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Cinema and Media Studies Star Wars
by
William Brooker, Davina Quinlivan

Introduction

The Star Wars saga consists of six feature films, divided into two trilogies (the Original Trilogy and, later, the Prequel Trilogy) and released over twenty-eight years. The Original Trilogy is made up of Star Wars (directed by George Lucas, 1977), The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980), and Revenge of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983). Star Wars was given the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope shortly after its successful release, and the subsequent two films are subtitled Episode V and Episode VI. Whether Lucas mapped out the entire saga from his earliest drafts—and whether he originally planned to make nine films, rather than six—is open to question, as later interviews contradict his earlier statements and notes. It is certain, however, that Lucas intended the story to begin in medias res, to recall the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon episodic serials of his own youth. In 1997, Lucas released updated and expanded “special editions” of the original films, attempting to enhance the special effects through CGI technology. These were followed by the Prequel Trilogy—The Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith(2005)—all of which were directed by Lucas himself and constitute Episodes I–III of the saga as a whole, providing “backstory” to the Original Trilogy. As a narrative, the six-film Star Wars saga describes the fall and salvation of Anakin Skywalker, who turns to evil, is renamed Darth Vader, and is saved in Return of the Jedi by his son, Luke. This family saga is set against a background of political intrigue—the corruption of a vast Republic—followed by galactic war between the expansionist, tyrannical Empire and the freedom fighters of the Rebel Alliance. Lucas draws on a variety of science fiction, fantasy, and generic tropes—most famously, the westerns of John Ford and the samurai iconography of Akira Kurosawa—and combines religious motifs from a range of cultures into a vague mythology of “the Force,” with its light and dark sides. While Lucas has consistently denied plans for a further trilogy, other movies and authorized spin-off narratives exist at the margins of the six-film saga, including Caravan of Courage (directed by John Korty, 1984), the Star Wars Holiday Special (Steve Binder and David Acomba, 1978), and the CGI-animated TV series The Clone Wars (2008–). An “expanded universe” of official, semiofficial and fan-created stories, across various media from video games to comics and online stories, fills out the detail of Lucas’s fictional galaxy.

Authorized Reference Works

Hearn 2005 and Rinzler 2007 are companion pieces; lavishly illustrated production histories that give a detailed background to, respectively, Lucas’s filmmaking career and the first Star Wars movie. Sansweet 1992, Sansweet 2007, and Sansweet 2009 combine the devotion of a fan with the knowledge of a Lucas film insider in the three volumes listed here; the Star Wars Vault (Sansweet 2007) in particular demonstrates that old-fashioned reference books with lovingly presented facsimile inserts have a charm that Internet resources still cannot match. Reynolds, et al. 2006 epitomizes the strengths and limitations of these authorized sources: they offer little critical commentary but have unparalleled access to original photography and production art. Lucas and Titelman 1994 and Bouzereau 1997, finally, contextualize the screenplay with images and interviews.

  • Bouzereau, Laurent. Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays. New York: Ballantine, 1997.

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    Rather than illustrations (compare Lucas and Titelman 1994), this version of the screenplays compares each scene to previous drafts, tracing the evolution of Lucas’s ideas and offering contextual notes drawn from interviews with key creative personnel.

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  • Hearn, Marcus. The Cinema of George Lucas. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2005.

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    Richly illustrated with rarely seen, behind-the-scenes photographs, Hearn’s coffee-table volume conveys the struggle and the achievements of Star Wars’ production, in the context of Lucas’s filmmaking career.

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  • Lucas George, and Carol Titelman. The Art of Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. Rev. ed. London: Titan, 1994.

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    One in a series of companion books that cover every Star Wars film, this is an illuminated manuscript; the first volume is most interesting as a historical document. The screenplay (including deleted scenes such as Biggs and Luke’s dialogue at Anchorhead) is decorated with storyboards and production sketches. An appendix offers a rare glimpse at Star Wars newspaper cartoons of the late 1970s.

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  • Reynolds, David West, James Luceno, and Rider Wyndham. Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2006.

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    A compilation of several previous volumes, the Visual Dictionary is, as the title suggests, dominated by images; however, these are not publicity stills or screen-grabs, but high-quality, original close-ups of props, and studio shots of the principal actors in costume. No in-depth analysis here, but a fascinating guide to the care that goes into creating each blaster pistol and royal headdress in the Star Wars universe.

