May the 4th Be with You: What Costumes Mean to Star Wars Day
Note: Please hum the following melody as the intro to this post:
Dum dum dum, dum dedum, dum dedum!
May the 4th is a special day to Star Wars fans across the world. The holiday created by George Lucas to solidify the already boastful status of the world’s most revered film franchise is quickly gaining popularity every year. Businesses take advantage of the opportunity to promote Star Wars products as it plays in perfectly with marketing. George Lucas’s witty play on words upon selecting the date of the celebration was pure genius that is now widely exploited to push everything from Star Wars action figures to greeting cards. We are no exception, we shamelessly promote our products every chance we get (see our Star Wars section ;-), especially the ones that celebrate our geeky pride. However, that classic opportunistic sales pitch does not discount from the fact that costumes actually have meaning to Star Wars fans. In other words, our products are far from the lowbrow Star Wars beer koozie.
You don’t have to be a cosplayer or wait until May 4th to appreciate the iconic wardrobe on any of the Star Wars movies since Episode IV was released in 1977. Darth Vader and Storm Trooper outfits are arguably as recognizable as Coca-Cola on a worldwide scale. No offense to Trekkies, but Star Wars costumes may only be rivaled by DC and Marvel’s superhero getup. That says a lot about the Lucasfilm wardrobe department because the company has only been around since 1971 while the others have existed almost as long as Disney. Aside from a complex, yet easy to follow story line—with dramatic twists and turns worthy of a classical opera house tragedy—the Star Wars franchise is a visual masterpiece in which every film outperforms the prior with superb effects.
Today, computer graphics have leveled the playing field for rival franchises looking to outdo Lucasfilm, but what earns Star Wars’ creators the title of ‘Geniuses’ was their use of props and costumes to create visual effects in the early films. This is not just an overstatement to get you to agree with our ‘obviously’ biased opinion of the impact of costumes on the Star Wars franchise. Last year, Lucasfilm joined forces with none other than the Smithsonian Institution, one of the most prestigious museum and research organizations in the world, to create a special exhibition named Star Wars and the Power of Costume; we wrote an informative piece about the exhibition last year. You’ll probably agree that this further strengthens and adds credibility to our claim. The point of the exhibition is to educate fans and curious visitors about the monstrous challenges that Lucasfilm overcame in order to produce films that transport viewers out of this world into “a galaxy far, far away…” This was no easy task; a minor slip up could have meant the difference between grand success and becoming a subject for ridicule (leave Spaceballs out of it); wardrobe was largely responsible for achieving a visual quality that’s up to par with reality—if our reality was intergalactic warfare. This was an important element because bad costumes on a movie set can be distracting enough to make viewers lose interest in the plot. Just look up Batman & Robin movie costumes which were single handedly responsible for ruining George Clooney’s attempt at Batman. That’s in a film with a long established character with an iconic costume. Compare that to Jabba the Hutt’s three man puppetry act seen on this short documentary by Jamie Benning:
Star Wars’ costuming crew was able to pull this off successfully many times by producing costumes that are just as important to the film as the plot itself (if not more). When you think of Star Wars costumes, what comes to mind? Yoda, Chewbacca, the many outfits of Princess Leia, Amidala, Darth Vader, Darth Sith, Stormtroopers, etc? Now, try to imagine Star Wars without those unforgettable costumes that signify so much to Star Wars fandom and the franchise brand. It’s not impossible, but it is probably very hard to do.
May the 4th is a celebration of all things Star Wars, and just like any other holiday, it is an opportunity for merchants across the world to try to get you to spend your money. We are not going to play innocent as if Star Wars Day is not a chance for us to do the same. However, I can make the argument that there will be no money better spent for a Star Wars fan if you get a costume. Dress up as a Jedi, a Sith, a Wookie, a humanoid robot (C-3PO), a droid (R2-D2), whatever, and pay homage to one of the greatest film franchises in the world! As part of our shameless Star Wars themed self-promotion we would like to offer you a special 12% discount toward the purchase of any Star Wars costume when you enter the coupon code: Jedi12 at check out.