Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004)

Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004)
8.3
  • 3972
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release year: 2004 ()
  • Running time: 151 min
  • Original Title: Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy
  • Voted: 3972

This documentary chronicles the making of the original Star Wars trilogy from start to finish. We get some background on George Lucas' start in the business and then continue with the making of Star Wars (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). The visual/special effects and financial problems are explained as well as casting, editing, scoring and releasing the films with tons of archival footage and interviews with plenty of cast & crew members.

#PersonCharacters
1Robert ClotworthyNarrator
  • Sweet Dreams by 7

    I have also seen a 90 minute version of this documentary, which was shown on the brilliant Biography channel. Although I had doubts about buying the soon to be released trilogy on DVD, the documentary has certainly whetted my appetite, and made me eager to see the complete version which will be included on the fourth disc of the set. Even for someone as knowledge about the Star Wars movies and George Lucas as I am, it was still very entertaining, and contained quite a few never before seen out-takes from all the films. The programme features the problems that Lucas had with 20th Century Fox execs (apart from Alan Ladd jnr, who greenlit Star Wars) when the movie ran over budget and missed it's Christmas 1976 opening date, the '...hippies...' at ILM who hadn't completed any decent effects shots Lucas could use, and the destruction of sets in Tunisia which halted filming temporarily. There are also interviews with most of the original cast members - even Harrison Ford who certainly doesn't enjoy doing them, which is no big secret.

    These edited highlights I've described, have left me hankering for more.

  • A good documentary if rather self-important by 8

    Like most DVD fanatics I picked up the "Star Wars" boxset last Christmas when it came out. I was disappointed, to be honest. Apart from the fact that much more could have been included in terms of extra content (did we need a video game demo taking up space on the fourth disc?) it also didn't include the original versions of the films - which, as far as I know, are those that practically everyone prefers.

    Nevertheless this insightful and exhaustive documentary - which covers the entire pre-production through post-production phase of each original "Star Wars" film - almost redeems the DVD collection. Although it is fairly "full of itself" as IMDb commentator Bob the Moo notes, it DOES feature a good wealth of information - including some facts I hadn't heard about before (e.g. Jedi was given a fake working title so fans wouldn't sneak onto the set).

    If you're a fan of "Star Wars," definitely check this out - if you don't want to dish out the cash, it's playing on A&E right now. But in my opinion it's not as great as it could have been because it falls victim to George Lucas' "cleanness" - we're led to believe "Star Wars" is the most important and defining event of the past century and that turned me off a bit.

  • Interesting, entertaining, informational... and thorough without being boring by 8

    This special starts before the original Star Wars, and after introducing Lucas and setting the scene for the time period, it takes us through the entire trilogy, with clips, interviews and behind the scenes footage en masse(I won't throw on the ever-ambiguous "and more" that is a common favorite to throw on DVD covers and the likes... believe me, if they've got something good to sell you, they know it, and they won't hesitate to tell you, "more" is like "interactive menus"... it makes nothing out of the ordinary sound like a real treat). Each main member of the cast, including Kenny Baker(R2D2), and Anthony Daniels(C3PO) - who sounds a lot like his character even when he's just speaking normally - and Peter Mayhew(Chewbacca). It has a good pace throughout, the version I watched was 90 minutes, and it never grew stale. It is edited expertly throughout. There is a solid flow to the documentary. It holds a lot of information, and the right amount of time is spent on it. The fun factor of this is achieved nicely, and without overshadowing what it is presenting. About the only person not brought in for an interview is David Prowse, who I suppose may still hold a grudge over not being told that they weren't going to use his voice(and if he knew that they were going to add in footage of Vader where his voice was still the one heard, in this special(which... let's just say, doesn't exactly sound as powerful and terrifying as that of James Earl Jones, who is also interviewed in this)... well, he might have stayed away for that reason, I know I would). There is perhaps a bit of patting on the back going on, as the special mentions just *how many* nominations and wins the films got, and how important it was, and so on and so forth, but this doesn't keep it from being worth watching. I recommend this to any fan of the original trilogy. Heck, the anecdotes alone almost make the hour and a half worth it. 8/10

  • All Aspiring Filmmakers Have Something To Learn From This by 10

    I watch this movie as both entertainment and education. If there was ever a film that so thoroughly covers the making of a classic, bears all and leaves you wanting it to be longer than its 2 1/2 hour length, it is this.

    First, it offers a breakdown of Lucas' roots, inspirations and student films. It glides over his personal life, barely mentioning how he met and married his wife, and tastefully omits the divorce Lucas endured as a result of his investment of time into Skywalker Ranch, instead of his marriage. The editor allows us to hear Lucas begin to talk about it, and then fades it off. It was painful the first time, and he probably should't have to relive it with his fans.

    The same Bonus Disc contains a shorter documentary that features today's best movie directors discussing how SW influenced them. There is not a finer documentary made about the process of film-making.

    The documentary almost takes a detour into propaganda when THX and Pixar come up, but then we realize that Lucas was the guy all of these entities was born from, or developed from. Today's movie editing software is born from Lucas' struggle to make 1970's equipment and people work for him.

    A must-viewing for anyone serious about the craft or the profession.

  • A joy for a fan like me by 9

    The production was maybe a bit amateurish, but nonetheless I thoroughly enjoyed this. I don't usually watch "making of" docs because it pops the fantasy bubble of the movie. But I'm glad I made an exception here.