Any of you who are friends with me on Facebook have seen a plethora of Star Wars-related posts lately, mostly from people who see items related to anything and everything Star Wars and share them with me. With the latest installment in this sci-fi series due to hit theaters this week, the momentum building has been tsunami-like in intensity.
I love the Star Wars movies and everything related to them. From the first time I saw The Empire Strikes Back in the theater when I was seven, I was hooked. I’ve seen all the movies many times, read most of the books and comics, and even have a number of the action figures that I’ve passed on to Anton. There are Star Wars posters, Pez dispensers, and a large Darth Vader lurking in my classroom, as well as a famous quote from Yoda on my wall: “Much to learn, you still have.”
Star Wars fans may be one of the most rabid groups of die-hards out there. You’re guaranteed to see most people on opening night in costume and perhaps even wielding lightsabers outside theaters. I will not be one of those crazy people, but I will likely see the movie more than once while it’s in theaters.
Why the love for these films? I mean, the original film, produced in 1977, was done on a shoestring budget and didn’t have much support from studios. The storyline is one that has been seen in other books and movies. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, has talked often about how he used Joseph Campbell’s ideas on “The Hero’s Journey” as related to mythology when he lined out the path of Luke Skywalker, the main protagonist.
But I think that basic plot resonates well with people. The hero is propelled into action through a personal loss, finds a wise person to guide him, leaves his home, and faces a quest. All this happens to Luke Skywalker within the first half hour of the movie. According to Campbell, that hero meets new allies and recognizes who his enemies are before approaching a large trial, in which he again faces loss before finding the prize at the end of the quest and returning home a changed person. Again, you can see this path with Luke when he meets Han Solo and Chewbacca, runs into the evil Empire, and ultimately blows up the Death Star, but only after losing his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
As I mentioned, there are so many stories that follow this pattern (see: any Disney movie), but I think the true allure with Star Wars is the personalities the characters bring to the screen, which is in large part due to the actors and actresses Lucas used. Harrison Ford and Sir Alec Guiness were the most well-known actors, but others like Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Anthony Daniels were not as experienced. Yet they are now iconic links to Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and C-3PO. Nobody else could have played Han Solo with as much ruggedness as Ford, and the voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader (along with that creepy breathing) is known even if you’ve never watched a second of the movie.
True Star Warriors will tell you that the original trilogy far surpassed anything that was brought forth in the prequels that Lucas released between 1999-2005. So there is a certain amount of trepidation associated with more forays into this amazing universe. Can J.J. Abrams restore the magic that so many of us experienced back in the day? The trailers leave me all aquiver in anticipation, but I’m not ready to declare the new movie as great until I’ve seen it a couple of times.
Will it make a ton of money? Of course. The Disney machine is powering this movie, and they’ve likely made their money back on presale tickets alone. It will certainly be the top-grossing movie of the year, and I’ve already heard rumblings about the Academy Awards. But wait, there’s more! Disney is planning on a movie a year for at least the next six years. There will be two more that follow the story of The Force Awakens along with an X-Wing movie and separate entries about a young Han Solo and also Boba Fett, the notorious bounty hunter. And you’d better believe Disney will keep pumping them out as long as they’re making money.
Will it be too much of a good thing? That seems likely, but much like all the Marvel super hero movies on the way, I’ll enjoy the ride as long as I can. May the Force be with you!
Word of the Week: This week’s word is sitzmark, which means the mark made by someone falling backward in the snow, as in “The sitzmark left by Chewbacca after the recent snowfall was much more noticeable than that created by Yoda.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!