The 5th of November 1999. I was barely 8 years old and still believed in Santa Clause. That’s when I saw my first Star Wars movie. I remember some colleagues from my moms workplace came over for dinner and one of them bought me a VHS tape of The Phantom Menace. It had been released a couple of months earlier. I remember excusing myself and going to my best friend across the hall and we watched it together. And we watched it again the next day. I think we watched it for once a day for the next week. I was amazed. Also, I remember asking Santa that year for more Star Wars stuff. I got the original trilogy on VHS and a Lego set. When I started getting my allowance I started to buy books. I don’t know what kids at 12 or 13 years old do with their pocket money, but I was buying books. Pretty weird, right?
No, this isn’t supposed to be a journal of sorts. I wrote all that just to highlight how big a fan I am. I grew up with Star Wars. I even have a tattoo that relates to Star Wars. If in the beginning it was about the special effects, the flashy light-saber fights, over time I started to see a bigger picture. I started to see a vision. The vision that George Lucas had for this whole saga. A whole saga that revolves around a tragic hero that goes from child prodigy, to a champion of the people, symbol of terror and fear and his eventual redemption. Add this on a galactic scale. How ones choices can shape the fate of the galaxy.
Just imagine the impact that the original trilogy had upon society and the whole movie industry. It revolutionized the way people viewed the classical fight between good and evil, the whole idea of special effects, and created the perfect figure of pure evil. Not to mention the cultural impact it has had in 40 years since the first movie was released. Maybe the biggest impact a saga has had in cinematic history. There is no denying the quality of these films. They are very well made, with well written scripts, and with actors that have a remarkable chemistry between them. It shows an advanced galaxy that has a very dark and hopeless feeling to it, where an evil empire rules through fear. And yet, there is still hope for a better future.
After 16 years, there would be a new trilogy. It showed the same galaxy, in an earlier time frame, that was falling apart due to corruption, greed and self interest. But it wasn’t the same dark and hopeless feeling to it. There is a majestic feeling of greatness to this galaxy, where peace has endured for more than a 1000 years, democracy and freedom at the foundation. It has a faster pace, it has a more dynamic feeling to it and yet, the dialog is not that great, the characters don’t seem to have that chemistry between them and the plot may seem strange at times.
But even with all the shortcomings in the prequel trilogy, George Lucas had a vision. He dared to bring something new to the fold, but with a conscious effort to parallel some scenes and elements from both trilogies, represented by the same journey that both father and son have started.
I will admit, my favourite movie in the whole series is the 3rd one, Revenge of the Sith, from the prequel trilogy. When I first saw it as a kid I was amazed by all the action it had, but as I got older I started to notice the true genius of George Lucas. He envisioned the character of Anakin Skywalker as an extremely powerful Jedi, with an almost unlimited potential. He could have become the greatest Jedi of all time. But with a deeply troubled past, that will forever haunt his memory, he has no control over his emotions. In his quest to save the love of his life he is willing to do anything and sacrifice everything. But after sacrificing all of his principles, he reaches the point of no return. He becomes so twisted that he no longer cares about his love, being the actual reason of her death. In his quest to prevent her death, he actually becomes the one that actually kills his love. The irony of the tragic hero.
What I found interesting is how many historical references you can find in the whole saga. The fall of the Galactic Republic and rise of the Empire being a reference to the fall of the Roman Republic and it’s rebirth as the Roman Empire. Chancellor Palpatine’s rise from a senator to emperor can be paralleled with Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte of even Adolf Hitler. The Great Jedi Purge can be associated with The Holocaust. And there are many other examples.
Often seen as a modern day fairly tale, with each movie starting with the phrase :”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”, the saga is a mix of an advanced futuristic society with an ancient mythology aspect. Aspects of knighthood, princesses in distress and mysticism confirm the status of modern fairy tale.
Maybe one of the most intriguing aspects of the whole series also comes from the same phrase: ”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…”. It tells that this story already happened. As if it tells the history of a future society that resembles humanity.
There are more elements to add to confirm why Star Wars is such a marvel and why George Lucas was one of the greatest visionaries in the history of movie making. But for all of his creative genius, in 2012 he decided to sell everything to Disney, including his future plans for another trilogy. Soon after a new trilogy was announced and got everyone thrilled. Myself included.
But then, Disney decided that they didn’t share the same vision as George Lucas. They refused his ideas for the sequel trilogy, they disregarded all of the expanded universe lore that was such a big influence series as a whole, because they wanted to tell their story. Although I wasn’t thrilled by the news, I was still excited because there was still such a big universe with so many stories to be told. They could have gotten in any direction, taken everything to a new level. They could have made something majestic. And yet, Disney chose to go back.
They chose to bring back the same air of the original trilogy, made with modern technology. And while the movies have been good, they have lacked a vision. They have lacked soul. They have played it safe with a movie franchise that became great because it brought something new every time the movie started playing. With Disney there is no innovation. There is only the box office to consider.