Tomorrow, Revenge of the Sith opens worldwide (except in Japan, sorry Newmark) in theatres. As some of you know, it will be the last Star Wars movie to ever hit the silver screen. For many fans, this will be a bittersweet month as the movie series draws to a close.
I’ve always wondered about the stark contrast between Star Wars fans and those who don’t have an affinity for the movies. The people who aren’t fans, at least to me, have always expressed a failure to understand why some people love the Star Wars universe so much. There seems to be this wide gap between the two groups.
I can only speak for myself, but I’d like to shed some light on why I have a special place for the Star Wars universe in my heart.
I first saw A New Hope, in either 1978 or 1979, when the first movie was re-released to the theatres. I wasn’t even in kindergarten at the time and the whole movie-going experience was completely new to me. My dad brought me to the theatre. There, I saw my first movie screen, how the seats were arranged, the concession stands, the bathrooms, the nervous wait for the movie to start, the trailers, and unfortunately, the guy with the big 70s hair in front of me.
The first movie basically showed me the ropes about the whole process of going to the movies. The film itself left a huge impression on my young mind. There were heroes and a big bad villain. There were spaceships and huge space battles with lasers. There were droids and strange-looking creatures. In the late 70s, entertainment options for children sucked. Back then, we had no video games, no Internet, no specialty channels for kids, nothing. Star Wars was unlike anything I had seen before.
Somehow, little Erwin found out that there would be a sequel to A New Hope. Even before I was ten years old, I was going to learn the painful lesson of waiting for a movie sequel. Though I had to wait only about two years, it was an excruciating long time for a child since that amounted to a third of my entire life up until that point.
When Empire came out, I quickly learned to read the movie listings in the paper, which back then, was basically the only place you could get movie times. Again, my dad took me to see it. When Vader told Luke he was his father, that was probably the most shocking thing I had heard as a six-year old.
The three-year wait for Jedi was much easier to endure for some reason, probably because I was gettin’ it done in elementary school by that time. At the time, I think enjoyed Jedi less because it got a bit dark at the end and I think I was still in the space battles part of my childhood. That or maybe I thought the Ewoks sucked.
The thing about Star Wars that I love the most is that there is so much to enjoy on so many different levels. Yeah sure, as a kid, I loved the space battles mostly, but as I grew older, I began finding a lot of depth to the movies. There were a lot of themes that Star Wars presented that I had never seen before. As a kid, where else did I see murder, betrayal, jealousy, hope, and redemption rolled into one story?
I was nine years old when I thought that in Jedi, Luke would be forced to kill his own father to save his friends and the galaxy. Space battles aside, what other movie presented such issues? When Luke lit the funeral pyre to cremate his father, I thought, wow, that’s gotta be tough.
To this day, I still believe the archetypical mentor is Yoda. The dimunitive Jedi Master was essentially a rubber puppet in real-life, but his image in popular culture will remain as a wise and sometimes playful teacher of all things Jedi. Think of all the times you’ve taught or been taught by someone. I bet at least once, a Yoda reference was brought up.
Then there are the Jedi, who I have always liked. Sure they were super cool mystical warriors with lightsabers, but they were more than that. They shunned feeling anger, fear, or aggression in life, but instead preached understanding, knowledge, and peace. They weren’t wussies either, ’cause they kick your ass in a bar fight if they had to. If you’re thinking the ways of the Jedi have almost religious undertones, you’d be right. In the last British census, enough respondents listed “Jedi” as their faith that the government was forced to recognize it as an “official” religion.
Of course, all of this didn’t come to me when I was a kid. Much of my appreciation occurred when I was older. I didn’t fully appreciate that Yoda stuff until I was in my late teens or early twenties, when I was thinking, man, I wish I had a mentor at work. The point is, for a series of movies to give you stuff to think about even decades after their release, that in itself makes them worthy of watching.
While I admit the prequels won’t have the same effect on me as did the original trilogy, I am looking forward to seeing how the last movie ends. I’ve waited twenty years to see this legendary battle between Obi-wan and Anakin among the lava, let’s hope it doesn’t disappoint.