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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Celebrating 40 Years Of Star Wars

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away....

On Wednesday, May 25, 1977, the world was changed forever by a film that few people -- including those who helped produce it and the actors who played in it -- thought would be successful. 

Star Wars (later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) premiered in less than 40 theaters across the United States and overnight became one of the most highly successful science fiction films of all time and a worldwide cultural icon.

It came at a time when this country was going through a massive political and social upheaval following the end of the Vietnam War (1964 - 1975) and the Watergate scandal. When the American public was uncertain about the future and pessimistic at best about it's present. 

George Lucas' epic saga of a galactic civil war pitting a vastly outnumbered and outgunned Rebel Alliance against the seemingly overwhelming forces of an evil Galactic Empire, with memorable arch-typical characters, outstanding special effects (for that time), and equally outstanding musical score; brought America out of its collective depression and gave us hope for a better tomorrow. 

That and it was just a damn good movie with memorable moments that reached out from the silver screen and touched on some deeper yearning in all our hearts. 

Perhaps the most iconic image of the film is the scene where Luke Skywalker is standing by the homestead on the desert planet of Tatooine watching the binary sunset and dreaming of being more than just a moisture farmer on a planet in the outer rim of the galaxy. Certainly all of us have felt that same feeling of melancholy as Luke? Looking out beyond our current place in life, dreaming to find adventure, or perhaps just something a bit more than what we had?

Since that time, Star Wars has inspired seven feature films -- with the 8th coming out this December -- and several outstanding animated TV series spinoffs.*  It inspired fans of the first trilogy of the franchise to build an outstanding expanded universe (now Legends), as well as brought inspiration of thousands of current well-know (and many unknown) science fiction writers, directors, film makers, and scriptwriters to build on the foundation lain down by George Lucas. 

Being born in June 1976 and only 11 months old when Star Wars came to the theaters for the first time, this movie and the amazing franchise built around it by its legions of fans, has been a constant companion in my life -- one that likely jump-started my love for science fiction and fantasy adventure stories. For that I will always hold Mr. Lucas, the genius who inspired and created that incredible universe, in the highest regard. 

I know that I am not the only one from my generation who feels the same way. In closing I would like to say thank you to all those who made this franchise successful.

May The Force Be With Y'all, Always! 

May you find your inspiration and find the courage to follow your dreams, my friends.

* I would like to make it clear for the record that I do not -- in any way, shape, or form -- include that horrible Christmas Special in that group of memorable Star Wars TV shows. I still have nightmares about my first and only viewing of that horrendous show in my youth. The less said about it, the better! 

1 comment:

  1. C.W., being one of the dinosaurs who actually saw the movie at a theater in 1977 I can tell you that the true history of Star Wars is a lot more involved than is generally known. For at the time of the movie debut there was a real life, self-taught ‘Jedi’ master who was already teaching others to use the real-world mental power that eventually became the metaphor called the “force” in Star Wars.

    Her name was Betty Edwards, a high school art teacher with the brilliant, scientific mind of a modern day Leonardo Da Vinci. The basic idea that “... your eyes can deceive you, do not trust them... reach out with your feelings...” was at the heart of Edwards’ doctoral thesis and her teaching method. She got her doctorate in 1976, the year before Star Wars. Her revolutionary book based on over a decade’s worth of study, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” debuted in 1979.

    George Lucas, like all great sci-fi writers of that time period, kept abreast of all the latest scientific research worthy of note to the sci-fi set. And by 1969 news of Roger W. Sperry’s now legendary split brain research was out there. Edwards and others... like sci-fi folk, all knew about it. And soon metaPHORS and the associated mysterious mental power would be the up and coming thing.

    For the left brain hemisphere mode of thinking was verbal, logical and literal... the right hemisphere mode non-verbal, spatial and metaphorical. The left side... powerful, dark, oppressive... always overshadowing the spatial, peaceful right. Sound familiar... similar to any stories you heard of?

    Lucas put all of that, and a lot more, into his Star Wars universe. However, it was Edwards who made the true “force” accessible to all. The artist’s pen or pencil, more powerful than any sword or sabre when guided by the right-brain force that exists within us all.

    Sadly, Edwards’ work was falsely discredited by a bunch of sexist, Left-Brainy neuroscientists. No way were those Neuros ever gonna let a female, High School art teacher get credit for the most brilliant, real world application of Nobel Prize winning research ever.