Few movies stimulate our imaginations so effectively that we feel like we are actually taking part in the story. “Star Wars” is one of those movies. The Star Wars universe has infiltrated our minds in such a way that it has become more of a memory than an experience. Every time I revisit “Star Wars,” I am reminded of how pure and fun the story is, how colorful and relatable the characters are, and how visionary and impressive it is as a visual masterpiece. It captivates me in such a way that few other films do. Once it has started, it is impossible to detach myself from its grand escapism. I am truly transported to a galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars” relies on the strength of a pure narrative, that being the journey of a young man by the name of Luke Skywalker. The film opens with a title crawl describing the time of the setting and the struggle of the Rebel Alliance. We descend upon the attack of an Imperial Star Destroyer on the ship of Princess Leia. The ship is captured and boarded, followed by the entrance of perhaps the most easily recognizable villain in movie history: Darth Vader. He is looking for the plans of the Death Star, which Princess Leia has hidden in a droid known as R2-D2. He and his bumbling companion, C-3PO, escape the ship in an escape pod, and land on the desert planet of Tatooine below.
The two droids come into the care of Luke Skywalker and his aunt and uncle. R2 carries Leia’s message, and is devoted to finding a man by the name of Obi-Wan Kenobi. When R2 suddenly disappears in the night, Luke and 3PO set out to find him. Here starts Luke’s journey, as he meets the familiar face of Old Ben, who turns out to in fact be Obi-Wan. Luke is introduced to the ways of the Force and is told of his father’s turn to evil. We wonder who his father was, and what could have motivated him to turn to the Dark Side. Luke, realizing his family is in danger, returns to his home to find it has been scorched by Imperial troops. John Williams’ score swells in the background as Luke painfully looks upon his dead aunt and uncle, and decides to look forward to leaving his home planet to become a Jedi Knight.
Space is the ultimate storytelling medium, and Lucas does not hold back in making any and all possibilities come to life. There is no such thing as falling off the map in space. Characters need not turn around because of a sign that says, “No trespassing.” Lucas sends his strongly drawn heroes across the universe to do battle against the evil forces of Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire. The characters hold specific traits that make it easy for us to identify with. Leia is marked by beauty and attitude. Han is marked by cynicism and ego. Luke is embodied with hope and curiosity. The dialog is witty and energetic. Lines such as, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” and “I find your lack of faith disturbing” have imprinted themselves upon our memories forever.
“Star Wars” effectively revolutionized cinema by bringing an end to the pre-1970s style of personal filmmaking and introducing the industry to the big-budget blockbuster, a trend we are still experiencing today. “Star Wars” was like nothing audiences had seen before, and they loved the sense of wonder and bedazzlement in every scene, produced by state-of-the-art special effects that still look great to this day. It’s impossible to blame “Star Wars” for the evolution of the modern blockbuster; you can only appreciate it for how well it achieved its success, and how well deserving that was. But “Star Wars” has always been more than just visionary delight. It’s about family issues; a soap opera infused in a space opera. It’s about friendship, passion, heroism, and good vs evil. Lucas creates a powerful yet deceptively simple framework that delves into the buried fantasies of our childhood memories, and reactivates them to provide thrills, excitement, and fears that we thought we had lost…a long time ago.
One of the things Lucas did so well on top of his special effects was the creation of strange yet oddly human-like aliens. The cantina scene has since become a part of pop culture. Fans have long disputed whether Han or Greedo shot first, though Lucas made his take on the matter abundantly clear in his updated Blu-Ray release. I find a combination of amusement and delight whenever I view the section of the film taking place in Mos Eisley. “A wretched hive of scum and villainy,” as Obi-Wan describes it. There is a great sense of magic and invention when looking upon the disgruntled creatures and extraterrestrial drunkards. Lucas clearly has no limits to his imagination. The film’s delight in regards to the possibilities of its alien life forms provides as much fun as its central conflict between the Empire and the Rebellion.
“Star Wars” is one of those movies that will be remembered forever. Generations of children to come will sit down with their parents and be shown “Star Wars.” They will pressure their parents into buying movies, toys, books, and anything related to the universe. They will grow up loving “Star Wars,” and their love for the universe will continue into their adulthood. “Star Wars” isn’t just for kids. It is for everyone to enjoy. It really is an exhilarating ride of simple wonderment and quietly sophisticated storytelling. May the Force be with us.