George Lucas was so sure this movie would flop that instead of attending the premiere, he went on vacation to Hawaii with his good friend Steven Spielberg, where they came up with the idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
According to Harrison Ford, during the making of the movie, he and Mark Hamill would usually fool around and not commit to their work whenever Sir Alec Guinness was not on-set. When Guinness was on-set, they behaved much more professionally.
George Lucas' decision to accept a lower salary on the movie in exchange for full merchandising rights was considered a fool's gamble on his part. Toys based on movies had never been major money-earners (though some movie-toy combinations had done moderate retail returns) because of the long gap between when a movie would go through its theatrical run and when any products based on it would be available. This movie, however, was such a phenomenon that it reached the holiday 1977 sales period in full swing, and changed the way movies were merchandised forever.
Harrison Ford didn't learn his lines for the intercom conversation in the cell block so that it would sound spontaneous.
The skeleton that C-3PO passes belongs to a Tatooine creature called a Greater Krayt Dragon. This artificial skeleton was left in the Tunisian desert after filming, and still lies there. During filming of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), the site was visited by the crew once more, and the skeleton was still there.
In early drafts of the script, R2-D2 could speak standard English, and he had a rather foul vocabulary. Although all of R2's English speech was removed, many of C-3PO's reactions to it were left in.
The actors found George Lucas to be very uncommunicative towards them, with his only directions generally being either "faster" or "more intense". At one point, when he temporarily lost his voice, the crew provided him with a board with just those two phrases written on it.
Stunt doubles were not used for the scene where Luke and Leia swing to safety. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill performed the stunt, shooting it in just one take.
Prior to the release, George Lucas showed an early rough cut to a group of his movie director friends. According to Lucas, this version still contained a lot of stock footage from old war movies in the place of special effects shots, and did not make a lot of sense. Most people in the room had a "what were you thinking?" response toward it; Brian De Palma reportedly called it the "worst movie ever". Nearly everyone, including Lucas, felt the movie would be a flop; the only dissenter was Steven Spielberg, who predicted that the film would be "the biggest movie of all time" and make millions of dollars. Lucas admitted that everybody in the room looked up at Steven and thought "Poor Steven".
James Earl Jones and David Prowse, who play the voice and body of Darth Vader, respectively, have never met.
The scene of Darth Vader's TIE Fighter spinning out of control was added late in the movie at the insistence of George Lucas. Other members of the movie crew were opposed to including this shot, feeling that it set up a sequel (at the time, sequels were generally regarded as inferior cash-in movies), but Lucas insisted upon its inclusion nonetheless.
While George Lucas was filming on-location in Tunisia, the Libyan government became worried about a massive military vehicle parked near the Libyan border. Consequently, the Tunisian government, receiving threats of military mobilization, politely asked Lucas to move his Jawa sandcrawler farther away from the border.
The light-saber sound effect is a combination of the hum of an idling 35mm movie projector and the feedback generated by passing a stripped microphone cable by a television.
Due to the limited budget, the American cast members and crew (including George Lucas) all decided to fly coach class to England, rather than first class. When Carrie Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds, heard about this, she called Lucas, complaining about how insulting it was for her daughter to be flying coach. Fisher was in the room with Lucas when he took the call, and after a few minutes, asked if she could talk to her mother. When Lucas handed her the phone, she simply said, "Mother, I want to fly coach, will you f**k off?!" and hung up.
After visiting the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), George Lucas was sure Close Encounters would outperform the yet-to-be-released Star Wars at the box office. Steven Spielberg disagreed, and felt Lucas' Star Wars would be the bigger hit. Lucas proposed they trade two and a half percent of the profit on each other's movies. Spielberg took the trade, and still receives two and a half percent of the profits from this movie.
Harrison Ford found the dialogue to be very difficult, later saying, "You can type this shit, but you can't say it."
The name Wookiee came about as a result of an accident. When San Francisco D.J. Terence McGovern was doing voice-over work on THX 1138 (1971) for George Lucas, he made a blunder and exclaimed, "I think I ran over a wookiee back there." George Lucas, confused, asked what he meant by the term. Terence McGovern admitted that he didn't know, and added that he simply made it up. George Lucas never forgot the cute word and used it in this movie.
When Twentieth Century Fox attempted to distribute this movie in the U.S., fewer than forty theaters agreed to show it. As a solution, Fox threatened that any cinema that refused to show this movie would not be given the rights to screen the potential blockbuster The Other Side of Midnight (1977), which ended up grossing less than ten percent of what this movie did.
Mark Hamill held his breath for so long during the trash compactor scene that he broke a blood vessel in his face. Subsequent shots are from one side only.
Kenny Baker has said that often when the cast and crew broke for lunch, they would forget he was in the R2-D2 outfit and leave him behind.
Obi-wan never says, "May the Force be with you". He always says a close variation of the line. The line is spoken by Han Solo (to Luke) and General Dodonna (while addressing the assembled rebel pilots), neither of whom has Force powers.
The Chewbacca suit retained a bad smell for the duration of filming after the trash compactor scene.
Peter Mayhew and David Prowse were given a choice as to which giant character they wanted to play, Chewbacca or Darth Vader. Mayhew wanted to play a good guy, and Prowse wanted to play a bad guy, so they ended up playing the matching characters.
On the first day of filming in the deserts of Tunisia, the country experienced its first major rainstorm in fifty years.
George Lucas waived the normal writer and director fee, and asked for a mere $175,000 plus 40% of the merchandising rights. After the failure of Doctor Dolittle (1967), when its massive merchandising push proved an equally costly debacle, studio executives saw little, if any, profit from such matters and agreed. Star Wars-related merchandise has since generated many millions of dollars in sales, allowing Lucas to make movies completely independent of the studio system he decried. Merchandising rights are now a major part of any movie contract.
According to Mark Hamill, studio executives were unhappy that Chewbacca has no clothes and attempted to have the costume redesigned with shorts.
Carrie Fisher's breasts were taped down with Gaffer's tape, as her costume did not permit any lingerie to be worn underneath. She joked later, "As we all know, there is no underwear in space."
Out of all six live-action Star Wars films from the original and prequel trilogies, this is the only one to feature profanity more than once. "Hell" and "damn" are used several times, and R2-D2 "swears" in droid language, but he only chirps and beeps. The language was added to get the movie a PG rating, and avoid its being stereotyped as a G-rated "kids' movie".
The second most attended movie of all time in North America, having sold an estimated 178 million tickets over its various theatrical runs, which would equate to gross of approximately $1.48 billion at 2015 ticket prices. The only movie to have sold more tickets is Gone with the Wind (1939), with 202 million.
This is the only Star Wars movie where Darth Vader's signature theme "The Imperial March" is not played in some form or another, as it had not been written at the time.
Denis Lawson, who played Wedge Antilles (his name is misspelled in the credits as "Dennis Lawson"), is the uncle of Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-wan Kenobi in the prequels.
George Lucas came up with the name R2-D2 during post-production of American Graffiti (1973). One of the sound crew wanted Lucas to retrieve Reel #2 of the Second Dialogue track. In post-production parlance, this came out as, "Could you get R2-D2 for me?" Lucas liked the sound of that and noted it down for future use.
During production, the cast attempted to make George Lucas laugh or smile, as he often appeared depressed.
Peter Cushing found the boots that came with his costume extremely uncomfortable to wear because they were too small for his feet. Thus, he only wore them in the few shots in which Tarkin's feet could be seen. In all other shots, Peter Cushing wore a pair of fuzzy slippers.
When the Stormtroopers enter the room where C-3PO and R2-D2 are hiding, one of the actors accidentally bumps his head on the doorway. It was always believed that this happened due to the actor's limited visibility. However, British actor Laurie Goode, who claimed to be the one inside the suit, later said that he was distracted by an upset stomach that day. Four takes of the shot were filmed that day, and the last one which included the bump made it into the movie. When the special edition came out in 1997, a sound effect had been added to the scene to accompany the head bump, and as a sort of "homage" to the goof, George Lucas had Jango Fett bang his head on a door in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
A great deal of the movie was shot by vintage 1950s VistaVision cameras, because they were of higher quality than any others available. After this movie was released, the prices of these cameras skyrocketed.
James Earl Jones supplied the voice of Darth Vader, but specifically requested that he not be credited. At the time, the reason he cited was that he felt he had not done enough work to get the billing, but he later admitted that he didn't want his name associated with the movie because he was still an up-and-coming actor, and didn't want to be typecast. Jones does receive billing in the subsequent sequels and the 1997 "Special Edition."
Princess Leia and Obi-wan Kenobi never actually meet in this movie. The closest they get to meeting is when she sees him from a distance during the light-saber duel.
Carrie Fisher was not accustomed to using guns prior to filming this movie. In preparation, she took shooting lessons from the same person that taught Robert De Niro to shoot for Taxi Driver (1976).
The 2003 book, "Alec Guinness: The Authorised Biography", reprints several letters that Guinness wrote to his longtime friend and correspondent, Anne Kaufman, in which he expressed his displeasure with and dubiousness about the quality of this movie as it was in production. Before filming started, he wrote, "I have been offered a movie (Twentieth Century Fox) which I may accept, if they come up with proper money. London and North Africa, starting in mid March. Science fiction, which gives me pause, but is to be directed by Paul (sic) Lucas, who did American Graffiti (1973), which makes me feel I should. Big part. Fairy-tale rubbish, but could be interesting perhaps." Then, after filming started, he wrote to Kaufman again to complain about the dialogue and describe his co-stars: "new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper, and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me keep going until next April. I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet, and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can't be right) Ford. Ellison (? - No!), well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel ninety, and treat me as if I was one hundred six. Oh, (the actor's name is) Harrison Ford, ever heard of him?"
The accounts on how Sir Alec Guinness regarded the movie and his work on it vary greatly. He frequently recalled the experience of making the movie as a bad one, and consistently claimed that it was his idea to have his character killed off in the first movie, so as to limit his involvement and make sure he "wouldn't have to carry on saying these rubbish lines." He later mentioned to "shrivel up" each time someone mentioned the movie. In one particularly infamous incident, a young boy, asking for his autograph, proudly told him he had seen the movie over a hundred times, and Guinness gave it to him after promising to never watch it again. He also claimed to throw away all Star Wars related fan mail without even opening it (a logical paradox, making it likely that this is not true, as his journals report what some of this mail said in detail), because he hated the fact that he would be most remembered as Obi-wan Kenobi, despite other roles which he held in much higher regard. Contrary to all this, George Lucas has said he made the decision to kill off Kenobi, since the character had no part to play in the movie's finale, and deserved a memorable exit. According to Lucas, Guinness was "less than happy" that his character was dying earlier than expected, and even appeared to enjoy his time on-set. Lucas, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher have always stated how patient and helpful Guinness was on the set, and praised his professionalism and respectfulness to all cast and crew members. While Guinness made no secret that he disliked the dialogue in George Lucas' script, he claimed that he accepted the role for two reasons: 1) He was an admirer of Lucas' previous movie, American Graffiti (1973) and 2) The narrative compelled him to read the whole script through to the end, in spite of not liking the dialogue, and not being a fan of science fiction. Of the final movie, he remarked that he found it "staggering as spectacle and technically brilliant, exciting, very noisy, and warmhearted. The battle scenes at the end go on for five minutes too long, and some of the dialogue is excruciating, and much of it is lost in noise, but it remains a vivid experience."
The Bantha, seen being mounted by Tusken Raiders after they spot Luke Skywalker's speeder, was actually an Asian elephant owned by exotic animal trainer Ralph Helfer, dressed in a costume of fur and fake horns. Filming the scene proved difficult because the elephant was not accustomed to the extreme heat of Death Valley and kept removing the costume.
The Jawas' language is Zulu electronically sped up. Greedo's language is Quechua, an indigenous South American language.
During the scene on the Death Star right after Ben leaves to shut down the tractor beam, Chewbacca barks something to Luke to which Han says, "Boy, you said it Chewie." Backstage footage reveals that what Chewbacca says is, "The old man's gone mad."
Although their respective characters obviously despise each other, Carrie Fisher found Peter Cushing to be very charming, polite and humorous on set. They got along so well, in fact, that Fisher found it a real challenge to act as if she hated him.
According to an interview with George Lucas, originally, Luke was a girl, Han Solo was an alien, the Wookiees were called Jawas, and R2-D2 and C-3PO were called A-2 and C-3.
Harrison Ford was originally not allowed to audition, as he had starred in American Graffiti (1973), also directed by George Lucas. George Lucas originally intended to use only new faces for this movie, but after using Harrison Ford to read lines with actors and actresses auditioning for the other roles, he realized Ford was the best actor for the part of Han Solo.
