Roger Ebert Defends 'Star Wars' in 1983

Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert disagree with John Simon's assessment of the George Lucas film.
7:35 | 01/29/13

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Transcript for Roger Ebert Defends 'Star Wars' in 1983
Joining us now live from our New York studios as -- Simon film critic for the national review and drama critic for New York magazine. From our Chicago bureau Gene Siskel film critic for the Chicago Tribune and co host of the syndicated television series at the movies. And Roger Ebert co -- The movies and film critic for the Chicago sun times. Mr. Simon -- described the empire strikes back the second in this trilogy as Mello -- awful and I understand you're also -- able to keep your enthusiasm in check for the third in the truth. -- -- -- -- -- I think the graves for the early Star Wars have been so. Violence and so extravagant. But I feel one cannot afford to -- -- -- words if one dislikes these things you certainly did not do that -- but why do you feel they are so -- I feel -- so bad because the completely dehumanizing. I think obviously let's face it -- for children or for childish adults them off adult mentality. Which unfortunately. And means of them off a lot of my fellow critics who also -- adult mentality has been anyway. They are for children their brutalizing children spoke defying children they're making killed in the wrong. Government that they need to be. -- great work for -- them. Like Huck Finn for example. Tells a child something about reality about people about life about going up. These films try to keep children stupid killed and four about I think is wrong. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert if you would like to remove the dagger from between your career as a strike back have -- it. I totally disagree with mr. -- -- I don't know what he did as a child but I spent a lot of my Saturday matinee. Watching science fiction movies and -- having a great time of being stimulated. And having my imagination stimulated and having all -- divisions take place in my mind that helped me to become an adult then to still stay young at heart. And I would say not that I'm childlike but that he is -- -- heart. You know what I I think that mr. -- how to do what I did over the -- -- I went to a regular movie theaters shopping center in Michigan City, Indiana and I sat amid amid all the kids you -- one's fault. And a lot of small head relate dumber than they needed to me no they weren't -- -- quote that in interest in -- -- they where X. -- they -- enjoying it and they were rooting they were asking each other who's who they were getting all involved they were rooting for the right guys and booing the bad guys. I thought it was a lot of fun. -- I feel badly honestly I feel badly that this other critic John Simon didn't have a good time at these pictures that's too bad for him. -- while it would probably be more fun to have you slain mother of one another all three of you let's talk about let's talk about the movie nevertheless. Is -- the great film I mean it's it's clearly great technology and it does wonderful things with special effects. But in terms of the normal standard by which we judge movies is this a great John Simon clearly you say -- But -- Well first of all those special effects are like the tail of the dog which should -- wag the whole animal. Where you have a film that's 90% special man that's a kindly -- about 90% special effects. You might just as we'll be watching a animated -- two. Because finally all that all those special effects. Begin to look totally meals on that is there is you're looking for something that looks like flesh and blood there. You have free lousy actors in the -- -- who don't contribute much flesh and blood you have constantly dialogue. Terrible -- -- miserable characterization which also involved contribute flesh -- -- so what you're left with is something that Walt Disney could've done just as well we've. With a drawing -- pencils of colors are Roger -- beyond the undeniable fact that -- that is clearly perceived as entertainment Margaret many people. How would you argue that it's a great movie. These are the sorts of movies the Disney people should be making and the kinds of movies that Disney made 2030 years ago. I think all movies -- special effects movies are not real their two dimensional. A film goes through the camera the projector throws the light on the screen and that makes a special effect it's a dream it's an imagination. As to whether this film as good or not it excited me it made me laugh it made me. It made me thrilled and that's what. That's what a movie like this is for -- also enjoy films like mark Bergman of people like that I chair that faced with mr. Simon. But I try I think in my own moviegoing takes to be brought enough to also understand five bunch of people might want to get together and he has Star Wars movie and enjoy. Gene Siskel is it is it not possible to separate these -- to say yes there's such a thing as great entertainment that is not a great movie let's not pretend that -- well you can say what its aspirations I don't think that a film should be rewarded for aiming low and hitting that mark which sometimes in some criticism you do get that. The sort of -- movie -- can't -- fun I don't think this is campy fun I think this is well made. -- This is very good of its kind and -- -- aside another film that's out now that shows you what this kind of film can be likened it to jump in that space -- Adventures in the forbidden zone shot in 3-D. That movie is comedians -- to become a special. -- -- -- -- -- -- And it's a lot more exciting. Just seeing those pictures back to back -- I did over the last week. One clearly is better of its kind I think that I is very good of its kind what do kids have these days. For entertainment they have the black stallion picture which I know we -- like out of office Simon dead. And you have the Star Wars films and that's about it not much more this -- very good of its kind. Mr. Simon have you ever -- to -- space father -- how -- have produced. I think wonderful things that you could take kids to there's a little film called -- -- bonuses which is not a children's movie. But in which a child is the main one of the main characters. That is the sort of thing that I would take my children if I have them. Where they can see something about human beings about life. -- this thing you see more upset over robots. Some of them ostensibly. Flesh and blood but actually just as mechanical as the real robots. Attacking of -- set of robots it zaps you if if if -- -- -- -- projectiles are very pleased this -- that does nothing to get involved with. Sure there is a very primitive sense in which the empire is bad -- the very primitive sense of which the others good. But it is also to chaos such a -- -- to confusion. Such a mechanical technological. Were -- -- That you don't have any chance to associate yourself with anyone to identify yourself within no people there with -- you -- Sympathize -- just as in my experience and sing it again with a whole bunch of kids they were able to sort out who -- who very easily they had no trouble with this picture understanding what was going on. I got asked mr. Simon a question -- sort of a test question. Wasn't your heart warmed even a little bit by you -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Well yes -- be vulnerable. But let's say if I saw him in the window of an event FAO Schwarz and I looked at him for three seconds and said that's the kind of cute little figure -- I would have had enough of the oh listen three seconds of acceptance and your purpose assignment is over we can hope for all we have time -- I'm afraid of this form -- -- gene Siskel and also Roger Ebert for joining us.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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