CINEMA: OUR CRITIC RIDES A TIME MACHINE

On June 3, 1977, I officially got old. Just back from the Cannes film Festival, I'd been told by my editors at New Times magazine to catch up with Star Wars, which had opened to phenomenal business. And from the moment of the opening crawl, I was baffled. All these dense factoids about Galactic Empires and Death Stars--it was like some nightmare of a pop quiz in a course I hadn't taken. The sets were Formica, the characters cardboard; the tale had drive but no depth, a tour at warp speed through an antiseptic landscape. I admired George Lucas' attention to...

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