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  • Rinzler, J. W. The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story behind the Original Film. London: Ebury, 2007.

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    Rinzler focuses on the production of the first Star Wars movie, from Lucas’s earliest handwritten drafts to the film’s astonishing box-office success. Like Hearn 2005, this is a lavishly illustrated coffee-table book, but the text is dense and detailed.

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  • Sansweet, Stephen J. Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1992.

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    A cornucopia of production sketches, merchandising oddities, and half-forgotten mini-action figures. Sansweet, an avid collector of Star Wars memorabilia himself, shows how the first trilogy infiltrated everyday consumer culture, from Creature Cantinas to dress-up Leias and mugs in the shape of Chewbacca.

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  • Sansweet, Stephen J. The Star Wars Vault: Thirty Years of Treasures from the Lucasfilms Archives. London: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

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    Less a book, more a small museum, this heavyweight hardback is light on textual content but includes an incredible range of reproduced spin-off items and artifacts, from advertising leaflets to temporary tattoos, design blueprints, and facsimiles of 1970s stationery.

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  • Sansweet, Stephen J. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia. London: Titan, 2009.

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    Arguably superseded by online encyclopedias, both official and fan made, Sansweet’s print version—in many editions and several volumes—remains the traditionalist’s ultimate guide to the characters, hardware, and locations of not just the film saga but also its “expanded universe” of books and comics.

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Star Wars in Film Studies

The volumes listed below are invaluable to the serious study of film. Accessible enough for the self-taught cinephile or young enthusiast, they also serve as reference volumes for the PhD student or professor. However, their minimal discussion of the Star Wars films suggests the lack of traditional academic attention afforded to Lucas’s franchise. Star Wars tends to be mentioned in passing, as an example of broader contexts or themes. The encyclopedic Cinema Book (Cook and Bernink 2007), for example, touches on the films as New Hollywood, while Bordwell and Thompson 2009 discusses the films in relation to the more respectable classics from which it borrows. Bordwell and Thompson 2010 examines Star Wars for its special effects, Hill and Gibson 1998 introduces the films in terms of Hollywood, and Watson 2003 examines its authorship. These are all useful angles, but for a detailed case study that examines the film on its own terms, the reader must look elsewhere.

  • Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film History: An Introduction. London: McGraw-Hill, 2009.

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    Star Wars gains only scattered mentions in this vast history. It is characterized as a nostalgic effort to recapture “the uncomplicated fun of space opera” and is referred to in relation to Lucas’s influences, such as the films of Akira Kurosawa and John Ford.

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  • Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. London: McGraw-Hill, 2010.

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    The “film art” of Star Wars—the saga earns a dozen brief mentions—is assumed to lie primarily in its special effects and sound design.

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  • Cook, Pam, and Mieke Bernink. The Cinema Book. 3d ed. London: BFI, 2007.

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    Star Wars figures briefly here, primarily in the context of New Hollywood and what the film theorist Noël Carroll has described as the “cinema of allusion,” constructed from references to both classic Hollywood and European films.

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  • Hill, John, and Pamela Church Gibson. Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    Hill and Gibson’s accessible guide to film studies offers a point of entry for undergraduate or graduate students interested in exploring Star Wars as a key example of Hollywood cinema.

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  • Watson, Paul. “The Problems of Auteur Theory.” In An Introduction to Film Studies. Edited by Jill Nelmes, 137–150. 3d ed. London: Routledge, 2003.

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    Watson usefully identifies the multiple authorial agencies of the Star Wars franchise in the context of contemporary auteur theories and paradigms.

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Fan Resources

The intricate fictional universe of Star Wars, sprawling not just across six films but also across a range of comics, novels, and video games, is ideally suited to the encyclopedic archives of the Internet. The official news site and database of StarWars.com are supplemented by the fan passion of Wookieepedia.com, while TheForce.net and Echo Station, although less active with new content since the end of the film saga, are testament to the debate that circulated around the Prequel Trilogy of 1999–2005. The other citations in this category select from the best online fan creativity and curatorship. While Atom.com features fan-made short films, Star Wars: Technical Commentaries offers scientific analysis. Finally, 1970s Star Wars screenplays are discussed in Starkiller, and short erotic stories are published in Star Wars Slash.

