Ambitious and affectionate, Star Wars Begins is the ultimate love letter to one of the greatest classics in American cinema. Billed as a "filmumentary", it's essentially a mosaic of the countless commentaries, behind-the-scenes features, outtakes, anecdotes, and other materials which have festooned around the original film since its release in 1977.
All of these elements come into play as the beloved film runs in its entirety. Their convergence works to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the epic space opera to a very satisfying degree. Even the countless viewers from around the globe who undoubtedly know every frame of Star Wars by memory are likely to discover many enlightening insights along the way.
Star Wars Begins provides an ongoing commentary track featuring interview snippets with nearly every principal creative contributor. Writer-director George Lucas discusses the initial inspiration he derived from director Akira Kurosawa's 1958 masterpiece The Hidden Fortress, and the process by which he crafted a grounded reality even in the most fantastical settings.
A roster of actors including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Alec Guinness reflect on how they each won their highly coveted roles, share their experiences working on the set, and reveal their individual interpretations of the material. Many members of the film's production and design teams discuss the challenges associated with creating an ambitious effects-driven spectacle on a limited budget.
Perhaps the most revealing aspects of the documentary are the deleted scenes and alternate takes that are offered throughout, and placed during the segments of the film in which they were originally slated to appear. In each instance, this discarded footage cues the viewer into the movie that might have been, highlights the meticulous sculpting of pace and performance, and inspires a renewed appreciation of the editorial choices which eventually determined the film's final form. Audio tracks are isolated and removed in key moments to illustrate the profound role played by the film's expressive sound effects and triumphant musical score.
It''s a daunting challenge to reassess a classic that's known and adored the world over, but Star Wars Begins valiantly succeeds in honoring the moment when a new cinematic mythology was born.