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From the archives | movie review

1977 review: ‘Star Wars’ is a blockbuster

From left: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment via AP

From left: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford.

This originally appeared in the May 26, 1977, edition of The Boston Globe.

“Star Wars” is, quite simply, one of the best family entertainment buys you can make this summer. It’s a gorgeous, fantastic toy, a marvelous science fiction film that anyone can enjoy, sci fi fan or not.

Written and directed by George Lucas, who made “American Graffiti,” “Star Wars” projects a “Graffiti”-like innocence and zest, along with a determination to keep you entertained and enchanted for almost every minute of its two hours.

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It’s the kind of film you inventory more than criticize. We can begin with characters — people and machines with names like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, See Threepio (C3PO), and Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) — and the fantastic plot, which involves Luke’s intergalactic search for the kidnaped rebel Princess from the planet Alderaan. Luke is joined in his search by Ben Kenobi, the last of the Jedi Knights, the people who were the guardians of peace and justice in the old days before the “dark times” came to the galaxy . . .

But I don’t want to linger on the plot, which looks funny on the printed page. It photographs marvelously, especially against a brave new world backdrop and some extraordinary special effects. The dialogue and the narrative surge through it all with the smartness of a cracked whip.

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A cast of earnest and fresh-faced actors (Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher) is counterpointed by Alec Guinness, who portrays a sort of revolutionary Socrates. There is also a perfectly menacing villain, Lord Darth Vader, played by David Prowse.

What enhances the actors is the costuming (the costume designer is John Mollo) and the makeup (the makeup supervisor is Stuart Freeborn), both of which combine to create unforgettable characters.

But all of these aspects, good as they are, are merely elements in a total concept. Lucas has been thinking of “Star Wars” since 1971, before “Graffiti,” and the thinking and the research show. There are elements in the film from “Flash Gordon,” Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne, not to mention other genres, like westerns and war movies. Yet Lucas never gets distracted. His fidelity to the story and to his determination to amaze you never waver.

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Of all the things I enjoyed in the movie, I have to rank the comic strip-like dialogue near the top. I mean, lines like “We’re doomed, there’ll be no escape for the Princess this time,” and “We don’t serve your kind around here.” This last is muttered by a bartender in a cafe filled with creatures from outer space to two robots, a sequence that is truly a riot. Not the least of the attraction of the film is its freewheeling, uninhibited, tongue-in-cheek spirit.

But I’m running out of adjectives. “Star Wars” is not a film to be written about, it’s an experience. It’s that rare experience for both adults and kids that shortchanges neither. Go — and enjoy.

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