Star Wars: it’s just another “franchise of the decade,” right? Well, let’s just say that when fans spend 38 years quoting Admiral Ackbar, humming a horn-unifying opening theme, watching countless film parodies, and acknowledging that sinister, vented breathing, we can’t write this off as just another franchised saga. Not to mention, the original trilogy and prequel episodes didn’t end too long ago.
It was just 10 years ago that 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III was released! Now, another trilogy is set to begin. If it really was just another franchise of the decade, we wouldn’t have a new movie and with it, a new era approaching Tatooine’s double sun horizon.
Here’s a statement: Star Wars has artistically impacted realms of culture, politics, and technology like no other piece of science-fiction in the 20th (and part of the 21st) century.
To top it all off, all 13 hours, 17 minutes, plus an extra 5 minutes in the special editions, takes place IN SPACE. If Gravity blew your mind back in 2012, imagine the reactions of a 1977 audience to a galaxy far, far away.
With laser swash-buckling, space ships, and droids (that, yes, I am indeed looking for…ward to in the upcoming film), Star Wars may just look like an intergalactic fantasy out of George Lucas’s head. To an extent…it is. Star Wars unveils a legend that happened a long, long time ago, we are given that familiar story of knights protecting princesses, good defeating evil, and the mentor training the apprentice while piggy-back riding on him then lifting an entire spacecraft in front of our very eyes!
Ok, maybe not the last part, but you literally get the picture. Er, motion picture.
You also can’t watch Star Wars without marveling at its bibbidi bobbidi CGI. (Editor’s note: a topic we discussed heavily on our rewatch episodes!) Its special effects have helped films transition from being considered just entertaining, to being pure spectacles. Yes kids, before your films of giant robots invading Earth in complete surround-sound and IMAX realism, all an audience needed was 1 explosion per film. It was an elegant time.
For one thing, special effects were not just the cherry on top of the nebulous sundae. Nay, they were the cone, the banana, the sprinkles, basically everything upholding the sci-fi ice-cream story! The special effects really set the film apart by being professional rather than cheesy. They helped bring gravitas to moments that could have fallen flat otherwise.
Heck, I’m sure glad I didn’t have to experience watching the carbon-freezing gas chamber in a 1980’s theater, then screaming “WHAT ABOUT HAN SOLO?!” when the credits rolled. I, like many others did, would have waited another 3 years for Episode VI just to see what happened to our beloved stone-cold rebel (pun intended). If you like Hollywood’s investment in special effects or appreciate the birth of George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) visual effects company, you can thank Star Wars.
Of course, you can’t avoid its dang good writing and direction. Sure “yousa” may have complained about Episodes I, II, and III as much as Anakin complained about coarse, irritating sand, yet Star Wars always turned its themes into dramatic conflicts throughout.
In essence, you could apply Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey narrative, fairy tales, and ancient mythology to Star Wars. It even has both a virgin birth and a Chosen One character! Needless to say, there’s nothing more iconic than the films’ ultimate dark vs. light motif. Bonus points? They’re played out by acclaimed actors from James Earl Jones to Natalie Portman to Harrison Ford.
Behind the epic and its mysteries, this sci-fi legend has had its ups and downs. For me, I want to emulate the moral of the saga and believe in its good qualities: timelessness, fun, and relatability.
It has familiar tales fit for a campfire with archetypal characters plus mind-blowing futuristic miracles. Who wouldn’t want to fend off bad guys using sleek lightsabers all in the name of The Force? We can shatter the façade of Jedi and aliens to visualize that, YES, our universe is a balance (and features everyday battles) of good and evil too.
When you enter the theaters for Star Wars: Episode VII, try not to think that this is a magic show a skeptic would belittle (insert Jedi Mind Trick here). To be honest, even I didn’t know what to expect when watching The Force Awakens. However, I do know this: just because it’s science fiction, doesn’t mean that for one moment, it isn’t worth believing that you are on a timeless space journey too.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE ESSENCE OF STAR WARS?
Catch Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters now and as always, may the force be with you.