In this Oct. 5, 1978, file photo, actors featured in the "Star Wars" movie, from left, Harrison Ford who played Han Solo, Anthony Daniels who played the robot C3P0, Carrie Fisher who played Princess Leia, and Peter Mayhew who played the Wookie, Chewbacca, are shown during a break from the filming of a television special presentation in Los Angeles. Credit: George Brich

It’s May the 4th — as in “may the force be with you” — a day that Star Wars fans the world over take as an opportunity to celebrate the 46-year-old space fantasy franchise.

Star Wars as a movie, TV and merchandising machine will never stop — at least not if Disney has anything to say about it — and with acclaimed TV series more recently like “Andor” and “The Mandalorian,” it’s arguably more popular than ever.

But when the film came out in 1977, the Bangor Daily News arts critic was not impressed, to say the least.

We dug up BDN’s review from when “Star Wars: A New Hope” came out in July of that year and seemingly the whole world fell in love with Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Obi-Wan, R2-D2 and C3-PO, and feared (and also kind of loved) Darth Vader.

BDN arts critic Robert Newell, on the other hand, was immune to the movie’s charms.

“Despite all of its attendant ballyhoo, ‘Star Wars,’ to my mind, is hugely overrated,” Newell began his review, going on to say that it was “philosophically bald and intellectually barren” and that it had a “wan plot” and “callow characters.” Ouch.

Bangor Daily News clipping from July 20, 1978.

As judged by many of the reviews Newell wrote during his nearly 30 years with the BDN, he did not particularly care for science fiction, fantasy or most blockbusters, preferring more refined fare like French New Wave cinema and Shakespeare. He viewed “Star Wars,” at least, as appropriate for children, since it did not “indulge in profanity.”

Do you agree with Newell’s review of “Star Wars”? Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t argue that even if some reviewers didn’t like it at the time, George Lucas has certainly had the last laugh.

Correction: The story has been updated to reflect Star Wars’ initial release date.

Avatar photo

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.