Biographies

No biography, however thorough, can give a full and accurate portrait of a life; it takes at least three to give a sense of dimension. Of the citations below, Baxter 1999 remains the most solid and reliable, while Jenkins 1997 and Pollock 1999 round out the picture with different perspectives and details. Arnold 1980 takes a unique and engaging angle with the author’s on-set account of Lucas’s relationships with cast and crew during the making of a single film, while Kline 1999 offers a fragmented portrait of Lucas through his own words, over almost two decades. Silberman 2005 finds a new possibility for Lucas’s future by looking back at his past, while Kaminski 2008 reexamines sources from the 1970s to argue against Lucas’s revisionist smoothing-over of his own life and work.

  • Arnold, Alan. Once Upon a Galaxy. New York: Ballantine, 1980.

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    The biography of a film rather than a filmmaker, Arnold’s on-set, journalistic account of Empire is a classic. It inspires respect for the cast and crew and, through exclusive interviews and wry commentary, describes personal traumas and clashes that rival the dramas of the film itself.

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  • Baxter, John. George Lucas: A Biography. London: HarperCollins, 1999.

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    Baxter offers a detailed history, sympathetic but rigorous; it is particularly useful for its coverage of Lucas’s childhood, teenage years, and student experiences, all of which—whether directly or more subtly—influenced the adventures of Luke Skywalker.

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  • Jenkins, Garry. Empire Building: The Remarkable, Real-Life Story of “Star Wars. London: Simon & Schuster, 1997.

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    A lively, journalistic account of the trials and personal squabbles behind the production of Star Wars, concentrating on the first movie but bookended by discussion of Lucas’s early career and the sequels.

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  • Kaminski, Michael. The Secret History of Star Wars: The Art of Storytelling and the Making of a Modern Epic. Kingston, ON, Canada: Legacy Books Press, 2008.

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    A valuable counter to Lucas’s revisionist accounts of his own history. Kaminski argues convincingly that the six-movie saga was never mapped out from the start, and that key relationships (such as the identity of Luke Skywalker’s father and sister) evolved and were altered during production.

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  • Kline Sally. George Lucas: Interviews. Jackson: Mississippi University Press, 1999.

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    A fascinating collection of interviews with the director, from 1971 to 1999; though Lucas is famously reserved, controlled, and controlling, these interviews flash occasionally with raw anger, resentment, and disappointment.

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  • Pollock, Dale. Skywalking. New York: Da Capo, 1999.

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    Pollock tells a similar story to Baxter 1999 and Jenkins 1997, with variations in focus and detail. This book was first published in 1983, and an “updated” postscript from 1999 includes misguided guesses about the Prequel Trilogy that, unwittingly but usefully, serve as a record of the speculation about those films.

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  • Silberman, Steve. “Life after Darth.” Wired 13.5 (May 2005).

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    This brief but provocative and original piece—based around a new interview with the director—recalls Lucas’s early interest in experimental art cinema and suggests that he could return to that approach when freed of the Star Wars franchise.

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Fan Studies

The following citations trace, to an extent, the development of fan studies itself through case studies on Star Wars. Jenkins 1998 refers back to the author’s 1992 Textual Poachers and anticipates his later work on cultural convergence, while Brooker 1999 is a relatively early engagement with the then-new field of Internet fan culture. Brooker 2002, Jenkins 2006, and Gray 2010 all discuss the relationship between fan creativity and the official frameworks of the producers, with Jenkins and Brooker exploring a move toward greater negotiation and collaboration but identifying a distinction in the way Lucasfilm responds to fan film and slash fiction. Containing a rare interview with Brooker, Johnson and Brooker 2005 also offers insight into the theorization of the cultural meanings of Star Wars. Building on the relations between cult films and fan cultures, Hills 2003 offers rich insight into the theorization of the Hollywood blockbuster and its cult contexts. Finally, Pacitti 2010 is a memoir that offers a firsthand, personal account of the way Star Wars can shape a fan’s life.

  • Brooker, Will. “Filling in Spaces: Internet Fandom and the Continuing Narratives of Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Alien.” In Alien Zone II. Edited by Annette Kuhn. New York: Verso, 1999.

