16 Great Star Wars Fan Films, Documentaries & Video Essays to Get You Ready for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Have you had enough Star Wars yet? No, you will never have enough Star Wars, not even after you’ve acquired the Star Wars dinette set, Star Wars bed and bath collection, $400 Star Wars Lego Death StarStar Wars chicken frankfurter snack with built-in ketchup (seriously)… and that’s not even to mention the first six movies, re-released every few years in new formats and expanded editions.

Yeah, the merchandising may be a little much; with the inaugural film of the rebooted franchise opening during the holidays, it’s a feeding frenzy, no doubt. But for true fans, no amount of crass materialism can put a damper on the enthusiasm, and yes, the anxiety, for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Will it eclipse our painful memories of the prequels? Will Episode VII rekindle the magic of Episodes IV-VI (formerly Episodes I-III)? By nearly all accounts, J.J. Abrams reimagining of the George Lucas legacy does all of the above.

To help you prepare for opening night (I’ve got my tickets!), we’ve compiled some of our top Star Wars posts, featuring all manner of documentary explainers, fan homages, interviews, parodies, remixes, etc. From the deadly serious to the ridiculous, perhaps no popular movie property has attracted as much commentary and meta-commentary as Star Wars. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon, what with the Star Wars universe again expanding into infinity. Before you take the leap forward into its future, revisit its past at the links below.

Documentary Features and Archival Footage:

Watch the Very First Trailers for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi (1976-83) (see the first above)

The Making of Star Wars As Told by C-3PO & R2-D2: The First-Ever Documentary on the Film (1977)

Kurt Russell Auditions for Star Wars

The Making of The Empire Strikes Back Showcased on Long-Lost Dutch TV Documentary

The Complete Star Wars “Filmumentary”: A 6-Hour, Fan-Made Star Wars Documentary, with Behind-the-Scenes Footage & Commentary

How Star Wars Borrowed From Akira Kurosawa’s Great Samurai Films

2 Hour Annotated Star Wars Film Reveals the Cinematic Influences Behind George Lucas’ Classic Film

Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers Break Down Star Wars as an Epic, Universal Myth

Star Wars is a Remix

Adaptations, Fan Films, and Parodies:

Hardware Wars: The Mother of All Star Wars Fan Films (and the Most Profitable Short Film Ever Made)

Fans Reconstruct Authentic Version of Star Wars, As It Was Shown in Theaters in 1977

Star Wars Uncut: The Epic Fan Film

The Empire Strikes Back Uncut: A New Fan-Made, Shot-for-Shot Remake of the 1980 Sci-Fi Classic

The Existential Star Wars: Sartre Meets Darth Vader

Star Wars as Silent Film

Watch a New Star Wars Animation, Drawn in a Classic 80s Japanese Anime Style

And finally, if you’ve got the stomach for it and you want to catch up on the last six Star Wars films—or watch them all for the first time—you can do so all at once in the mind-bending Meta Star Wars, which layers all six films over each other to create a psychedelic onslaught of whooshing spaceships, droid bleeps and bloops, and flashing blasters and lightsabers. You won’t come away from the experience, if you can stand it, with any sense of plot or characters, but you’ll have an intimate knowledge of the Star Wars universe’s many unique sound effects.

Related Content:

Watch George Lucas’ Award-Winning Student Film Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB (1967)

Free: Download 151 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Stories from Tor.com

Blade Runner is a Waste of Time: Siskel & Ebert in 1982

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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