The original 1977 reviews of 'Star Wars'

The original 1977 reviews of 'Star Wars'

When George Lucas' "Star Wars" first landed in 1977, some critics were swept away, while others resisted the tide. A sampling:


"'Star Wars' is like getting a box of Cracker Jacks which is all prizes. This is the writer-director George Lucas's own film, subject to no business interference, yet it's a film that's totally uninterested in anything that doesn't connect with the mass audience. There's no breather in the picture, no lyricism; the only attempt at beauty is in the double sunset. It's enjoyable on its own terms, yet it's exhausting, too: like taking a pack of kids to the circus. … It's an epic without a dream." — Pauline Kael, The New Yorker.


"'Star Wars' taps the pulp fantasies buried in our memories, & because it's done so brilliantly, it reactivates old thrills, fears, & exhilarations we thought we'd abandoned when we read our last copy of Amazing Stories." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.


"Strip 'Star Wars' of its often striking images & its high-falutin scientific jargon, & you obtain a story, characters, & dialogue of overwhelming banality, without even a "future" cast to them. Human beings, anthropoids, or robots, you could probably find them all, more or less like, that, in downtown Los Angeles today… O dull new world!" — John Simon, New York magazine.


"'Star Wars' … is the most elaborate, most expensive, most attractive movie serial ever made. It's both an apotheosis of 'Flash Gordon' serials & a witty critique that makes associations with a variety of literature that is nothing if not eclectic: 'Quo Vadis?' 'Buck Rogers,' 'Ivanhoe,' 'Superman,' 'The Wizard of Oz,' 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew,' the legend of King Arthur & the knights of the Round Table. … One of Mr. Lucas's particular achievements is the manner in which he is able to recall the tackiness of the old comic strips & serials he loves without making a movie that is, itself, tacky." — Vincent Canby, New York Times.


"The only way that 'Star Wars' could have been absorbing was through its visual imagination & special effects. Both are unexceptional. … I kept looking for an 'edge,' to peer around the corny, solemn comic-book strophes; he was facing them frontally & full. This picture was made for those (particularly males) who carry a portable shrine within them of their adolescence, a chalice of a Self that was Better Then, before the world's affairs or — in any complex way — sex intruded." — Stanley Kauffmann, the New Republic.


"'Star Wars' is Buck Rogers with a doctoral degree yet not a trace of neuroticism or cynicism, a slam-bang, rip-roaring gallop through a distantly future world full of exotic vocabularies, creatures & customs, existing cheek by cowl with the boy & girl next door & a couple of friendly leftovers from the planet of the apes & possibly one from Oz (a Tin Woodman robot who may have received a gold-plating as a graduation present)." — Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times.


This story has been corrected to fix the spellings of Vincent Canby & Stanley Kauffmann.

Source: “Associated Press”