A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…..
In block text, the film’s title exploded onto the screen as John Williams’ epic adventure-sounding music accompanied the scrolling yellow text describing a civil war between the rebels and Galactic Empire and an ultimate weapon known as the Death Star. The music quieted, and the camera panned down to the desert-looking planet of Tatoonie – only to return in a flurry of galloping beats as the small rebel starship, Tantive IV, dashed across the screen. A deep, rolling rumble swept over me as one of the Imperial Navy’s I-class Star Destroyers (The Devastator) crawled across the screen in pursuit. It was 1977, and my pre-teen mind knew this film was different from anything I had ever seen on the big or small screen. As this was the days before social media and I was too young to know about fan magazines, I thought I was alone in replaying the movie in my mind. But, I was not the only one touched by this film at that time nor in the 40+ years since.
This film and the franchise that blossomed have created a wave of fandom that started with a princess, two androids, a young man, and many, many other characters along the way, creating an indelible body of tales that resonate with so many of us. Why? Because this film and the universe that have developed and expanded over the years speak to our core, our foundations as humans: our heart, our mind, and our souls. What results is a tapestry of legacies that each of us tap into when we interact with the Star Wars franchise.
Legacy. Looking online, one definition of the word is “a thing handed down by a predecessor.” Related words include bequest, inheritance, heritage, endowment, gift, patrimony, settlement, and birthright. If ever a franchise and the fandom surrounding it have a sense of legacy, it is Star Wars, in part because of the way the fandom developed right alongside to the growing popularity of popular culture and, dare I say, the concept of marketing/merchandise. Long after the film had left the cinemas (This was before VHS.), I remember this was the first time I could engage with my residual impressions of the film through the Star Wars board game, action figures, trading cards, and even a calendar. Honestly, that was a huge element to building fandom. So, Star Wars gave a legacy of impressions on the outside (fandom) in addition to the legacies presented inside (the franchise) through the values shared by the film and of the hero’s journey via Luke, Leia, and Han originally, and now through a new generation of characters, Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren.
From 1977 to 2018, the star that is Star Wars still shines bright! In honor and celebration of this year’s May the Fourth, we have new essays that explore the world of Star Wars from three different perspectives:
Need more Star Wars? Check out some of our past coverage:
May the Fourth and the Force (light and dark) be with you, always!