When you have a big family, it’s always a treat to find one thing that captivates the whole group for more than a couple of hours. But when you find something that has unfailingly entertained your entire family for 35 years, why, you feel a bit beholden to the creator of such a thing. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to George Lucas, for so thoroughly entertaining our family with the captivating stories and quirky characters from that galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars,” later to be renamed, “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” (once the prequels were in place), premiered on May 25, 1977. Our oldest boys were 5 and 3 that year. Three may have been a bit young, since that little guy of ours clamped his eyes shut at the first sight of those creepy, brown robed, glowing-eyed “Jawas,” and didn’t open them again until the credits were rolling! But, by the 2nd time we saw it, he was hooked, too.
How could we not love a sci-fi flick that has action, drama, comedy, a little romance, a powerful and an enchanting musical score and, according to my youngest son, the funniest movie duo of all time in the form of a couple of droids named R2-D2 and C3PO. (Those two droids, along with Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi, are the only four characters to appear in all six movies.)
Who knew how universally known the characters, music, scenes and sayings would become and how the popularity of the saga would appeal to guys and gals of all ages? My one and only granddaughter is a HUGE fan, so you can imagine my delight at being asked to fashion a pair of Princess Leia “ear buns” for one of her costumes. (Those buns have got to be part of one of the most instantly recognizable hairdos ever!)
As with any successful film series, there is money to be made. The longevity of the “Star Wars” brand has resulted in the biggest revenue coming from movie-inspired merchandise. And it’s not just the video games and action figures – we’re talking about things like comic books, gift wrap, backpacks, lunch boxes, costumes, placemats, Pez dispensers, trading cards and toothbrushes, just to mention a few.
And if amassing a plethora of planetary paraphernalia isn’t enough, there are the “events.”
There are exhibits and activities going on all over the country. Here’s something new, though, for any of you interested in becoming a lightsaber-wielding jogger: “Course of the Force” is a 5-day relay race, leading up to Comic Con International, in San Diego, this July.
For $500 (all proceeds go to the “Make a Wish Foundation”), you will be assigned a quarter-mile section of California coastline, between the Santa Monica pier and San Diego, where, dressed in the “Star Wars” costume of your own choosing and brandishing a complimentary lightsaber, you will trot along paying tribute to the “force” and supporting a great charity at the same time.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a trip down that intergalactic memory lane as I “interviewed” our four sons, most of the grandkids, a couple of daughters-in-law and the oldest Jedi junkie in the family, my husband Steve. Here’s what they had to say:
For “best movie” out of the six, the adults among us chose movies from the original trilogy, with all four of our sons preferring “The Empire Strikes Back.”
The grandchildren were drawn to the “prequels,” which I found a bit confusing (the prequels, not the grandchildren), as well as the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” TV series.
Han Solo headed the list of our favorite good guys, followed by R2-D2, C3PO, Chewbacca, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke and Lando Calrissian. Wicket got a shout out from our daughter-in-law who loves the Ewoks, General Grievous was our oldest grandson’s pick, while Princess Leia and Queen Amidala were the favorites of the aforementioned granddaughter with her own homemade set of “ear buns.” (Best bad guys in order of popularity: Darth Vader, Darth Maul, The Emperor, Boba-Fett and Jabba the Hutt.)
We all have favorite scenes – from the controversial “who shot first” scene between Han Solo and Greedo in the Cantina, in the original “Star Wars,” to the destruction of the Death Star, with a little help from Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon (which never failed to generate a rousing cheer from the movie-goers), to Han Solo’s smug response of, “I know,” to Princess Leia’s “I love you,” just before he was carbonized in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Then there’s the ever-present “force.” The force is really the centerpiece of the saga. It’s been described as an energy field created by all living things that bind the galaxy together (whew!) that can be harnessed and honed by beings that are “Force-sensitives.” In the Star Wars adventures, we see it being used for good AND bad, in every episode.
You can’t ignore the appeal of the Star Wars theme of good versus evil. Throw in the “force” and it’s all about believing in oneself and going out and getting the job done. (It was the “get ’er done” message well before Larry the Cable Guy named it such.) When Yoda teaches Luke to use the force, he’s not messing around with any half-hearted efforts or whining of any kind. What’s not to love about this message delivered by a two-foot tall, pointy-eared, whiskery, wrinkled, slightly chubby and very wise, green guy: “Do or do not ... there is no try.”
Peck is a local mother and grandmother who works in Enid Public Schools. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.