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Home > Star Wars > Ten (More Or Less) Things I Like About Luke (Part One)

Ten (More Or Less) Things I Like About Luke (Part One)

August 2nd, 2006

As promised, here’s the first installment of my recount of favorite moments from the original Star Wars trilogy (aka The Good Ones).

I found it difficult to come up with this list, not because there aren’t plenty of classic scenes from which to choose, but because, unlike the newer entries, the most iconic scenes of the first trilogy have been discussed to death for nearly 30 years. Not much point in further highlighting the likes of the ol’ “I am your father!” bit.

So, here are the first of ten (or possibly more) moments that may or may not be iconic to fandom in general, but which hold some significance to me.

#1: Look At The Size Of That Thing!

After the Buck Rogers-inspired opening text crawl flies away into the starry night, the camera pans down to an orbital view of the sun-baked surface of the planet Tatooine. With a screeching sound, a smallish starship zips overhead, madly firing its laser cannons at its pursuer. The second ship comes into view. It’s a big, grey triangle, and unlike Princess Leia’s royal vessel, it doesn’t just zoom by in a flash. It keeps coming and coming, its massive hull filling ever more of our view. On and on it flies above us, until we finally see the bluish wake of its three enormous engines.

I believe that it’s impossible for anyone born after 1977 to fully appreciate the impact of that first shot of Star Wars. Prior to this, the number of films featuring convincing scenes of space travel could be counted on one hand, and you could afford to be missing a finger. And the state-of-the-art special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Silent Running featured locked-off cameras and spaceships which sedately moved through a silent void. Here was sound and fury, and it signified a huge shift in the way that fantastic film visions could be realized. We’d literally never seen anything like it before.

#2: She’s Got Legs

In the dusty city of Mos Eisley, Luke and Obi-Wan complete a transaction with a used-landspeeder dealer. A variety of alien extras file past in the foreground, but the one that interests me can only partially be seen: a pair of impossibly thin, long legs stride past, offering no sign of feet or torso.

Another notable aspect of the Star Wars films was their attention to filling the screen with detail. One of the reasons that so many of us went back to the theater time and time again in the days before VCRs was to catch sight of some alien or robot we’d missed, scuttling around the periphery of the main action. To my knowledge, the owner of the aforementioned legs was never revealed, and that made them all the more fascinating. What was attached to them?

#3: “Aren’t You A Little Short For A Stormtrooper?”

Again, it may not be a big deal now, but our heroes’ introduction to sassy Leia Organa was a bit of a surprise to them and to us. Here was a princess who, while in occasional need of rescue, was no mere damsel-in-distress. She hurled insults, and not just at the bad guys. When her prison break began to go awry, she wrested a gun from Han and blasted a handy escape route into the garbage chute. At a time when female characters were still prone to tripping and ankle-twisting, here was a gal who was every bit the equal of the boys.

#4: Temple Fugit

The smuggler’s starship Millennium Falcon soars around the orange gas giant Yavin to its blue fourth moon. In a forbidding jungle sits a huge stone ziggurat, a long-deserted structure which now hides the main base of the Rebel Alliance.

Prior to 1977, other worlds were usually craggy moonscapes built on soundstages or the same brush-and-scrub desert locations seen in Westerns of the day. Star Wars sent a crew to Tikal, Guatemala to film pick-up shots of the 300-foot temples there. While seen only briefly, the footage gave the jungle world of Yavin 4 a sense of both mystery and history, the feeling that other wonders were hidden just out of view.

Next, the Empire stikes back and a Jedi returns!

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