Why Brian De Palma Has No Regrets About His Now-Infamous Criticism Of Star Wars’ Opening

Star Wars Episode IV poster

CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

While there may be endless debate about which parts of the Star Wars franchise are best and which parts are maybe not, there is widespread agreement that Star Wars is on the whole pretty awesome, and that George Lucas' original movie that started it all is one of the most important and influential films ever made. Nearly everybody loves the original Star Wars, but director Brian De Palma was famously critical of the film when he first saw it, and even 40 years later he's not backing down.

Among his numerous great works Brian De Palma directed the first Mission: Impossible movie, and in an appearance on the Light the Fuse podcast, he spoke about the well-known story that he was quite critical of Star Wars when he first saw it. One might think that time, and the franchise's ultimate success, might cause him to reconsider-- but De Palma stands by his thoughts. While he feels he's been painted as the bad guy to some extent, which isn't the case, the director says he has no problem giving his opinion if he's asked for it. According to De Palma...

Will we never live down this [story] over the first screening of Star Wars? I mean when I talked to everybody that was involved in that movie, everyone has a different version of what happened. My version is pretty close to -- I was just watching Steven’s biography and he played it how he saw it. They always portray me as the guy who says the worst thing that drives everybody crazy. But if you’re going to show me something I’m going to tell you what I think about it, why am I there unless I’m going to give an honest appraisal of what I’ve seen?

Having said that, Brian De Palma does admit that for the most part, he saw Star Wars for the remarkable achievement that it was. However, that doesn't mean he thought the movie was perfect. There were two particular places where De Palma says Star Wars had a problem. One was the opening text crawl. With this being the audiences first ever introduction to the galaxy far, far, away, De Palma says Lucas' version was far too confusing, which led to De Palma himself and screenwriter Jay Cocks taking a pass on it and rewriting it into something a little easier to follow.

Star Wars fans can re-watch the Skywalker Saga on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

This was almost certainly the right decision. The other place where Brian De Palma admits he thought Star Wars got a little silly was in the name of the spiritual energy field at the core of the Jedi storyline. Although, the director admits now that he was clearly wrong on this one. De Palma goes on...

In this case, the fact that Steven says only he saw the possibilities of Star Wars, that’s not really true. We all saw it as a terrific thing that George had done. We were well aware of where the special effects weren’t there and how they had cut in all these planes from other movies to be the ships and stuff like that. I did make a joke about the force, that’s true… the force!, I’d say, I kept repeating it, it just didn’t seem like a great name for that kind of spiritual guidance. The force!... obviously I was terribly wrong about.

While Brian De Palma may have been wrong about The Force, he was probably right about the crawl, so Star Wars fans can thank Brian De Palma for helping to make Star Wars just a little bit better. And many years later, George Lucas would repay the favor, so it all works out.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.