Did You Know?… 1977 Star Wars Coverage in Listener Magazine

Did you know… very early local reviews of Star Wars when it was released in New Zealand of December 1977 had to go to great lengths to remind people to suspend their disbelief and not over-analyse the film in order to be able to enjoy it? The film scored three out of four stars in the Listener magazine, but it is very interesting to hear how the first Star Wars film was received in the absence of any other Star Wars content or material to give it context.

The battles between the rebel spaceships and the imperial fighters are actually nonsense, but they sure look nice. The ships don’t even look right – though used for close-range fighting, at visual distances they have tiny little windows and obscuring panels, and they manoeuvre like aircraft rather than spaceships.

And I’m sure nobody except hardcore science fiction fans will give a hoot. It is fantasy, not science fiction, and if one should feel disappointed by this then it is only because our expectations have been incorrectly primed. The two genres are not identical, though they do have regions of overlap – thus it is possible to treat science fantasy as sloppy science fiction and compare films of the two types.

Hard SF fans looking for more than escapism will have to wait until someone decides to release that interesting home movie Dark Star, or perhaps until Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the meantime, there is nothing wrong with luxuriating in the lavish visual effects and amusing incidents of Star Wars.

Read our earlier full coverage of the 1977 Listener magazine content here.

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