The title of the upcoming History Channel Star Wars special “Star Wars – The Legacy Revealed” is a bit misleading . . .

The title immediately makes one believe that it will be about how the Star Wars movies changed both contemporary popular culture and Hollywood itself. How the books, CDs, TV cartoons and the original films imprinted themselves upon impressionable ten-year-olds back in 1977 and how the summer blockbuster became a fact of the movie industry.

The Special’s slogan is however more accurate: “Star Wars: why it endures, why we need it . . . and why it’s still much fun.” Yup, Star Wars – the Legacy is more hagiography than objective reporting.

Here are some sample quotes:

Star Wars resonates out of the best of our classics: Beowulf . . . Homer . . . the Bible.” - Journalist Dan Rather

Or how's this for hyperbole:

“The legacy of George Lucas fits very comfortably among the classics of all time, whether ancient or modern . . . the genius [who took] a story told over and over again in history, in the Bible, in fairy tales, now in outer space.”
- Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

I mean, come on! Have they even seen The Phantom Menace?

At least directors Kevin Smith and Peter Jackson even though they too get a bit carried away at least seem to realize that we're after all just talking about movies:

“It is bad guys versus good guys and everyone wants to see that story. That story will never grow tired, never grow old.”
- Filmmaker Kevin Smith

“You don't even have to ask, 'Will it stand the test of time?' It has and it will.”
- Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson

“Relax, they're just movies!” one wants to tell these excitable interviewees. . .

If you want commentators arguing both for and against the “Holy Trilogy” as Kevin Smith so memorably dubbed Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi then you’d be better off checking out the recent Star Wars on Trial book edited by famed Star Wars basher and Postman author David Brin.

"'Relax, they're just movies!' one wants to tell the excitable interviewees in this History Channel documentary . . ."

Or make that “Holy Decalogue” or whatever just what does one call as series of six flicks or books in any case? Star Wars: The Legacy also throws the so-called “prequels” namely Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith into the mix, even though the emphasis is more on the original films than the later prequels. There are no bookends with Liam Neeson's character in Phantom Menace, but there is one on Han Solo.

The Special spends a lot of time on how the Star Wars movies draw heavily on ancient myths and even 20th century events such as the rise of Hitler and so forth. It however skirts controversial issues such as commentators pointing out that dialogue from Revenge of the Sith actually echoes recent events in American politics such as George W. Bush infamously declaring that if “you are not with us, you are with the terrorists.”

To show that it is completely unbiased the documentary throws in interviewees as diverse as current Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich of course prefers to compare the Empire to the Soviets, even though Lucas recently admitted in interviews that he got the idea of a David battling it out versus Goliath scenario from the Vietcong taking on the powerful U.S. military. Watching Star Wars – The Legacy one of course often wonders how many of the comparisons with ancient mythology both Christian and pagan George Lucas actually consciously intended.

After all, the first Star Wars movie started life as a substitute for Flash Gordon Lucas wanted to do a full-length big screen Flash Gordon movie but he couldn’t secure the rights. So instead he stole the plot of Kurosawa’s samurai flick The Hidden Fortress outright and threw all kinds of diverse visual cues into the final mix. Anything from Marvel’s Dr. Doom villain and Snow White to bar room showdowns in Westerns got nicked in the process . . .

Next: "Star Wars – The Legacy hints at Lucas’ 'homages' (or is it just plain plagiarism?)"




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