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    This chapter captures the distinctions between three online science-fiction fan communities at a specific historical moment just prior to the release of The Phantom Menace. It usefully documents fan speculation and examines the ways in which the Star Wars franchise was sustained between 1983 and 1999 by secondary texts.

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  • Brooker, Will. Using the Force: Creativity, Community, and “Star Wars” Fans. London and New York: Continuum, 2002.

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    A focused and extensive study of Star Wars fan communities and creativity; Brooker closely analyzes discussion board speculation and debate around the Prequel Trilogy and immerses himself in fan culture. The result is lively and vivid, though arguably lacking in theoretical objectivity.

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  • Gray, Jonathan. Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York University Press, 2010.

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    Gray’s groundbreaking study of media “paratexts” is most relevant for its examination of the role Star Wars toys play in fan culture. Gray argues that the action figures allowed young fans both to fill the gaps between episodes in the Original Trilogy and to invent their own stories around minor characters.

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  • Hills, Matt. “Star Wars in Fandom, Film Theory, and the Museum: The Cultural Status of the Cult Blockbuster.” In Movie Blockbusters. Edited by Julian Stringer, 178–189. New York: Routledge, 2003.

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    Hills evaluates the status of the Star Wars saga as a cultural phenomenon and its role as a cult, as well as a mainstream Hollywood, blockbuster.

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  • Jenkins, Henry. “The Poachers and the Stormtroopers: Popular Culture in the Digital Age.” Red Rock Eaters News (30 July 1998).

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    This brief but important paper marks a midpoint between Jenkins’s key books, Textual Poachers (2002) and Convergence Culture (2006); its account of late-1990s “cultural convergence,” still dominated by the VCR rather than the Internet, contrasts Lucasfilm’s censoring of (female) slash fiction with its enthusiasm for (male) fan filmmaking.

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  • Jenkins, Henry. “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars: Grassroots Creativity Meets the Media Industry.” In Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. By Henry Jenkins. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

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    Jenkins builds productively on his own and Brooker’s earlier work, detailing the changing dynamics between Lucasfilm and fan creators from censorship through incorporation to the more collaborative, participatory relationship evident in the multiplayer online game Star Wars Galaxies. Producers, he suggests, now recognize the importance of negotiating with fan communities.

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  • Johnson, Derek, and Will Brooker. “Star Wars Fans, DVDs, and Cultural Ownership: An Interview with Will Brooker.” Velvet Light Trap 56 (Fall 2005): 36–44.

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    Johnson interviews Brooker, one of the foremost scholars of the Star Wars saga, and explores the shifting cultural meanings associated with the series of films. Available online by subscription.

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  • Pacitti, Tony. My Best Friend Is a Wookiee: A Memoir. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2010.

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    Pacitti’s unpolished but lively and intensely personal account gives a sense of the movies’ role in one fan’s life, as Star Wars shapes the author’s friendships, romances, and moral outlook. Perhaps most notably, Pacitti is of a generation that first saw Star Wars on home video rather than in cinemas.

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Genre and Family Cinema Analysis

While Star Wars is widely acknowledged as a science fiction film, it is also a notable example of family cinema, and this view is upheld throughout Krämer 1998 and Krämer 2004. The science fiction elements of the saga are innovatively teased out and reexamined in Cornea 2007, Sobchack 1987, and Altman 1999, while Gordon 1992 and Telotte 2001 draw on the saga’s representation of American ideological values and its utopian symbolism. Finally, Silvio and Vinci 2007 offers a detailed analysis of key science fiction tropes, including the multifaceted representation of technology and the cultural significance of such iconography for the Western world.

Mythological Analysis

Star Wars owes much to the role mythology plays in dominant culture; myths circulate and support various systems of belief and social order, generating meaning through imagery, and narrative fused by spectacle. Star Wars fits this definition perfectly, as Campbell and Moyers 1989 makes clear. Building on Campbell and Moyers’s groundbreaking analysis, Whitt and Perlich 2008, Henderson 1997, and Galipeau 2001 draw directly on the metamythology of the series, offering details of the intricate symbols and signs that, they argue, strengthen the appeal of Star Wars. The analysis of mythology is also a key focal point for Decker and Eberl 2005, which focuses on the role of Luke Skywalker. For Lyden 2000 and McDowell 2009, the use of mythology in Star Wars is heavily rooted in Christian imagery; these articles usefully illustrate the saga’s resonances with that particular faith tradition. Finally, Coralee 1994 offers a unique engagement with the symbolism of Tarot cards and the pictorial qualities of Star Wars, while Kuiper 1988 underlines the significance of power relations that undermine the romanticism of Star Wars and its especially imperialistic tone.