George Lucas' script evolved into a mammoth 200-page screenplay. Having spent a full year writing it, he was reluctant to condense it, so instead he chose to concentrate on the first third, with a view to expanding the remaining two-thirds into two additional movies.
Peter Mayhew worked as an orderly in a Yorkshire hospital prior to being cast in the movie. He won his role immediately after meeting George Lucas and producer Gary Kurtz for the first time, Lucas stated: I needed somebody very, very tall to be the Wookie. But we were having a hard time finding anybody in England, where I did most of my films. I said, "This is crazy. Where are all the basketball players?" But then, after months of trying, the casting director said, "I found one!" And as soon as Peter stood up, I said to him, "You've got the job We call it mime casting because it's really about people controlling their bodies. You're not really looking for the voice you put that in later; it's a little like dubbing a French movie. You're looking for the stature and the way they move. Darth Vader had to strut. 3PO had to be malleable, because the suit constricted his movements. And Chewie needed to lumber, which Peter did perfectly. He wasn't quite tall enough he was 7'3 and I wanted someone who was 7'5,so we put high-heeled shoes on him."
According to the Blu-ray commentary, much of the Millennium Falcon is made up of junk parts from cars and airplanes, much of which were obtained from dumping grounds and the like.
George Lucas had not originally intended to have Anthony Daniels for the voice of C-3PO. He only changed his mind after a suggestion by Stan Freberg, one of the actors considered as Daniels' replacement. Daniels' voice was altered in post-production. His character was supposed to be like a "used car salesman". Ultimately, though, George Lucas was won over by the charisma of Daniels' reading of the part as a "snooty British butler," and so Daniels has done the voice for C-3PO ever since.
The shoot-out between Han Solo and Greedo inside the Cantina was the subject for a lot of controversy and debate amongst Star Wars fans as to who shot first. Many fans debated that Greedo actually shot first a split second before Solo did, but with careful examination of the scene, it was obvious that Greedo never fired his shot at all. For the 1997 Special Edition release of this movie, George Lucas had edited the scene to include Greedo shooting first at Solo at point blank range, with Solo moving his head slightly to the right to dodge the shot before firing back at Greedo. This caused perhaps the worst backlash of all the alterations made to the original trilogy from outraged fans, although it was technically not George Lucas' fault: when submitting the movie to the MPAA, they had insisted he put it in there in order for the movie to keep its PG rating. To appease the fans, the shooting scene was edited for a third time for the 2004 DVD release, so that both Greedo and Han Solo fired their guns more or less at the same time.
Alan Ladd, Jr. was very anxious when he attended the premiere in Japan, only to be met by total silence at the end. He didn't know that Japanese moviegoers usually wait for a movie's end titles to finish before speaking or leaving the theater.
George Lucas planned to score this movie with existing classical music like Stanley Kubrick had done on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), before Steven Spielberg introduced him to composer John Williams. Lucas and Williams agreed on a classical 19th-century romantic music style with liberal use of leitmotif for the score. Since the movie would show worlds never seen before, the music had to serve as an "emotional anchor" for the audience to relate.
The humorous moment when Chewbacca frightens a skittish mouse droid was thought up on-set and not scripted.
Most of the Stormtroopers are left-handed. That is because of how the weapons are constructed. Their weapons are based on a real weapon, where the magazine is on the left side of the weapons. This construction caused it to hit the troopers in the chest. Therefore, they have to switch grip of the weapon, which made them look left-handed.
In 2010, George Lucas sent Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the executive producers of Lost (2004), a letter congratulating them on the show's end and letting them in on some (possibly facetious) secrets about his development of the Star Wars film franchise: "Don't tell anyone, but when Star Wars first came out, I didn't know where it was going either. The trick is to pretend you've planned the whole thing out in advance. Throw in some father issues and references to other stories, let's call them homages, and you've got a series."
The following characters "have a bad feeling about this": Obi-wan (Episode I), Anakin (Episode II), Obi-wan (Episode III), Luke (Episode IV), Han (Episode IV and Episode VII), Leia (Episode V), C-3PO (Episode VI). The line is also spoken by Harrison Ford again as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). The only Lucas franchise movie to not have this line in the finished script is Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
When George Lucas screened the movie for Twentieth Century Fox executives, the reaction was surprisingly positive. Alan Ladd, Jr. and the other studio executives loved the movie, and Gareth Wigan told Lucas, "This is the greatest film I've ever seen", and cried during the screening. Lucas found the experience shocking and rewarding, having never gained any approval from studio executives before.
David Prowse, the actor in the Darth Vader suit, was still disgruntled more than twenty years after the movie's release about the fact that his voice was replaced by James Earl Jones. In an interview with the Canadian press, Prowse claimed that he was a victim of "reverse racism" because the cast had no black members, and the studio was worried they would lose a significant slice of the audience. However, Jones wasn't credited in the original movie, so no one knew a black actor voiced Vader. George Lucas said he dubbed Vader's dialogue because of Prowse's strong Bristol accent. The cast and crew's nickname for Prowse was Darth Farmer.
The word "Jedi" is derived from the Japanese words "Jidai Geki," which translate as "period adventure drama." A period adventure drama is a Japanese television soap opera program set in the samurai days. George Lucas mentioned in an interview that he saw a "Jidai Geki" program on television while in Japan a year or so before the movie was made, and he liked the word.
During production, George Lucas referred to this movie as a "Disney movie", trying to capture the whimsy of classic 1950s Disney family movies, one of Lucas' favorites being Swiss Family Robinson (1960). Coincidently, more than thirty years after the release of this movie, the Walt Disney Company would acquire Lucasfilm, Lucas' production company, including all rights to the "Star Wars" stories and characters for four billion dollars, thus the movie actually became a Disney movie in 2015.
Luke's line "I can't see a thing in this helmet" was not scripted. Mark Hamill said this to Harrison Ford when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling. But they decided to leave the line in.
When first released in 1977, this movie was simply titled "Star Wars", as it was intended to be a stand-alone movie. The sequels were not considered until after it became wildly successful. The name of this movie was changed to "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" in 1981 to fit in better with the names of the other movies. The later print was the first one to be released on mass market video (an earlier Betamax release did not have the subtitle), and all video, LaserDisc, DVD, and Blu-ray releases have featured the subtitles. The theatrical cut DVDs, released in September 2006, were the first time that the original opening crawl, without subtitle, had been released on home video. The reason George Lucas created the title card "Episode IV" in the first movie was as an homage to 1940's Saturday afternoon "cliffhanger" serials, like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. He also used the "text crawl" the same way each of those series opened up new chapters. He did not, at the time, have Episodes I, II, and III already planned. In fact, at one point, Twentieth Century Fox wanted the "Episode IV" title removed so as not to confuse moviegoers. There are some prints of the movie that do not have that title card.
At one point, George Lucas had planned the character of Han Solo to be a huge green-skinned monster with no nose and gills. Lucas then changed the idea of Han Solo to a black human. He auditioned several black actors and even musicians (including Billy Dee Williams) until finally settling on Glynn Turman. But after this, he decided to make the role white. Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robert Englund, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, James Woods, and Perry King were all candidates for the role of Han Solo. George Lucas also wanted to stay away from any actors he had previously used in his movies. James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, and Burt Reynolds all turned down the role. Harrison Ford, who had played Bob Falfa in Lucas' American Graffiti (1973), read the part of Han Solo for screentests of other characters, but wasn't originally considered for the part. During these tests, Lucas realized Ford was perfect for the role.
When Obi-wan is giving a short history of the Jedi Order and Luke's father in his house on Tatooine, a patch can be seen on the right shoulder of his robe. It is explained in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) how this robe got damaged.
The hilt of the light-saber given to Luke Skywalker is a Graflex 3 Cell Camera flash tube with some rubber grips and a loop attached to the base. Darth Vader's is made in a similar fashion from a flashgun and windshield wipers for grips. Obi-Wan Kenobi's is more complicated, using part of a flash gun and part of a hand grenade. These flash tubes skyrocketed in value after the release of the movie. Ironically, Roger Christian selected the materials from a junk pile, and the supplies were considered worthless at the time. The design of all of the light-sabers later proved to be problematic, as Christian designed them for aesthetics, rather than heavy combat. Thus, in the Prequel Trilogy, the characters mostly use redesigned light-sabers, built for more comfortable duelling.
George Lucas originally wanted Orson Welles to do Darth Vader's voice, but decided against it, feeling that Welles' voice would be too recognizable.
Twentieth Century Fox was so sure this movie was going to be a disaster that they almost sold off their stake in the movie as a tax shelter. They changed their minds after positive feedback from an advance screening. The profits from the movie saved the studio from bankruptcy.
Kenner Toys signed on for merchandising shortly before this movie opened, prepared to produce a modest line of space-themed toys. When this movie became a hit, they were unprepared to produce enough toys to handle Christmas demand. Instead, they sold boxed vouchers for various toys. The toys sold during the December "Empty Box" campaign were delivered the following March.
The famous Darth Vader suit was designed by production designer Ralph McQuarrie, who was concerned about the character being able to breathe while he was travelling from his spaceship to Princess Leia's spaceship. It was not explained why Darth Vader wears the suit at all times until Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The look of the Darth Vader suit was based on robes worn by Bedouin warriors.
Two different basic designs were created for the Millennium Falcon. The rejected one became the Rebel Blockade Runner seen at the start of the movie.
A fierce sandstorm destroyed several of the Tatooine sets in the desert outside Tozeur, Tunisia. Filming resumed two days later. The same thing happened to George Lucas twenty-two years later while filming Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
Peter Cushing commenting on his role: "I've often wondered what a 'Grand Moff' was. It sounds like something that flew out of a cupboard."
According to Ben Burtt, the sounds Chewbacca makes were created from a compilation of large mammals, mostly bears. He said that one particular zoo-kept grizzly bear was an invaluable source of Chewbacca sounds. R2-D2's sounds are various people (mostly Burtt) making baby-like sounds or recordings of real-life babies electronically manipulated.
During production, Anthony Daniels and all other actors playing "C-3PO"-type droids had to lean against a board to rest, as their costumes were not flexible enough to allow them to sit. In scenes where C-3PO is required to sit, Daniels' costume had to be partially disassembled to allow him to sit down. This was hidden by using camera angles, and by having C-3PO sit behind things. This inflexible costume problem was also experienced by actor Jack Haley, who played the Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
George Lucas and the production team apparently had a series of running battles with the studio cleaning service, which would continually clean and buff the floors on-set, even though Lucas had requested they leave them scuffed and dull, part of his idea that the world the characters inhabit should look "lived in." After the sets were constructed, George Lucas went through them and had every single one of them "dirtied up". The R2-D2s were all rolled in the dirt, nicked with a saw, and kicked around a bit. George Lucas popularized the concept of a "used future", giving sets, props, et cetera. a "dirtied up" appearance, to create the illusion that they were old and worn. However, he was not the first person to use this strategy. Gerry Anderson had extensively used this process in his Supermarionation series, most notably Thunderbirds (1965).
George Lucas based the character of Han Solo on his friend Francis Ford Coppola, director of the Godfather trilogy (1972-1990).
This is the only movie in the franchise where David Prowse did the light-saber fighting on his own. He was doubled in the sequels because he kept breaking the poles that stood in for the blades. This switch might explain why Vader pivots on his feet in this movie, but not in the others.
When Darth Vader crushes the neck of Captain Antilles, the actual sound you hear is of walnut shells being crushed. The same sound effect is used in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), when Han Solo is freed from the carbonite.
The only movie, out of the first six, when one of the characters refers to the droids as "robots" on-screen.
The "TIE" in "TIE Fighter" is an acronym, standing for "Twin Ion Engines." Modelmaker Joe Johnston came up with this acronym. In the "Making of Star Wars" book, he mentions another possibility had been "Third Intergalactic Empire".
Some fans took offense to the fact that Chewbacca did not receive a medal in the closing scene. MTV remedied this twenty years later when they gave the character a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by none other than Carrie Fisher. Marvel Comics' adaptation of the movie explained, "Chewbacca of course will have his own medal, but he will have to put it on himself. Few space Princesses are that tall."
The pulsating engine sound of the Star Destroyer is a manipulated recording of a broken air conditioner.
Upon receiving the script prior to her audition, Carrie Fisher read it aloud with her friend, actor Miguel Ferrer. Struck by how unique the story was, Fisher decided to lobby hard for the role of Princess Leia, a decision which paid off.
