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The Star Wars saga in the stars

Launched in 1977 by the young George Lucas, the Star Wars saga has gone on from strength to strength, with sequels, prequels and spin-offs, not to mention adaptations for video games, comic books and animated series. Let's set off on the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Rey and all the others...

The saga that starts in the middle

While the prequel craze is widely present in contemporary cinema, Star Wars is a different story: the first film to be released, the "original Star Wars" for fans at the time, was presented from the outset as the fourth episode in a series, entitled "A New Hope". Director George Lucas and his Californian studio Lucasfilm had simply decided that it would be technically impossible to make the first three episodes with the resources available.

So they decided to concentrate on Chapters 4, 5 and 6, the story of Luke Skywalker and his father Darth Vader (or Annakin Skywalker).

Interestingly, while fans still say that Star Wars is the work of George Lucas, he only directed the first film in the original trilogy. For Chapter 5, The Empire Strikes Back, he asked his former film professor, Irvin Kershner, to take the helm. Kershner had made a career in independent cinema... a rather surprising choice, but Georges Lucas was looking for a man who knew everything about Hollywood, without being Hollywood. This is undoubtedly why The Empire Strikes Back is considered to be the best opus of the entire saga.

To direct Chapter 6, Return of the Jedi, George Lucas called on British director Richard Marquant.

The wait for the first chapters

Lucas and his studio waited a long time before tackling the first chapters. They hoped to release them in 1988, but in the end they had to wait another ten years. In the meantime, they came up with the idea of remastering existing films to bring them up to date and also to rekindle public interest and attract new generations.

And so the big question of the saga arose: does Han shoot first?

In the original version, when Han Solo is cornered by Greedo, the bounty hunter, he takes him by surprise and shoots him while they are negotiating at the table. Some sensitive souls feel that this makes Han a villain... so a solution was sought in the work on the remastered versions: Greedo shoots first but misses, or they shoot at the same time and Greedo misses. But in this situation, it's just too ridiculous that Greedo could miss Han sitting just a metre away from him. Plus, Han is obviously a bad guy at the start of the film, and the whole point of the trilogy is to see him evolve into a good guy, despite his jealousy of Luke as Princess Leia's favourite (until they discover they're brother and sister).

A glimpse of the Star Wars saga at the cinema

Some 47 years after the release of Chapter 4, we take a look back at the Star Wars saga.

The three basic trilogies

In chronological order, the first trilogy tells the story of Annakin Skywalker's childhood and development up to his transformation into Darth Vader:

  • The Phantom Menace, released in 1999, directed by George Lucas and starring Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Nathalie Portman as Padme Amidala, the young queen of the planet Naboo.
  • Attack of the Clones, released in 2002, directed by George Lucas, with Hayden Christensen in the role of Annakin Skywalker.
  • Revenge of the Sith, released in 2005, directed by George Lucas.

The second trilogy follows the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Annakin's hidden son, and his sister Princess Leia, as they grapple with Emperor Palpatine.

  • A New Hope, or the original Star Wars, released in 1977, directed by George Lucas, starring Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia), Harrisson Ford (Han) and Alec Guiness (Obi-Wan).
  • The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, directed by Irvin Kershner.
  • The Return of the Jedi, released in 1983, directed by Richard Marquant.

The third trilogy follows the adventures of Rey, who is revealed to be a descendant of Emperor Palpatine, and who is trained by Luke Skywalker and Leia.

  • The Force Awakens, released in 2015, directed by J.J. Abrams, starring Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn) and Adam Driver (Kylo Renn, Rey's enemy).
  • The Last Jedi, released in 2017, directed by J.J. Abrams
  • The Rise of Skywalker, released in 2019, directed by J.J. Abrams.

Spin-offs

The first cinematic spin-off was The Clone War, an animated film released in 2008. It tells the story of the aftermath of the Attack of the Clones and introduces the character of Ahsoka Tano, as Annakin's young apprentice. The film was followed by an animated TV series.

The second spin-off came out in 2016, Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards. It fills the narrative gap between the first two trilogies, between Annakin's transformation and the capture of Princess Leia. It follows the adventure of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who must recover the plans for the Death Star... and who discovers that it was her father who built it and incorporated a flaw that would allow it to be destroyed.

Solo: A Star Wars Story, about the adventures of Han Solo and his furry sidekick Chewbacca before the events of Chapter 4, was released in 2018 and directed by Ron Howard.

TV series

Three TV series in particular stand out:

  • Star Wars Rebels, an animated series also filling the narrative gap between the first two trilogies and recounting the beginnings of the rebellion against the Empire.
  • The Mandalorian, produced by Jon Favreau, follows the adventures of a bounty hunter, Din Djarin, who decides to protect Grogu (or Baby Yoda as he is known), a child of the same species as the great Jedi Master Yoda. The events take place 5 years after those of Return of the Jedi.
  • Ahsoka, a mini-series following the adventures of Ahsoka Tano, Annakin's former apprentice, but set after the fall of the Empire and as a spin-off from Mandalorian. The lead role is played by Rosario Dawson.

Find all your favourite Star Wars goodies in our geek shop: decorations, games, books, clothes, etc. There's something for everyone!