  • Campbell, Joseph, and Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth. London: Doubleday, 1989.

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    This collaboration between mythologist Joseph Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers is where much of the focus on the mythic analysis of Star Wars originated, and it was also accompanied by a major six-part television series of the same title. (Much of the television series was also filmed at George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch in California.)

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  • Coralee, Grebe. “Tarot Card Symbolism in the Star Wars Films.” Mythlore 20.2 (Spring 1994): 27–31.

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    Coralee suggests that the Star Wars saga can be seen to engage with various pictorial symbols commonly associated with Tarot card iconography.

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  • Decker, Kevin S., and Jason T. Eberl. Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine. Chicago: Open Court, 2005.

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    Decker and Eberl offer an impressive treatment of the many symbols and iconographical implications of the film, situating them alongside Continental and classical philosophical concepts such as metaphysics, existentialism, and self/other relations.

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  • Galipeau, Steven A. The Journey of Luke Skywalker: An Analysis of Modern Myth and Symbol. Chicago: Open Court, 2001.

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    In the context of the myth-making models cited throughout scholarly analyses of the film, Galipeau draws close attention to the figure of Luke Skywalker and contemporary Western ideology.

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  • Henderson, Mary S. Star Wars: The Magic of Myth. London: Bantam, 1997.

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    The companion volume to a major exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution, Henderson’s book provides a detailed, expert, and gorgeously illustrated discussion of the debts Star Wars owes to classical mythology, religious iconography, and real-life military conflicts.

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  • Kuiper, Koenraad. “Star Wars: An Imperial Myth.” Journal of Popular Culture 21.4 (Spring 1988): 77–87.

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    Kuiper argues that Star Wars creates and recreates imperial myths, which serve to sustain an imperial culture.

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  • Lyden, John. “The Apocalyptic Cosmology of Star Wars.” Journal of Religion and Film 4.1 (April 2000).

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    Lyden offers a thorough analysis of the apocalyptic connotations featured in the Star Wars saga, and its various religious meanings.

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  • McDowell, John C. “Star Wars’ Saving Return.” Journal of Religion and Film 13.1 (April 2009).

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    McDowell reflects upon the themes of fall and redemption in the Star Wars saga, especially its evocation of St. Paul’s Adam-Christ typology (echoed by Anakin and Luke in the films).

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  • Whitt, David, and John Perlich. Sith, Slayers, Stargates, and Cyborgs: Modern Mythology in the New Millennium. New York: Peter Lang, 2008.

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    Perlich’s chapter in this collection examines the entire saga from a partisan, fan-scholar perspective. Drawing on the work of Joseph Campbell, he commends Lucas’s creation of a new mythology in the Original Trilogy but argues that the Prequel Trilogy introduces an unfortunate connection between genetic superiority and spiritual salvation.

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Political Analysis

Star Wars was originally released at a time when the United States was undergoing significant social changes, and the citations in this section usefully examine the films within their sociopolitical context. While the major analysis in Wood 2003 of the intersections between American politics and American culture is widely regarded as an authoritative textbook on the subject, Rubey 1978 and Lewis 1985 offer striking explorations of Star Wars’ wider political meanings, including its reactionary and conservative subtexts. The notion of postmodernism also enables Sobchack 2004, Jameson 1992, and Brooker 2004 to reassess the political landscape of Star Wars. Contrasting sociopolitical perspectives on the film, Ballard 1996 and Taylor 1988 consider the utopian ethics of Star Wars and its investment in fraternity, patriarchy, and imperialism.

  • Ballard, J. G. “Hobbits in Space?” In A User’s Guide to the Millennium. By J. G. Ballard. London: HarperCollins, 1996.

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    The highly acclaimed British writer considers the parallels between the Star Wars saga and J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, their symbolism of fraternity, and their shared evocation of the epic adventure genre.

