In a Galaxy far, far away…
Star Wars has become well known in every generation and people everywhere have been quoting it ever since it first came out. What some people may not know is that they have been saying some of the lines wrong this whole time! Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, just published by Applause Books, looks at what was actually said and how some of it may have been lost in translation. Take a look at an excerpt of the book below!
Although seldom cited as a source of brilliant dialogue, the original Star Wars trilogy remains one of the most-quoted works of the twentieth century, full of instantly recognizable and frequently parodied catchphrases. To say that the language of Star Wars has entered the popular vernacular would be a major understatement. Metaphoric references to the Force, Jedi mind tricks, and hyperspace may be casually dropped without fear of misunderstanding. Some words and concepts, including the name Star Wars itself—co-opted, to George Lucas’ horror, to describe President Ronald Reagan’s proposed satellite-based missile defense system—have been widely adopted and accumulated additional definitions. All this speaks to the profound cultural impact of the movies, but it also reflects the steadfast devotion of fans. After all, these words, phrases, and ideas entered the language because fans watched these movies over and over again—in theaters and later on home video—memorizing the dialogue and quoting lines back and forth with one another. (If I say, “When I left you, I was but a learner; now I am the master,” you answer with . . . ?)
Given all this, a closer look at some of the films’ most famous quotes would seem to be in order.
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . ”
Every Star Wars film famously opens with these words, printed in blue type against a black background. They precede the title of the film itself. George Lucas’ self-conscious myth making is at its most obvious here, but the words are beautifully chosen and their impact is both powerful and elegant; they immediately set the fanciful tone for all that follows. The phrase is clearly intended as the equivalent of “Once upon a time. . . . ” The link is so self evident that decades later the writers of the DreamWorks animated Shrek film series set the adventures of the loveable ogre and his companions in a fairy-tale world referred to simply as “Far Far Away.” This is also one of the most instantly recognizable and durable Star Wars-isms. A comprehensive listing of all the various books, movies, TV shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and websites to co-opt the phrase “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” in whole or in part, often for ironic or satirical purposes, would run on
for hundreds of pages (and would include this book).
“May the Force be with you.”
This phrase—Jedi-speak for “good luck” or often “goodbye and good luck”—quickly became (and remains) the emblematic catchphrase for Star Wars. It appears in every Star Wars film and in nearly every Star Wars book, comic, and video game. And it has been immortalized (after a fashion) on T-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, bumper stickers, and every other sort
of ephemera imaginable, up to and including being tattooed onto fans’ bodies. “May the Force be with you” is spoken four times in the Original Trilogy: twice in Star Wars (once by General Dodonna and once by Han Solo), once in The Empire Strikes Back (by Luke Skywalker), and once (“May the Force be with us,” says Admiral Ackbar) in Return of the Jedi.
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
This catchphrase/running gag appears twice in Star Wars (on first sight of the Death Star, Luke says, “I have a very bad feeling about this;” later, in the trash compactor, Han says, “I got a bad feeling about this”), and it recurs in every subsequent Star Wars movie, as well as in countless Star Wars novels, comic books, video games, and other media. Leia has the line in The Empire Strikes Back (while the Millennium Falcon is hidden in the belly of the giant asteroid monster), and both C-3PO and Han say it in Return of the Jedi (C-3PO upon entering Jabba’s palace and Han when he and Luke are captured by Ewoks). Tellingly, the line does not appear in the ill-conceived Star Wars Holiday Special, but it was used in episodes of the Droids and Ewoks cartoon series of the 1980s, in the Clone Wars animated series, and, of course, in the Prequel Trilogy (presumably it will also be repeated in the Sequel Trilogy). The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this,” or some version of it, also appears in countless Star Wars novels, comics, video games, role-playing games, and the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland and Disney World. Like the call letters THX-1138 (the name of Lucas’ first feature film), the phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” also recurs in other Lucasfilm projects, including the movies Radioland Murders (1994) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and the Young Indiana Jones TV series. And it has been co-opted as an homage to Star Wars in numerous other works, including Star Wars jokes on TV series including The Big Bang Theory, Robot Chicken, Family Guy, and Phineas and Ferb.
“Luke, I am your father.”
This is a phantom phrase. Although often “quoted” or parodied, Darth Vader never actually says this—not in quite this construction, anyway—in The Empire Strikes Back or anywhere else. It’s a misquote much like “Beam me up, Scotty,” which no Star Trek character has ever spoken, or “Play it again, Sam,” which is never said in Casablanca, or “Elementary, my dear Watson,” which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote. The actual exchange from Empire:
Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Vader: No. I am your father.
Do you have any other favorite quote from the movie? Let us know in the comments below!!