Anthony Daniels initially had no interest in the movie, and only agreed to meet George Lucas to be polite. Almost immediately into their initial meeting, Daniels became intrigued by Ralph McQuarrie's conceptual art of C-3PO and became drawn to playing the character. Daniels also believes a major reason why he was selected was because, unlike most others who met with Lucas for the part, didn't try to impress him with any unasked for stiff robot movements during the interview process.
When Harrison Ford visited a record store to buy an album after the movie's release, enthusiastic fans tore half his shirt off.
While a guest on the National Public Radio quiz show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" in 2009, Carrie Fisher was asked to tell a "juicy" story about Sir Alec Guinness, and her response was, "Alec Guinness once gave Mark Hamill twenty pounds sterling to go away. (Hamill) was asking Alec all these questions about his career, and it became annoying."
The first two drafts of the screenplay apparently ripped off Flash Gordon and Frank Herbert's Dune, respectively. George Lucas had to re-work the draft several times when the rights holders (King Features and Herbert) balked. Even then, Herbert tried to sue because they were still similar, but he relented when the movie became a hit in its own right.
In an earlier version of the script, the Millennium Falcon does not land on the Death Star, but at a Cloud City that floats above the gaseous surface of the planet Alderaan. The rescue of Princess Leia and Obi-wan Kenobi's duel with Darth Vader take place at this base, not on the Death Star. A cut in the budget for the movie forced George Lucas to bring in the Death Star early, and in the finished movie, the scenes that would have taken place in the Cloud City take place there, instead. The Cloud City, of course, was later used in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Since Alderaan was destroyed in this movie, however, it obviously could not be the location of the Cloud City. So a new planet was created to house the Cloud City: Bespin.
While speaking at London's National Film Theatre in 2009, Ben Burtt disclosed that the alien gibberish sprouted by the Mos Eisley spy Garindan/Long Snoot was actually the processed voice of John Wayne.
Industrial Light & Magic spent most of the production period in chaos, attempting to create special effects that had never been created before. They blew half their budget on four shots which George Lucas rejected. Ultimately, around $5 million of the $8 million budget was spent by Industrial Light & Magic.
May 4th has come to be designated as Intergalactic Star Wars Day. The date, May the Fourth, was seen as a play on the movie's catchphrase, "May the Force be with you". In addition, May is the anniversary month of the release Star Wars movies I(1) through VI(6). The following movies were in fact released on May fourth: Hardbodies (1984) Short Time (1990)
A small pair of metal dice can be seen hanging in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, as Chewbacca makes preparations to depart from Mos Eisley. Set Designer Roger Christian claims he added the pair of dice hanging in the Millennium Falcon cockpit (briefly seen when Chewbacca bumps his head on them as he first enters) because there were dice hanging in Harrison Ford's car in American Graffiti (1973). However, Ford's character had a skull hanging from his rear-view mirror. Ron Howard had the fluffy dice. They don't appear in subsequent scenes because they were stolen from the set and never replaced.
According to Star Wars canon, Tatooine's twin suns heat the planet so much that only the polar regions are habitable.
The filming of the special effects sequences at Industrial Light & Magic's studio was interrupted at one point by a visit by representatives from the local camera operators union, insisting that Industrial Light & Magic hire union camera operators. Someone then programmed the newly-developed Dykstraflex motion-controlled camera to perform a complex series of moves that ended with the camera being pointed at the faces of the union reps. At this point, the union reps were told, "Send us someone who can operate *that*." The union reps left and were not heard from again.
Darth Vader's breathing was originally meant to be much more labored and raspy. The sound of this more labored, raspy breathing would be used later on in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), during that movie's climax.
The full name Chewbacca is only said once in this movie. Every other time, he is called just "Chewie".
The Tatooine scenes were filmed in Tunisia. There is a town in Tunisia's rural south named Tataouine (Berber for "eyes"), and George Lucas liked the name so much, he adopted it for Luke Skywalker's home world. Some of the interiors and the courtyard of Luke's house were filmed in a hotel in Matmata, Tunisia. One can visit this two-star hotel and see some pictures and the painted ceiling of what was used for the Lars' dining room. When Luke goes out of the farm, he appears in a flat deserted area, while the reality, when you get out of the hotel, there are a lot of other houses, small stone hills, and a lot of prickly peartrees (a variety of cactus very common in Tunisia).
The "Star Wars" visual dictionary by David West Reynolds and James Luceno mentions that Han Solo was raised by space gypsies and never knew who his real parents were. This was changed in the later prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), where Han is an orphan, raised as a thief by a crime syndicate on the planet Corellia.
The actors playing the stormtroopers, in the scene where they investigate the escape pod, were paid 8,500 Tunisian Dinar, which, back then, was the equivalent of only $6.50 in 1976 U.S. dollars. Adjusted for inflation would be $24.76 in 2010 U.S. dollars.
Contrary to popular belief, Greedo shooting first in the remastered version of the movie was not George Lucas' fault. The MPAA insisted he put it in there in order for the movie to keep its PG rating.
Luke went through several changes. George Lucas toyed with the idea of changing him into a woman, after cutting Princess Leia from the script. He also entertained the notion of casting the principal characters as dwarves. In an early screenplay, Skywalker was a sixty-year-old General. In the shooting script, he was called "Luke Starkiller", but this was changed to Luke Skywalker during production.
For the opening crawl, George Lucas originally wrote a composition consisting of six paragraphs with four sentences each. It contained a lot of history, including the demise of the old Republic, the Dark Lords of the Sith, the eradication of the Jedi Order, as well as references to locations in the Galaxy. Lucas said, "The crawl is such a hard thing because you have to be careful that you're not using too many words that people don't understand. It's like a poem." Lucas showed his draft to his friends. Brian De Palma, who was there, described it, "The crawl at the beginning looks like it was written on a driveway. It goes on forever. It's gibberish." Lucas recounted what De Palma said the first time he saw it, "George, you're out of your mind. Let me sit down and write this for you." De Palma helped to edit the text into the shortened form used in the movie.
In the novelization of the movie, the book begins with a short prologue, which tells the story of the fall of the "Old Republic", the rise of the Empire, and the rise of the Rebel Alliance. This would be part of the basis for Episodes I, II, and III.
According to the commentary on the Blu-ray version of the movie, the scene where Tarkin blows up Alderaan was the first scene Carrie Fisher filmed as Leia. She admits to being influenced by Peter Cushing, and admits she may have based some of her performance on his own style of acting.
The first theatrical movie to be screened in Dolby Stereo. Previously, movies like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and Mr. Billion (1977) had made use of the sound system with disastrous results. However, technical-minded George Lucas knew exactly how he wanted to incorporate the system, and made it work for his movie.
At two hours and one minute (the Special Edition runs two hours and five minutes), this is the shortest of the first seven "Star Wars" movies.
The first draft was twice as long as the finished movie, and contained a lot of elements that were recycled in later movies. For example, the last act would take place on the jungle planet Yavin, which would be the home planet of the Wookiees (originally envisioned as smaller, with heads like that of "giant bushbabies", and not technologically capable), who would end up fighting the Empire alongside our heroes. The second draft was a substantial re-write which cut all this out, but Lucas still wanted a Wookiee in the movie, so he created Chewbacca, a Wookiee co-pilot who was familiar with technology. For Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), Lucas brought back his idea of a low technology race fighting the Empire, but in place of the Wookiees, he invented the Ewoks (by effectively shrinking them down half the size and inverting the two syllables in their species name). A giant battle with Wookiees on their home planet Kashyyyk finally made it to screen in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
The origin of R2-D2 can be found in the "drones" Huey, Dewey, and Louie from Silent Running (1972). Upon meeting Douglas Trumbull, Director and Special Effects Chief on Silent Running (1972), George Lucas commented on how much he liked the designs of Trumbull's two-footed robots in the movie, which were operated by bilateral amputees. Five years later, a functionally similar design appeared as R2-D2 in this movie. Universal Pictures, the distributor of Silent Running (1972), noted the similarity between the robots (and the similarity of Star Wars to the Buck Rogers (1939) serials of the 1930s), and promptly sued Twentieth Century Fox for infringement. The lawsuit was eventually settled when Fox counter-sued over Battlestar Galactica (1978), which bore a striking resemblance to this movie.
Unlike the other movies in the franchise, this movie features Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing) as the ranking Imperial villain, instead of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Both of their names are references to the Roman Republic/Empire. The Tarquins were kings of Rome in the days before the Roman Republic. Palatine Hill was a major location in the city of Rome.
The chess scene on the Millennium Falcon was done using stop-motion creatures. The crew considered doing it with costumed actors, but opted for the stop-motion technique, as they wanted to avoid comparisons and similarities to the movie Westworld (1973).
This is the opening sentence for a thirteen-page treatment George Lucas wrote in 1972: "The story of Mace Windu, a revered Jedi-bendu of Opuchi who was related to Usby C.J. Thape, a Padawaan learner to the famed Jedi." George Lucas spent nearly three years re-writing before he completed the script for this movie. Although most of that early script was ultimately unused, the character of Mace Windu and the term "Padawaan", with the spelling changed to "Padawan", appear in the prequel trilogy. Mace Windu, of course, is one of the Jedi Council members, played by Samuel L. Jackson. The term "Padawan" is used to refer to Jedi apprentices.
Twentieth Century Fox green-lit the movie, despite marketing surveys indicating little or no interest amongst potential moviegoers in a science fiction movie. A related survey also resulted in a strong dislike of the title, as the word "Wars" held negative connotations for much of the general public during the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War.
In the original draft, Luke made a failed Death Star Trench bombing attempt before making his shot that ultimately destroyed the station. While all footage of the first trench run was eliminated from the final movie, one line that referenced the first run remained: "They're coming much faster THIS TIME."
When the blasters are cocked, they have a clicking/clunking sound. This is a recording of a parking meter handle being turned.
At one point, George Lucas planned for the characters of Luke Skywalker and his aunt and uncle, to be dwarves. Lucas would eventually use the dwarf hero idea in the film Willow (1988).
Twentieth Century Fox bought the screenplay largely because George Lucas had hired conceptual artist Ralph McQuarrie to create paintings of several scenes to help sell it.
As an executive at Twentieth Century Fox, Gareth Wigan saw an early screening of the movie. When he got home, he gathered his family around the kitchen table and said, "I want you to remember this day because I just had one of the greatest experiences in my life."
The day before he began filming as C-3PO, Anthony Daniels tried on his costume for the first time. Within two steps, the left leg shattered down into the plastic of the left foot, beginning to stab the actor every time he took a step.
The terms "X-wing" and "Y-wing" and "TIE fighter" were used by Industrial Light & Magic effects guys to distinguish the fighters. These terms are not used in this movie, though they were incorporated into the sequels. They also became popular with the public after the toys and the "Making of" special aired on television. In addition, Industrial Light & Magic's special effects staff nicknamed the Millennium Falcon "The Porkburger", but this never caught on.
This movie was originally scheduled for a Christmas 1976 release. It was pushed back five months for post-production. Special effects took longer than expected. Studio executives were concerned that the new release date, May 25, 1977, would hurt the box-office because Smokey and the Bandit (1977) came out the same week. By the end of its initial theatrical run in the U.S., this movie had grossed over twice as much as Smokey and the Bandit (1977).
Over 60% of this movie was shot with a film stock that was so prone to fading, it was discontinued in the early 1980s. That would lead to many problems during the 1997 restoration and re-release, because the original camera negative's color had almost completely faded. Fortunately, those problems were able to be corrected to a certain degree.
George Lucas had Industrial Light & Magic watch archival footage of World War II dogfights as reference material for the final battle over the Death Star. The practice evolved into pre-visualization "animatics" used today. Former fighter pilots were employed as technical advisors. Audio recordings of radio communications made during dogfights were studied, to help with the dialogue.
Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher were all taken aback by George Lucas' decided lack of good dialogue skills. They stood up to him, and Lucas, chastened, allowed the actors and actresses to basically improvise their own wording for the basic points of the screenplay's dialogue.
Following principal photography, new scenes had to be filmed for the Cantina scene, to give it more diversity and add more aliens to the scene. However, the re-shoot set was very small. If you look at the close-up scenes of most of the aliens when Luke and company enter, you can see the same window in the background.
During a holiday break for Christmas in 1976, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher spent a few days in New York City together. One evening they saw a movie together, and a trailer for Star Wars happened to be showed prior to the feature. Hamill recalls that upon the ending of the trailer, a heckler shouted, "Coming soon to the Late Show!"
