Blog Directory CineVerse: The sum of its parts, or the parts of its sum?

The sum of its parts, or the parts of its sum?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Star Wars will endure as a movie classic

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is part 3 of a 4-part series)

Some critics prefer The Empire Strikes Back to A New Hope for its more dramatic conflict and deeper probe into the main characters. Richard Schickel, Time Magazine film critic, argued, however, that Empire and Return of the Jedi “didn’t have as much of an impact. Sure, they were more sophisticated in their special effects, but to me, the first time is always the best time.”

Mark Caro, former film critic for the Chicago Tribune, agreed. “I still believe it’s the best of the three movies. Empire may have had more sophisticated effects and richer storytelling and acting, but the first one is the more complete movie.”

Other scholars and historians, including Vivian Sobchack, professor of film and television at the University of California at Los Angeles, believe that, like The Godfather trilogy, the first three Star Wars films should be judged collectively, as a whole.

"The first one made the biggest splash, but the second film deepens the whole series,” said Sobchack. “I didn’t like (Jedi), but it still brings about a resolution that’s important in the series.”

The Force will be with you, always
How will Star Wars be ranked by future generations? “It will keep the shimmer it has historically,” Sobchack said. “In terms of social and cultural importance, hype and eventfulness, it’s a very important film that will continue to be watched and remembered.”

The fact that Star Wars came out 22 years ago and is still such a huge hit is an indication of its staying power, said Caro. “I don’t believe it will have the same staying power as the Wizard of Oz, for instance, but it will be around.”

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert once described Star Wars as one of the only motion pictures he’d seen that felt like an out-of-body experience.

“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, and The Wizard of Oz, and Keaton and Chaplin, and Astaire and Rogers, and probably Casablanca...and Star Wars, for sure,” Ebert was quoted as saying years ago.

“One hundred years from now, when we have reached the stars and there are no more wars, a peaceful planet will look back in awe and wonder at the films that thrilled its great, great, great grandchildren,” said Forrest J. Ackerman, film historian and former editor/creator of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, whom I interviewed in 1999. “Leading all the rest will be the Star Wars series.”

Next week: Star Wars ranks high among American film classics

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