George Takei (rhymes with Okay), probably best known for playing Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek, has always had deep concerns for the present and the future. Whether on Earth or among the stars, he has the welfare of humanity very much at heart.
I was digging through my old copies
of Famous Monsters of Filmland, a great publication on monster and films
that I grew up with, and came across this. This was his reaction to
STAR WARS from issue 139 of Famous Monsters of Filmland and was written
June 6, 1977. It is reprinted here without permission but I hope since
the message is still valid to this day and has never been reprinted
anywhere, nobody will mind me sharing it.
STAR WARS is the most pre-posterously diverting galactic escape and at the same time the most hideously credible portent of the future yet.
While I thrilled to the exploits that reminded me of the heroics of Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, Burt Lancaster as the Crimson Pirate and Buster Crabbe as Flash Gordon, I was at the same time aghast at the phantasmagoric violence technology can place at our disposal. STAR WARS raised in my mind the question - do we indeed have a future?
It seems to me what George Lucas has done is to masterfully guide us on a journey through space and time and bring us back face to face with today's reality. STAR WARS is more than science fiction, I think it is science fictitious reality.
Just yesterday, June 7, 1977, I read that the United States will embark on the production of a neutron bomb - a bomb that will kill people on a gigantic scale but will not destroy buildings. A few days before that, I read that the Pentagon is fearful that the Soviets may have developed a warhead that could neutralize ours that have a capacity for that irrational concept overkill to the nth power. Already, it seems we have the technology to realize the awesome special effects simulations that we saw in the film.
The political scene of STAR WARS is that of government by force and power, of revolutions based on some unfathomable grievance, survival through a combination of cunning and luck and success by the harnessing of technology - a picture not very much at variance from the political headlines that we read today.
And most of all, look at the people; both the heroes in the film and the reaction of the audience. First, the heroes; Luke Skywalker is a pretty but easily led youth. Without any real philosophy to guide him, he easily falls under the influence of a mystical old man believed previously to be an eccentric hermit. Recognize a 1960's hippie or a 1970's moonie? Han Solo has a philosophy coupled with courage and skill. His philosophy is money. His proficiency comes for a price - the highest. Solo is a thoroughly avaricious mercenary. And the Princess, a decisive, strong, self-confident and chilly woman. The audience cheered when she wielded a gun. In all three, I missed qualities that could be called humane - love, kindness, yes, I missed sensuality. I also missed a sense of ideals and faith. In this regard the machines seemed more human. They demonstrated real affection for each other and an occasional poutiness. They exhibited a sense of fidelity and constancy. The machines were humanized and the humans conversely seemed mechanical.
As a member of the audience, I was swept up by the sheer romantic escapsim of it all. The deering-dos, the rope swing escape across the pit, the ray gun battles and especially the swash buckle with the ray swords. Great fun!
But I just hope that we weren't too intoxicated by the escapism to be able to focus on the recognizable. I hope the beauty of the effects didn't narcotize our sensitivity to violence. I hope the people see through the fantastically well done futuristic mirrors to the disquieting reflection of our own society. I hope they enjoy STAR WARS without being "purely entertained".