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The Star Wars logo, as seen in all films

Star Wars is an epic space opera franchise conceived by George Lucas. The first film in the franchise was originally released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox, and became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, spawning two immediate sequels, released at three-year intervals. Sixteen years after the release of the trilogy's final film, the first in a new prequel trilogy of films was released, again released at three-year intervals, with the final film released on May 19, 2005.

As of 2008, the overall box office revenue generated by the six Star Wars films has totalled approximately $4.3 billion, making it the third-highest-grossing film series,[1] behind only the James Bond and Harry Potter films.

The Star Wars film series has spawned other media including books, television series, video games, and comic books. These supplements to the film trilogies comprise the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and have resulted in significant development of the series' fictional universe. These media kept the franchise going in the interim between the film trilogies. In 2008, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was released to theaters as the first ever worldwide theatrical Star Wars film outside of the main trilogies. It was the franchise's first animated film, and was intended as an introduction to the Expanded Universe series of the same name, a 3D CGI animated series based on a previous 2D animated series of a similar name.

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Setting

The events depicted in Star Wars media take place in a fictional galaxy. Many species of alien creatures (often humanoid) are depicted. Robotic droids are also commonplace and are generally built to serve their owners. Space travel is common, and many planets in the galaxy are members of a Galactic Republic, later reorganized as the Galactic Empire.

One of the prominent elements of Star Wars is the "Force", which is an omnipresent form of energy which can be harnessed by those with that ability. It is described in the first produced film as "an energy field created by all living things [that] surrounds us, penetrates us, [and] binds the galaxy together."[2] The Force allows users to perform a variety of supernatural feats (such as telekinesis, clairvoyance, precognition, and mind control) and also can amplify certain physical traits, such as speed and reflexes; these abilities can vary from user to user and can be improved through training. While the Force can be used for good, it has a dark side that, when pursued, imbues users with hatred, aggression, and malevolence. The six films feature the Jedi, who use the Force for good, and the Sith, who use the dark side for evil in an attempt to take over the galaxy. In the Expanded Universe many dark side users are Dark Jedi rather than Sith, mainly because of the Rule of Two (see Sith Origin).[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Feature films

The film series began with Star Wars, released on May 25, 1977. This was followed by two sequels; The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, released on May 25, 1983. The opening crawl of the sequels disclosed that they were numbered as "Episode V" and "Episode VI" respectively, though the films were generally advertised solely under their subtitles. Though the first film in the series was simply titled Star Wars, it later had the subtitle Episode IV: A New Hope added to distinguish it from its sequels and prequels.[8]

In 1997, to correspond with the twentieth anniversary of the release of Star Wars, Lucas released "Special Editions" of the three films to theaters. The re-releases featured alterations to the original films, primarily motivated by the improvement of CGI and other special effects technologies, which allowed visuals that were not possible to achieve at the time of the original filmmaking. Lucas continued to make changes to the original trilogy for subsequent releases, such as the first ever DVD release of the trilogy on September 21, 2004.[9]

More than two decades after the release of the original Star Wars, the film series continued with the long-awaited prequel trilogy; consisting of Episode I: The Phantom Menace, released on May 19, 1999, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, released on May 16, 2002, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released on May 19, 2005.[10]

Plot overview

"Original trilogy" redirects here. For the video game, see Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.

The prequel trilogy follows the upbringing of Anakin Skywalker, who is discovered by the Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn. He is believed to be the "Chosen One" foretold by Jedi prophecy to bring balance to the Force. The Jedi Council, led by Yoda, sense that his future is clouded with fear, but reluctantly allows Qui-Gon's apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to train Anakin after Qui-Gon is killed by the Sith Lord Darth Maul. At the same time, the planet Naboo is under attack, and its ruler, Queen Padmé Amidala, seeks the assistance of the Jedi to repel the attack. The Sith Lord Darth Sidious secretly planned the attack to give his alias, Senator Palpatine, a pretense to overthrow the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic.[3] The remainder of the prequel trilogy chronicles Anakin's fall to the dark side, as Sidious attempts to create an army to defeat the Jedi and lure Anakin to be his apprentice.[4] Anakin and Padmé fall in love and secretly wed, and eventually Padme becomes pregnant. Anakin soon succumbs to his anger, becoming the Sith Lord Darth Vader. While Sidious re-organizes the Republic into the Galactic Empire, Vader participates in the extermination of the Jedi Order, culminating in a lightsaber battle between him and Obi-Wan. After defeating his former apprentice, Obi-Wan leaves Vader for dead. However, Sidious arrives shortly after to save him and put him into a suit of black armor that keeps him alive. At the same time, Padmé dies while giving birth to twins. The twins are hidden from Vader and are not told who their true parents are.[5]

