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LESSON THIRTY-FIVE HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away, you will listen to a passage about how Star Wars influenced the Hollywood film industry and why some collectors are willing to pay thousands of dollars for vintage Star Wars action figures. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
A Long Time Ago, in Galaxy Far, Far Away…
Listen and Learn
Lesson Thirty-Five PASSAGE ONLY track:
British film and stage legend Sir Alec Guinness won an Oscar for his role in the 1957 war classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai. But to millions of Star Wars fans, Sir Alec is and always will be Obi Wan Kenobi, Jedi Master. Actually, during filming, Guinness didn’t think much of his character or of Star Wars, which he described as “fairy tale rubbish” with “lamentable dialogue.” He only agreed to take part in the “little sci-fi film” because the pay was, well, “astronomical.” But Guinness wasn’t alone in his lack of faith in the movie. No one, not even the director, George Lucas, believed that Star Wars would amount to much. Certainly, no one expected it to become one of the top-grossing movies of all time and a franchise worth some $30 billion.
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”
When those words first scrolled across the screen in May 1977, the Hollywood film industry underwent some momentous changes. Star Wars pioneered the “pastiche” genre that combined several film types—sci-fi, Western, romance, adventure—into one film. It also started the tradition of the summer “blockbuster” and became the model for the film “trilogy” that is so prevalent today. Perhaps even more significantly (at least from a business point of view), Star Wars showed that movie-related merchandise could generate more revenue than the movie itself. When Star Wars came out and thrilled audiences everywhere, Kenner Products, the toy company granted the license to make related toys and collectibles, hit the jackpot.
Looking back, those guys at Kenner weren’t just lucky: they were pretty clever. Instead of producing the 12- or 7-inch figures that had been the toy-industry standard until then, they introduced a line of 3¾ -inch Star Wars “action figures.” At this new size, Kenner was also able to create a full range of to-scale accessories such as spaceships and playsets. Kids (and not only kids) loved them, so much so that more than 300 million action figures based on characters from the original Star Wars trilogy were produced and sold between 1978 and 1985.
Today, most of these figures lie in landfills and rubbish heaps—battered, limbless, missing their light-sabers or blasters. They were toys, after all, and what good is a toy if it isn’t played with? But some, having survived kids’ battles, the family pet’s teeth, and Mom’s annual spring clear-out, are still floating around, albeit in pretty rough shape. And a fortunate few managed to escape harm’s way altogether, stored away by adoring and perhaps prescient fans in dens, attics, and basements, unopened and in mint condition. Today, these “toys” are worth considerably more than the $2.49 they retailed for nearly forty years ago. A genuine Obi Wan Kenobi action figure with a double-telescoping light saber, for example, will fetch you $6,000, provided it’s still in its original box. And if you think that’s outrageous, the ultra-elusive vinyl-cape Jawa toy, the “holy grail” for Star Wars collectors, was recently auctioned on eBay for a whopping $53,000!
The priciest vintage Star Wars memorabilia may only be affordable to super-rich anonymous collectors. But that’s not to say you can’t become a collector, too. With the release of the seventh installment of the Star Wars saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December 2015, you’ll have a whole new range of action figures and merchandise to kick off your collection with. These new toys could very well be worth a pretty penny in forty years’ time. Just as long as you don’t open and play with them.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Thirty-Five LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Choose the answer that best completes this sentence.
Sir Alec Guinness won an Academy Award for his performance in_________________________________.
a) Star Wars
b) Jedi Master
c) The Bridge on the River Kwai
d) The Bridges of Madison County
2. Choose the best answer.
What did Sir Alec say about the dialogue in the movie Star Wars?
a) He said it was “rubbish.”
b) He said the dialogue was “astounding” and “out of this world.”
c) He said it was very intriguing.
d) He said the dialogue was “lamentable.”
3. Choose the best answer.
Who directed Star Wars?
a) Alec Guinness
b) James Lucas
c) George Lucas
d) Lucas George
4. Choose the best answer.
According to the article, how much is the Star Wars franchise worth today?
a) The Star Wars franchise is worth about $30 billion.
b) The Star Wars franchise is worth around $30 million.
c) The Star Wars franchise is worth $130 billion.
d) The Star Wars franchise is worth $50 billion.
