STAR WARS, A review by Armond White

Reviewed by Armond White
May 24th, 1977

George Lucas’ STAR WARS is essentially a B-picture amped up with state-of-the-art special effects, disguising itself as a big blockbuster, in an attempt to trump the success of the popular killer fish movie, JAWS. Audiences will no doubt revel in its escapism, though what Lucas has really done here is sell us trash painted gold.

The plot borrows elements from just about everything under the sun: 1950’s science fiction serials, Samurai films, and even The Wizard Of Oz. The story follows two robots, very obviously meant to represent black slaves. They are loyal, obedient, they cater to every whim of the white man, and only prove useful up to a certain point. The film is much more interested in the white men, a young boy named Luke and an older “Jedi” named Ben Kenobi, who retrieve important information from the slave robots- information crucial to protect the entire galaxy. What this information is to be exact, I’m not sure, it’s more a macguffin and an excuse to embark on Luke’s wondrous adventure through the galaxy, where we meet even more white characters (including the beautiful white princess), while vile, disfigured alien beings (the black man) are settled into the background. More decoration than importance to the preposterous plot.

It troubles me greatly that even with all the progress the black community has made with civil rights, Hollywood is still reluctant to cast a perfectly capable African American actor in the lead role of its big event pictures. What if instead of the rosy-cheeked all-American white boy playing Luke, they cast Fred Williamson or Billy Dee Williams? They’ve made names for themselves, and they could draw their audiences. Though maybe the wrong audience. God forbid suburban Drive-ins would start to look a little darker. No, an actor such as Fred Williamson would display too much confidence and self-awareness in the role. Having a young, white boy as the lead feeds audiences of white America exactly what they want to consume: a plucky, ignorant character, with a good heart, but apparently no soul. America is in trouble.

It offends me personally that the only actor of color included in the film is James Earl Jones, who does not actually appear on-screen, but rather as the voice of the villain, Dark Vader. Dark Vader is dressed head to toe in black, has a bad temper, and kills/assaults other characters at the drop of a hat. Naturally, it would only be deemed appropriate to have a black man voice this character. This character alone has pushed the black movement back decades.

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Its heart is not in the right place. It may win over young ones with its dazzling adventure scenes and loud noises, but be warned: when you approach that ticket booth, you’re not just handing over hard-earned cash, you’re exchanging your soul. Underneath its despicable racism and its shoe-string of a plot, STAR WARS also prides itself in its godlessness. No character believes in God, instead worships “the force”, energy that surrounds every living being and gives them power. Give me a break. Time magazine has stated that God is dead. With STAR WARS, I’ve seen the future, and it only gets worse.

The special effects may interest children and white men with low I.Q.s, but at the end of the day, it is a very disposable piece of distraction. The movie will make its money and be done with, making room for the next trend in shallow entertainment. I award the film 0 stars, it is an appalling mess that is easy on the eyes. I hated it. I was offended by it. God help anyone in line to see it this weekend. Instead, may I recommend John Boorman’s brilliant EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, a sequel every bit as good as the original. It is compelling, provocative, and allows James Earl Jones to actually show his face! It will be the more talked about and higher regarded film of the summer.

0 out of ****

©1977 The New York Press

If you’d like to learn more about Armond White, please consult your local Library or pay a visit to Rotten Tomatoes.

NOTE: This is not an actual review written by Armond White, just a mere tribute to his excellent logic and writing craft.

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