This Month in Star Wars History: February
Continuing the explosive nature of Star Wars New Year's, February always seems to guide the future of this iconic saga in a compelling and meaningful way. But what exactly happened during this pivotal month for the galaxy far, far away? What were some of the events that helped shape the franchise as we know it in 2018? Well, let’s find out! But before we begin – since there are literally too many historical Star Wars events to name in just one article – be sure to follow my Twitter account (@TheCancrizans) for daily updates on this very topic and much more! Also, most of the information used in this series can be found in the fantastic read Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle. I recommend you check it out. Anyway, without any further ado, here is This Month in Star Wars History: February.
Number 10. Vote Ackbar! – February 24th, 2010
You don't get to the top of your respective career ladder without hard work and good leadership qualities, and I'd say Admiral Ackbar is more than qualified in both fields. So if he were to somehow run for president one day, I would be more than happy to put a cross in the box next to his lovely, fishy face. Now, I am going somewhere with this – as on the 24th of February, 2010, students at the University of Mississippi began a local and online movement to replace their dated team mascot, Colonel Reb, with none other than Ackbar himself. Unfortunately, the campaign ultimately fizzled out. Maybe next time, Admiral!
Number 09. A Duel of Fates – February 8th, 1999
Whether you love or hate The Phantom Menace, I'm sure we can all agree that it has an incredible score. I mean, John Williams is always on point when it comes to his iconic orchestral symphonies. But with the likes of 'Droid Invasion' and 'Duel of the Fates', I genuinely believe that Episode I has one of the greatest soundtracks in the entire Star Wars saga. If you're in agreement, then I'm sure you'll be interested to know that on the 8th of February, 1999, Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra began an eight-day session to score the highly-anticipated film – using the world-famous Abbey Road Studios to do so.
Number 08. Going Commando – February 28th, 2005
To be honest, this entry could have easily went to Star Wars: Dark Forces instead, given its 1995 February release. However, I personally played Republic Commando a heck of a lot more, so yeah – my list, my rules! Anyway, it was on this day in 2005 that LucasArts unveiled one of greatest and most innovative Star Wars games ever. Taking place in-between the events of Episodes II and III, and utilising a unique squad-based system, this original Xbox and PC title blew audiences away with its gritty, fast-paced action. So much so that fans to this very day are holding out hope for a sequel.
Number 07. What Could Have Been – February 17th, 1978
Unless you're really into classic films or have a ridiculously-extensive knowledge of the galaxy far, far away, a name like Leigh Brackett will be entirely foreign to you. But by no means should it be. In fact, the 'Queen of Space Opera' played an integral part in the development of The Empire Strikes Back – arguably the greatest film in the entire Star Wars saga, if not cinema as a whole. And while George Lucas came to fundamentally disagree with the direction of her first draft – claiming the dialogue and actions of the characters to be inconsistent with his vision of Star Wars – many of her ideas either helped inspire events in the final cut of the film or remained entirely. Unfortunately, Leigh passed away from cancer before she could make any rewrites to her initial script - then titled Star Wars Sequel, from The Adventures of Luke Skywalker – which she completed on the 17th of February, 1978.
Number 06. “Revenge” of the Jedi – February 11th, 1981
Speaking of scripts for highly-anticipated blockbusters, it was on this day in 1981 that George Lucas completed his first draft of “Revenge of the Jedi” – yes, “Revenge”. The treatment included the debut of the Galactic Empire's capital world, Had Abbadon. The idea of a planet completely covered by cities would later inspire the host planet of the Galactic Republic, that – of course – being Coruscant.
Number 05. A Star Wars Story – February 5th, 2013
Only two months removed from the release of The Last Jedi – and with Solo: A Star Wars Story right around the corner – it's difficult to imagine once more waiting years or even decades for new Star Wars movies. In fact, Disney seem all set on releasing annual cinematic instalments until the end of time! Cue evil laugh. Of course, every other yearly release is awarded to an anthology or standalone movie, giving creators and fans alike a chance to breathe in-between Episodes VII, VIII and IX. As a result, February 5th, 2013, has become a rather important date in the history of Star Wars, given the announcement of such films by Walt Disney Chairman Bob Iger.
Number 04. A New Era – February 5th and 25th, 2014
Now I've included two dates here as both are of equal importance. Why, I hear you ask? Well, both represent the exact days in which Daisy Ridley and John Boyega were cast in Star Wars: Episode VII. Occupying the lead roles of “Kira” and “Sam” respectively, the relatively unknown actors were thrusted into the mainstream spotlight. And with promising careers ahead of them both – even outside the realms of Star Wars – it's fair to say Daisy and John have never looked back since.
Number 03. The Clone Wars – February 20th, 2003
A little over a month ago on Twitter, I voiced my honest opinion on Star Wars: Clone Wars. I was quick to admit its overlooked status when compared to a certain other animated series of a similar name. However, I couldn't help but praise both its unique aesthetic and unbelievable lightsaber duels. In fact, Genndy Tartakovsky and his team managed to convey Anakin Skywalker's gradual turn to the dark side – as well as his inner-turmoil – in a far more convincing fashion than all of the Star Wars prequels combined. Whether you agree with me or not, I'm sure you'll now regard the 20th of February, 2003, in a slightly different light, as it was the date in which Lucasfilm and Cartoon Network announced Star Wars: Clone Wars.
Number 02. The Clone Wars... Again! – February 12th, 2008
You know that series I literally just hinted at? Well, its fall release on Cartoon Network was officially confirmed on the 12th of February, 2008. In addition, a preceding theatrical release – also titled Star Wars: The Clone Wars – was announced for August of that year. And the rest, as they say, is history! Now, of course, I can't mention Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: The Clone Wars back-to-back without asking the question: which series did you find more enjoyable? Feel free to argue away in the comments below!
Remembering Those Who Passed Away
Unfortunately, despite the many highs February has gifted Star Wars fans over the years, the month hasn’t been without its low points. So before we uncover the number one spot on today’s list, let’s take some time to remember those who have sadly passed away.
John Alvin – February 6th, 2008
Known for his incredible artwork – as well as his many commemorative and licensed Star Wars posters – John Alvin passed away at the age of 59.
Stuart Freeborn – February 6th, 2013
Just like Leigh Brackett, Stuart Freeborn is a name that will have most likely flown under the radar of many a Star Wars fan. But that's not to say that his work has gone unnoticed. In fact, Freeborn was the make-up artist responsible for bringing every single creature and alien in the original trilogy to life. His legacy will no doubt live forever on thanks to his iconic Chewbacca, Yoda and Ewok costumes – just to name a few.
Phil Brown – February 9th, 2006
Uncle Owen may have had a very limited role in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, but the character has gone on to become beloved and iconic thanks to the brilliant actor who portrayed him. Phil Brown passed away aged 89.
Aaron Allston – February 27th, 2014
An author known for his novels in such series as X-Wing, The New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force, Aaron Allston was only 53 when he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Number 01. The King of Cinema - February 14th, 1997
Ever since 1977, the Star Wars saga has smashed box-office records around the world. Even rereleases of the original trilogy back in 1997 managed to topple the juggernaut that was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. So much so that Steven Spielberg personally congratulated his close friend and fellow director George Lucas in once more crowning A New Hope the highest-grossing film of all-time. Not to be outdone, however, the The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition set a February record upon release, thanks in no small part to its $22.3 million opening weekend.
So there is just a glimpse of the important historical events that have taken place throughout the month of February. But if you want even more content like this, be sure to follow my Twitter account (@TheCancrizans) for daily updates.
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