5. Choose the TWO best answers.
What influence did Star Wars have on the Hollywood film industry?
a) Star Wars started the tradition of the summer blockbuster movie.
b) Star Wars became the model for the film “trilogy” that is so prevalent today.
c) The actors in Star Wars performed their own stunts, which no actors had ever done before.
d) Star Wars was the first Hollywood movie to use scale models for filming scenes in outer space.
6. Choose the best answer.
What toys did Kenner Products create after the company was granted the license to make toys based on Star Wars?
a) Kenner introduced a line of 7-inch action figures.
b) Kenner introduced a line of 12-inch action figures.
c) Kenner introduced a line of 3 ¾ -inch action figures and a full range of to-scale accessories.
d) Kenner introduced a range of realistic light sabers and blasters.
7. Choose the best answer.
According to the passage, how much did Star Wars action figures retail for nearly forty years ago?
a) The figures retailed for $2.49.
b) The figures cost around $5.00 each.
c) Each action figure retailed for just under $4.00
d) The action figures cost around $2.00.
8. Choose the best answer.
What special feature must the vintage Obi Wan Kenobi action figure have to make it worth $6,000?
a) The action figure must have a nylon cape and be in its original box, unopened.
b) The action figure must be carrying a green light saber.
c) The Obi Wan Kenobi figure must be carrying a light-up light saber.
d) The action figure must be carrying a double-telescoping light saber and be in its original box, unopened.
9. Choose the best answer.
What Star Wars collectible recently sold on eBay for $53,000?
a) The Holy Grail.
b) A vintage Obi Wan Kenobi action figure.
c) The elusive nylon-cape Jawa-toy.
d) The elusive plastic-cape Jawa-toy.
10. Choose the best answer.
What is the title of the seventh installment of the Star Wars saga?
a) Star Wars: A New Hope
b) Star Wars: A New Force
c) Star Wars: The Force Strikes Back
d) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference:
PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn LESSON THIRTY FIVE A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson THIRTY-FIVE
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost!
Actually, during filming, Guinness didn’t think much of his character or of Star Wars, which he described as “fairy tale rubbish” with “LAMENTABLE dialogue.”
In the sentence above, LAMENTABLE is an adjective that means very disappointing. Awful, terrible, unfortunate, wretched, shameful, dreadful, and appalling are some good synonyms.
For someone who has been teaching for as long as she has, Mrs. Dunhill shows a LAMENTABLE lack of understanding towards her students.
Last year’s end-of-the-year school production was LAMENTABLE, to say the least, so let’s hope that the new drama teacher will put on a better play this year.
How a novel written with such a LAMENTABLE lack of style can become a best seller is hard to believe.
In his report, the journalist described the living conditions of the Syrians in refugee camps along the border as LAMENTABLE.
LAMENTABLE is based on the verb to LAMENT, which means to feel great disappointment or sadness about something, as in:
I still LAMENT not having read more classic literature when I was younger.
Our team played well in last night’s game, but I LAMENT to say that they didn’t play quite well enough to win and make it into the district finals.
Many of my friends in America LAMENT the fact that they don’t have access to affordable healthcare for their families.
Certainly, no one expected it to become one of the top-grossing movies of all time and a FRANCHISE worth some $30 billion.
In the passage, FRANCHISE refers to a media FRANCHISE, which is a series of several books, TV shows, movies, or video games that are produced based on a single popular title.
After the Harry Potter FRANCHISE ended, the lead actor in the series went on to have a very successful stage and film career.
What started out as a pair of video games for the original Game Boy in 1996, the Pokemon media FRANCHISE is now worth close to $37 billion.
More generally, a FRANCHISE refers to a company that gives other companies or individuals permission to sell its products or services in a particular area. A business or service that has been granted a FRANCHISE is also called a FRANCHISE. Look at the following examples for clarification.
Mari and Koji opened a small bento shop around ten years ago, which now has FRANCHISES in more than thirty Tokyo locations.