Most of the planets, moons, et cetera seen in the movies were just balls that were painted. However, unlike the planets, an actual model was built of the Death Star, because there were constant shots of vehicles approaching it.
It was stunt coordinator Peter Diamond's decision to arm Sand People with Gaffi sticks, getting a choice of weapons from various studio props. He felt the stick was a good choice, having served in the British Army, using bayonets and similar weaponry, and being familiar with what they were capable of. Diamond played the Sand Person that attacks Luke, being the only stunt person on hand for the Tunisian portion of filming. He initially did not plan on playing the part.
John Williams' score features cues inspired by several classical works. The music in the scene where the Millennium Falcon is pulled into the Death Star resembles "Mars, The Bringer Of War" by Gustav Holst. Parts of the Tatooine music resembles selections from Igor Stravinsky's Sacre Du Printemps.
Before casting Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-wan Kenobi, George Lucas considered casting Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune. He also considered casting a Japanese actress for Princess Leia.
Production was so laden with problems that George Lucas worked himself into poor health. At one point, he experience chest pains and checked himself into the hospital fearing a heart attack. He was diagnosed with hypertension and exhaustion, and warned to reduce his stress levels.
The second science fiction movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, after A Clockwork Orange (1971).
Joe Maddalena of Profiles in History acquired the Panavision camera that filmed this movie from Carrie Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher. On Maddalena's television show, the short lived series Hollywood Treasure (2010), the camera was featured at the Profiles in History private auction and was sold for an astounding five hundred twenty thousand dollars, making it the most valuable piece of Star Wars memorabilia in the world. The ironic thing about the entire situation: Joe Maddalena, before the auction commenced, had heavy doubts that the camera would even be sold, as in nobody having any interest in the camera whatsoever. The bid was the biggest shock of Maddalena's career.
When writing the script, George Lucas had terrible trouble remembering how to spell all the odd names he had invented for his universe. This explains why there is such inconsistency over the way "Wookiee" is spelled.
This movie was initially budgeted at $8 million, but production problems forced the studio to contribute an additional $3 million to a total of $11 million. Almost the same amount ($10 million) was spent on creating the 1997 Special Edition of the movie.
While the shot where the escape pod leaves Leia's ship was the first ever completed by Industrial Light & Magic, the first shot actually approved by George Lucas for the movie was a shot of the laser cannons in the Death Star trench.
The line "May the Force be with you" is ranked #8 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.
Darth Vader, though it seems he's the movie's antagonist, only has a screentime of twelve minutes.
According to Harrison Ford (in The Making of 'Star Wars' (1977)), Chewbacca the Wookiee is 200 years old. In the recording "The Story of Star Wars" (issued as a book-and-record set, with stills from the movie illustrating the story), narrator Roscoe Lee Browne introduces Chewbacca as "a 200 year old Wookiee". In Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), which takes place about a decade earlier, Chewbacca is correctly identified as being 190 years old.
The targeting grid used for the Millennium Falcon's cannon is based on a paperweight George Lucas saw on Arthur C. Clarke's desk.
While Carrie Fisher disliked her outfit for covering up her womanly curves, a voluptuous, seductive portrayal of Leia is featured in the early original posters by the brothers Hildebrandt.
Though the only thing Chewbacca can say from start to finish is a Wookiee growl. He has the last line in the movie.
The first movie to be dubbed into Navajo. Joseph Campbell, whose writings on mythology inspired George Lucas' work, had studied and written about the Navajo religion.
According to the exhibit at the Smithsonian, the sound of a TIE fighter is created by combining the squeal of a young elephant with the sound of a car driving by on a rain-slicked highway.
George Lucas shot the opening sequence of the Storm Troopers bursting through the blockade runner door, and the ensuing battle against rebel troops, in two takes. While the action on-set was over very quickly, Lucas used six cameras to capture it, thereby extending the length of the scene on-screen. Since some cameras were in very tight and others wide, it is difficult to tell the various actions that were duplicated.
Ben Burtt created the sound of Darth Vader's breathing by placing a small microphone in the second stage (mouthpiece) of a scuba regulator, and then recording the sound made by his breathing through the regulator.
George Lucas originally prepared a fourteen-page story treatment for his space opera. The major studios all rejected it because they viewed it as science fiction, which was very difficult to market at the time. Lucas did find one sympathetic ear, Alan Ladd, Jr., the then new head of Twentieth Century Fox, who had been impressed with Lucas' efforts on American Graffiti (1973). It was Ladd who eventually green-lit the movie, to the tune of an $8 million budget.
The reason the scene transitions using a wipe upwards when Obi-wan and Luke carry C-3PO to repair him after the Sand People attack (around the 33rd minute mark) is that Anthony Daniels was only wearing black tights below the waist. It was done this way to hide them.
The cantina creature, later to be known as "Dice Ibegon", was really nothing more than a hand puppet known as the "Drooling arm". This was because it was fashioned to have a red, oozy liquid drip from its mouth. When they tried this on film however, the liquid spurted all over the place and the shot was judged to be too disgusting for a PG movie.
George Lucas wanted TIE Fighters to move by very fast in the Death Star escape sequence. His crew thought this meant a ship moving by the ship's window in three to four seconds, when Lucas wanted them to go past in about half a second. This led to the movie crew moving the backgrounds, in additions to the TIEs themselves, to create a greater illusion of speed.
Jabba the Hutt was originally supposed to appear in this movie, dropped in optically on top of stand-in actor Declan Mulholland. However, George Lucas didn't have the money to complete the scene, and it was cut. Most of the dialogue from the scene was recycled in the scene between Han and Greedo. Computer-generated visual effects allowed the scene to be completed and included for the 1997 Special Edition.
The movie opened in May 1977, and by November had dethroned Jaws (1975) as the all-time domestic U.S. box-office champion. It then was beaten by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), but was back on top when it was re-released in 1997. It held that position until Titanic (1997).
At the time of his casting for the movie, Mark Hamill was under contract to co-star on Eight Is Enough (1977). Hamill tried to get out of his contract for Eight Is Enough (1977), as between shooting schedules and filming locations, there was no way he could do both. After filming the pilot for the television series, he was involved in an auto accident damaging his face. This resulted in the television producers deciding to let him out of his contract for the series, enabling him to take the part of Luke.
Twentieth Century Fox didn't like the title "Star Wars" and wanted to rename the movie. In a 2013 "Nerdist" podcast, Mark Hamill said that one of their concerns was they thought that potential female audiences (already a group they thought would be unlikely to enjoy science fiction) would be turned off by the word "wars" in the title. Hamill also said that another reason they wanted to change the title was that a rather large percentage of the Twentieth Century Fox focus group members who heard the title (Hamill said thirty percent) thought that the movie must be a "behind-the-scenes look at the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton marriage."
During the scene where Han Solo and the others emerge from the Millennium Falcon's secret compartments, John Williams wrote a three-note motif for the accompanied soundtrack. This motif is a cue from Psycho (1960). As a friend and colleague of Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the music for "Psycho", Williams included this particular cue as an homage to Herrmann. SOURCE: "The Making of Psycho" documentary, which can be found in the Bonus Materials section on the "Psycho (1960) Collector's Edition" DVD. The 1:16 mark of the documentary reveals this information.
Cardboard cutouts were used for some of the background starfighters in the Rebel hangar bay and for most of the crowd watching the heroes receive their medallions in the final scene.
Meco's Disco version of the theme song is the biggest selling instrumental single of all time.
Several scenes were filmed of Luke with his friends on Tatooine, in an effort to introduce the main character earlier in the movie. First, Luke watches Princess Leia's ship battle with the Imperial cruiser in the sky overhead through his binoculars, and later he meets his best friend Biggs Darklighter in Anchorhead, who has left the Imperial Academy and plans to join the Rebel Alliance. Also present in the Anchorhead scenes were Anthony Forrest as Fixer and Koo Stark as Fixer's girlfriend Cammie. All e these scenes were later cut, leaving Luke's mention of Biggs to his aunt and uncle as the sole reference to his character early on. The scenes have never officially appeared in any release of the movie, but stills were included in "The Story of Star Wars" (a book-and-record set), and the scenes also appeared in the comic book and novel adaptations. This has led several people to believe they actually saw the scenes on the silver screen. All of the scenes were included on the CD-Rom "Star Wars: Behind the Magic" in 1998. A reunion scene between Luke and Biggs at the Rebel base was included in the Special Edition re-release of the movie. However, a line by Red Leader about having once met Luke's father was cut from this exchange. All of these scenes were fortunately included as bonus material on the 2011 Blu-Ray boxed set.
The scene between Luke and Obi-Wan in Obi-Wan's house was originally written and edited to have the dialogue in a different order. It originally began with Obi-Wan listening to the message in R2-D2. Leia's mention of the Clone Wars is what leads Luke to ask Ben about his service in them, which is what leads to discussing Luke's father, his lightsaber, and the Force. It was changed when George Lucas and his editors decided that there was no urgency to Leia's message if Luke and Obi-Wan are able to have other casual conversations after listening to it. As it is edited now, they listen to Leia's message much later in the scene, and immediately afterwards, Obi-Wan begins talking about going to Alderaan.
Both of the main droid characters were inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame, R2-D2 in 2003 (inaugural class) and C-3PO in 2004.
Portions of the sound effects for the Millennium Falcon's engines were recorded at an air show at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In a gesture of thanks, Lucasfilm donated a model of the Falcon to the EAA Air Museum. Coincidentally, Harrison Ford served as the chairman of the Young Eagles program at the museum.
The horned alien seen in the Cantina sequence was originally a devil mask created by Rick Baker for a Halloween show.
At one point in the scripting process, the Force was a large crystal or galactic holy grail called the "Kyber crystal". This idea was used in the 1978 Star Wars novel "Splinter of the Mind's Eye".
Along with Beru Lars and Mon Mothma, Princess Leia is only one of three female characters to star in the original trilogy, while in this movie, she and Beru are the only two female characters to appear, although non-speaking female extras are seen in Mos Eisley.
Prior to the release of this movie, the greatest profit Twentieth Century Fox had ever made in one year was $37 million. In 1977, because of this movie, their year-end profit was $79 million.
When this movie was re-released in theaters after having become so successful, the Daffy Duck cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century (1953) was run preceding the movie, at the request of George Lucas.
Apart from influences from Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and Frank Herbert's "Dune", George Lucas was inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" fantasy novel, as well as many Japanese samurai movies, when he wrote the Star Wars story. Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress (1958), which also deals with a famous warrior, and a Princess who needs to be moved safely to allied territory while being pursued by hostiles, especially served as an inspiration. As an homage, Lucas has Admiral Motti refer in the movie to the Rebel's secret base as their "hidden fortress", although the last word is muffled when his throat is grabbed by Vader's psychic attack.
Within three weeks of release, Twentieth Century Fox's stock price doubled to a record high.
While it was originally planned that C-3PO'S voice would be dubbed with a different actor, Anthony Daniels has gone on to voice the part in nearly every other incarnation of the character, including the radio dramatization and several animated series.
The moon Yavin IV, which acted as the rebel base in this movie, was filmed in the Mayan temples at Tikal, Guatemala. George Lucas selected the location as a potential filming site after seeing a poster of it hanging at a travel agency, while he was filming in England. This inspired him to send a crew to Guatemala in March 1977 to shoot scenes. While filming in Tikal, the crew paid locals with a six pack of beer to watch over the camera equipment for several days.
WILHELM SCREAM: The film revived and re-popularized the "Wilhelm Scream" sound effect, first used in Distant Drums (1951). It's first heard when Luke blasts a Stormtrooper from across the Death Star chasm.
Luke Skywalker was originally written to be a much older character. He was General Luke Skywalker, a Jedi Master described as being about sixty years old with a grey beard, and mentor to Anakin Starkiller. This version makes Luke's character much more like that of Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is very similar to how Luke appeared in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) and Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017).
In the DVD commentary, Carrie Fisher shares that she and a friend of hers read the script out loud and both wanted to play Han Solo.
Normally, Twentieth Century Fox released about twenty movies per year, but the long-running success of this movie resulted in the studio issuing only seven new movies in the entire year of 1978.
Unlike Sir Alec Guinness, who grew to regret appearing in this movie despite it revitalizing his career and earning a considerable income from it, Peter Cushing, who was a long-time star of genre movies, was pleased to be a part of this movie, and his only regret was that he could not appear in the sequels.
R2-D2's vocal patterns largely contain sound designer Ben Burtt's own voice. In trying to create the beeping, whistling noises of the droid, Burtt found that he was vocalizing a lot of what he was trying to achieve, so he recorded his voice, mainly making baby noises, and then fed it through a synthesizer.
