May The Fourth Be With You

A teenager a few years ago asked me if I had been alive when “Star Wars” came out.  I told him yes, I was 12 years old.  So he asked me if that day was celebrated like a national holiday or something.  I told him it wasn’t, as near as I could remember.  Then I told him something he absolutely couldn’t fathom.  I told him I didn’t even bother to go see “Star Wars” until it was released the second time, which was in 1978.  First I had to explain to him that before home video existed, popular movies would be released a second or even third time into theaters.  Apart from that, you had to wait until a movie came on TV to see it if you missed it on the big screen.  Next, I explained to him that I didn’t see “Star Wars” right away because I wasn’t expecting it to be very good.  Up until that point, I told him, I had never seen a movie set in space that I thought was any good.  “2001:  A Space Odyssey” was a good movie, but it was also a Stanley Kubrick movie, meaning the film’s pacing was slow and deliberate.  Not exactly a kid’s favorite thing.  “Planet of the Apes” wasn’t bad, but no part of the movie actually happened in space.  And until 1977, special effects weren’t particularly realistic.

All of that being said, today is “Star Wars” Day unofficially nationwide.  It’s May 4th, as in “May the fourth be with you”, a pun based on the famous “Star Wars” line “May the force be with you.”  And because I’m me, I like the pun more than I did the movie.  Honestly, I thought “Star Wars” was okay.  And I thought “The Empire Strikes Back” was okay.  As for the rest of the “Star Wars” movies, I thought they were somewhat less than okay.  Seeing the movie really didn’t affect my life much.  I’ve never dressed up as a “Star Wars” character, never camped out to be first in line for any movie, and the next time I purchase or play with a toy based on a movie will be my first.

But, again, in honor of May 4th, I looked up some fun facts about the movies.  Here’s what I found:

Originally, R2-D2 was supposed to have a speaking voice and dialogue.  Before it was changed to all “beeps” and “boops”, several scenes were filmed, so you see actors react to something R2-D2 said even before C-3PO has a chance to translate it.

Some executives at 20th Century Fox wanted Chewbacca to wear shorts so the movie wouldn’t have any naked characters.  George Lucas said his pet Alaskan Malamute was the inspiration for Chewbacca.  The dog’s name, by the way, was Indiana.  That became useful a few years later.

In the first three movies, there are an estimated 2,002,795,192 on-screen deaths.  Most of them aren’t very close up or graphic, including everyone who died when the Death Star blew up Princess Leia’s home planet.  And a large number of them happened when the Death Star blew up, too.

The line “I have a bad feeling about this” is in every one of the movies.

The character Han Solo was frozen in carbonite near the end of the second movie because Harrison Ford hadn’t yet signed a contract to appear in “Return of the Jedi” and didn’t seem to want to do so.  So Lucas ended the second movie not actually knowing whether Han Solo would return for the third.

The third movie’s title was originally released to the media as “Revenge of the Jedi”, and there are movie posters that feature that name.  Some claim that was just a ruse, since fans might have been able to guess the plot based on the real title.  George Lucas says he changed it because he realized that the Jedi, in principle, don’t want or ever seek revenge.

Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd made her acting debut in “The Force Awakens”.  “The Force Awakens” is the only movie in the series that doesn’t take place on or mention the planet Tatooine.  It’s shown in six of the eight movies, but only mentioned in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

Alec Guinness was 63 when “Star Wars” was filmed.  Mark Hamill was 63 when filming “The Force Awakens”.

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne was one of the actors who auditioned to play the character Kylo Ren.  According to Redmayne, the audition was a disaster from beginning to end.  Also, they wanted somebody taller.

In “The Force Awakens”, one of the X-Wing fighters is named Ello Asty.  His name was taken from the Beastie Boys album “Hello Nasty”.

The only characters who appear in every movie in the series are C-3PO and R2-D2.

And finally, even though the ewoks appear in and are a large part of “Return of the Jedi”, the word “ewok” is never used in the movie.  The creatures were first identified in TV specials, cartoons, books and comics based on “Star Wars”.  And their look was modeled after George Lucas’s own bearded face.

In closing, whether you’re a huge fan or one of those people who states proudly and with an air of superiority that they haven’t seen the movies, enjoy the day.  And may the force be with you.  But not the police force.  Or the Air Force.  Unless you need them.