Beatles-‘Star Wars' Mash-up is a Tour de Force

This fan creation makes a great May 4th present as major anniversaries approach for "Sgt. Pepper" and "Episode IV: A New Hope."

A long time ago, folks who used illicit substances to transport their minds to a galaxy far, far away, discovered that turning down the volume on "The Wizard of Oz" while cranking up Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" created some far-out synchronicity.

The spirit of that old-school mash-up reached hyperdrive this week with a new fan-built creation that brilliantly combines two other musical and cinematic touchstones: the Beatles’ "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and George Lucas' original "Star Wars."

"Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans" offers a great May 4th "Star Wars Day" present (as in “May the Fourth be with you”) for devotees of two works with appeal that spans generations, across the universe.

The YouTube mix of album and film also comes as fans prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Pepper" and the 40th anniversary of what's become known as "Episode IV: A New Hope."

The two pop landmarks are separated by a decade and genres. But they're united as groundbreakers that forever changed music and the movies.

The elaborate mash-up reflects the ambitions of the Beatles’ and Lucas’ most famous undertakings. The team behind the “Princess Leia’s,” Palette-Swap Ninja, clearly reveres and knows the source work intimately.

What could have been a one-note gag somehow sustains the premise, from the opening scrawl (“It was many years ago today/In a galaxy so far away”) to the final explosion (epic E-chord meets Death Star's last gasp).

In between is enough clever blending of the material and in-jokes to merit repeat viewings. The melding includes mixing snatches of John Williams' soundtrack with Lennon-McCartney classics, droid beeps punctuating the sitars on the "Within You Without You" takeoff (“The Force Within You”) and the "Cantina Band Song" replacing the swirling multi-organ segment in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" (or in this case, “Being From the Spaceport of Mos Eisley”). 

The must-view/listen track is “He’s Leaving Home,” which spurs laughter of admiration at the apt juxtaposition of Luke Skywalker’s plight and the fleeing young protagonist of the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home,” while oddly tugging at the heartstrings.

Check out "Princess Leia's Stolen Death Star Plans" before copyright lawyers put a Darth Vader-like stranglehold on the project. A splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

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