The Original Star Wars Trailers

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As a huge Star Wars fan I’ve grown used to the feel of Star Wars and the direction that the franchise has moved. Taking a look at the old trailers for the films is a great reminder of how they once were an unknown. It took a lot time before marketing and how trailers are cut to make match what we know today. The original Star Wars trailers are a a great example to illustrate how much Star Wars, and movie trailers in general, have changed over the decades.

The Original Star Wars Theatrical Trailer

Even wonder what Star Wars would be like if it was boring? Look no further! The music is simply drab and plodding and it makes you really appreciate the John Williams score. The old school narrator isn’t really offering a whole lot other than vague promises that every other movie offered at the time. Weird to see how the film is being sold as a movie about, “a boy, a girl, and a universe.” Gotta reel them in with romance!

Another reason why this trailer is so terrible is that it is missing a lot of sound effects. The in studio sounds lack any kind of impact and make the movie seem super cheap. And what’s with that Star Wars font?

The Empire Strikes Back Teaser

This teaser for Empire Strikes Back is really notable for it’s lack of footage from the film. Rather you have a narrator, John Williams music, and Ralph McQuarrie concept art. You couldn’t really get away with something like that these days.

The Empire Strikes Back Theatrical Trailer

If that narrator for The Empire Strikes Back trailer sounds familiar, it’s because it’s Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford. Man, what kind of studio contract was he beholden to that he had to do narration for the film’s trailer? It’s stuff like this that points to why he was super sick of the character by the time Return of the Jedi rolled around. It feels like he’s adding a bunch of fake excitement to it to intentionally tank the thing.

At least the John Williams score is present along with all the familar Star Wars sound effects. Also, it’s cut in a lot more exciting way.

Astute viewers may notice a shot of C-3PO fighting oppression by ripping a sign off a door. This is actually from a deleted sequence that involved tricking Imperial troops into going in an area of the base where some Wampas were trapped.

Revenge of the Jedi Teaser

Any Star Wars fan that knows anything knows that Return of the Jedi was originally supposed to be called, “Revenge of the Jedi”. This teaser reflects that. There’s yet another announcer, but this time it’s a more serious “movie guy” voice. Notice the coloring on Luke’s saber on the barge. I love those zooming photo effects on the characters. It’s also great how they cut it near the end so it looks like everyone is looking up at Darth Vader, even though they’re all from completely different scenes.

Return of the Jedi Theatrical Trailer

By the time Return of the Jedi appeared trailers definitely had progressed a bit, however they still had a movie guy providing narration. There are some interesting choices made in this trailer, like the exploding trees which I wouldn’t think you’d want to focus on. The transition between the exploding Death Star escape POV shot and the Speeder Bike POV shot is well done though. Note that Luke’s blade is still the wrong color.

  • Big Jim

    Star Wars trailer makes it seem like a 70s thriller. I’m watching it thinking this is Star Wars directed by John Frankenheimer.

    They must have liked the line “aliens from a thousand worlds” since they used it again in the Jedi trailer.

    Interesting bit on the Empire teaser and trailer – no Yoda. That’s something you don’t get today – keeping a character that important to the story out of the trailer.

    I really liked the Empire teaser, especially the line that says the movie culminates in a confrontation between Luke & Vader. It’s not a spoiler, it’s what we were all hoping to see in the sequel. Knowing going in you’re going to get what you want is a good thing. Of course, the big spoiler is how that confrontation ends.

    I agree we generally don’t get teasers today as creative as the Empire one. Back then, concept art would be a treat. Today, with the internet and movies getting almost constant coverage from conception, concept art is practically a given. But we do still get teasers with little or no footage. I remember the teaser for THE DA VINCI CODE was in theatres before they’d started shooting. And, more recently, THE HATEFUL EIGHT teaser (the one that just listed the characters).

  • Chris Piers

    It’ll be at “a theater in my galaxy” eh? That… could still be ridiculously far away.