Menace. Some could say that none of the Episode titles have been all that strong - with the notable exception of The Empire Strikes Back - which makes the most sense of all of the Episode names to date.

Ten years have elapsed since Qui-Gon found Anakin Skywalker on the desert planet of Tatoonie. He has done well in his Jedi training under Obi-Wan's mentoring. However, he is willful and arrogant at times - believing he knows more of the Force than his Jedi Master. His is troubled by dreams he is having regarding his mother. When Obi-Wan and Anakin are ordered to protect now Senator Padmé Amidala after several attempts on her life, the feelings Anakin have for the once-Queen resurface and begin to dominate his mind. His feelings for Padmé mixed with the guilt of leaving his Mother as a slave on Tatoonie creates more internal conflict within the Padawan. All of this plays over investigations of Obi-Wan as he searches for clues to the identity of those responsible for the attacks on the Senator and the knowledge there is more going on.

This is the beginning of the "Clone War" as referenced in A New Hope. To complete this circle, we are also introduced to the man who would become Leia's adoptive Father - although very briefly. But these few threads that tie the stories together do not bridge all the gaps introduced in Attack of the Clones. It is easy to explain why a droid would have no memory of past events, but the same explanation cannot be used to explain apparent lapses in human memory. Events that have occurred in Attack of the Clones create real continuity errors in A New Hope. In watching Episode IV recently, I found it curious why Obi-Wan clearly has no memory of R2-D2. R2 has been Padmé's constant companion since The Phantom Menace and it would only stand to reason that his service to Padmé and her family - namely Princess Leia - would continue. I understand all droids look alike, but when R2-D2 appears out in the desert, sporting a message from Princess Leia, there should be some spark of recognition - even as there should have been with C-3PO. Issues surrounding C-3PO are the same - We know that Shmi completes the assembly of the droid after Anakin leaves and she takes him to the Lars moisture farm. She lives there for six years with Cliegg, her new husband and his son, Owen. Owen and his girlfriend Beru are "Uncle Owen" and "Aunt Beru" from A New Hope who raise Luke Skywalker. Why wouldn't these two people have any recognition what-so-ever of C-3PO?

Evidence mounts with the theory of Chancellor Palpatine being Anakin's father. Mull that over in your minds.

Sixteen years after producing Return of the Jedi, George Lucas once again presented the world with the next installment in his STAR WARS saga. However, this was no mere continuation of the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. This story, followed by installment II and III, tell the story of Luke & Leia's father, Anakin Skywalker, who would one day become the right hand man of the Emperor, Darth Vader. The Phantom Menace would also introduce us to a very young and outspoken Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the final period of his Jedi training under his master Qui-Gon Jinn. We meet Queen Padmé Amidala, who becomes the object of future affections for young Anakin.

While fans of the epic film series rushed to the theaters to get their latest fix of this space opera, many fans came away from this episode shaking their heads. A most annoying character has been introduced - even more insipid that the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi - Jar-Jar Binks. His double-reverse slaughtering of the English language would be the butt of many a joke and the target for much of the criticism placed on the film.

Further issues were raised by the concept of somehow measuring the Force. The symbiotic relationship with the midi-chlorians. No mention of this had been made in any of the previous film installments - and none was made in Episode II. References to the Christ-like conception of Anakin did not help matters either. While I'm not the first to come up with this theory, there is strong evidence that supports Senator Palpatine, whom we know is also Darth Sidious, is actually Anakin's father.

VIDEO STAR WARS IV
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