Why Star Wars Is One Of The Greatest Stories Ever Told
A long opinion on a galaxy far, far away…
One piece of advice I’ve been getting consistently throughout Blog Every Day May thus far is to be less apologetic. To stand by my opinion without worrying who I may or may not be offending. Today, I intend to start following that advice.
You read the title. No disclaimers. The unabashed fan hype starts now.
Let’s start with the initial appeal. Now, to the untrained eye, Star Wars looks like a bunch of good-looking people in bland clothing going after a bunch of less good-looking people all clad in black. With XXL glowsticks. And, to be fair, that is a part of it.
But look harder. The original Star Wars trilogy tells the tale of a galaxy in turmoil; the war between the cruel Galactic Empire and the hopeful but struggling Rebel Alliance. In the midst of all this chaos, we also have a tale of discovery, growth, and adventure: the tale of Luke Skywalker. Through Luke’s tale, we learn that the Rebellion’s war against the Empire is in fact a proxy war. The real battle? That’s between the ancient orders of the Jedi and the Sith, manipulators of the mystic power of the Force, yet at the same time slaves to its will.
That is probably the most basic description of the saga I could ever give. And even from that, you can gather so much. We have the larger-than-life setting, the sides to root for, the history of a great conflict, the mysterious entity, and the hero to follow and come to love and understand. Of course, every hero needs his villain…
Honestly, I could write an entire piece on Darth Vader alone. The legendary Dark Lord of the Sith is undeniably one of the most well-known, popular, and interesting villains in all of pop culture. He has formidable skill with a lightsaber, flies a TIE fighter like no other, and exercises a fearsome control of the Force. He’s definitely my favourite villain of all time; a domineering warrior, a snarky badass, a tragic hero.
Sound compelling? That’s because it is.
I could go on about the story aspect of Star Wars (and I will, don’t you worry), but while we’re on the topic of initial appeal, it would be remiss of me to not mention that, everything aside, the galaxy is a phenomenal spectacle. While the special effects of the original trilogy may not quite hold up today, they were revolutionary for their time. In much the same way, the oft-loathed Prequel trilogy of the 2000s gave us some of the most awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping scenes and sequences that we had ever seen.
Before you become too entranced by Obi-Wan and Maul’s swordplay, let’s move from the initial appeal to the deeper, more emotional side of Star Wars.
In the words of George Lucas, the man who gifted the world with my favourite franchise (and then ruined it all with sand), Star Wars is a soap opera. More specifically, it’s the soap opera of the Skywalker family. The Prequels chart the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, the Original trilogy documents the dark rise of Darth Vader and the parallel rise of Luke Skywalker, and the currently ongoing Sequels tell the tale of what happens next, in Luke’s old age.
A popular joke? Star Wars is basically one family screwing over the entire galaxy with their personal drama.
Amidst all that drama, there are some genuinely heartfelt stories. There’s the aforementioned rise of Anakin as a Jedi; his struggle with letting go of his past, and how that strains his relationship with his wife, Padme Amidala, and his brother/mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. We have the relationship between Leia Organa and Han Solo, a dysfunctional but heartwarming romance. There’s the growth of Rey, and her healing and relinquishing of her past. We even have the tale of how the bumbling buffoon Jar Jar Binks accidentally caused the bloody Clone Wars!
I wish I had the time to detail them all, but alas, I’m not here to give plot summaries. What I will do, however, is showcase my favourite trios and partnerships of the saga, which prove that Star Wars is, above almost everything else, about family.
Star Wars is about brotherhood.
It’s about friendship.
It’s about camaraderie.
It’s about all kinds of love.
It’s about getting through the tough times together.
It’s about family.
Aaaaaand now I’m emotional. *wipes tear*
Adding to the emotional aspect of Star Wars, there’s our ability to relate to our beloved characters. No, I’m not suggesting that you have the ability to tap into the Force and leap great distances with minimal effort (please don’t try that at home). Nor am I saying that your family is so dysfunctional they somehow manage to ruin everyone else’s fun (brown families really out here trying though). What I’m saying is, at the crux of these stories, there is something intrinsically human.
I could go into further detail, but I already did that in a previous blog post. To better understand what I mean, do check out The Appeal of the Comic Book, and refer to the highlighted section.
To give a quick example of what I mean *spoiler alert*: at the end of Episode III, Obi-Wan stands over a disgraced and dismembered Anakin, lamenting the loss of his brother-in-arms.
Moments like these cause us, the viewers, emotional pain. Not only had we grown to care for Anakin and co., but many of us could relate to the feeling of being betrayed. It hurt us like it hurt Obi-Wan and, much like the elder Jedi, we wish it had never happened. It is in this way we relate to many of the situations in Star Wars, be they happy or sad.
And that’s the emotional side.
I ain’t done yet. We haven’t even touched the lore!
Okay, relax: I’m not going to go super in-depth about the lore and expanded universe of Star Wars. Two noteworthy examples of EU characters: the Jedi-turned-Sith-Lord, Darth Revan, and the hulking and cunning Darth Bane. Revan’s is a tale of promise, darkness, love, loss, and redemption. Bane’s is a story of a true rise to dark power, with little care for those who are crushed in his way.
These two sagas within the EU are testament to the power and influence of Star Wars in the real world. Not only does their existence mean that authors actually loved the series enough to take the time to add to our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away, but they stand as some of the most compelling pieces of modern literature I have ever read.
While most of the old EU is no longer canon, the new Star Wars stories being told outside of the main trilogies by Lucasfilm are. Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, both critically-acclaimed animated series, fill in missing pieces of the story between the Prequel movies and the Prequel-Original era gap, respectively.
The two animated series contribute significantly to world-building, similar to how the old EU did, but in a form more palatable to younger fans. In doing so, the shows manage to secure a whole new generation of loving Star Wars fans, while still entertaining long-standing devotees of the saga.
Speaking of the impact of Star Wars, let’s move onto the final reason the saga stands the test of time. Perhaps more than any other long-running franchise, Star Wars has left an immense impact on pop culture as we know it.
Mainstream TV hit Family Guy have run not one, not two, but three parodies of the movies. May the 4th(today’s date!) became International Star Wars Day, based solely on the play on the popular phrase. Vader’s revelation of his and Luke’s familial bond became one of the most misquoted lines in history. The Jedi now have their own religion in the real world (seriously, Google “Jediism” — thank me later). Microorganisms have been named after characters from the franchise. People will be cosplaying as Lord Vader for decades to come.
And, of course, the series gifted us some of the greatest lines in cinematic history. Enjoy.
The dangerous premonition:
The confident brush-aside:
The fervent warning:
The familial revelation:
The Daddio denial:
The “Father like Son”:
The ominous threat:
The classic insult:
And, of course:
And that’s why Star Wars is one of the greatest stories ever told.
The GIF and picture spam may have been a bit much, but it was necessary. Star Wars is everything.
Till next we meet,