May 25th, 1977:
The day it all changed.
10 years ago I told the story of how it changed me, by making me a smarter kid. How I didn’t want to see it because it wasn’t Star Trek. How it became a cornerstone, if not THE cornerstone of all that was to happen to me over the next thirty years.
Things… changed in the ten years since then, and all for the better.
The biggest change was the acquisition of LucasFilm by the Walt Disney Company, and their subsequent announcement of a new trilogy of films.
Everyone I knew, including myself, took in this news with trepidation; the prequels sucked (IMHO) and these new films couldn’t be any worse, right?
Depending on who you talk to, the answer is yes or no.
The Force Awakens is both loved and hated by Star Wars fans, including myself. I love it for the return of on-screen stories in a universe that continues to shape and form my imagination, and I hate it for taking away Han Solo, one of my heroes from childhood, second only to Superman.
Okay, maybe third, after Spock.
Fourth, after Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man?
But I digress.
The popularity of Star Wars grew to a level that I would never imagine that it could, even in my wildest dreams.
Sports teams were having ‘Star Wars Day’ promotions during their regular season games. More and more merchandise appeared, in places I never thought it would appear. And a film came out that almost edges out the original from 1977 as my favorite of the franchise.
Who knew that this paragraph from the first film’s opening crawl could become a full length film? A film that would actually give the original more meaning, as it became a sequel to this new film?
Rogue One became just that. It was the ultimate fan film, made by a lifelong fan, for lifelong fans. Director Gareth Edwards described this experience as similar to playing with Star Wars figures as a kid, but on a much larger scale.
Another change in 10 years was the introduction of the Star Wars animated series on TV, which in one case changed the way fans would view the prequels.
The Clone Wars (2008) took place between Episodes II and III, mapping out the story of the main characters from the prequels, and their adventures between the films. It also focused on the Clone Troopers, and the War itself against the Separatists. They introduced Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex and others, who would become new favorite characters for fans.
But for me, the biggest thing that this series brought to the table was showing Anakin Skywalker as a hero of the Republic, and his friendship with Obi-Wan Kenobi, which made his fall in Revenge of the Sith that much more tragic.
Following that series was Star Wars Rebels, which is about to start it’s fourth and final season. It bridges the gap between Episodes III and IV, introducing us to yet more characters who become fan favorites, including Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren. We see the beginning and the formation of the Rebel Alliance, meet characters who become more important in the Original Trilogy, and reunite with characters from previous series and novels.
I’m really gonna miss this series when it goes off the air. But hopefully there’s something else coming down the pipe from Dave Filoni and the Animation Group.
That brings us to now. While we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the premiere of Star Wars, we also look forward to December of this year, with the release of Episode VIII The Last Jedi.
Vanity Fair has a special issue out today (5.25.2017) with a cover story on the new movie, and photos by Annie Leibowitz. The one I shared here is the one that resonates the most with me.
It’s going to be VERY hard to keep it together while watching this movie later this year.
All of this is due to today’s filmmakers being inspired by an indie film from the mind of George Lucas.
Happy 40th Anniversary/Birthday/Life Day, Star Wars, and thank you for everything.