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Too good for this galaxy: Celebrating ‘The Star Wars Holiday Special’

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinion of Byte or Byte’s editorial board.

Airing November 17, 1978, The Star Wars Holiday Special proudly joins the ranks of other beloved Thanksgiving movies such as…there was that one animated movie about time-traveling turkeys and there was…okay, so there’s not many Thanksgiving movies, but there are lots of Star Warsmovies. Star Wars needs no introduction—the movies are beloved by many and all are immensely popular…except for one. Whichever one is the latest installment in the franchise. But what if, ladies and gentlemen, there was a movie so bad that the very creator of Star Wars, the man who said “Jar Jar is the key to all this,” disowned it.

The Star Wars Holiday Special isn’t a movie. It’s an experience — an avant-garde masterpiece. The overarching story is about Chewbacca and Han going to Kashyyk to be with Chewie’s family to celebrate the Wookie holiday called Life Day. Everyone returned to reprise their roles from A New Hope, except for Kenny Baker (the original R2-D2,) who was replaced with a robot. This movie is a cluster of weird and awful ideas and circumstances.

The movie primarily follows Chewbacca’s family as they await his arrival. They are a family of Wookies who are not given subtitles… and the first ten minutes are entirely focused on them. The idea of focusing on Chewie’s family without subtitles was George Lucas’ idea. Peppered throughout the special are various skits that range in levels of weirdness from oddball weird to serial killer weird. Of particular note, when Saun Dann, a merchant on Kashyyk, visits the family and gives everyone gifts. He gives Grandpa Wookie a super softcore porn tape that is very uncomfortable to watch and will stain your soul for an eternity. Producer Mitzie Welch has said that this sequence was intended to be a type of porn. Throughout the movie, there are also multiple song numbers, because Star Wars songs have always been known for their catchy lyrics. There’s one about last call at the Cantina in Mos Eiseley, Carrie Fisher singing about Life Day, and Jefferson Starship performs a song; which I guess kinda makes sense they have the word starship in the name and there are starships in Star Wars. The porn sequence also has singing as well. Cool?

Image from The Gospel Herald

This holiday special is a product of its time. It features celebrities who were well known in the 70s and a progressive rock band. The technology in the original trilogy still looks good to this day, like something you could see in the near future. The special, however, is dated in its technological aspects. It turns out that Wookies live in huts modeled on the inside after houses in the 70s. This style includes televisions, furniture, and carpeting. The technology is very different than in the original trilogy. They used holograms in the original trilogy, but here they use TVs. A lot of the plot of this movie is spent watching wookies watch TV, which is regarded as the one and only good part of the special and is the animated segment about halfway through the film. The animation can be trippy at times, but you do get to see Boba Fett riding a space brontosaurus. Yeah, this is Boba Fett’s first-ever appearance.

George Lucas famously said whilst at a convention “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” about this special. There wasn’t a lot of love or passion put into this film. Carrie Fisher was on another planet so to speak, Harrison Ford didn’t care, and Mark Hamill had been in a car accident before filming. None of the cast is fond of the special and they regret its existence.

So, when it comes to watching a Thanksgiving movie just go with the time-traveling turkey movie. Now, when it comes to celebrating Life Day with your family I highly recommend this gem of avant-garde delight.

Sources: YouTube, IMDb, Salon

Images: YouTube,The Gospel Herald

Featured Image: Thrillist

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