This movie came fourth in the U.K.'s Ultimate Film list, in which movies were placed in order of how many seats they sold at cinemas. Gone with the Wind (1939), The Sound of Music (1965), and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) came first, second and third.
Princess Leia is stunned by a stormtrooper in the opening scene. This is the only time an Imperial blaster is fired in stun mode in the Star Wars saga.
German audiences usually laugh at the scene where R2-D2 is being stunned by the Jawa. This is due to the sounds that the Jawa utters afterwards. They resemble "Gute Idee!" which is German for "Good idea!"
The weapons the stormtroopers used were essentially the Sterling L2A3 9mm SMG (sub-machine gun), a military weapon developed in the late 1940s in the U.K. and adopted by the British and Canadian Armies in the 1950s. The curved left entry side mounted magazine was removed, and that was as much as it was modified for the movie. The longer sandtrooper weapon was the MG-34 machine gun from Germany.
Among the first promotional licenses granted was to Marvel Comics, who published a Star Wars comic book series, which ran for one hundred seven issues from 1977 to 1986. The first six issues were an adaption of this movie, which included some deleted scenes from the movie. The adaptation was also published in a tabloid-sized Collector's Edition format. It was most recently re-issued in a restored collector's edition from Marvel and Disney with an introduction by Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).
The enhanced effects used for the Death Star explosions in the 1997 re-releases of this movie and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) feature the "Praxis Wave", so named for its first use by Industrial Light & Magic in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) for the explosion of the Klingon moon, Praxis.
The second movie to gross more than $100 million at the U.S. box-office. The first was Jaws (1975).
Robert Englund auditioned for the role of Luke Skywalker, but was turned down. He then suggested to his roommate Mark Hamill that he should try for the part.
Carrie Fisher confirmed in her autobiography that she disliked the "bagel bun" hairstyle she wore as Princess Leia. However, prior to to filming, the studio had requested that she lose some weight first, which she hadn't. Out of fear of being fired for it, she was eager to comply with everything that writer and director George Lucas suggested, which included the hairstyle.
Initial research from Twentieth Century Fox using the title and a brief synopsis came back with the results that only males under twenty-five were interested in seeing the movie. Twentieth Century Fox then deliberately marketed this movie with a view to attracting older and female cinemagoers by pushing images of humans (including Princess Leia) centerstage, and referring to this movie in more mythic tones, rather than science fiction.
David Prowse's Darth Vader mask had to be padded with foam because it was much too large to fit over his face properly.
In some Latin American Spanish subtitled releases, R2-D2's name appears subtitled as "Arturito" or "little Arthur" in Spanish, since the pronunciation is very closely resembled. This is also the case with C-3PO, whose name is subtitled as "Citripio", but that does not resemble anything in Spanish.
Han Solo and Obi-wan Kenobi are ranked #14 and #37 respectively on the "Heroes" section of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, making this movie the only movie to have more than one character on the list.
In the Blockade Runner scenes at the beginning, with the shoot-out in the white hallways, only a single white hallway was built. It was filmed from multiple angles to give the impression that the ship was bigger than it really was, and so that the best parts of the battle footage could be used more than once.
The character name Obi-wan Kenobi appears to allude to the following definitions. OBI - a form of belief involving sorcery, practiced in parts of the West Indies, South America, the southern U.S., and Africa, and a charm used in this belief system. WAN - Archaically meaning dark or gloomy; also pale in color or hue, meaning decline in ability (referring to dotage of the aging Jedi). KEN - knowledge, understanding, or cognizance; mental perception. range of sight or vision.
In Italy, R2-D2 was renamed C1-P8, while Darth Vader became Lord Fener, the reason being that "Vader" in Italian sounds too close to the common noun for the toilet bowl (the "water", clearly from the English "water closet"). The "clones" mentioned by Obi-wan Kenobi became "quotes" (Italian: "cloni"/"quoti").
There are twenty-eight optical wipes in the original version of the movie. The source for this is the original theatrical version included on Disc 2 of the Widescreen Limited Edition DVD, 2006. Wipes were a notable scene transition device in movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s, especially in the Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers serials by Universal Pictures, which were among of the many inspirations for the Star Wars saga.
The hologram chess game played by Chewbacca and the droids is called Dejarik. According to Star Wars canon, the Emperor is a Grand Master at Dejarik.
There is a rumor that Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) was having trouble timing his conversations with R2-D2, as R2-D2's dialogue was to be dubbed in later. Supposedly, Daniels asked George Lucas to make some kind of noise to help him, but when Lucas forgot, the matter was dropped.
According to Roger Christian, the Millennium Falcon set was the most difficult item to build. Christian wanted the interior of the Falcon to look like that of a submarine. He found scrap airplane metal "that no one wanted in those days and bought them". He began his creation process by breaking down jet engines into scrap pieces, giving him the chance to "stick it in the sets in specific ways". It took him several weeks to finish the chess set (which he described as "the most encrusted set") in the hold of the Falcon.
In earlier drafts, including the ones that were used for audition readings, the planet Alderaan was known as Organa Major. Although the name was changed, the "Organa" was retained and became Leia's adoptive family name.
First of eighteen consecutive movies with Dolby-encoded soundtracks to win Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Sound.
George Lucas pitched the movie to Universal Pictures, United Artists, and Disney. They all passed on the movie before he took it to Twentieth Century Fox. Ironically, Disney would later acquire the franchise.
George Lucas asked costume designer John Mollo to create simple, non-descript costumes without any buttons. The only exception to this last rule were some of the green rebel uniforms worn by extras during the throne room sequence, as Mollo had to find a lot of spare uniforms at the last minute.
The final scene, where Luke and Han receive their awards, required a much larger soundstage than was available at Elstree Studios. The scene was shot at Pinewood Studios instead.
At one point when the prospects for the movie's release seemed bleakest, the idea came up that perhaps the effects could be removed from the movie and recycled into a television show.
In its May 30, 1977 issue, Time Magazine voted this movie "The Year's Best Movie". The franchise would go on to feature on the magazine's cover six times.
George Lucas enjoyed the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare so much that he insisted for it to be used on the Twentieth Century Fox logo opening the movie. This movie was the first to use the "Cinemascope extension" (to display the LucasFilm logo) in a decade.John Williams composed the main title to serve as an extension of the fanfare.
The name "Luke" derives from the Greek word for "light", which fits into the movie's allegorical themes of light and darkness. The Biblical Apostle Luke was an early convert to Christianity, much like Luke Skywalker converting to the ways of a Jedi. In addition, the name "Luke" is also a derivative of the name "Lucas", as in George Lucas.
The original teaser trailer was narrated by Malachi Throne. In the documentary Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004), he is given a "special thanks" credit.
For the Special Edition, in the Cantina, the close-up shot of the wolfman was removed. He was replaced with a close-up shot of a CGI dinosaur-type man. However in additional frames, you can still see the wolfman in the background.
The term "Moff", used to describe some Imperial characters (such as Tarkin) is used to mean a Regional Governor of a specific sector of space. Military officers can also be Moffs, Tarkin, for example, is listed in the script as an Admiral in the Imperial fleet.
In the Italian version of the trilogy, the Death Star is called La Morte Nera (Black Death), and Darth Vader is called Lord Fener.
The rescue of Princess Leia, and Obi-wan Kenobi's duel with Darth Vader, were originally intended to take place on Alderaan.
In March 1983, U.S. President Ronald Reagan proposed a massive, technologically complex defensive system that was intended to defend the country from nuclear attacks by intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles using laser battle stations based both on Earth, and in space. This project's official name was the "Strategic Defense Initiative" (SDI), but given that many aspects of the proposal were previously familiar to the public only from science fiction, it was quickly dubbed "Star Wars", after this movie. At first, this nickname was used in a largely derogatory manner (for example, the day after Reagan's speech introducing SDI to the nation, Senator Edward Kennedy was quoted in the Washington Post calling the initiatives "reckless Star Wars schemes") and the Reagan administration's official policy was to avoid the use of the name "Star Wars", but it nonetheless quickly became a neutral shorthand used by the government, the press, and the general public alike.
The movie was originally rated G ("Suitable For General Audiences") by the MPAA, which George Lucas feared would be a kiss of death as it would brand it as merely for children. Twentieth Century Fox arranged a second screening for the MPAA ratings board in front of a preview audience. A child screamed and burst into tears during the scene where Darth Vader kills Captain Antilles. The ratings board agreed to a PG rating.
This is the last time we see Darth Vader kill anyone via light-saber (although it could be argued that Obi-wan Kenobi sacrificed himself). All other kills by Darth in the following movies occur by means other than light-saber, mainly force choking, until Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
In 2017, Mark Hamill admitted that he and Carrie Fisher were attracted to each other, and often made out. He claimed however, that they mutually decided (at the last minute) to not consumate their affair.
Anthony Daniels' C-3PO suit was so noisy and clanking on the set that not only was Daniels' live-recorded dialogue unusable, but the live tracks of other actors and actresses in the scene were spoiled, as well.
Carrie Fisher claimed that she warned Harrison Ford in advance that her 2016 memoir The Princess Diarist would reveal their three month love affair during production. According to Fisher, Ford responded merely by cracking "lawyer!"
The "Main Title Theme" was inspired by the theme from Kings Row (1942), scored by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and the track "Dune Sea of Tatooine" drew from the soundtrack of Bicycle Thieves (1948), scored by Alessandro Cicognini.
While George Lucas was filming in London, where additional casting took place, Kenny Baker, performing a musical comedy act with his acting partner Jack Purvis, learned that the movie crew was looking for a small person to fit inside a robot suit and maneuver it. Baker, who was three feet eight inches (1.12 meters and) tall, was cast immediately after meeting George Lucas. He said, "He saw me come in and said 'He'll do' because I was the smallest guy they'd seen up until then." He initially turned down the role three times, hesitant to appear in a movie where his face would not be shown, and hoping to continue the success of his comedy act, which had recently started to be televised.
Karen Allen, Nancy Allen, Christine Baranski, Kim Basinger, Bonnie Bedelia, Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Farrah Fawcett, Melanie Griffith, Barbara Hershey, Catherine Hicks, Anjelica Huston, Margot Kidder, Christine Lahti, Jessica Lange, Kay Lenz, Bernadette Peters, Jane Seymour, Cybill Shepherd, P.J. Soles, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest, and Debra Winger auditioned for the role of Princess Leia. Linda Blair, Pamela Sue Martin, Theresa Russell, and Jill Clayburgh were also considered.
The krayt dragon skeleton C-3PO walks past while in the Tatooine desert was actually that of a Diplodocus left over from the Disney movie One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (1975), which had been made at Elstree Studios. Upon discovery, the bones were transported to Tunisia aboard a Lockheed Hercules, which had been chartered to deliver some forgotten equipment needed for the desert location shoot.
Early audiences cheered and applauded when the Millennium Falcon made the jump to hyperspace, but according to George Lucas, this scene was never meant to be a showstopper. It was simply a matter of practicality, a means of showing how a ship like the Falcon could travel great distances across infinite space in a relatively short period of time without the need for heavy exposition.
In a television interview circa 2012, Carrie Fisher discussed the after-market royalties for the Star Wars characters and joked that "now, every time I look in a mirror, I have to pay George (Lucas) a couple of bucks."
Some unused footage shot for the movie was used in The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978).
There is only one scene in the entire three-episode arc (IV-V-VI) where all eight of the main characters appear together: the escape from the Death Star. While Darth Vader and Obi-wan are duelling, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, C-3PO, and R2-D2 make their getaway past them into the Millennium Falcon. Although they all do not appear in the same shot, for a brief moment, it was the only time all eight characters were within sight of each other.
Originally, George Lucas envisioned Tatooine as a jungle planet. Gary Kurtz travelled to the Philippines to scout locations. However, because of the idea of spending months filming in the jungle would make Lucas "itchy", Lucas refined his vision and made Tatooine a desert planet instead. Kurtz then researched all American, North African, and Middle Eastern deserts, and found Tunisia, near the Sahara desert, as the ideal location.
