Monday, 22 July 2013

Perfect finish – the final scenes of Star Wars

The Rebellion lines up all the troops – including 
a few strangely lifeless ones to make up 
the numbers – as it salutes the heroes

One of the blogs I most enjoy is John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV. John recently ran a list of his Top 10 Science Fiction Movie Endings and invited readers to submit their own lists.

John was very generous with his comments when I submitted my own Top 10 and I'd encourage anyone to visit and have a look at the really thought-provoking lists people produced.

No prizes for guessing what came at the head of my own list.

One reason I love the ending to Star Wars is that it's so unlike the way most films ended in the 1970s. I don't just mean that it ends with the good guys routing the villains; I mean that the whole celebratory tone of the ending is drastically out of step with its times.

If Star Wars were shot more like other movies of the 70s, the film might end like this: Luke Skywalker, battered, bruised and exhausted by his great space battle, slumps over the controls of his X-wing. With one eye, he watches the final remnants of the Death Star dispersing into space. He just about manages to raise his head and mutter a pithy final line. Then the cast list rolls over the last scene.

Instead of this, of course, we get to watch as the Rebels enjoy their success. Our heroes return to base to receive the acclaim they're owed. The Rebellion even goes to the trouble of polishing the robots and putting on a big ceremony for the triumphant warriors, all accompanied by one of John Williams' most stirring, Elgar-influenced pieces of music. In its unabashed joyousness, it's the kind of ending that was practically unheard of in the 1970s.

The Millennium Falcon flies out of
the sun at the end of Star Wars.  

Another, simpler reason I love the ending to Star Wars is this: However many times I see it, I always forget that Han Solo is going to come flying out of the sun to save the day.

1 comment:

John White said...

It's joyous indeed. My wife thinks it's silly, but it really moves me.
Artoo excitedly jumping from one foot to the other, the Elgar-style music... but when they turn to face us in that final shot I almost cry. Even when I listen to the soundtrack I get a lump in my throat.

That ending, no matter how many times I see the film, and even knowing that I can re-play it any time I want - makes me feel elated - but I almost get this strong feeling of loss. The terrible feeling that it's over, the story has ended, they're gone.

You know what? It might be all the more poignant in that this is a story that happened a long, long time ago. Those people are now actually 'gone'.