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‘Awkward Silence’: The Star Wars premiere went very badly

Behind-the-scenes filmmaking is often full of fascinating anecdotes. This is even more true for works that have deeply marked the history of cinema. If Star Wars became a staple of pop culture, it got off to a bad start for George Lucas, who had a hard time convincing himself of the merits of his artistic vision. Including his closest circle of friends who came to the very first screening of New Hope. And to say the greeting was reserved…

“To say it’s not over is an understatement”

A member of a group of friends with Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma was one of the first people to discover the first cut of Star Wars, along with Spielberg, Jay Cox, Willard Hayek, Hal Burwood, Matthew Robbins and Allan. Lady, one of the Fox executives.

The result was a cold shower for Lucas. In his reference work on New Hollywood, Easy riders, raging bullsPeter Biskind writes that when the film ended, “There was no applause, just awkward silence”.

One of the main problems with this test screening was the apparent lack of special effects, which were not completed. To fill this gap, even if only temporarily, Lucas replaced the battle scenes with archival footage of air combat…from the Second World War era.

In fact, the only people in the room liked Spielberg and Alan Ladd. “George, that’s great! That’s going to be $100 million!” From his jaws, the father turned to his disgruntled friend. Later that evening, Alan Ladd called Spielberg about the screening to explore the film’s potential again.

Although he relatively liked the show, he still had legitimate doubts about the company. Spielberg then reiterated that Lucas’ film would be a huge success. In the fantastic documentary Light & Magic, available on Disney+, Spielberg further elaborates on the comments he made at the end of this test screening: “To say it’s not over is kind.”

“You’ve never made a commercial film in your life!”

next, This is what Spielberg himself says : “When we went out to dinner, Brian started yelling at George: “I don’t understand your story! No context! What is this space? What do we care about? I’m lost!”

And George started yelling at Brian, saying, “You’ve never done a commercial in your life! What are you talking about?” And Brian said, “No one will know anything, the stars and stupid ships are moving.”

And that’s when Brian came up with a brilliant idea: “Why don’t you start the movie with some legend? You keep saying you want to make this movie with some kind of space series, why don’t you make the legend, like old times, some time back? On the screen and tell the whole story?” This is how the most famous pre-credits in the history of cinema were born.

Not only did Lucas accept his friend’s suggestion, but De Palma even went so far as to rewrite the script himself, alongside screenwriter Jay Cox, to make a shorter version; The one we know today.

Spielberg, of course, wasn’t just expressing solidarity with his friend. His greatest contribution to Star Wars was introducing John Williams to LukeWho, as everyone knows, would become the most valuable contributor to the space opera that forever changed the face of box office and pop culture.

Source: Allocine

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