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.