Although Lucas thankfully had plenty of editors and improvising actors on set to help pave over this issue in the original trilogy, critics at the time still had no trouble pointing out that the dialogue was the movie’s weak point. John Simon of New York Magazine described it as “dialogue of overwhelming banality” back in 1977, and Peter Keough of the Boston Phoenix casually dismissed the dialogue as “lousy.”
That might seem surprising to modern viewers, but the main reason the dialogue in the original “Star Wars” trilogy seems as good to us today is because we have the prequel trilogy to compare them to. It’s hard to get on the original movies’ case after decades of hearing bafflingly clunky lines like “I’d rather dream about Padme,” and “From my point of view, the Jedi are evil” — and, of course, “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” Lucas may have rightly said his dialogue was not as good as Shakespeare’s, but after watching the prequels, his dialogue in the original trilogy starts does start to look sort of Shakespearean in comparison.
The “Star Wars” prequels gave us George Lucas at his most unrestrained, with precious little editorial feedback to prevent him from going through with three screenplays that clearly needed at least another round of polishing. The original “Star Wars” movies were great because the clunky dialogue was rewritten, as Alex Guinness hoped it’d be. It’s just a shame that the prequels didn’t follow suit.