Top 10 Movies: #8 – Star Wars (Reconstructivist Art)

I realize may lose geek points for placing Star Wars this low –my only defense is that we have seven absolutely stellar pieces of film yet to go after this…

George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) as an exemplar of Reconstructivist Art –and as movie #8 on my personal all time Top 10 list (the first of three movies on the list doing “double duty”).

One of the most popular and successful movies of all time, Star Wars represented Hollywood’s return to classic storytelling after the more post-modern anti-narratives of the 1970’s. The movie was largely a tribute to old-fashioned space operas such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, but as presented on an epic scale, with visual effects that have yet to be excelled.

  1. Nod to Artifice: The movie begins with a famous image of scrolling text, “Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” that not only pays homage to the old serial melodramas, but also firmly establishes the movie as a fairy tale within a futuristic setting.

  2. Classic Structure: Star Wars is patterned closely and consciously on the “Hero’s Journey,” the ancient and universal story structure studied and described by folklorist Joseph Campbell. Luke, the callow hero, initially resists the Call to Adventure that comes the form of a message from damsel-in-distress Leia, yet is forced Over the Threshold when his adoptive family is murdered by the forces of the Evil Empire. Gathering new Companions such as the robotic C3PO and R2D2 and a Wise Old Mentor named Obi Wan Kenobi, he battles his way through a Road of Trials towards the Magical Elixir known in the movie as the Light Side of the Force.

  3. Transcontextual and Iconic Elements: Nearly every character in the movie is an iconic fairy-tale archetype, including The Evil Emperor, beautiful Princess (Leia), Hidden Prince (Luke), Wise Old Mentor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Dark Father (Darth Vader), all transcontextualized into a deep-space, science-fiction setting.

  4. Moments of Genuine Emotion and Significance: Lucas’ decision to treat a potentially campy scenario with respect and affection paid off when the movie connected at a visceral level with millions of moviegoers worldwide.

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