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Baker's Dozen

In Wide Angle: Simon Pegg's 13 Favourite Films
Elizabeth Aubrey , August 4th, 2018 09:07

Currently on cinema screens in the role of Benji Dunn in Mission Impossible: Fallout, Simon Pegg picks his 13 favourite films


Star Wars, 1977 – George Lucas
I saw Star Wars when I was 7, probably 8 because it didn't come out until 1978 in the UK or it was at least late 1977 because it came out in May 1977 in the States and it came to the UK on a tidal wave of hype. Everyone was saying what an amazing effect it had on America where filmgoers had gone so crazy for it; the blast rate of that hype just enveloped the entire world. I saw it in the same cinema I saw Raiders and ET and all those other films; I don’t remember watching the movie but I do remember buying a poster afterwards and coming out and running around with that like it was a laser rifle.   
I went to see it again not long later. I remember getting in the car and my friend asking: “where are you going?” and I said: “I think I'm going to see Star Wars 2” because it was like three or four weeks later [laughs] I had no idea of film production at the time obviously. But I saw it again and it came with a whole package of merchandising which I consumed avidly as a child. This was all [George] Lucas of course. There’s a great documentary about it on Netflix called The Toys that Made Us. The stories of the Star Wars figures are insane: no one wanted to do it, no toy company wanted to take it on. Kenner who were like a little tiny toy company on one floor of a building in Cincinnati or something, took up the challenge and they couldn’t produce enough of them such was the demand. There was one Christmas when they were giving away empty boxes saying this is the promise of when these toys are made if you deliver this voucher you'll get [the toy eventually]. So being at the very ground zero of that as a kid, it was hard not to be affected by it.    
Star Wars was everything a little kid sort of required from fantasy. It was a very classic story: it had all the great archetypes which was Lucas’ thing and that’s always what he wanted to do, create that sort of Campbellian classic tale but wrapped up in these extraordinary visual effects which had never been seen before. It was the first real idea of film as spectacle. At the time, films were very much art movies really – there wasn’t anything like the “blockbuster movie” and for better or worse, Star Wars – probably really for worse in terms of what it's done to the film industry now – created the idea of cinema as spectacle. But then who knew, the ensuing movie was really, really good and a clever evolution of the first in terms of how it grew slightly. It was beautifully directed by Irvin Kershner and by the time Jedi came along, it was all just running at full capacity. And even though Jedi was the lesser film of the three, I still have a great love for it – people have attacked it retroactively in light of the prequels which weren't very good: it was still better than them.