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  • Brooker, Will. “New Hope: The Postmodern Project of Star Wars.” In Liquid Metal. Edited by Sean Redmond, 298–307. London: Wallflower, 2004.

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    Brooker argues that the fan readings of Star Wars in the late 1990s privilege not a reactionary grand narrative but a postmodern micropolitics of small-scale resistance and creativity. A foreword offers hindsight from the very different political perspective of 2003.

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  • Jameson, Fredric. “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” In Modernism/Postmodernism. Edited by Peter Brooker. London: Longman, 1992.

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    Jameson famously characterizes Star Wars as a “nostalgic film” for its pastiche of the “Saturday afternoon serial” such as Buck Rogers; in his reading, such films express the inability of postmodern culture to engage with history, except through stereotypes and mediated representations.

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  • Lewis, Jon. “Return of the Jedi: A Situationist Perspective.” Jump Cut 30 (March 1985): 3–6.

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    Lewis develops a theoretical treatment of Star Wars, building on Guy Debord’s model of situationism in his book The Society of the Spectacle.

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  • Rubey, Dan. “Star Wars: Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away.” Jump Cut 18 (August 1978): 9–14.

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    Adopting a Marxist perspective, Rubey suggests that the appeal of Star Wars lies, to a significant extent, on the mythological nature of the plot and its undercurrent of conservative and reactionary politics.

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  • Sobchack, Vivian. “Postfuturism.” In Liquid Metal. Edited by Sean Redmond, 220–227. London: Wallflower, 2004.

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    Sobchack identifies the first Star Wars film and the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind (both from 1977) as revisionist takes on American military involvement in Southeast Asia; both movies depict underdog “rebels” and childlike aliens struggling against the forces of a repressive government. See p. 222, in particular.

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  • Taylor, Clyde. “The Master Text and the Jeddi [sic] Doctrine.” Screen 29.4 (1988): 96–105.

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    Taylor explores notions of decolonization and the Third World in relation to Star Wars and its imperialist values. Available online by subscription.

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  • Wood, Robin. Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan . . . and Beyond. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

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    This is a seminal exploration of Hollywood cinema and its multiple meanings in relation to American politics and the ideological apparatus implicated in the creation of a post-Vietnam state.

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Star Wars and New Hollywood

Star Wars is often perceived as a product of New Hollywood—that is, the period following Classical Hollywood cinema or, to some critics, the period of production in Hollywood between 1960 and 1980. New Hollywood appealed to young audiences and is notable in part for its striking realism, advanced filmmaking techniques, and highly stylized formal qualities. According to Brooker 2009, Krämer 2005, Schatz 1993, King 2002, and Biskind 1998, Star Wars enables an effective case study of some of the industrial and aesthetic values of New Hollywood. For further reflection on New Hollywood’s reconfiguration of genre conventions, the work of Saunders 2001 and Thompson 1999 enables further insight into the saga’s debt to the science fiction and western genres.

  • Biskind, Peter. Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock-’n’-Roll Generation Changed Hollywood. London: Bloomsbury, 1998.

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    Biskind draws attention to several key directors, including Lucas, Scorsese, and Spielberg, whose work unsettled the very foundations upon which Hollywood was built. While scholarly and precise, this text takes the form of anecdotes that offer rare insight into the private and personal histories of those involved in shaping the New Hollywood aesthetic.

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  • Brooker, Will. Star Wars. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

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    Brooker focuses on the first Star Wars film in particular as a conflict between Lucas’s need for order and control and his contradictory desire to capture raw energy, improvisation, and human warmth. He traces these impulses through Lucas’s earlier work and influences, from experimental film to documentary.

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  • King, Geoff. New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002.

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    While ably introducing New Hollywood cinema, King explores both the films themselves and the industrial issues that contributed toward their success. King pays special attention to the role of media conglomerates, franchising, and advertising, combined with close-up film analysis.

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  • Krämer, Peter. “Post-Classical Hollywood.” In The Oxford Guide to Film Studies. Edited by John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson, 289–309. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    Krämer’s entry is notable for its distillation of his expansive work on New Hollywood, summing up the industrial, aesthetic, economic, and sociohistoric aspects of this period in the history of Hollywood cinema.

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  • Krämer, Peter. The New Hollywood: From “Bonnie and Clyde” to “Star Wars.” London: Wallflower, 2005.

