When this series was first broadcast on National Public Radio in 1981, it generated the largest response in the network's history: 50,000 letters and phone calls in a single week, an audience of 750,000 per episode, and a subsequent 40-percent jump in NPR listenership.
This landmark production, perhaps the most ambitious radio project ever attempted, began when Star Wars creator George Lucas donated the story rights to an NPR affiliate. Writer Brian Daley adapted the film's highly visual script to the special demands and unique possibilities of radio, creating a more richly textured tale with greater emphasis on character development. Director John Madden guided a splendid cast, including Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels, reprising their film roles as Luke Skywalker and the persnickety robot See Threepio, through an intense 10-day dialogue recording session. Then came months of painstaking work for virtuoso sound engineer Tom Voegeli, whose brilliant blending of the actors' voices, the music, and hundreds of sound effects takes this intergalactic adventure into a realm of imagination that is beyond the reach of cinema.
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Beyond the film...
Brings Out Nuances in the Well Known Story
I would listen to this recording again to share with friends and my young son. For the initiated, it provides a new take on the story as it was made popular by the George Lucas blockbuster motion picture. While true to the motion picture in sound effects, characters, and overall tone, the dramatized version provides additional dialogue and scenes that enhance the listener's understanding of the story. Listening to this recording is like experiencing a hybrid of the novelization and the film: you get more depth while still experiencing many of the aspects that made the film thrilling. For those -- like my son -- who are yet to experience the Star Wars motion pictures, this recording still creates vivid images in the minds' eye. It's a great radio serial that is broken into hour-long segments, so it can be taken in incrementally and makes for good listening on car trips.
There are numerous additional scenes and bits of dialogue that are not in the motion picture. Luke's interactions with his child-hood friends from Tatooine stand out to me.
Hamill and Daniels embody their characters with the even greater zeal than they do in the motion picture.
The depiction of Darth Vader interrogating/torturing Princess Leia is disturbing on many levels.
Note: Because of the intense violent scenes depicted in this dramatization, it may not be suitable for very young audiences. I think the absence of visual images causes the listener to internalize the story more within their own imagination. Recommended for listeners over ten-years old.