To even be considered for a McDonald’s FRANCHISE, you’ll need a minimum of $300,000 in non-borrowed, personal resources.
With nearly 18,000 FRANCHISES around the country, convenience-store giant 7-11 has more shops in Japan than in any other place in the world.
In America, a FRANCHISE refers to a professional sports team or the star player of a team, as in:
The Chicago Cubs baseball team, which played its first game in 1876, is the oldest FRANCHISE in professional sports.
The Seattle Seahawks football team has one Super Bowl win in their FRANCHISE history, having defeated the Denver Broncos 43-8 in 2014.
It also started the tradition of the summer “blockbuster” and became the model for the film “trilogy” that is so PREVALENT today.
PREVALENT is an adjective that means existing or common in a particular time or place. Widespread, frequent, popular, and fashionable can be used in place of PREVALENT.
The most PREVALENT complaint of parents in our school is that their kids always have way too much homework.
“Helicopter parenting”—a style of parenting in which parents “hover” over their children—is especially PREVALENT among university-educated, upper-middle-class moms and dads.
During the holiday season, petty theft and burglaries become more PREVALENT in lower-income neighborhoods.
Skipping breakfast is much more PREVALENT among people who commute long distances to school or work every day.
Disturbingly, the PREVALENT view among many Americans seems to be that the U.S. should close off its borders to all immigrants and refugees.
At this new size, Kenner was also able to create a full range of to-SCALE accessories such as spaceships and playsets.
SCALE has several common uses, but today we’ll look only at how it is used in the passage. In the above sentence, SCALE refers to the relation between the actual size of something and its size on a model, map, or diagram that represents it.
Since it is usually not possible to draw on paper the actual size of real-life objects, you must learn how to draw such objects to SCALE.
This map is drawn on a SCALE of one centimeter to 10 kilometers.
Nano Blocks’ Sights to See series included SCALE designs of world landmarks and notable buildings, with sets ranging in size from 200 bricks to 600.
On a dry lakebed in Nevada, a group of friends recently created a stunning, seven-mile SCALE model of the solar system, in which a tiny marble represented Earth.
One of the most impressive displays at the Warner Brother’s Harry Potter tour was a model of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry made to SCALE.
And a fortunate few managed to escape harm’s way altogether, stored away by adoring and perhaps PRESCIENT fans in dens, attics, and basements, unopened and in mint condition.
PRESCIENT is an adjective that describes someone who can see the future—that is, someone who has foresight or foreknowledge that something will happen before it actually does. Some synonyms include intuitive, insightful, and visionary.
More than half the questions on today’s history test were about World War II, so my decision to focus my study on important names and dates from that era proved to be PRESCIENT.
Many of the PRESCIENT technologies that we saw in the earliest Star Trek series have started to materialize in real life.
America’s Founding Fathers were PRESCIENT in dividing power within the federal government into three branches—the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative—to avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny.
And if you think that’s outrageous, the ultra-ELUSIVE vinyl-cape Jawa toy, the “holy grail” for Star Wars collectors, was recently auctioned on eBay for a whopping $53,000!
Something that is ELUSIVE is difficult to find, catch, track down, or achieve, as in:
In the popular television series, three children set out on a magical adventure to find the ELUSIVE Fountain of Youth.
Since I’ve never been very good with numbers, getting a good grade in math is an ELUSIVE goal for me.
Metropolitan Police are having a hard time tracking down the ELUSIVE masked bank robber, who has hit three city banks in the past week.
Some people speculate that the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author has been so ELUSIVE all these years simply because she is shy and dislikes being in the spotlight.
ELUSIVE is used more figuratively to refer to something that is difficult to understand, define, or remember. Synonyms for this usage include indistinct, baffling, ambiguous, indefinable, and misleading.
How badly does prolonged mobile-phone use affect long-term health? The answer to that question remains ELUSIVE.
When I invited my sister Janie to my son’s birthday party, as usual, she gave me an ELUSIVE reply.
How the stock market works and why it has so much influence over the world economy is an ELUSIVE concept that I simply can’t grasp.