Remaking the Star Wars Holiday Special | Filmic Archaeology | Star Wars Holiday Special Watchable Edition
An exercise in Filmic Archaeology, this post explores the creation of Star Wars: A Holiday Story – a new Star Wars short excavated from the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special. #FilmicArchaeology #Film #History
Often talked about but rarely seen, The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) occupies a special place in pop culture history. As the first sequel to 1977’s wildly influential Star Wars, it is a wonderful artefact from a very different televisual time. More of a Star Wars-themed variety show than adventure story, it is marred by a myriad of questionable or outright poor creative choices. Even for diehard Star Wars fans, there is little enjoyment to be had. And ironic fun is elusive – the production is simply too ponderous for any type of meaningful pleasure to be had.
And yet, with the on-going release of Disney’s rapidly expanding Star Wars franchise, which now includes several spin-off films, there is something alluring about this lost episode in the saga. With the release of The Last Jedi, Star Wars has proven its status as trans-generational zeitgeist – so what, then, is the statues of The Holiday Special to be; are there any redeeming features to be found in its bloated mixture of bad contemporary sitcom tropes, Wookie speak, and interminable variety acts?
Like many observers of popular culture, I had managed to avoid The Holiday Special but, giving in to my baser instincts, I finally succumbed this January. The results were, more or less, as I expected – it was not an enjoyable 90 minutes. But I could not help but feel that there was something there worth watching – a unique insight into what a low-budget Star Wars sequel (and one was indeed planned) might have looked like. Unfortunately the sheer weight of campy, tangential material makes watching The Holiday Special (even for audiences with an open mind) a painful experience. Kitsch can be good – but The Holiday Special marries it with almost incomprehensible levels of incompetence and drudgery.
For that reason I set myself a challenge –we’ll call it filmic archaeology– to excavate something from this Star Wars-themed pit. The result is a top-to-bottom re-edit of The Holiday Special that turns the sprawling 90 minute original into a much sharper 25 minute adventure story that fits into the existing continuity of the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars: A Holiday Story, as I call it, cannot undo the core structural problems with the original (poor script, production design, and so on), but it can at least provide something close to a definitive retelling of this lost moment in Star Wars’ very special history.
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