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    Krämer’s 2005 text offers one of the most comprehensive introductions to the post-Classical era of the Hollywood system.

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  • Saunders, John. The Western Genre: From Lordsburg to Big Whiskey. London: Wallflower, 2001.

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    This is a notable introduction to the western genre, offering a detailed overview of the films and filmmakers most widely associated with this style of filmmaking. At the same time, it pays attention to some lesser-known examples of the western and its intertextual heritage, especially in relation to other films whose narrative draws on the genre’s iconography.

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  • Schatz, Thomas. “The New Hollywood.” In Film Theory Goes to the Movies. Edited by Jim Collins, Hilary Radner, and Ava Preacher Collins, 8–36. London: Routledge, 1993.

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    Schatz is well known for his extensive work on Hollywood cinema, and his reflection on New Hollywood offers an apt contextualization of this period in the history of American filmmaking.

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  • Thompson, Kristin. “Alien.” In Storytelling in the New Hollywood. By Kristin Thompson, 283–306. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

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    Thompson examines the changes in style in the science fiction genre during the post-Classical Hollywood era, and her essay on Ridley Scott’s Alien shores up some connections with Star Wars and its narrative themes.

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Identity, Sexuality, and Gender Analysis

In addition to genre and fan studies that have emerged through the discipline of film studies, there has been much written on Star Wars from an interdisciplinary perspective. Most notably, Star Wars has prompted theoretical engagement with its notions of sexuality. Gordon 1986 and Miller 1981 emphasize the creative role of sexuality in Star Wars; more broadly, Waller 1980, Pielka 1983, and Lev 1998 raise important questions relating to the formation of identity, while Aronstein 1995 might be seen to reflect a further perspective on the mythology of Lucas’s trilogy. It is also useful for those interested in the sexual politics of the series and its mirroring of contemporary, patriarchal values. Lee 2008 complements cultural analyses of Star Wars, again expanding debates in order to consider Generation X’s responses and reactions to a preexisting cultural phenomenon and its impact on youth culture.

  • Aronstein, Susan. ““Not Exactly a Knight”: Arthurian Narrative and Recuperative Politics in the Indiana Jones Trilogy.” Cinema Journal 34.4 (Summer 1995): 3–30.

    DOI: 10.2307/1225575Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief mention of Star Wars in the context of rethinking patriarchal discourse, chivalric romances, and the medieval genre’s parallels with a post-Vietnam fantasy of masculinity and the valuation of heroism. Available online by subscription.

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  • Gordon, Andrew. “The Power of the Force: Sex in the Star Wars Trilogy.” In Eros in the Mind’s Eye. Edited by Donald Palumbo, 193–207. New York: Greenwood, 1986.

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    An early and highly original exploration of the role of sexuality in Star Wars and provocative representation of human sexuality, addressing the film’s representation of power structures, eroticism, and otherness.

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  • Lee, Nathan. From “Star Wars” to “Jackass”: 101 Movies for the Whatever Generation. Los Angeles: Alyson, 2008.

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    Lee is concerned with contemporary audiences and generations whose notions of the saga differ significantly from the targeted audiences of its time (the late 1970s and early 1980s). Lee asks what it means to be part of Generation X and how such social changes affect perceptions of well-known cultural icons.

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  • Lev, Peter. “Whose Future? Star Wars, Alien, and Blade Runner.” Literature/ Film Quarterly 26.1 (1998): 30–37.

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    Lev situates Star Wars alongside two other major science fiction films in order to raise questions about the notion of futurity, utopianism, and projected fantasies in modern cinema.

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  • Miller, Martin. “The Appeals of Star Wars: An Archetypal-Psychoanalytic View.” American Imago 38.2 (Summer 1981): 203.

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    Miller offers a fascinating psychoanalytic perspective on Star Wars with reference to its visual pleasure and the ways in which such spectacular narratives appeal to an infantile desire for gratification and absorption.

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  • Pielka, Robert G. “Star Wars vs. 2001: A Question of Identity.” Extrapolation 24.2 (Summer 1983): 143.

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    Pielka examines the mythological narrative of Star Wars to reveal the fundamental questions it raises about identity, sociality, and selfhood.

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  • Waller, Marguerite. “Poetic Influence in Hollywood: Rebel Without a Cause and Star Wars.” Diacritics 10.3 (Autumn 1980): 57–66.

