A long time ago (1976) in a galaxy far, far away (a movie theater), for the first time ever audiences witnessed their first glimpse of Star Wars. It was a desperate time for the Rebel Alliance (George Lucas and crew) as the evil Empire (20th Century Fox) was pressing down upon them (becoming skeptical of the $10 million they had sunk into Lucas’s fever dream). And so was released a teaser trailer for Star Wars, and it was . . . kind of a mess to be honest.
The shots are still rough, a lot the of the visual effects have been finished, and most glaringly of all there is none of those sweet J-Willy tunes (see John Williams). However, the biggest difference that most Star Wars fan both young and old is that it is missing that special Star Wars energy.
What made Star Wars so impactful when it first came out was that it brought to science fiction and energy that had never been present before. Star Wars felt alive and in the moment in a way that most great sci-fi films up until that point had not.
The slow panning shots, the classical music, the sense of awe in the face of something so much greater, these were what it meant to be sci-fi at the time. This was almost entirely due to the success of 2001: A Space Odessy – a fantastic film just in a different way than Star Wars. That success bred imitation, and it wasn’t truly until Star Wars came along that anything new was brought to the genre.
Star Wars showed space through eyes of characters who were quite frankly used to it. Space was something to be marveled over, it was just another part of life. This attitude made the characters feel so much more alive and filled the film with an anxious energy that was never put on hold to just to show off some scenery.
However, none of that magic is present in its teaser trailer. Instead, we are the trailer promises a film that seems much grimmer and serious than the actual film turned out to be.
The trailer was created for several reasons. To appease the might overlords that were the Fox executives, to generate audience interest in the film, and to help motivate the team working on the movie, most of whom who had yet to see any footage of the film.
When fans first saw it, reactions were mixed. The trailer ultimately ended up being pulled from screens when Fox executive Alan Ladd Jr, who had advocated the film at Fox, got a call from actor Gene Wilder and was told “Laddie, they’re laughing at your picture.”
Of course, we all know how the story turns out. Star Wars is released in theaters next year to universal acclaim. It spawns two sequels and becomes a cultural phenomenon. Everyone lives happily ever after (until the prequels).
However watching this trailer now, you can’t help but ask yourself. If this was the first thing you had ever seen for Star Wars, would you have actually gone out and watched the movie?
Justin, or as his friends call him, Justin, is a content provider at 301 Digital Media and a student at Middle Tennessee State University. He loves to read, use big words, and is nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is.