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​Far, far away and far, far out

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | June 7th, 2017

“Star Wars Nothing But Star Wars” celebrates 40 years of the franchise

The prodigiously gifted team of collectors, archivists, programmers, and aficionados of movie madness operating as Cinefamily celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of George Lucas’ game-changing blockbuster with “Star Wars Nothing But Star Wars,” a wildly entertaining mixtape of gems, oddities, outtakes, clips, interviews, fan films, newscasts, commercials, public service announcements, and all sorts of other media devoted to one of the most durable franchises in motion picture history.

Made available online to coincide with a trio of public screenings at the Cinefamily headquarters in Los Angeles, the nearly 95-minute feature is an eye-popping, brain-melting phantasmagoria of the nooks and crannies of the Death Star’s attic and the Sandcrawler’s storage bins.

Loosely organized both chronologically and thematically, the mash-up concatenates the familiar and the obscure, reminding us of the unprecedented pop culture earthquake that shook the weeks, months, and years following May 25, 1977.

The most rabid fans will have seen (and in some cases, personally amassed) a great deal of the source material, from the “Star Wars Holiday Special” to the Underoos advertisement to the sour, curmudgeonly, and tone-deaf critique provided by noted hater John Simon.

But no matter how deep your knowledge and love, the rapid-fire montage parade unearths delights and surprises that, in the Cinefamily tradition, carom from the awkward and the embarrassing to the glorious and the sublime.

In one deeply satisfying and pleasurable section, the dangerous watering hole known to die-hards as Chalmun’s Cantina lives up to Ben Kenobi’s “wretched hive of scum and villainy” admonishment/warning regarding Mos Eisley spaceport.

Bea Arthur’s Ackmena, a Rainier Beer spot, a “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” PSA, and a sketch from “The Richard Pryor Show” (featuring the legendary comic’s colorful way with words) all make a case for the kegs of inspiration supplied by the most notorious tavern on Tatooine.

And while the Cinefamily assemblage sticks close to period content, a few prime selections of more recent vintage, such as the Sid Lee agency’s 2010 Adidas Originals World Cup promo featuring Daft Punk and Snoop Dogg, are worthy additions.

As an unauthorized work, “Star Wars Nothing But Star Wars” also takes perverse joy in drawing on the sleazy, seedy, and lurid adaptations of the mythology, which unsurprisingly go hand in velvet glove with the disco-era vibes of outwardly wholesome tributes like the spectacular episode of “Donny and Marie” in which the Osmond siblings (as Leia and Luke, presciently) interact with Kris Kristofferson as Han Solo, Redd Foxx as Obi-Wan, and Paul Lynde as Darth Vader.

The family-friendly atmosphere of innocence cultivated by Lucas on the big screen collapsed almost instantly, and Cinefamily has the pornography to prove it. “Star Babe,” the inaugural “sexual space fantasy” homage, kicked off a long line of lewd cash-grabs, but “Star Wars Nothing But Star Wars” adroitly includes “The Empire Strikes Back” outtakes in which the farmboy and the princess move in for a romantic (almost?) kiss long before a major act of retroactive continuity would cast them as siblings.

Alongside Luke and Leia’s scuttled ecstasy, the document uncorks a trove of completed and semi-completed scenes that never made it to the final prints. Devotees have previously studied the early looks at Luke interacting with Biggs (and Koo Stark’s dismissive Camie) and the awkward wampa attack inside the Rebel base on Hoth, but these cutting room artifacts are -- in their stilted, pace-killing roughness -- ideal corresponding partners to the incredible homemade tributes, like Itami Rose’s beautiful interpretation, that, in the wonderful galaxy of remix culture, would pave the way for marvels like the “Star Wars Uncut” project.  

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