May 25th, 1977….twas a date to be LONG REMEMBERED. The day when a certain Science Fiction film project directed/written by filmmaker George Lucas, produced with Twentieth Century Fox, on an approximate budget of ten million dollars and a story several years in the making, made it to theaters. At first, it made its presence by a few spotty TV trailers and some movie ones with no one really knowing to expect when they first aired on television and at theaters. What came about was a Science Fiction film saga like no other at the time, that would change the face of the genre and science fiction filmmaking forever, in the areas of story telling, costuming, creature makeup effects, and of course, special effects in visual and audio. OF COURSE, THE FORCE, we are talking about STAR WARS!!
STAR WARS, A NEW HOPE, along with its following original trilogy chapters THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and THE RETURN OF THE JEDI, helped to make and give this film trilogy a a secured place in film history and with a tremendous box office sucess legacy. One for which A NEW HOPE, was kept as the number one top grossing film of all time for 20 years on. IN 1999, the saga’s continuation with its story prequels, THE PHANTOM MENACE, ATTACK OF THE CLONES, and REVENGE OF THE SITH garnered a moderate but still tremendously successful following to bring the saga to an epic close. We at Comic Book Therapy, along with Modern Mythology Press’s Eric M. Esquivel and his mighty cohorts at Heroes and Villains Comic Book Shops ring in the celebration with views and commentary! FEEL THE FORCE as we look back on the legend itself!
OK, my say and thoughts on the first film and its hypnotic effect on my first view… Summer 1977, just a boy, eager first-grader walking along with his folks on the exciting streets of Hollywood Boulevard and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. There, we arrived upon a crowd of eager filmgoers and upon one of the nation’s most celebrated movie houses, lined with promotional slide pics of scene from a certain science fiction film we had been hearing about. The place: GRAUMAN’S CHINESE THEATER!! The Movie: STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE. HUGE, seemingly panoramic, screen view, HUGE auditorium, and amazing stereo sound for those days. As the lights dropped and feature began, all eyes and ears were attent on the classic Twentieth Century Fox logo and fanfare theme with the film itself designated made in CinemaScope as well (AND one of the last films to be produced in CinemaScope too). All senses were still agaze at the deep space scene, opening music score, and the Star Wars logo with the famous yellow-lettered prologue roll. As it disappeared and the theme decsended to a low movement, you could hear a pin drop from the audience as the scene of a lone Alderaan senate freighter appears above with an Imperial Crusier following in a hot blooded, blastfiring, pursuit. What followed there after was a blur, but I was transported to an AMAZING world I had never seen and will never get to see in real life, ever. A day at the movies never to be forgotten, though I had a annoying propensity afterward for calling Darth Vader, DARK Vader, until the age of eight. Hey, he had a black mask, helmet, cape, etc., its all good. Seeing Vader at Toy’s R US that same first grader year while hiding behind my mother and touching Vader’s gloved hand (wondering if there was a real person there) was DARK enough for me though. Heheh…
Who doesn’t love a battle with a happy ending?
THE BOTTOM LINE ON THE SAGA’S LEGACY..
For my view on Star Wars’s mark on pop culture…there is too much to say here. What I can tell you that is is that you could NOT talk about hit movies back then in Star Wars’s beginnings without even mentioning the Saga itself. It left an indelible mark on movies, film music, MOVIE MERCHANDISING, and overall pop culture so strong, it gave all of fellow Scifi giant Gene Rodenberry’s STAR TREK TV franchise a run for its money. Pop culture returned a response in praise and imitation to its greatness, with shows throughout TV and movie history paying homage and parody to the saga’s opening delivery, story, elements, characters, dialogue, and more. This pop culture legacy and hype carried on throughout many a TV show from Star Wars TV Specials to guest spots of Mark Hammil on the Muppet show. Later, it created strong influence for TV Shows Battlestar Galactica and several classic 1970′s/80′s Scifi Japanese anime series classics like Gundam and Macross. The hype continued through onto today, with hillarious comical references on popular cartoons Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Bravo, to other animated shows like South Park, Family Guy, and Robot Chicken. There are also references abound in Today’s geekfest movies like FANBOY and the Simon Peg/Nick Frost/Seth Rogen alien comedy, PAUL. From the biggest right down to the smallest plugs, there has even been some amusing name-drop references to characters Wedge Antilles, and Emperor Palpatine on the CW Horror TV show hit SUPERNATURAL. Among all else, with the AFI(American Film Institutes)’s Top three placement for All Time Movie Villain going to Darth Vader as performed in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, that was just more icing on the cake. To round it off here, I reiterate, Star Wars has made itself a tremendous place in society’s entertainment pop culture…The likes of which any other Science Fiction or other fantasy/adventure franchise will have a VERY hard time unseating.
