There’s hardly a man, woman, or child alive today that hasn’t heard of Star Wars. This cultural phenomenon is a result of the work of filmmaker George Lucas. Just in case you’re not familiar, Star Wars is an epic space opera that takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” as the famous opening crawl explains.
The Star Wars universe is a fictional setting populated by humans, aliens, and servant-like robots called “droids” that live in harmony and, more often, disharmony. Star Wars has an American Wild West sort of feel to it. For every world that contains civilized citizens, there’s six times as many worlds populated by smugglers, overlords, and sentients vying for absolute power over the galaxy through any means necessary. Laser blasters, telekinesis (known as the Force), and elegant plasma swords called lightsabers are a part of daily life. Space travel is commonplace and easy. Want to take a vacation from all of the bustle of the capitol, Coruscant? Hop in your starship, spin up the hyperdrive, and away you go!
The initial movie that spawned the Original Trilogy was first released in 1977, known simply as Star Wars but re-released in 1981 as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope to remain consistent with its sequels. It was followed by Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi in 1983. The Original Trilogy of Star Wars featured iconic music by composer John Williams coupled with the special effects of Lucasfilm and the talents of renowned actors Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Sir Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, Anthony Daniels, and others. The Original Trilogy is the story of the Rebel Alliance’s triumph over the Galactic Empire’s stranglehold on the galaxy and how hero Luke Skywalker defeats the powerful Emperor Palpatine.
Episode I: The Phantom Menace was released in 1999, Episode II: Attack of the Clones in 2002, and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005. This second trilogy completed the story arc and shone new light on the until-then mysterious origins of iconic characters like Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi. The second trilogy tells the tale of Darth Vader’s fall from the grace within the Jedi Order and its Light Side of the Force, into the control of the evil Sith Lord’s Palpatine’s Dark Side of the Force.
Like many people my age, Star Wars was a major part of my childhood. I’m jealous that I’m too young to have seen the first three films when they released in theaters, though I saw the theatrical release of every movie in the second trilogy. I rented the Original Trilogy VHS tapes from the local shop more times than I can remember. In high school my friends and I would marathon through the entire series of films during school vacations and long winters. I played the games whenever I could and had Star Wars action figures instead of Power Rangers figures in grammar school.
Star Wars is about more than a great story or set of films for me, though. This staple of American culture changed my life forever. My mind sees a lightsaber in a cardboard tube and my imagination runs wild with questions about what it would be like to live in a space colony orbiting Mars. Star Wars cultivated my interest in different cultures, ancient mysteries, and the philosophy of good versus evil. It spawned in me a love for technology, science, and space that cannot be satiated, which explains my intense interest in the newest cell phones, developments in virtual reality, and following the latest developments in space technology and space agencies.
Thanks to Star Wars, science fiction and fantasy have been my favorite genres of fiction since before I can remember, and I have several books of science fiction concept art. Star Wars also helped me discover my love for writing; I tried to write a Star Wars novel when I was 8 or 9 years old. Now here I am, writing for an amazing tech website every week about the things I love, Star Wars included.
Happy Star Wars Day to my fellow fans! May the Force, and the 4th, be with you all! Of course, a tremendous thanks to all of the people both on and off the screen that made this phenomenon such a huge part of our lives.
Oh, and remember… Han shot first.