A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Steve Binder
Produced By: Joe Layton, Gary Smith, Dwight Hemion
Written By: Pat Proft, Leonard Ripps, Bruce Vilanch
Starring: Mickey Morton, Patty Maloney, Mark Hamill
Running Time: 97 Minutes
1977 marked a pinnacle in filmmaking, a groundbreaking spectacle that forever changed the world of cinema. With A New Hope, George Lucas introduced audiences to something never before seen, a work of art that would proceed to be the primary source of inspiration for millions, nay, billions of people.
Where Episode IV transcended space and time, it was followed by a Star Wars property that was very much a product of its era. The film in question is not the iconic Empire Strikes Back from 1980, no, there was another. Unbeknownst to many, 1978 introduced the world to The Star Wars Holiday Special, a cataclysmic misfire of galactic proportions. With the original cast of A New Hope returning, The Holiday Special delivered something obscure, uncomfortable but uproariously entertaining; what were they thinking?!
En route to the Wookiee home planet in time for the annual celebration known as ‘Life Day’, Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca are interrupted by several opposing threats that make their voyage increasingly difficult.
Inter-spliced between the dominant story focusing on the nervous family of Chewbacca awaiting his arrival, The Holiday Special becomes an absurdist comedy within the first few minutes, even if it had absolutely no intention in doing so.
For example, a cooking scene around the twenty-minute mark leaves you in utter disbelief, there are simply no words to describe the on-screen atrocities taking place before you. But sadly it gets worse, much worse.
The first striking element within The Holiday Special is the quality of camera. A noticeably lower budget has only allowed for so much in the technological field, leaving the film with a distinctive TV movie appearance (which ultimately shouldn’t come as a surprise). Moreover, the painted sets that establish certain scenes appear dull and satirical, constantly leaving viewers scratching their heads in disbelief and utter shock.
The dialogue is diabolically written and delivered as a result. Where there was reverberating philosophical monologues about humanity, morality and destiny in the original trilogy, The Holiday Special presents us with lines such as “She did by herself. You may even say she did it Han…Solo.”
Characters you know and love regrettably return in The Holiday Special. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vadar, C-3PO and R2-D2 join Han and Chewy, as do Jefferson Starship, who occupy a solid six minutes singing a sensationally out of place tune.
Not the only musical number to perplex an already mortified audience even more, the film contains numerous songs that simply do not fit in the slightest.
Songs are sung, dreams are had and apparent narcotics are consumed, leaving us with something truly magical in its own right. The joyous side adventure that has been lost over the decades that followed, The Star Wars Holiday Special is one never to be forgotten. Although Lucas didn’t direct this abomination against the human race, one can only assume that he gave it the all clear and acknowledged it as cannon at the time. It thus comes as no surprise that he famously tried to purchase all copies of the film with the intent that it was never broadcast again soon after.
There isn’t anything to admire ironically within The Holiday Special; it truly epitomises cinematic garbage. It says a lot about a film when the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks would’ve improved the picture tenfold.
Available on YouTube, the challenge is there to see how long you can last before collapsing to the floor and contemplating your purpose on this planet in a pool of your own tears.