By Caleb Spencer / Staff Writer
Do you ever find yourself watching something so bizarre, you question the entirety of Hollywood because of its existence? That’s how the “Star Wars Holiday Special” has left me ever since I finished the 90-minute runtime.
Easily one of the most confusing Star Wars-related pieces of media yet released, this sci-fi Christmas special aired in 1978 the week before Thanksgiving. Starring a cast of largely nonverbal Wookiees, as well as the original casting of Luke, Leia, Han, and even Chewbacca, the special follows Chewbacca’s family as they wait for him to return home for “Life Day,” the equivalent to Christmas in the Star Wars universe. As Han Solo tries to get Chewbacca home for the holidays, the Empire tries to track them down.
While the basic plot follows this idea, the actual events that occur through the runtime tend to stray towards the absurd, with multiple musical numbers and segments of characters watching videos on large TV screens. You watch Chewbacca’s wife as she prepares a holiday meal, following on-screen directions from a cooking show host, you watch his grandfather use a strange virtual reality device to watch a female singer perform a romantic song, and you even watch his son construct a mechanical device using a video manual.
There are multiple scenes like this, featuring strange live-action short videos with characters that you hardly meet, and don’t affect the overall plot in the slightest. There’s a whole Jefferson Starship music video around the halfway point, so at least the special has that going for it.
The extended scenes with the Wookiee family interacting with each other are confusing and hard to follow. None of them speak any real language, and no subtitles appear on-screen for the viewer to follow. The background music helps guide the emotions of the scene, but that doesn’t help soothe the obnoxiously loud vocals of each Wookiee. Seriously, their voices are the most painful part of watching this holiday special, and that’s saying something.
The biggest question I had after finishing the “Star Wars Holiday Special” was, simply put, “why?” I get the appeal of a “Star Wars” Christmas special, especially considering how popular the first film was at the time, but why this? This wasn’t just a studio taking the original property and making something without the creator’s consent. No, this was George Lucas’ idea from the beginning. While Lucas has been on record saying how disappointed he was with the final product, the child actor that played Lumpy (yes, that’s the actual character’s name) claims that Lucas received copies of each day’s work for approval, so it’s hard to defend George Lucas here.