The Star Wars legacy that gets my midichlorians buzzin’ the most is that it set a precedent for “stickin’ it to the man”
Without Star Wars you don’t get Blade Runner, you don’t get The Matrix, you don’t get Neuromancer, or Firefly, or any of that good stuff.
I am the rebellious, anti-authoritarian turd I am today because Skywalker and the gang taught me that power has a tendency to corrupt, and that empathy and awareness of causality go hand-in-hand with superpowers and sweet lightsaber skills.
- Eric M. Esquivel
Ewoks… That’s the only legacy Star Wars needs to be remembered for.
Ok, but really:
Star Wars is Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey in movie form. It’s something that goes so much deeper then words on a page or
pictures on a screen. It’s a story that screams to be told over and over again. It’s a traditional tale of a boy becoming a
man, becoming a hero and then becoming a legacy, not just in a galaxy far far away but on this world to these people.
In today’s world the words “Jedi” and “Lightsaber” are so common not just in comic shops or other places where fans of the
genre gather but all over western civilization. I’ve heard that Star Wars has caused some countries to concede to the
thought of Jedi being an actual recognized religion. The terms Jedi and Padawan are words that have somehow made their way into work places, clubs, and organizations, being used to describe the hierarchy of employees. May 4th (May the 4th be with you!) is recognized by many as the national Star Wars day. Star Wars invaded pop culture before pop culture knew what was hitting it.
When I was a young boy and growing up, Star Wars is what my dad and I bonded over. Collecting figures, watching the movies, going to midnight releases of the special editions and later the prequels. It shaped who I am today. It crafted my moral compass and showed me the difference between good and bad and light and dark. I can’t describe how Star Wars left a legacy in pop culture because for me and I think a lot of other people it has such a deeper meaning then that. It’s a childhood for some or a life style for others. It’s so far entrenched in our civilization that it’s hard to say what the phenomenon has caused and what it hasn’t.
- Matt Warnstedt
Operations (“Black Ops”) Manager
No question Star Wars has shaped the last 35 years of pop culture. Phrases from the movie have become part of everyday vernacular. At our store, since I’m to boss, staffers regularly refer to me as the Emperor (lovingly, I like to believe!). We also regularly use “These aren’t the droids your looking for”, replacing “droids” with whatever item we are trying to hide from our peers. Just the other day we had a brilliant full moon and a customer of ours posted on his facebook page the quote ”That’s no moon, that’s a space station!”, to which he very quickly got assorted “stay on target” and “red 5 I’m going in” replies.
Even characters in the fiction we enjoy eventually end up compared to their Star Wars counterparts. “The villains isn’t
nearly as cool as Vader”, or “Man, he whines as much as Luke” can be heard on the sales floor of our comic shop with
regularity. Does the fiction have a father/son conflict? How does it compare to Vader/Luke? Evil empire? Young band of
rebels? All of them have to be stacked up against Star Wars to earn a space in our hearts and minds.
No question about it…the Force is indeed strong with the Star Wars franchise.
- Mike Camp
There you have it, STAR WARS….. a science fiction fantasy franchise galaxies beyond others in its legacy to the pop culture of entertainment, culture, and everyday life..