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The new “Star Wars” movie, “Revenge of the Sith,” could be titled “That ’70s Show.”
Though made 28 years after the original, the story of “Sith” actually happens before the original “Star Wars.” So creator George Lucas and his crew made sure the new film resembled that 1977 classic.
Designers rebuilt sets from “Star Wars” and gave characters similar costumes and hairstyles. Lucas wanted to make sure that “Sith,” also known as “Episode III” transitions smoothly into “Star Wars,” also known as “Episode IV: A New Hope”
“I’m hoping that people will see it as a six-part series,” George Lucas says. “In the future, I’d like people to watch the movies in order, from episodes I to VI.”
The story of “Sith” is how Jedi hero Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader, and how Anakin’s children, Luke and Leia, are hidden from him. The original “Star Wars” happens 20 years after “Sith,” when those twins are grown and battle their evil father.
There’s a scene on Alderaan – the lovely planet where Princess Leia grows up with her adoptive parents, Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) and his wife, Alderaan’s queen. Alderaan is the planet that gets blown to smithereens by the Death Star in the original “Star Wars.”
And the final scene of the “Sith” takes place on Tatooine, with the baby Luke in the arms of the people who will raise him, his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen. They stand and look out at a double sunset just like the one Luke himself stares wistfully at in that classic scene from the original “Star Wars.”
Lucas was aware that future generations might be thrown off by the shift in tone between the prequel trilogy and the originals, so he had staff of special-effects wizards go retro from time to time, even though most of the effects in “Sith” are in a completely different league from what Lucas was able to do in 1977.
While the most important aliens in “Sith,” including Yoda, were created on a computer, some of the others, including the Trade Federation representatives and some of the Wookiees, were made the old-fashioned way.
“We put people in rubber heads to make sure there’d be some continuity,” explains the film’s animation director, Rob Coleman.
“We could have made them all in the computer. But sometimes you actually want that feeling of an actor in a suit. ”
Lucas’ crew also used costumes and hairstyles that give the new film a ’70s veneer – like Leia’s famous cinnamon-bun hair swirls.
Here are some of the links, both in design and story, that bring “Revenge of the Sith” full circle back to “A New Hope.”
nSenator Bail Organa’s ship. Several scenes at the end of “Sith” take place in the familiar white hallways of Organa’s spaceship – the same one we see at the beginning of “A New Hope,” when Darth Vader comes aboard looking for the stolen Death Star plans and finds Leia. One of the scenes ties up a loose end that has always bugged “Star Wars” geeks: Why doesn’t C-3PO seem to recognize Tatooine when he arrives at the beginning of “A New Hope,” even though he was created there? Lucas takes care of the concern with a single line of dialogue, as Organa tells a deputy to “have the protocol droid’s memory wiped.”
n Chewbacca. According to the official “Star Wars” timeline, Wookiees can live up to 200 years, so it makes sense that Han Solo’s shaggy sidekick from “A New Hope” would be around and in fighting shape for “Sith,” which takes place some 20 years before the original trilogy. Chewie helps lead a battle against the droids on the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk. Peter Mayhew, the 7-foot-4 actor who played the walking carpet in the original trilogy, reprises his role.
nProto-Storm Troopers. Up until now, the clone warriors of the prequel trilogy have supposedly been good guys, fighting alongside Jedi Knights to defend the Republic against the separatists’ droid army. But they’ve always looked suspiciously like the fascist storm troopers from the original “Star Wars.” They look even more like storm troopers in “Sith,” and (thanks to a plot point that we’ll skip over for spoiler reasons) it turns out that they are related to them. By the way, that means that most of the storm troopers in the original trilogy were clones. That was Boba Fett’s father, Jango Fett, under all those helmets.
nObi-Wan Kenobi. “Sith” finally explains why all of the Jedis except Obi-Wan and Yoda were wiped out before “A New Hope” began, as well as why Obi-Wan came to be living on Tatooine, so close to Luke Skywalker. Ewan McGregor, in playing the Jedi master, also studied the voice patterns of the original Obi-Wan, Alec Guinness. “It wouldn’t be right to just do an Alec Guinness impersonation,” McGregor has said. “I had to make the character somehow my own but at the same time make it believable that I become Alec Guinness.”
n Jedi immortality. “Sith” also answers a question that has led to countless late-night bull sessions: What happened to Obi-Wan and Yoda when they seemed to die, but reappeared as glowing blue shapes? At the very end of “Sith,” Yoda quickly tells Obi-Wan something about Qui-Gon Jinn, his old master, played by Liam Neeson in “The Phantom Menace.” The “Sith” graphic novel, already in stores, explains that Qui-Gon didn’t die – he discovered a path to immortality that he is going to teach to Yoda and Obi-Wan.
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