The original editor for this movie was John Jympson. Richard Chew was Lucas' first choice of the editor, but budgetary reasons did not allow him to do so. However, a screening of the first rough cut assembled by Jympson turned out absolutely disastrous. The movie had immense pacing issues, was nearly overflowing with unnecessary exposition, and had very little narrative tension. For example, the opening scene of the Empire raiding Princess Leia's ship was originally intercut with shots of Luke watching the space battle from the surface of Tatooine with his friends, which killed most of the suspense. The rest of the first act was a confusing mess, randomly throwing in concepts like the Force, Darth Vader's powers, the stolen Death Star plans, and Alderaan before they were properly explained. Lucas fired Jympson and asked his then-wife Marcia (while editing New York, New York (1977)) who, in turn, brought in Chew and Paul Hirsch to finish. They quickly identified the problems, which they fixed by omitting much of the unnecessary explanation, and rearranging entire scenes to better regulate the flow of information. Both men gave the movie a tighter focus, an improved story structure, and a much-needed faster pace, which paid off when they received an Academy Award for their work.
In the interview clips in the "When Star Wars Ruled the World" special, Mark Hamill explained that the concept behind the Force is, essentially, "Religion's Greatest Hits".
Despite the movie poster showing Leia displaying her legs and red shoes, her bare legs and red shoes are not shown in the movie. Instead she wears white boots.
Kenny Baker later confessed that he thought this movie would be a failure. Harrison Ford found it strange that "there's a Princess with weird buns in her hair", and he called Chewbacca a "giant in a monkey suit".
When Luke is attacked by a Tusken Raider, the moment where the raider (Peter Diamond) waves his weapon over his head with both hands in an up-and-down motion was created from a shot of him thrusting his weapon up once, run backwards and forward several times.
Darth Vader was originally a rather minor character, and early drafts actually have him spending most of the movie without his iconic suit. He was even going to be killed off during the trench run at the end.
Due to strict British working conditions adhered to on-set at Elstree Studios, filming had to finish by 5:30 p.m., unless George Lucas was in the middle of a scene.
On opening weekend in 1977, the movie earned $1.554 million on fewer than forty screens. In 1997, it made over $36 million on over 2,000 screens.
Before it became the Tantive IV, the model used for Princess Leia's diplomatic cruiser had originally been constructed as an early version of the Millennium Falcon. Since it was going to be the primary spaceship seen in the movie, the model was constructed approximately six feet long, and even included such details as tiny footprints on the outside hull. When it was discovered that a similar-looking ship (which even had the similar name of "Eagle") was being featured on a new television program called Space: 1999 (1975), the model was relegated to a less important role in the movie, which led to the Falcon being totally redesigned (and thus, the now-familiar "hamburger" configuration was born). The original model was then given a new hammerhead-shaped cockpit (the original cone-shaped one being transplanted to the new version of the Falcon, along with its round radar dish) and some of its surface details were altered (escape pods protruding from the hull were modified to become laser turrets) to suggest a larger scale spacecraft.
Princess Leia's consular ship and Darth Vader's Imperial Star Destroyer are not actually referred to by their proper names, the "Tantive IV" and "Devastator", in the movie. These names did not appear until 1981, when they were used in the National Public Radio radio dramatization of this movie
Although not identified in the movie, the rebel officer strangled by Darth Vader is supposed to be Captain Raymus Antilles, to whom C-3PO refers as the droids' previous owner later in the movie. Played by Peter Geddis, the officer was not given an actual name in either the script nor in any of the official tie-in publications, such as the novelization (in which the droids' previous owner is known as "Captain Colton"). It was actually author Brian Daley who identified this character as Captain Antilles in the 1981 National Public Radio radio dramatization of this movie. In Daley's telling of events, the role of Captain Antilles (voiced by David Ackroyd) is greatly expanded, making it clear that he is the officer strangled by Darth Vader.
When the movie was released on May 25, 1977, there was no movie poster to advertise it. Although no one is exactly sure when the poster first appeared outside theaters, the now-familiar illustration by Tom Jung (known as the "Style A" poster) was nowhere to be seen on opening day nor immediately after. The advertising department at Twentieth Century Fox had an extremely difficult time coming up with an ad campaign to promote this movie which met with everyone's approval, and so it's possible that Jung's artwork was not ready in time for the release, which was only in thirty-two U.S. theaters on its first day.
The planet Tatooine was originally going to be called "Utapau". George Lucas decided to change the name while filming on-location in Tunisia, inspired by a nearby city known as Tataouine. Twenty-eight years later, Utapau would become the name of a different planet seen in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
There are actually two different actors portraying Wedge Antilles in the movie. The first one is Colin Higgins, who remained uncredited. He is sitting beside Luke during the strategy meeting with the Rebel pilots before the Battle of Yavin (the one who says "That's impossible! Even for a computer."). However, he was dismissed after only one day of shooting and was replaced by Denis Lawson for the filming of the cockpit scenes. Both actors' voices were later overdubbed by David Ankrum. Today, Higgins' version of the character is known amongst Star Wars fans as "Fake Wedge". In 2017, the short story anthology "From a Certain Point of View" canonized the "Fake Wedge" character of having the name "Col" (likely because it is the first three letters of "Colin") and it was specified that the character had often been mistaken for Wedge, and was given the "Fake Wedge" nickname.
The name "Stormtroopers" originated in Germany, and used to describe the Canadian expeditionary forces who captured Vimy Ridge during World War I.
George Lucas specifically picked Twentieth Century Fox because they had made the "Planet of the Apes" movies, so he figured they would have a good understanding of what he wanted to do.
According to the reworked Star Wars canon, the Y-Wings used by Gold squadron were acquired by the resistance cell led by Hera Syndulla. The mission in which the Y-Wings were stolen is shown in the officially canon animated series Star Wars Rebels (2014).
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Visual Effects.
During production, George Lucas and Gilbert Taylor, whom Gary Kurtz called "old school" and "crotchety", had disputes over filming. With a background in independent filmmaking, Lucas was accustomed to creating most of the elements of the movie himself. His lighting suggestions were rejected by an offended Taylor, who felt that Lucas was overstepping his boundaries by giving specific instructions, sometimes even moving lights and cameras himself. Taylor refused to use the soft-focus lenses and gauze Lucas wanted after Twentieth Century Fox executives complained about the look. Kurtz stated that "In a couple of scenes, rather than saying, 'It looks a bit over lit, can you fix that?', (Lucas would) say, 'turn off this light, and turn off that light', and Gil would say, 'No, I won't do that, I've lit it the way I think it should be. Tell me what's the effect that you want, and I'll make a judgment about what to do with my lights.'"
In some scenes that were filmed, but never used, the filmmakers had to use multiple models of R2-D2, since he had a hard time keeping up with the other characters. When one could no longer keep up, a second one hidden behind a corner or wall would "sneak" back into the main group. As this charade wasn't very convincing, none of these scenes made the final cut.
Peter Cushing completed his role in a matter of a few days (May 8-12). Shooting lasted from March to June 1976, and released one year later, due to the extensive special effects.
Lucasfilm hired Charles Lippincott as marketing director for this movie. As Twentieth Century Fox gave little support for marketing beyond licensing t-shirts and posters, Lippincott was forced to look elsewhere. He secured deals with Marvel Comics for a comic book adaptation, and with Del Rey Books for a novelization. A fan of science fiction, he used his contacts to promote the movie at the San Diego Comic-Con and elsewhere within science fiction fandom.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (George Lucas): (THX-1138): On the Death Star, when Han, Chewbacca, and Luke arrive at the detention cell where Princess Leia is held in order to rescue her, they meet the officer in charge. He asks them "Where are you taking this, thing?", referring to Chewbacca. Luke responds "Prisoner transfer from Cell Block one one three eight." This is a reference to Lucas' previous movie THX 1138 (1971).
Koo Stark had a small role in the movie as Luke Skywalker's friend Cammie and was seen with Luke and Biggs witnessing the Imperial Star Destroyer attack the Blockade Runner. Her scene was cut from the theatrical release.
CASTLE THUNDER: Heard various times in the movie whenever laser bolts or other various weapons are fired. Its most well-known use in the movie is when the Death Star blows up.
Han Solo's blaster was manufactured from a Mauser C96 ("Broomhandle") pistol, a late nineteenth century weapon.
The movie's line "May the Force be with you" was voted as the #22 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
The briefing of the pilots and the final dogfights at the Death Star were inspired by many World War II movies, including Flying Tigers (1942), Flying Leathernecks (1951), and Battle of Britain (1969), amongst others.
When Obi-wan Kenobi is turning off the tractor beam, the set Sir Alec Guinness was on was only six feet above the ground.
The Millennium Falcon was originally modelled after a hamburger with an olive next to it. Because the name of the ship had not been finalized at this time, storyboards refer to as "the pirate ship". Some boards indicate for the first version of "the pirate ship" (which became the Blockade Runner) to be changed into the "Hamburger Boogie" version.
Princess Leia is held in cell 2187. One of George Lucas' early influences was a National Film Board movie called 21-87 (1964), which ends with a voice-over talking about a godlike "force" present in the universe.
In a 2016 memoir, Carrie Fisher revealed that over the course of the movie's filming, she had an affair with Harrison Ford, married to his first wife at the time, and fifteen years Fisher's senior.
While reading for this movie, Mark Hamill found the dialogue to be extremely odd because of its universe-embedded concepts. He chose to simply read it sincerely, and he was selected instead of William Katt, who was subsequently cast in Carrie (1976) (George Lucas shared a joint casting session with Brian De Palma, a long-time friend of his).
George Lucas' original choice for cinematographer was Geoffrey Unsworth, but Unsworth was committed to A Bridge Too Far (1977). Gilbert Taylor was hired instead, but hated working on the project. Producer Gary Kurtz became concerned that Taylor was slowing production down and attempted to replace him with Harry Waxman, but the camera crew made it clear they would not work under Waxman, and Lucas told Kurtz that replacing Taylor would probably delay the movie even further.
Although the Anchorhead scenes featuring Anthony Forrest as Fixer and Koo Stark as Cammie were deleted, Forrest still appears in the finished movie. He played the Stormtrooper who stops Luke and Obi-wan in Mos Eisley, and is then deluded by Obi-wan's use of the Force.
Throughout production, George Lucas had several disputes with his director of photography, veteran British cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. Lucas saw the entire movie as having a documentary look, while Taylor felt the desert locations required a more abstract approach, with strange angles and such. In the end, a compromise was reached, with the final result being a blending of the two styles.
Luke and C-3PO go searching for R2-D2 in the landspeeder because the Lars family skyhopper is supposed to be in the homestead garage getting overhauled. In a scene cut from the movie, it was explained that Luke damaged the skyhopper during a race in Beggar's Canyon (which Luke makes a reference to in the movie during the Battle of Yavin). This backstory was later utilized in the 1981 National Public Radio radio dramatization of this movie.
Ironically, Disney took a pass when George Lucas presented an early treatment for this movie to them in 1973. The studio eventually began developing a space adventure movie of its own called "Space Probe One", which later became The Black Hole (1979) (by which time lots of science fiction productions were being made, many of them clearly influenced by this movie).
This movie was re-released theatrically in the U.S. on July 21, 1978 (although this was more of an extended first run, as some theaters had never stopped showing the movie since its original release), August 15, 1979 (for three weeks only, with a preview of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)), April 10, 1981 (for two weeks only, now subtitled as "Episode IV: A New Hope"), and August 13, 1982 (for three weeks only, with a preview for Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)). It was also shown on a triple-bill with Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) for a single performance in nine U.S. cities on March 28, 1985.
Though the novelization of the movie is credited to George Lucas, who wrote and directed the movie, it was actually ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
Two of the 3-D computer graphics scenes (the exterior of the Death Star shown during the mission briefing and the "trench" shown on the rebel fighter tactical displays) were created on a Data General PDP-11/45 microcomputer with a Vector General VG3D terminal. The PDP-11/45 would render one frame of the animation using a program written in the GRASS programming language, then display the image on the terminal, then trigger a movie camera to photograph the image on a single frame of film. This process was repeated with slightly different rotation, scaling, and perspective calculations, resulting in smooth animations. Each of the trench images required two minutes to render. The Death Star animation was shown on a rear-projection screen during the filming of the briefing scene. The original animations were unfortunately lost in time, forcing the makers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) to re-create them frame by frame.
Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, old film school friends of George Lucas, did uncredited re-writes on the screenplay. Twentieth Century Fox refused to pay them a fee, insisting that Lucas pay them out of his own salary. He eventually gave them some of his own profit points as a reward. The rebel General who talks to Princess Leia on her arrival at Yavin IV is named "Willard" after Huyck.
Peter Mayhew and David Prowse are the two tallest out of the entire cast and crew. Mayhew at 7'3" and Prowse at 6'6".
In 1998, this movie was ranked #15 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies. In 2007, it moved up two places to be ranked #13 for the 10th Anniversary edition of the list.
