Monday, July 30, 2012

AUDIO DRAMA REVIEW: Star Wars

(Originally posted at OTHERREALMS AUDIO)

First broadcast in 1981, the Star Wars radio dramatization gives us a 13-episode tour de force that both recalls and expands the movie story. Where Lucas's movie was a feast for the eyes, Brian Daley's excellent dramatization is a feast for the ears.

I thoroughly enjoyed it when I first heard the broadcast on my local NPR station back in '81, and I continue to enjoy it as I listen to my copy of the dramatization at least once a year.

In addition to giving us the movie, this version also shows us Luke's and Leia's lives shortly before the events of the film. We see Leia at home on Alderaan. We meet Luke's friends at Anchorhead. We even meet Luke's old pal, Biggs. Remember that scene in the Special Edition where Han and Jabba square off in the Falcon's docking bay? We get that here, too--minus Hutt. And we even find out what happened in that interrogation scene we only glimpsed in the film.

There's several other fun bits, too. But I'll leave those out so you can listen for them.

Although Mark Hamill and Anthony Daniels were the only two original cast members to reprise their film roles, the actors who came in to fill the other cinematic character shoes did a fantastic job.

Perry King lent the right vocal quality and attitude as everyone's favorite smuggler, Han Solo. Ann Sachs, as Leia, captured the Princess's spunkiness and inner strength. Bernard Behrens nicely captured Obi-Wan's sound and cadence.

And while Brock Peters as Darth Vader didn't, in my mind, quite match James Earl Jones's vocal depth and resonance, he did manage to embody enough of Vader's character, attitude, and tone. By the time episode 8 came along, Peters was the Dark Lord of the Sith as far as I was concerned.

Add to that Ben Burtt's fantastic sound design and John Williams's stirring score and you have a winner.

If you liked the original Star Wars, you will definitely love this dramatization.

Oh yeah--and in this version, Han shoots first.

Get your copy as a CD from Amazon here or as a download from Audible here.

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