I don’t remember what I first felt about George Lucas’ space-opera, “Star Wars.”
That’s a weird thought, isn’t it? Was I excited? Did I even know what I was watching?
What I do remember is constantly re-watching it on Saturday mornings, forgetting to turn the volume down so as to prevent the Fox orchestral fanfare from waking up my mom. I remember backyard lightsaber fights with those gaudy sound effects, that pristine gold VHS box containing the original trilogy and using every iota of my willpower to use the Force. Memory is funny, and on this May the 4th (International Star Wars Day), I look back on one of the most defining aspects of my childhood.
Released in 1977, sixteen years before I was even born, “Star Wars” shattered box office records (a power it still has 39 years later) and spawned an entire fandom along with it. Whether it’s toys, video games, television programs—you name it—“Star Wars” has it in spades. When I was a kid it seemed like there was no shortage of merchandise (much to my mom’s chagrin) and I would often rush down to good ol’ FAO Schwarz at Bellevue Square to get the newest toys once “The Phantom Menace” was released in 1999.
Seattle U’s campus store sells Star Wars products, aimed at all ages.
Seattle U alum Victoria Zinsley remembers her first memories of Star Wars fondly.
“It must’ve been after the re-releases [of the original trilogy] back in ’97,” Zinsley said. “I remember sitting in my driveway where I had made a circle, and I had a plastic container that I kept throwing at it because I was ‘destroying the Death Star.’”
As a kid, the much-loathed and mocked “Prequel” trilogy comprised of “The Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” appealed to me because I couldn’t have cared less about the clunky dialogue, disastrous acting from Hayden Christiansen and Jar Jar Binks’ soul-crushing voice (me-sa no likey). Nowadays it’s easy to look back and grimace at the majority of the trilogy, but there is no denying that it has a place in the canon.
At its core, “Star Wars” is an epic tale of good and evil, heroes and villains. There’s romance, space battles, lightsaber fights, galactic politics and a decades-long story that encompasses dozens of characters and planets. As a kid, it was easy understand these themes (the story didn’t matter much to me then) but it was even easier to be stunned by the idea of space travel, to be overcome by the unquenchable desire to wield a lightsaber and to be utterly terrified of Darth Vader’s booming voice.
It’s interesting that the last few times I’ve shown the saga to those who had never seen any of the films, they have found more appeal in the prequels than the originals.
“I just liked how everything was so interconnected,” said sophomore Annie Davis.“All these different events and storylines meshed together.”
We are currently in the flux of a new era of Star Wars, spawned by “The Force Awakens” and continuing on with one film per year until at least 2019 with the new saga’s conclusion in Episode IX.
Even SU’s campus store stocks Star Wars memorabilia.
Senior Nate Wylie is interested in seeing where the series will go.
“I like watching a series that Disney can continue that’s worthwhile. I don’t know what to expect about the next films, but I’m excited,” Wylie said.
This year will see the release of “Rogue One” the first in an anthology series that takes place within the Star Wars universe but not at the same time as the present story. “Rogue One,” which features a solid cast that includes Felicity Jones and Forest Whitaker, will focus on the events leading up to “A New Hope” as a band of rebels attempt to steal the Death Star plans that R2-D2 is carrying at the beginning of “A New Hope.” The preceding film, set for 2018, will portray a young Han Solo. Actors such as Dave Franco and Miles Teller have auditioned for the lead role, but “Hail, Caesar!” breakout star Alden Ehrenreich is the reported front-runner.
There is a lot to be excited for if you’re a Star Wars fan, especially looking ahead to the future. But it’s always important to look at the past and remember just how formative “Star Wars” was in many childhoods. From its special effects, the engrossing Shakespearian story all the way down to its themes: “Star Wars” is something I hope never goes away.
May the force be with all of you.
Scott may be reached at email@example.com
Scott Johnson is a senior Film Studies and Journalism double major. You can follow him on Twitter @scott7893 and find more of his reviews at RagingFilm.com