English in Blockbuster Movies: Star Wars

Two light sabers cross at the center

Welcome to the next part of our free English class series about English in Blockbuster Movies! Today we’re going to look at one of the most beloved movie franchises of all time: Star Wars!

Goals:

  • Learn how to talk about movie releases
  • Learn new general English and movie-related vocabulary
  • Learn a new way to use “get”
  • Discover interesting facts about the Star Wars franchise

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Time: Approximately 15 minutes

 

Reading Passage

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… This is how one of the most famous movies of all time began. Even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie in your life, you’ve probably heard of the sci-fi movie that spawned dozens of books, movies, and even fanfiction. In 1977, director George Lucas released the first film, Star Wars: A New Hope, changing the course of movie history forever. It was an immediate hit, becoming the highest-grossing film of the time (it would hold this title for 5 years) and winning seven Academy Awards.

 

The Plot Thickens

In the film, a young farm boy named Luke Skywalker dreams of joining the Rebel Alliance, a secretive group aimed at overthrowing the evil Galactic Empire. Luke soon meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old man who offers to train him to use “the Force” (a kind of magic in Star Wars), fight with a lightsaber (a kind of laser sword), and become a Jedi Knight (a skilled fighter who can use the Force). The pair team up with Han Solo and his trusty sidekick, Chewbacca, to save Princess Leia, fight Darth Vader, and destroy the Galactic Empire’s secret weapon: the Death Star.

 

The Series Continues

Star Wars is considered one of two films (with Jaws) that popularized the “blockbuster.” In addition to the money these films accumulated at the box office, they also made millions of dollars from merchandise like clothing, toys, and video games. Thanks to the popularity of the first film, Lucas was able to continue the story with a sequel, The Empire Strikes Back.

In 1983, Lucas released the final film of the trilogy, Return of the Jedi. Despite the popularity of the films, it would be another 16 years before audiences could enjoy a new Star Wars movie. 

In 1999, audiences finally got to see the first prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy, The Phantom Menace. This movie showed the events that occurred prior to the original trilogy. Even though it was one of the most highly-anticipated movies of all time, it did not receive good reviews. In fact, both fans and critics were very disappointed with the film. Reviews did not improve much for the next film, Attack of the Clones, though the final film of the prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith, was well-received. 

 

Disney Takes Over

In 2012, George Lucas sold the Star Wars filming rights to Disney, but stayed close to the series as a “creative consultant.” Three years later, viewers got to learn about the events that took place after the original trilogy. The first film, The Force Awakens (this time directed by J.J. Abrams) received positive reviews, though many noticed that it bore a striking resemblance to A New Hope. In 2017, Disney released the second film, The Last Jedi. Finally, in 2019, The Rise of Skywalker brought the sequel trilogy to an end.

During this time, Disney also released two movies as part of the anthology series, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Both films expand on the stories and characters from the other films. They also help give fans more insight into the ever-growing Star Wars universe. 

Since 1977, the Star Wars franchise has made approximately $10 billion in revenue, making it the second highest-grossing movie franchise of all time. To this day, each new movie breaks new records at the box office. It’s been more than 40 years since George Lucas started the series, but fans of all ages continue to love Star Wars!

 

YouTube Links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-zVTHFVVqw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mztK3s63_OM

 

Word Focus

Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in bold from the passage:

  • Sci-fi – (noun) – Short for ‘science fiction;’ a genre of storytelling involving imagined science or technology.

The original Star Wars trilogy combines elements from the sci-fi and western genres.

  • Spawn – (verb) – To create; to cause something new to come about.

When he first directed A New Hope, George Lucas probably didn’t realize that it would spawn 10 more films (and counting).

  • Fanfiction – (noun) – A story written by a fan that uses characters, settings, and other elements from an established work (book, movie, etc).

Thousands of people have created their own Star Wars fanfiction over the years.

  • Hit – (noun) – A popular film, television, book, music album, or similar product; a success.