The first treatment of the movie was originally titled "The Journal of the Whills". It centered around a Jedi-bendu by the name of Mace Windu (who would become the Mace Windu character in the prequel trilogy) and his apprentice, C.2. Thorpe. George Lucas brought the thing to his agent, Jeff Berg, who was quickly confused by the massive amounts of jargon used in the treatment, and recommended he start simpler.
The model used for the rebel blockade runner (the first ship seen in the first scene) has a tiny Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) movie poster and a tiny Playboy centerfold in its cockpit. These aren't visible on-screen, though.
Tatooine is similar to Arrakis from Frank Herbert's Dune series. Arrakis is the only known source of a longevity spice called Melange. References to "spice", various illegal stimulant drugs, occur throughout the last three movies of the Star Wars saga. In the original movie, Han Solo is a spice smuggler who has been through the spice mines of Kessel. In the conversation at Obi-wan Kenobi's home, between Obi-wan and Luke, Luke expresses a belief that his father was a navigator on a spice freighter. Other similarities include those between Princess Leia and Princess Alia, and between Jedi mind tricks and "The Voice", a controlling ability used by Bene Gesserit. In passing, Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are "moisture farmers". In Dune, dew collectors are used by Fremen to "provide a small but reliable source of water." Herbert reported that "David Lynch, (director of Dune (1984)) had trouble with the fact that Star Wars used up so much of Dune." The pair found "sixteen points of identity" and they calculated that, "the odds against coincidence produced a number larger than the number of stars in the universe."
Before Princess Leia was added to the story, George Lucas was concerned that there weren't any major female characters. He considered changing Luke into a woman.
Remains one of the fifty highest grossing movies of all time (as of 2010 at #30) without adjusting dollars for inflation, and is the oldest movie to have such distinction.
The piece of equipment used to fire the Death Star's weapon is actually a Grass Valley Group 1600-7K television production switcher.
The "lost" beginning of this movie had Luke (after having witnessed the battle over Tatooine with his macrobinoculars while fixing a vaporator) making a trip to the Tosche Station in Anchorhead to tell his friends (Fixer, Camie, Deak, and Windy). Luke's nickname among his group of friends was "Wormie".
The climax was dramatically altered in post-production. The way it was originally written and edited (and happens in the novelization), after Gold Leader and Red Leader fail to hit their mark, Luke makes two separate attempts during the Death Star's trench run. On the first attempt, he used the targeting computer and missed, but during the second, going in at full throttle, he succeeded by trusting the Force. Also, the Death Star was simply hovering in space, it was never about to destroy the Rebel base on Yavin IV. It was the idea of editor Marcia Lucas (then-wife of writer and director George Lucas) to increase the stakes by adding inserts and voice-overs signifying that the Death Star was slowly coming into firing range. She also combined shots from both of Luke's runs into a single sequence, so that he only has one chance to destroy the Death Star.
Dan O'Bannon and John C. Wash animated the Death Star schematics seen on the computer screen as R2-D2 searches the Death Star's computer memory. They were influenced by similar sequences they produced for Dark Star (1974).
Gilbert Taylor said that George Lucas, who was consumed by the details of the complicated production, "avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture." He also "took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the light-sabers and other things on-stage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia."
During the Battle of Yavin, David Prowse's eyes could be seen through the Darth Vader mask. Although this is technically a goof, it hints that Darth Vader was one hundred percent human before becoming part robot.
A total of thirty sets consisting of planets, starships, caves, control rooms, cantinas, and the Death Star corridors were created. All nine soundstages at Elstree Studios were used to accommodate them.
This movie was initially rated for adult audiences in Germany. This was largely due to depictions and terminology relating to the Empire's military and its leaders being perceived as parallels to those of Nazi Germany.
Terri Nunn (lead singer of the band Berlin) auditioned for the part of Princess Leia Organa. Several other well-known actresses also auditioned for the role, including Cindy Williams.
The first movie in the franchise to be given the "U" rating in the United Kingdom. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) were also rated "U". But Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) was the last movie in the franchise to be given the "U" rating in the U.K., and was later given the PG rating when it was released on DVD. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) was also rated PG. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) were given the "12A" rating.
According to sound designer Ben Burtt, the buzzing sound heard when Luke activates the droid calling device to bring C-3PO out of hiding was actually made by an old toy ray gun Burtt loved as a child.
The T-16 skyhopper model Luke plays with in the garage is actually an early prototype model made by Colin Cantwell.
Although the shot was redone for the Special Edition, the building originally seen in the background when Luke's landspeeder heads toward the outskirts of Mos Eisley was also used in the deleted Anchorhead scenes as the Tosche Station. The actual building was known locally as the Sidi Jemour, located on the island of Djerba, Tunisia.
16mm anamorphic prints were made of this movie, which featured an especially wide aspect ratio of 2.74:1 (which is twice 1.37:1, the standard ratio of 16mm). In these prints, the lower portion of the frame was cropped away, in order to preserve the actors' headroom.
According to William Friedkin's autobiography, "The Friedkin Connection", George Lucas, riding off the success of American Graffiti (1973), sent his script to The Directors Company, the short-lived shingle that his friend Francis Ford Coppola had founded with Friedkin and Peter Bogdanovich at Paramount Pictures. The movie was budgeted at $9 million, which exceeded the $3.5 million threshold with which Paramount Pictures gave the company free reign to approve productions. As a result of this, as well as Friedkin's lack of faith in the material, The Directors Company passed on this movie.
The American Film Institute listed Darth Vader as the third greatest movie villain in cinema history on 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains, behind Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates.
The shortest Star Wars movie, clocking in at two hours and one minute (the Special Edition runs two hours and five minutes).
George Lucas hired Gilbert Taylor as cinematographer, based on his work on Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) and A Hard Day's Night (1964). On his decision, Lucas said, "I thought they were good, eccentrically photographed pictures with a strong documentary flavor."
In earlier versions of the script, the line "There will be no escape for the Princess this time" was "There will be no escape for the Captain this time." (A reference to Captain Antilles, whose neck Darth Vader breaks.)
Twentieth Century Fox was so convinced that the movie would bomb that they focused all of their marketing on Damnation Alley (1977), a movie that they hoped would be a big hit, instead.
Gilbert Taylor found filming in Elstree Studios highly problematic. The sets John Barry made "were like a coal mine", as the cinematographer described. He said that "they were all black and gray, with really no opportunities for lighting at all." To resolve the problem, he worked the lighting into the sets by chopping in its walls, ceiling and floors. This would result in "a 'cut-out' system of panel lighting", with quartz lamps that could be placed in the holes in the walls, ceiling and floors. His idea was supported by Twentieth Century Fox, which agreed that "we couldn't have this 'black hole of Calcutta'". The lighting approach Taylor devised "allowed George to shoot in almost any direction without extensive relighting, which gave him more freedom."
Alan Ladd, Jr. offered George Lucas some of the only support from the studio. He dealt with scrutiny from board members over the rising budget and complex screenplay drafts. Initially, Twentieth Century Fox approved eight million dollars for the movie. Producer Gary Kurtz said: "we proceeded to pick a production plan and do a more final budget with a British art department and look for locations in North Africa, and kind of pulled together some things. Then, it was obvious that eight million wasn't going to do it, they had approved eight million." After requests from the team that "it had to be more", the executives "got a bit scared". For two weeks, Lucas and his crew "didn't really do anything except kind of pull together new budget figures". At the same time, after production fell behind schedule, Ladd told Lucas he had to finish production within a week, or he would be forced to shut down production. Kurtz said that "it came out to be like 9.8 or .9 or something like that, and in the end they just said, 'Yes, that's okay, we'll go ahead.'" The crew split into three units, with those units led by Lucas, Kurtz, and Production Supervisor Robert Watts. Under the new system, the project met the studio's deadline.
Adjusted for inflation (2016), this movie had a budget of almost $44 million. To put that in perspective, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) had an estimated budget of $245 million.
In order to illustrate the look he wanted for the Mos Eisley scenes, George Lucas screened for his crew Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Fellini's Satyricon (1969). The Leone western features a scene in which a character shoots another character with a gun hidden under the table, similar to how Han Solo shoots Greedo. The Fellini movie features many bizarre-looking characters, and inspired the cantina scene.
In a commentary track on this movie's Blu-ray release, George Lucas stated that ships in the Star Wars universe can't travel in straight lines while in hyperspace due to collisions with celestial objects. Thus, distance is an important factor in how quickly a ship can get from point A to point B. The Millennium Falcon's superior navigation computer allowed it to travel shorter distances between points, and arrive faster, hence Han Solo's claim that he made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. A parsec being a measurement of distance, rather than time. He simply found a shortcut.
Richard LeParmentier (General Motti, who is force-choked by Darth Vader) has stated that he is pleased to be remembered as Motti, and that he considers it an honor to have been part of this movie. LeParmentier was producing an animated fan movie called "Motti Now", in which Motti survived the Battle of Yavin and abandons the Empire.
In 2008, a survey of approximately 2,000 movie fans found the lightsaber to be the most popular weapon in movie history.
This movie takes place nineteen years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, Anakin Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader, and the birth of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, and Ezra Bridger.
Ranked #2 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "sci-fi" in June 2008.
Of all of the movies in which Luke Skywalker appears as an adult, this is the only one in which his name does not appear in the opening crawl text.
Filming in Tunisia was highly problematic. George Lucas fell behind schedule in the first week of shooting due to malfunctioning props and electronic breakdowns. Also, a rare Tunisian rainstorm struck the country, which further disrupted filming. Gilbert Taylor said, "you couldn't really see where the land ended and the sky began. It was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur." Given this situation, Lucas requested for heavy filtration, which confused Taylor, who said: "I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean. But George saw it differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn't work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused." This difference was later settled by Twentieth Century Fox executives, who backed Taylor's suggestion.
The Jawas filmed on-location in Tunisia were played by Jack Purvis, some local extras, and the daughters of Producer Gary Kurtz: Melissa Kurtz and Tiffany Hillkurtz. The Jawas filmed in Pinewood Studios, England, for the scene where R2-D2 and C-3PO are woken inside the Sand Crawler, were played by Rusty Goffe, and the sons of Stunt Coordinator Peter Diamond: Frazer Diamond and Warwick Diamond.
Former F1 world champion, Nigel Mansell, is a huge fan of Star Wars, which is why his car always carried a red 5 as its number.
When Luke, Uncle Owen, and Aunt Beru are eating, they are using a white set of glasses and pitcher. These are a Tupperware style.
In 2013, anthologized 2014, the original 1973 draft of "The Star Wars", with the sixty-year-old General Luke Skywalker and his young pupil the Starkiller, was adapted to comic book form by Jonathan Rinzler, Mike Mayhew, and Nick Runge, published by Dark Horse.
The main airlock door on the Tantive IV was actually the same prop (painted white) as the trash compactor hatch from the Death Star. Because the opening scenes were actually shot last, the Tantive IV set wasn't constructed until the end of production, by which time, the budget had become so limited, that a lot of things had to be re-used from previous sets, which had been demolished.
The signature music in the Cantina pays homage to Duke Ellington's accompaniment to the Mills Brother's Digga Digga Doo (1932). The signature phrase can be heard at the 2:30 mark in the Mills Brother's recording.
Angus MacInnes (Gold Leader) found his part very frustrating to play. Before filming his cockpit scenes, George Lucas insisted that he should say his lines by heart. MacInnes had difficulties with that as he learned his lines with cues, which he needed to properly remember them. When the shooting of his scenes began, he became very nervous to the point where he started to sweat heavily. All he wanted was to get over it, no matter what. The problem was later solved by placing pieces of the script on several places of the cockpit, and MacInnes read his lines off them.
In the original rough cut of the movie, Obi-wan went off to power down the Death Star's tractor beam without explanation, so the test audience was confused about what he was doing. Editors Richard Chew and Paul Hirsch solved the problem by adding a few shots of the Death Star's schematics, a C-3PO voice-over explaining how the reactors work, and a shot of Obi-wan manually shutting down one of them.
This movie was selected into the National Film Registry in 1989 (the first year of inductions) for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
In the final battle scene, when Gold Leader checks in as standing by, in the background are two more Y-wing snub fighters. The plan to blow-up the Death Star was out of thirty or so X-wing and Y-wing fighters, Gold squadron's Gold Leader would break-off with two covering wingmen and make his way to the exhaust port and fire his proton torpedo at the opening while the other two Y-wings took enemy fire from behind. Luke Skywalker's (Red Five's) role was to be under the command of Red Leader, and to target surface towers and power cores.