    DOI: 10.2307/464776Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Waller pursues the existentialist themes suggested through the narrative of Star Wars and its debt to poetic symbolism.

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Star Wars Sound and Music

This section investigates the multifaceted treatment of film sound throughout the Star Wars films. Philip Brophy is known for his offbeat and intricately detailed analyses of iconic sound moments in popular cinema, and Brophy 2002 makes clear the distinction between visual and sonic film experience through his treatment of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones. Complementing Brophy’s formal analysis of film sound, Carlsson offers some technical insight into Ben Burtt’s sound design for Star Wars. While Sergi 1998 and d’Escriván 2007 develop closely attuned analyses of sound effects and electronic music, Scheurer 1997 offers a useful overview of the film scores of John Williams, including the seminal work for Lucas that led to his creation of the instantly recognizable Star Wars theme.

Emergent and Peripheral Discourses

This section draws attention to articles that endeavor to flesh out unique perspectives on Star Wars but whose content does not entirely fit within one particular field of inquiry. While some of these articles might reflect on issues of gender, politics, or genre studies, in general, they are most usefully viewed, collectively, as a sample of the varied research available to all researchers of the Star Wars saga. In addition to the citations on film sound available in this bibliography, Bukatman 2003 offers an analysis of contemporary special effects that is a different approach to the formal specificity of Lucas’s work. Contrasting Bukatman’s formalist approach, the cultural implications of the Star Wars saga are offered through the discussion of technology in Allen 1998, time and the epic narrative in Wyatt 1982, Eastern philosophy in Scigaj 1981, responses to the concept of civilization in Goldbarth 1997, and video gaming in Salvo 2009. Two reflections on the media’s response to the second trilogy are provided by Conn 1997 and Seabrook 1997. While it is beyond the scope of this bibliography to cite all reviews and media comments on the series of films to date, if researchers wish to locate appropriate source material they can view most national and international newspaper archives online.

  • Allen, Michael. “From Bwana Devil to Batman Forever.” In Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. Edited by Stephen Neale and Murray Smith, 109–129. London: Routledge, 1998.

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    A comprehensive, contextual analysis of the role of technology in contemporary Hollywood, its use in effects, and its representation onscreen.

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  • Bukatman, Scott. Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

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    A useful exploration of the history of special effects, including the “technologies of vision” synonymous with the Star Wars franchise.

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  • Conn, Andrew Lewis. “Star Wars: Always.” Film Comment 33.3 (May–June 1997): 2–5.

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    Conn outlines the reasons why Star Wars is a global phenomenon and still attracts millions of new fans decades after its release; he also discusses particular aspects of the saga that remain indelible in the minds of its fans.

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  • Goldbarth, Albert. “The Number of Utterly Alien Civilizations in Star Trek and Star Wars.” Iowa Review 27.2 (Summer–Fall 1997): 173–174.

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    The contemporary American poet and humorist Albert Goldbarth offers thought on what it means to become a civilization, drawing on the representation of colonies and worlds in Star Wars.

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  • Salvo, Mia. “Convergence and Globalization in the Japanese Videogame Industry.” Cinema Journal 48.3 (Spring 2009): 135–141.

    DOI: 10.1353/cj.0.0122Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief reference to Star Wars and its merchandise in the context of globalization and popular culture analysis. Available online by subscription.

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  • Scigaj, Leonard M. “Bettelheim, Castaneda, and Zen: The Powers behind the Force in Star Wars.” Extrapolation 22.3 (Fall 1981): 213.

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    Scigaj draws close attention to the concept of the “Force” in Star Wars and its various philosophical meanings.

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  • Seabrook, John. “Why Is the Force Still with Us?” New Yorker, 6 January 1997, 40–53.

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    A good example of the media’s response to the second trilogy of films. Seabrook reflects on the continued appeal of Star Wars and its recent additions. Available online by subscription.

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  • Wyatt, David. “Star Wars and the Productions of Time.” Virginia Quarterly Review 58.4 (Autumn 1982): 600–615.

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    Wyatt explores the implications of history, time, and temporality in the discourses of Star Wars, especially the ways in which the epic genre allows audiences/readers to learn from history, and its wider, redemptive possibilities.

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LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0059

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