A New Hope was an immediate hit with both fans and critics.

  • Highest-grossing – (adjective) – Earning more money than any other movie.

Star Wars movies are almost always the highest-grossing films for the years in which they are released.

  • Overthrow – (verb) – To remove a person, group, or government from power.

The Rebel Alliance tried to overthrow the Galactic Empire with surprise attacks.

  • Lightsaber – (noun) – A laser sword used by the Jedi in Star Wars.

Luke Skywalker needed to learn how to use his lightsaber.

  • Team up – (verb phrase) – To create a team; to work together.

Luke teamed up with Han Solo in order to save the princess.

  • Sidekick – (noun) – An assistant or partner.

Han Solo goes everywhere with his sidekick, Chewbacca.   

  • Merchandise – (noun) – Products for sale.

Star Wars merchandise is sold to fans all over the world.

  • Sequel – (noun) – The second movie in a series; a continuation of an existing story.

The Empire Strikes Back was the sequel to A New Hope.

  • Trilogy – (noun) – A group of three artistic works (movies, books, etc).

There have been three Star Wars trilogies so far.

  • Prequel – (noun) – A story that occurs before an existing story in a series.

Even though fans were really excited about the Star Wars prequels, the movies were not well-received.

  • Bear a striking resemblance – (verb phrase) – To look or seem very similar to something else.

The story of The Force Awakens bears a striking resemblance to the first Star Wars movie.

  • Anthology series – (noun) – A group of movies or books that exist in a series, but each exists as a standalone work, focusing on new characters, stories, etc.

Each movie in the anthology series introduces completely new characters to the Star Wars universe.

 

Grammar Center

Take a look at the following sentences from the passage:

In 1999, audiences finally got to see the first prequel to the original Star Wars trilogy, The Phantom Menace.

Three years later, viewers got to learn about the events that took place after the original trilogy. 

In English, we use the word “get” for a lot of reasons. You can get (receive) a gift, but you can also get to (arrive at) your destination. Additionally, the police can get (catch) a criminal, while a student can get (understand) what the professor is saying. It can get (become) pretty complicated, right?

The two examples sentences above use “get” in the past tense to mean “succeed in experiencing something.” In this context, you usually “get” something positive that you want to accomplish, experience, or witness. Here is a general format you can use:

 

Subject + get/got + infinitive + object

And here are a few more examples:

  • Will we get to see the new Star Wars on opening night?
  • Fans won’t get to watch another Star Wars movie until 2022.
  • Some critics get to screen new Star Wars movies before their official release.
  • Luke Skywalker got to fight with the Rebel Alliance, just like he had always wanted.

 

Quiz

Now, let’s look at a few questions to review the passage, vocabulary, and grammar:

 

1. Which of the following statements most accurately captures the central idea of the passage?

A. The Star Wars series has earned more than $10 billion over the course of 42 years.
B. The original Star Wars was extremely popular, but the prequels threatened to end the entire series. 
C. The Star Wars franchise made millions of dollars on merchandise, encouraging future films to adopt a similar strategy.
D. George Lucas created Star Wars in 1977 and directed 6 films before Disney took over in 2012, producing an additional 5 films as of 2019.

2. Which trilogy was the least popular among fans and critics?

A. The original trilogy
B. The prequel trilogy
C. The sequel trilogy
D. None of the above

3. Based on your understanding of the term, which of the following CANNOT be overthrown?

A. President
B. Government
C. Ceremony
D. Empire

4. What phrase has a similar meaning to team up?

A. Join together
B. Fight the power
C. Get smaller
D. Lead the way

5. Which of the following is NOT a meaning of “get?”

A. Receive
B. Arrive
C. Look
D. Understand

6. Fill in the blank: George Lucas still gets ______ to Star Wars as a “creative consultant.”

A. To make
B. Following 
C. To contribute
D. To discuss

 

 

Correct Answers:

  1. D
  2. B
  3. C
  4. A
  5. C
  6. C

 

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