FAN FILM FRIDAY: Hardware Wars

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Star Wars has long provided inspiration for fan films, with hundreds of examples available online. One of the oldest and most venerable is Hardware Wars. Join me after the jump for a look at this pioneering work.


Created in 1977, only months after the debut of the original, Hardware Wars takes the form of an extended trailer. It clocks in at about thirteen minutes. It was directed by Ernie Fosselius and produced by Michael Wiese on a budget of about $8,000. I imagine a fair chunk of that went towards getting Paul Frees, who also supplied the narration for the original Star Wars trailers. Shooting took a total of four days.

It's interesting that some of less important dialog was already firmly in the public's conciousness. The exchange between Arty-Deco and 4-Q-2 at the beginning is nearly verbatim from Star Wars.

I'm impressed that the film makers snuck an "1138" into the shot of the speedometer. They fortuitously included "I've got a bad feeling about this," which was not yet a recurring line.

It's interesting to note the use of visual effects varies depending upon the joke they're going for. While most of them are intentionally crude, down to scratching film for laser bolts, some of them are quite good. The slit scan effects wouldn't look out of place in 2001 and Reddy Kilowatt is spot on. The brief computer graphic shot is on par with the one during the Star Wars briefing sequence.

Hardware Wars was shown in theaters and cable networks extensively, and grossed millions of dollars. It took first place in over a dozen film festivals. In 1999, George Lucas called it his favorite Star Wars spoof, and in 2003 it was honored with a Pioneer Award at the Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards.

In 1997, to coincide with the release of the Star Wars special edition, a "Special Edition" VHS tape was released with new digital effects sequences. Ernie Fosselius did not approve, and packaging for the release made note of this. In 2002 a DVD was released. Fosselius participated in this version, including the commentary track. (Fittingly, the commentary track is also a parody.) A 30th Anniversary version was released in 2007.

You can obtain a copy of the DVD for about five times the referenced "three bucks." Included are special features, such as this piece on the origins of the project.


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