There was a diecast toy made of the Imperial Star Cruiser that was advertised in EERIE Magazine. This was the only version of that vessel to be created as a toy. To accommodate the action figures, the Imperial Troop Transport was created as a replacement for the Imperial Cruiser and the Star Destroyer. The Darth Vader's Star Destroyer playset was the only version of the Star Destroyer Kenner ever issued.
Anthony Daniels has said that he wanted the role of C-3PO after he saw a Ralph McQuarrie drawing of the character, and was struck by the vulnerability in the robot's face.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), which is a prequel to this movie, details how the Rebel Alliance stole the Death Star plans, and reveals how Darth Vader knew the Death Star plans were aboard Tantive IV.
Terri Nunn of the band Berlin was in the running for the role of Princess Leia and had readings with Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.
Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing appeared in productions of Hamlet. One of Guinness' first roles, at the age of nineteen, was playing Osric in Sir John Gielgud's production in 1933, which is considered to be one of the best theatrical productions of the twentieth century. Cushing played the same part in Sir Laurence Olivier's movie version of Hamlet (1948), which marked his first collaboration with future Star Wars cast member Sir Christopher Lee.
One of the instruments on board the Juno Probe was a Jovian Energetic Particle Detection Instrument, or JEDI.
The original title George Lucus intended on was "The Adventures Of Starkiller Episode 1: The Star Wars".
When R2-D2 is seen getting in to the escape pod and C-3P0 is running after him, in the distance can vaguely be made out old dial pilot and co-pilot control panels from a B-52-like cockpit. This is where the original Millennium Falcon concept was exchanged for Leia's family's Corvette spaceship. The length of the corridor was intended to be the centerline body of the ship only to in concept become an access corridor to the escape pods from a much larger ship.
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year not to be nominated in either of the lead acting categories.
Han Solo's line "Watch your mouth, kid, or you're gonna find yourself floating home!" is in the song "The Flood" by Take That. Robbie Williams is a big fan of the franchise and includes the lines "That's not a moon, it's a space station" and "Red 5 standing by!" in Viva Life On Mars from his Rudebox album.
A mutual friend of Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Garrick Hagon (Biggs) during filming was Will Knightley. Knightley is the father of Keira Knightley, who appeared in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
(At around fifty-four minutes) As Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and Obi-wan are walking into docking bay 94, a cube can be seen in the background which bears a striking resemblance to those found in Valve's Portal game series. When the scanner team boards the Milennium Falcon, the object they are carrying resembles two Portal cubes stuck together.
Moviegoers in 1977 seemed confused by Luke's reaction to Biggs Darklighter's (Garrick Hagon's) X-Wing being blown up when Luke begins his attack run on the Death Star. Understanding fans frustration, George Lucas took the footage of the conversation between Luke and Biggs (at the Rebel Base prior to the attack) that ended up on the cutting room floor in 1977 and added it to the movie for the Special Edition Release in 1997. Since this movie was released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1982 (DVD versions were finally released in September 2004, with the introduction of the original trilogy), the only versions available for purchase in 2018 include the originally deleted sequence.
George Lucas cited Star Trek (1966) as one of his major influences behind the Star Wars movies.
The only film of the original trilogy in which Luke doesn't have a lightsaber duel with anyone.
The opening "crawl" was an optical effect used by Cecil B. DeMille in two of his films produced forty years previous to the premier of Star Wars. The Plainsman (1936) used crawling text for it's opening title, cast list, and other credits using the same style as the Star Wars opening crawl. The Plainsmen used the crawl for the opening credits, but the subsequent text narrative for the story did not use the crawl. DeMille returned to the crawl for the opening credits of Union Pacific (1939), although the text appeared to be moving down railroad tracks away from the viewer as a train would move. Star Wars used the crawl for the opening text narrative to describe the setting for the story.
Mark Hamill revealed that, while filming the first scene of Luke, Han and Leia after their escape from the trash compactor (which was filmed before the compactor scenes), he noted that his hair should have been wet and matted down after being pulled into the dirty water. Harrison Ford just replied "Kid, it ain't that kinda movie. If they're looking at your hair, we're all in big trouble."
C-3PO erroneously refers to his new master as "Sir Luke", the correct address for someone who has been knighted. Luke corrects him, but will eventually become a Jedi Knight, so the title is actually justified.
Mark Hamill was twenty-five when he played a twenty-year-old Luke Skywalker. By the time Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), set four years after this movie, came to filming, Hamill was thirty-one.
This movie and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) bookend the opening and closing of both movies. They both start on Darth Vader's spaceship and end with joy on a planet with the characters facing the audience. The reverse happens in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), which doesn't open on Darth Vader's spaceship, and ends in tragedy with the characters facing away from the audience in a spaceship.
Sylvester Stallone had auditioned for Han Solo, but lost out to Harrison Ford. Ford worked with Stallone on The Expendables 3 (2014).
This movie was released on VHS by CBS/Fox video in Australia and New Zealand in 1989.
The only movie of the original trilogy where Princess Leia wears just one outfit during almost the whole movie (she wore a different outfit briefly in the ceremony scene at the end). In the other two movies, Leia changes into several outfits.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
A lot of Star Wars fans have either joked or theorized that the Sand People attacking Luke was revenge after his father Anakin killed a tribe of them for kidnapping and torturing his mother Shmi to death in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
When Darth Vader and Obi-wan Kenobi meet on the Death Star, the former says when they last met he was the learner. Darth Vader is obviously referring to their last encounter on Mustafar where Obi-wan Kenobi defeated Darth Vader, which caused him to wear his famous black armor, as well as the fact he was once Obi-wan Kenobi's apprentice.
Luke doesn't appear until seventeen minutes into the movie in the Special Edition. In the original cut from 1977, he arrives at sixteen minutes.
When Luke watches the twin suns set before discovering R2-D2 escaped the farm is obviously closer to the suns than Jabba's Palace as shown in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). This suggests that Luke's home is either several miles south or north of Jabba's palace.
After the Millennium Falcon is captured by the Death Star, Darth Vader sends a scanning crew aboard to search for any passengers, and says "I sense something, a presence I haven't felt since...", referring to his former master Obi-wan Kenobi. At the beginning of Episode III (which reverses this movie's story) Anakin says "I sense Count Dooku", as he and Obi-wan land on General Grievous' ship to rescue Chancellor Palpatine.
Perry King screentested for the role of Han Solo. Though he lost the part to Harrison Ford for the movie, he got to play Solo in the National Public Radio adaptations of the original "Star Wars" trilogy.
Before the movie's release in Germany, a German teen magazine erroneously described Chewbacca as a horse-like creature.
This movie, by following the franchise in chronological order, marks the second time C-3PO stays with the Larrs, the first time being in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). But C-3PO is gold instead of gray, and does not remember Owen, due to his memory being wiped at the end of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Despite not being R-rated, the scene where Owen and Beru's skeletal remains are spotted by Luke is arguably one of the most disturbing scenes in the Star Wars film franchise.
This movie borrows several ideas from The Wizard of Oz (1939). Examples include Luke living on a farm with his aunt and uncle like Dorothy Gale, Luke and Han dressing up as stormtroopers to rescue Princess Leia, which also occurred in The Wizard of Oz (1939) as Dorothy's friends dressed up as Winkie Guards to save her in the Witch's castle, and Chewbacca, like the Cowardly Lion, is bipedal, and both serve as supporting characters.
When C-3PO has an oil bath, Luke is seen playing with a model of a fighter. This foreshadows the climax where Luke joins the other rebels in destroying the Death Star.
According to Mark Hamill, because of a record heatwave in England during filming, most of the pilots wore only the top-half of their costume. They were "...attacking the Death Star wearing shorts."
Bolaji Badejo was interested in playing Chewbacca, he ending up appearing in Alien (1979) as the Xenomorph.
George Lucas cited the Legend of King Arthur as one of his inspirations behind Star Wars.
According to Mark Hamill, while filming the landspeeder scenes with the second unit in Death Valley, he wore jeans as only his upper half was visible. The costume of C-3PO was worn by a teenage girl at the time, as Anthony Daniels was not necessary for the shoot. Hamill also added that the girl was asking him what the film was about, which he found difficult to explain.
Had the actual scale of the Battle of Yavin been perhaps suggested as real, it might have been akin to a .177 cal. BB exiting out of hyper-space and slowing over about 2 seconds from 1,000 mph to, perhaps, 1 mph, traveling behind an object about the size of a hot air balloon, in order to clear it as an obstruction, in order to get a clean shot at a large cantaloupe about half a-mile away, using a super-laser cannon in a crater about one-third the diameter of that BB, 0.059 inches-wide, to demolish the cantaloupe.
Had the scale of the Battle of Yavin been perhaps suggested in reality, it may have been akin to a .177 cal. BB exiting out of 'hyper-space' (appearing out of nowhere) and slowing over about 2 seconds from perhaps 1,000 mph to, perhaps, 1 mph, on the left side of a hot air balloon in an open dormant farm field and in order to clear it as an obstruction, travel behind it about 190 degrees of minute of angle (MOA), in order to get a clean shot at a large cantaloupe about half a-mile to several miles distance away, using a super-laser cannon in a crater in the BB about one-third its diameter (0.059 inches-wide), to demolish the cantaloupe all-the-while with about 50 microscopic space fighters flying inside a trench on the BB's surface trying to fire missiles into a secondary exhaust port.
Mark Hamill stated the blue milk was "life-long milk" with "additives they put blue food colouring in it, and it was really ghastly. Oily and sweet and euch! Triggered your gag reflex. But I said, 'Look if they gave me blue milk, you bet I'm going to drink it on camera, because what other chance am I going to get?' So there's an indication that I'm an underrated actor, I gulped it and acted like I liked it without vomiting.
George Lucas revealed about Peter Mathews role of Chewbacca, "No matter how hard he tried, he wasn't ferocious."
Peter Mayhew even learned to do the Wookie roar but it was tooken out and real animal sounds were used to give it authenticity.
Peter Mayhew kept his job as an orderly in the hospital through the first three movies. But he fell in love with the character. And then as Star Wars grew in fame, and he started doing more festivals and public appearances, he realized he could actually make a living just off the personal appearances.
George Lucas described Peter Mayhew as "a very gentle giant, very sweet, very easy to get along with. He was more like a Wookie than I originally imagined a Wookie to be. Originally, I envisioned Chewie as some big ferocious beast, but Peter's Chewie wasn't really ferocious. No matter how hard he tried, he wasn't ferocious. He would be your best friend until he got angry, then stand back. He was like my dogs. They're great, they're fluffy, they're wonderful until you get near their food."
When the new Galaxy's Edge attraction at the Disneyland park in Southern California officially opened for business in 2019, Harrison Ford turned to the cameras and directed a special message in the memory of his former co-star Peter Mayhew. "Peter," he said. "This one's for you!"
In the comic book "Star Wars Tales 15 - Sandstorm" by Dark Horse Comics, ten-year-old Luke runs away from home when Uncle Owen refuses to tell Luke about his father Anakin. In the desert, Luke suffering from dust fever meets seven-year-old Anakin in a vision, and they learn they have both share the same ambitions of leaving Tatooine and becoming pilots, and in the vision, Luke is attacked by a Krayt Dragon, and is found by Owen.
Although it's commonly believed that the last lines of the movie are C-3PO's "circuits and gears" line, and Luke's reply, they were just the last human lines. The actual last lines were an untranslated exchange between R2-D2 and Chewbacca during the medal ceremony.
When Luke is targeting the exhaust port, because of editing, the targeting computer seems to be head-on, like a visor. But a closer look shows it was to the left side of his temple, and Luke would turn and look with his right eye.
Contains a plot device used in Force 10 from Navarone (1978) by Harrison Ford (here as Han Solo, in the latter movie as Colonel Barnsby) where he engineers a rescue by performing a fake "prisoner transfer".
According to to the movie bio book "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls", this movie happened because George Lucas really wanted to do a Flash Gordon update. A souped up version with great production values, but he couldn't get the rights to it, so he did he did his own poor man's version of it (which wound up being much more successful than any Flash Gordon version that had come out before it.)
Garrick Hagon, William Hootkins, and Shane Rimmer played U.S. soldiers in Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977).
When the fanfare from the move arose, several illustrations and comic adaptations depicted the y-wing fighter as a two-seater, which is false, it is a single-seat. Similarly, Darth Vader's experimental fighter was often incorrectly drawn as a three-crew member fighter. Vader's fighter had a hyper-drive unit, unlike the standard T.I.E. (Twin Ion Engine) fighters.