by Frederick Chagnon
The holidays are generally synonymous with a few things: the stress of finals, the relief of having no more finals, more food than you have seen in 4 months, and of course Star Wars. What else are you going to do with all this free time if not binging on the adventures of your favourite Jedi? We all know about that movie coming out on December 18th. By the way, have you noticed that all trailers have been released during either finals or midterms? Coincidence? I think not.
A shroud of mystery envelops most of the story and there is little we know for sure. One thing that is for certain, is that the hype is very real. The Force Awakens isn’t the only live-action Star Wars movie clouded in mystery and enigma. There’s another movie that stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher in their iconic roles. There’s another movie out there featuring all your favourite characters and the epic struggle against the Empire. It has reached the point of cultural legend. For those who haven’t guessed it already, I’m talking about The Star Wars Holiday Special.
It is generally agreed to be some of the worst 90 minutes in the history of television. George Lucas himself has been quoted as saying: “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Shown only once on November 17th, 1978, it has since then never been released to the public in any official capacity. The only recordings in existence were home tapings. This being 2015, it has of course made its way to the Internet where its legacy lives on.
The special is mostly a variety show, rather than a movie. The plot, focused on the Wookie holiday of “Life Day”, is simply there to wrap the different numbers together. I want you to take a minute to realize that the show is centered on Chewbacca’s family… Yes, characters that do not talk, only growls. There are numerous stretches of “conversations” between Wookies, conversations the audience has no way of understanding. Unless they are fluent in Wookie, of course. Wrapped around these are “comedy” skits and musical numbers of questionable quality. There are even animated segments (one of which has the merit to introduce the character of Boba Fett to the franchise). Throughout all of this, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher clearly do not want to be involved at all and deliver performances worthy of a Razzie.
As the hype train for Episode VII continues to gain speed with each passing moment, it’s good to remember the one true black eye of the Star Wars franchise. Even the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks can now be partly redeemed, thanks to a badass fan theory that says he’s secretly a Sith Lord and had been controlling the Emperor all along. So when you start your inevitable marathon, remember to include that grainy, low-quality, but still legendary, Holiday Special! And don’t forget to celebrate Life Day next year.