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Monday, December 14, 2015

Revisiting ‘Star Wars’ Before ‘The Force Awakens’

Carrie Fisher (left) and Mark Hamill as Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in the original 1977 “Star Wars,” later renamed “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” (Vernon Area Public Library/Flickr)

Carrie Fisher (left) and Mark Hamill as Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker in the original 1977 “Star Wars,” later renamed “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” (Vernon Area Public Library/Flickr)

In 1977, former NPR movie critic Tom Shales reviewed “Star Wars,” later renamed “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.” That was back in the day when the first Apple II computers went on sale and Space Mountain was opening at Disneyland.

This Thursday, “Star Wars” returns to the big screen for its seventh episode and the first to be directed by J.J. Abrams.

In honor of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which hits theaters Thursday, Here & Now dug up NPR’s 1977 review of the original “Star Wars” from our archives. Shales, who spoke with then All Things Considered host Susan Stamberg, called the first “Star Wars” movie “U.F.O. — Ultra Far Out.” He also said George Lucas’ sci-fi thriller was the best kids’ movie for adults since “The Wizard of Oz.”

9 Takeaways From Tom Shales On ‘Star Wars’ In 1977

  1. “It’s a complete science fiction fantasy with absolutely no redeeming moral values or moralistic values either.”
  2. “It’s like ‘Flash Gordon’ with ‘2001: [A Space Odyssey]’ technology.”
  3. “The effects are fantastic and yet the story is nice and silly so that absolutely anyone can enjoy it.”
  4. “It’s wonderful. I think every kid in the country should take his parents to see it, cause it’s the best children’s picture for adults since the ‘Wizard of Oz.’”
  5. “The guy who made – George Lucas – is only 32, but he’s an absolute movie buff.”
  6. “I suppose the biggest star is Alec Guinness, but he has to share the bill with newcomers like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford and they’re all great, and they all have to share the bill further with computers and robots and hairy creatures that are afraid of their own growls and delightful fabrications like that.”
  7. “Gee, it’s kind of hard to describe the whole universe blowing up in your face.”
  8. “When I saw it in LA, the whole audience actually applauded. They were so excited, they really felt that they were off on a great adventure and they were.”
  9. “This is a combination of many genres including everything from Robin Hood pictures to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ to ‘Flash Gordon,’ but it really isn’t a musical. That’s the only thing it isn’t.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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