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STAR WARS REVISITED (article first published : 1999-06-21)

When the movie Star Wars hit an unsuspecting world in the 1970’s, the story and screenplay by George Lucas immediately captured the public’s imagination. With its brilliant special effects and highly imaginative costumes and make-up, the production soon turned into a cult.

Children of all ages identified with the saga of Jedi Knights fighting for good in a universe too often tainted with evil. Parents were inundated with requests for Jedi Knight and Darth Vader outfits or something that would make them look like the enchanting little robot R2-D2. Young boys’ games included lightsabers (the Jedi Knights’ powerful weapons) and they dreamed of screaming off into the universe at the speed of light at the controls of their starfighters.

With most successful movies of this nature, producers usually work on sequels, taking the storyline and projecting it into the future. However, the brains behind Star Wars plan to produce three episodes to fill in the period leading up to the time of “Star Wars. The first of these has been released as Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace,

InEpisode 1 – The Phantom Menace, author Terry Brooks has taken George Lucas’s concept and screenplay and literally `gone backwards’ in time. In this fast-moving and fascinating story, two Jedi Knights – Qui-Con Jinn and his apprentice, young Obi-Wan Kenobi - are charged with the protection of Amidala, the young Queen of Naboo, as she seeks to end the siege of her planet by Trade Federation warships.

We also meet young Anakin Skywalker, a human slave with strong extra-sensory abilities and a passion for flying. His behaviour and demeanour so impress Qui-Con Jinn, that he poses the question – is this the one the Jedi Knights have been waiting for, the one who will eventually become their true leader? There’s also Jar Jar Binks and his fellow froglike Rasta creatures, the evil Sith Lords and R2-D2 is much in evidence with his beeps and whistles.

I haven’t yet seen the original Star Wars but I knew that at the height of its popularity my husband’s costume hiring business experienced an enormous demand for what costumes we had!.

So, without much knowledge of the Star Warsculture, I expected to pick up The Phantom Menace, skim through it quickly and produce a brief over-view . However, after the first 20 pages, I was hooked - that is, once I had allowed my imagination to run free and become comfortable with terms like “energy binders”, “Toydarian”, “droids”, “off-worlder”, “bliels”, etc.!

The book reflects the extraordinary scope of imagination and creativity behind Star Wars and I can’t wait for the next two episodes!

Terry Brooks’s new novel, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, is published by Ballantine Books at R140 (inc. VAT) and has been published with four different dust jackets supplied at random to the bookshops.


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