The most infamous moment in Star Wars history is about to get its own documentary. Here’s a peek at the new A Disturbance in the Force: How the Star Wars Holiday Special Happened film!
Star Wars fans can be, to put it mildly, a contentious and divisive lot. But one thing almost everyone can agree on is that the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special is hands-down the worst thing in the history of the franchise. Yes, more than Jar Jar Binks or Rise of Skywalker.
At the time, Star Wars had become a box office phenomenon like no other, and George Lucas was riding high on the success. It was because of that that Lucas agreed to have CBS produce a special using the characters. With much hype, it premiered on November 17, 1978. It was going to be a TV classic, and it was…in all the wrong ways.
What makes this special so bad?
Trying to describe the Special is almost futile. You have to see it to believe it, and even then, you won’t believe it. The “plot,” to use that term loosely, is Han Solo and Chewbacca going to the Wookie home world so Chewie can see his family on Life Day and somehow the Imperials get involved in hunting Chewie's son Lumpy.
Fans tuned in to see more of the Star Wars universe and maybe some fun action. What they got was “comedy” of Wookies fighting stormtroopers on cheap sets, Art Carney as a shopkeeper/Rebel spy, Bea Arthur in a cantina, Jefferson Starship and Diahann Carroll doing musical numbers, Harvey Korman in multiple roles, and, oh yes, an animated sequence featuring the first-ever appearance of Boba Fett.
Mark Hamill had been recovering from a rough car accident, and the makeup job to cover his injuries looked more alien than any of the creatures. Carrie Fisher’s song is appalling, and the entire thing was a horrible Thanksgiving treat for fans.
The Holiday Special’s legacy
To say the Special wasn’t well received is like saying Alderaan had a bad day when the Death Star showed up. The critics were brutal, but that was nothing compared to how fans felt. They weren’t alone, as Hamill, Fisher, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels and just about every other person involved spent years trashing the Special as a travesty.
An urban legend was that Lucas himself once declared his greatest wish was “to hunt down every copy and destroy it with a hammer.” To back that up, the Special has never, ever been officially released in any form. Think about that: Lucas, who has given us no less than a dozen versions of the original trilogy on home video, would rather let this be buried forever.
At the same time, the Special has achieved a strange following with the “so awful it’s good” crowd. The gang at Rifftrax, who specializes in mocking bad films, had a field day with it and so have many more reviewing bootleg copies. Lucasfilm has even incorporated bits like Life Day into the Star Wars canon. Yet the question remains how this ever came to be, and now an answer is coming.
Here’s what A Disturbance in the Force is about
Planned for years, A Disturbance in the Force: How the Star Wars Holiday Special Happened is directed by Jeremy Coon and Steve Kozak. They go in-depth into the production and the various legends about it, finally explaining how it came to be this disaster.
Obviously, Lucas doesn’t take part, but the trailer shows a lot of past footage of Star Wars actors and interviews with fans like Kevin Smith, Seth Green, and more on their feelings about it and its bizarre cult following.
So if you’re a Star Wars fan or a bad movie buff, this can be a must-watch just to marvel at how this infamous part of Star Wars history came to be and its bizarre legacy.
A Disturbance in the Force: How the Star Wars Holiday Special Happened premieres on Blu-Ray and digital on December 5th.