Tatooine has two suns, as it is in a binary star system. This shot from A New Hope remains one of the most famous scenes of the entire saga.[11]

The original trilogy begins 19 years later as Vader nears completion of the massive Death Star space station which will allow him and Sidious, now the Emperor, to crush the rebellion which has formed against the evil empire. He captures Princess Leia Organa who has stolen the plans to the Death Star and hidden them in droid R2-D2. R2-D2, along with his counterpart C-3PO, escape to the planet Tatooine. There, the droids are purchased by Luke Skywalker, son of Anakin, and his step-uncle and aunt. While Luke is cleaning R2-D2, he accidentally triggers a message put into the robot by Leia, who asks for assistance from Obi-Wan. Luke later assists the droids in finding the Jedi Knight, who is now passing as an old hermit under the alias Ben Kenobi. Obi-Wan tells Luke of his father's greatness, but says that he was killed by Vader.[12] Obi-Wan and Luke hire the Corellian space pilot and smuggler Han Solo and his Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca to take them to the rebels. Obi-Wan begins to teach Luke about the Force, but allows himself to be killed in a showdown with Vader during the rescue of Leia. His sacrifice allows the group to escape with the plans that allow the rebels to destroy the Death Star.[2]

Vader continues to hunt down the rebels, and begins building a second Death Star. Luke travels to find Yoda to become trained as a Jedi, but is interrupted when Vader lures him into a trap by capturing Han and the others. Vader reveals that he is Luke's father and attempts to turn him to the dark side.[6] Luke escapes, and returns to his training with Yoda. He learns that he must face his father before he can become a Jedi, and that Leia is his twin sister. As the rebels attack the second Death Star, Luke confronts Vader under the watch of the Emperor. Instead of convincing Luke to join the dark side, the young Jedi defeats Vader in a lightsaber duel and is able to convince him that there is still some good in him. Vader kills the Emperor before succumbing to his own injuries, and the second Death Star is destroyed, restoring freedom to the galaxy.[7]

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review by . March 09, 2010
You have to put yourself in my shoes.  It is the summer of 1977.  I am just about to turn 14.  The best science fiction I  have seen is Star Trek.  The Disney abomination "The Black Hole" is about to go into theaters and will be described as "revolutionary".  So just imagine how startling this movie was back then.      Here is the setting. I am on an exchange trip to Idaho working on a Sunflower farm for two weeks.  Every …
review by . July 06, 2009
In 1976 a young director named George Lucas had a vision for a movie.  A movie no one thought would get off the ground at all.  When FOX gave Lucas the greenlight the studio thought it could very well be their swansong.  And how could they not?  The budget, for the time, was pretty big (the number itself might seem laughable now as even some independent films are made for more).  Not only that, but there were many problems.  There was a big desert storm the first day …
review by . May 20, 2009
Star Wars is one of those films that I totally marked out for when I was a child. But viewing it today it's just not the same. Have I grown up? Am I not a sci-fi geek like all the other fanatics? Ahh, one of the mysterious of life. I was a huge Darth Vader fan, he was so cool. I mean he'd choke people from across the room and punked out everyone he met (except Peter Cushing). I never liked the good guys such as Luke (whinny young punk) Han Solo (loud mouth wind bag) Princess Leia (ugly with those …
review by . September 11, 2008
I was born in April of 1972. My earliest memory is of the Bicentennial celebrations. I seem to remember watching people playing around with fireworks at our neighbor's house. But I'm not 100% sure these memories are accurate.    The first memory I know for sure is accurate is seeing "Star Wars" in 1977. This was back when it was just "Star Wars". Not "Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope". No, it was just a simple, single film.    But what a film it was! I am …
review by . December 10, 2006
I first saw Star Wars on HBO when I was 5 years old. I then bought it on VHS, and rented the DVD's when they came out. The first couple of times I saw the movie, I was amazed and astounded each time. But after watching the updated version at the theaters and now on DVD, the movie has lost some of its magic and shine. Here is why.    First, of all the re-releases, Lucas tweaked A New Hope the most. Some scenes were added that should have been left out. The scene with Jabba in …
review by . September 10, 2006
I find it *hilarious* that a large portion of the Star Wars fan community did nothing but bitch, whine, and complain about the lack of the "original" films being on DVD. For _years_ they did nothing but complain about it. Begging and threatening Lucas to just, "release the original films -- in whatever condition they are in -- please!"    So, Lucas finally breaks down, and throws these people a bone, and instead of dancing in the streets, they immediately move on to bitching, …
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