The Saga Begins (For Me)

For the UAS Whalesong

Star Wars is the American space opera franchise created by George Lucas, the first three films being released from 1977 to 1983, the prequels from 1999-2005, and the most recent in 2015. The film series has made over 30.7 billion dollars. It changed the face of film and special effects for generations, as well as how people would react to future stories.

Story time: so, for the latter part of my life I had avoided watching Star Wars – any of it, the original trilogy or the prequels. People pushed and prodded about why I hadn’t seen the films and it just alienated me from them more, making it annoying to even have to bring up the series at all. It became almost a badge of honor or a sign of my ‘individuality’ that I hadn’t seen the films. I was aware of everything about how culturally relevant it is. I knew all the spoilers and didn’t see the point when I already knew everything that was going to happen. It was hard when I knew the rising and falling     action for the story already. I didn’t think there was a reason for me to see them.

But with the newest film out, which ended up being my first film of the series, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to see the predecessors. If this film had caught my attention so well, then the others should be able to as well. If last issue’s article by Alexa Cherry is anything to go by, you know that The Force Awakens was a fun film with a lot to live up to. For me, the movie met the hype and opened up a desire to know what else was going on. To understand why these films have held on for so long.

With a group of friends, a VCR, food, and three limited edition videotapes, a journey began. Both for myself and the group that decided to watch with me. Watching the original trilogy would take a little less than a month, as we took our time. I wouldn’t say my life was changed because of it, but I definitely had a fun time and learned why the series is so loved, as well as why it has continued to be a staple for so many people for so long.

For many people Star Wars was and will be their childhood, so for myself I know that I had a very different view on the series itself than others who hold a certain nostalgia for it. But that was part of why it was so much fun, experiencing it with people who knew what was coming but were still so excited for it to happen. Watching my friends debate if Luke had enough time to build a lightsaber or not was at least half the fun, even if it got a bit heated at times. Hearing friends share their personal stories about what Star Wars specifically meant for them or how they played it in their background.

For me, I appreciated the special effects far more than I probably should have, at least with the standard held today for them. Still, it was easy to see how the special effects changed a lot for future generations and the standard we hold for film to day. Back then these were top of the line effects and they were used brilliantly. While they were cheesy at times compared to what films can do now, it was still great to come into the films trying to withhold any judgement based on the time period. It didn’t change my understanding of how important the effects were for the future of the industry.

Another reason I wholeheartedly enjoyed the films, much one of my friend’s dismay, was the shipping fodder. It was easy to joke about shipping characters, even with the knowledge that it wasn’t going to happen, and Alexa Cherry seemed to share that sentiment as we watched. We had fun making up scenarios and head cannons on a few decades old films. Still able to formulate things beyond the canon plotline and see possibilities for other plotlines or fanfic fodder. That along with screaming about how attractive the characters were and continue to be, it made for a great snapchat story. I remember frequently  yelling in anguish every time Luke put a long sleeved shirt on in the second movie. It was a tragedy. But it was fun to react so widely to films that held no interest to me earlier.

As the films went on I could see why so many people felt a connection to them, why they were as important as they were. Because they struck a cord with so many people. For a lot people they see themselves in the characters. The story was new and hard hitting, it wasn’t something that had ever been done before and on such as scale. And it also offered new versions of old characters. A female lead who wasn’t there for just a romance, a male lead who captured both dark and light as well as what that means, another male lead who grew beyond his own wants and needs. It showed what would slowly become how stories in films are told today. They are strong stories with strong characters and that’s what makes the Star Wars films so amazing, is that they continue to be a powerful figure in media and pop culture.

For myself, I was able to enjoy these films so long after the fact. If anyone hasn’t seen the films, it might be fun to sit down and watch them, maybe with friends who have seen it or those who also haven’t. They hold an important place in the film industry’s history and continue to influence many creators to this day.

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