News

More than eight years after his death, he’s still making headlines. This time? Because he apparently auditioned for the role of a Jedi Master

Hellfire and hyperdrive: the Gospel according to Star Wars

"I AM trying to bring up my children with Jedi values." So wrote an earnest Christian recently in a discussion on an internet site devoted to modern culture. The combination of Christianity with Star Wars may seem one of the more bizarre bits of merchandising in the hype around The Phantom Menace, but now a Methodist university chaplain in Liverpool has written an entire book on the subject.

Network: The end of the silver screen?

Digital technology is poised to revolutionise the film industry. Audiences will benefit with scratch free images, sharper soundtracks and the quicker distribution of films. But, after a century of the projector, is the industry ready to change? By Chris Lakeman Fraser

Film: The phantom menace

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is here. The story so far: pounds 360million of US business to date, 24hr screenings, endless merchandising, wall-to-wall press coverage. And it's all in aid of George Lucas's first feature directing credit since the original Star Wars. And, boy, is he rusty. Never the best handler of actors, Lucas ensures that the computer- generated spectacles and a waffly story-line keep Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson (right) well in the background. Which isn't even to mention the allegations of racial stereotyping that have been levelled at characters like Jar Jar Binks. Persuaded you to see The Third Man instead? No? Didn't think so.

Words: flavescent, adj.

ALEC GUINNESS'S delightful A Positively Final Appearance (1998) has a passion for words: he hefts the OED to verify Peter Ackroyd's claim that Sir Thomas More first used many unexpected phrases, and notes of his own garden, "trees are still remarkably green: I had half hoped to show off a newly discovered word - flavescent - but that will have to wait for another couple of weeks".

Arts: Retouching Orson's evil

The `Director's Cut' is a recent phenomenon, so why is a restored version of Welles's last masterpiece, Touch of Evil, being released 40 years after it was made? The answer lies with film-editor Walter Murch.

`Star Wars' missile tested

FORMER PRESIDENT Ronald Reagan's vision of a national missile defence system that could knock enemy missiles out of the sky came a stage closer yesterday after the US military successfully tested a crucial part of the "star wars" technology.

Star Wars accused of race stereotypes

IS THE NEW Star Wars movie racist? Two weeks after the hotly awaited US release of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, die-hard fans of George Lucas's space opera are beginning to wonder about the wholesomeness of noseless baddies who speak in high-pitched Japanese accents, a filthy insect who sounds Greek or Arabic, and a computer-generated idiot alien who talks like a Caribbean galley-slave.

Words: gussy, v., n. and adj.

KINGSLEY AMIS often urged the dictionary habit, never let a word slip by. Chances are that many a trainbound reader of Robert Hughes's recent elegant demolition in these pages of The Phantom Menace forgot to look up what he meant by George Lucas's being "able to gussy it up with special effects that didn't exist 75 years ago".

Film Studies: I've been to `Star Wars' and I've got the stub to prove it

About two weeks before 19 May, you could feel the air going out of the balloon called Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. The mounting hype was impatient for that Wednesday, no matter that George Lucas likes to think of himself as someone who doesn't do things the old, manipulative, Hollywood way. Two weeks ago, the papers and the television news were agog with stories of people camping out on the streets to get in to the very first screening. Every magazine had Lucas on its cover.

Books: Losing sight of a man who knew best

Hitchcock's Secret Notebooks by Dan Auiler Bloomsbury pounds 20

Bestsellers: Hardbacks

1 Star Wars: Episode One - The Screenplay Century pounds 15.99

Letter: 'Star Wars' snobs

Sir: Your assorted film critics have missed the point of Star Wars in general and The Phantom Menace in particular. Of course they are bad "films" - but they are excellent "movies".

May the farce be with you

"Loud, vulgar, manipulative, careless and pretentious, `The Phantom Menace' is one of the worst movies ever made"

Notebook: Hey, it's only a movie, says Lucas - but who's listening to him?

After years of idle longing, and months of frenzied anticipation, the final release of the new `Star Wars' saga could prove an anti-climax

Shower the screen with popcorn

VERY SENSIBLY, the American film industry has decided not to submit its new products to the Cannes Film Festival. Last year, the most awful thing happened to some movie or other about Bruce Willis in a vest with ten minutes to save the world; the Cannes audience laughed at it. The resulting bad publicity has made the American studios so nervous that they aren't prepared to give Cannes the opportunity to ridicule their summer blockbusters.
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Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff