A Star Wars Refresher
- With The Force Awakens hitting Nepali screens this week, quickly bone up on the films leading up to it
Dec 26, 2015-If you’re anything like us, it’s probably been a while since you’ve watched all of the Star Wars movies. So to help prepare you for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first film in the saga since 2005 and the first without the involvement of its creator, George Lucas, here’s a refresher course on the first six episodes. (The new film takes place about three decades after the events in Return of the Jedi.)A word of advice: Although The Phantom Menace is now called Episode I, start with the original movie, now Episode IV, and watch them in the order they were released. You don’t want to run into the polarising Jar Jar Binks so soon.
Star Wars (1977)Holding the secret plans to the Galactic Empire’s Death Star, the Rebel Alliance’s Princess Leia is captured by the evil Emperor’s ultimate enforcer, Darth Vader. But she hides the blueprints in a droid, R2-D2, and sends it to the Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi on the desert planet of Tatooine.
There, young Luke Skywalker comes across Obi-Wan while searching for R2-D2, which is now his foster uncle’s property. Learning that his father was also a Jedi—warriors who, powered by the Force, fought for peace and justice in the Old Republic —Luke joins up with Obi-Wan. They pay a smuggler pilot, Han Solo, and set off to deliver the plans to the Rebels. Alas, an intense gravitational pulls their ship into the Death Star.
Luke and Han rescue the princess, and after much bickering and many near-death experiences, they escape the Death Star, thanks to Obi-Wan, who sacrifices himself to Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel. The rebels mount a last-ditch offensive, and Luke, guided by the Force, fires the shot that ultimately blows the Death Star to smithereens.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Imperial forces hound the rebels, and Luke and a group of freedom fighters take refuge on the frozen planet of Hoth. Their respite doesn’t last long. After a costly battle, Han and Leia – bickering as the romantic sparks fly —flee to Cloud City, which orbits the planet Bespin, where they see Han’s putative friend, Lando Calrissian. Meanwhile, Luke lands on the swamp planet Dagobah, ready to start his Jedi training with the mystical backwards-speaking Yoda. But sensing that his friends are in trouble— they’ve been double-crossed by Lando, who turns them over to Darth Vader—Luke cuts short his training to rescue them. That attempt doesn’t go well.
During a climactic lightsaber duel above the city’s central core reactor shaft, Darth Vader severs Luke’s right hand, then—in one of the biggest reveals in cinematic history— informs Luke that he’s his father. Stunned, Luke rejects his father’s entreaty to rule the galaxy together and tumbles into the chasm below.
Return of the Jedi (1983)
Saved by his friends and outfitted with a mechanical arm at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke heads off to rescue Han from the immense gangster Jabba the Hutt, who now also has Leia. Captured, Luke is to be executed along with Han and his Wookiee co-pilot, Chewbacca, but at least he’s not enslaved by Jabba and forced to wear a gold-metal bikini (which now has its own Facebook page.)
Thanks, in part, to Luke’s growing facility with the Force, they all escape. He returns to Yoda to complete his training, and there the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi reveals that he has a twin sister. (Luke quickly intuits that it’s Leia, making his previous romantic feelings for her a tad uncomfortable.) He joins up with Leia, Han and the rebels to plot an attack on the Death Star the Empire is building.
At another climactic showdown with Vader, Luke rebuffs the evil Emperor’s goading to go over to the Dark Side. The Emperor turns his lethal fury on Luke, but Vader— some good still inside him—kills his boss to save his son. Soon after, the rebels take out the Death Star.
The Phantom Menace (1999)
Mr Lucas takes audiences back in Star Wars time to understand what led to the rise of the evil Empire. Turns out it hinged on—wait for it —trade disputes. But the movie— called Episode I though it is the fourth to be released—does begin the origin story of Anakin Skywalker, who turns into Darth Vader. He first shows up as a 9-year-old slave, but the Jedi master Qui-Gon senses he may be the Chosen One, prophesied to bring about a balance of good and evil in the Force.
Though the Jedi Council is worried the boy is vulnerable to the dark side of the Force—foreshadowing!— Anakin helps the people of Naboo and their queen, Padmé Amidala, triumph against the Trade Federation and its droid army. That success prompts Yoda and the Jedi Council to reluctantly give permission to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Qui Gon’s apprentice) to teach Anakin the ways of the Force. Peace seems to prevail, but the forces of evil, known as the Sith, are re-emerging.
Attack of the Clones (2002)
Ten years after the events of The Phantom Menace civil war looms. Thousands of solar systems, under the apparent direction of a Jedi named Count Dooku, are threatening to secede from the Republic. After an assassination attempt on Padmé Amidala, now a member of the Galactic Senate, Anakin—talented but headstrong—is tasked with her protection. He, of course, falls in love with her, which is against Jedi rules. After learning that his mother was murdered by Tusken raiders, Anakin gets in touch with his Dark Side by slaughtering an entire community in anger. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan discovers that a droid army is being created, and Chancellor Palpatine manipulates the situation to gain emergency powers, dispatching cloned human warriors into battle. After much carnage, the Republic barely comes out on top. But it’s all a set-up: Pulling the strings is Palpatine, who’s actually an evil Sith Lord. His diabolical plan to destroy the Jedis and rule a Galactic Empire is well underway.
Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Palpatine is in the clutches of General Grievous, commander of the droid armies. Anakin and Obi-Wan rescue him, but once again, it’s part of the chancellor’s machinations.The Jedi Council, suspicious of Palpatine, orders an unhappy Anakin to spy on him. Palpatine poisons Anakin’s mind about the Jedis and tells him of the glories of the Dark Side, including the ability to cheat death. This is particularly enticing because Anakin’s terrified that Padmé, whom he secretly married, is going to die in childbirth. Desperate to save his love, he comes to the aid of Palpatine—now revealed as a Sith lord —in his duel with the Jedi knight Mace Windu. As thanks, Palpatine dubs Anakin Darth Vader, and orders him to kill everyone in the Jedi temple.
That sets up the climactic battle between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Anakin, dismembered and burnt, is left for dead, but Palpatine saves him and provides him the iconic black suit. Still, despite giving in to the Dark Side, Anakin cannot save Padmé. She dies giving birth to the twins Luke and Leia. Nineteen years later, their stories unfold in the first ‘Star Wars.’
—©2015 The New York Times
Published: 26-12-2015 09:00