Last week it was May the Fourth, the official/unofficial Star Wars holiday. To honor this, one of the holiest days in the nerd calendar, I rewatched Star Wars. By which, I mean Episode 4, A New Hope. This addendum was added in 1981 for the theatrical rerelease.
When I first saw that movie, in the distant past of 1977, we only called it Star Wars. To also add, IT BLEW MY MIND! I had never seen anything like this. Of course, no one had, but I can only speak for myself.
As anyone who has read my work knows, I am quite the nerd and have been for the entirety of my life. So seeing Star Wars was like being given a gift of something I didn’t know I wanted in the deepest, secret, and unplumbed depths of my soul. Given the overwhelming popularity of this franchise, I was not alone.
Like countless others, I wanted to live in that universe, to fly an X-Wing or the Millennium Falcon, be best friends with a Wookiee, and wield a lightsaber while I let the Force flow through me. I bought the soundtrack and listened to it over and over, picturing accompanying the scenes in my head.
My Friends and I bragged about how many times we had seen it. One kid had been twenty times and we envied him. Remember, this was pre-streaming and even pre-VCR(Google it), so it was confined to theaters. It was in theaters for over a year, a feat that the most popular blockbusters of more recent times cannot match.
For Christmas that year I received a lightsaber. To clarify, it was an orange flashlight with a white, opaque plastic tube attached to it that when turned on, glowed like a lightsaber. Obviously not officially licensed, I think had a sticker on the grip that read, Star Sword or maybe Laser Sword. As cheap as this was, it delighted me. It also looked VERY cool when you ignited, with a vocal ‘snap hiss’, in a dark room.
It is easy to see what excited people worldwide, good versus evil, amazing setting, fantastic aliens, a wide variety of droids, space ships, and high adventure. Naturally, there were sequels, comics, novels and novelizations, toys, cartoons, games, then prequels, more cartoons, and more sequels.
These answered a lot of questions we all had, even if the answers were not the ones we wanted. In the interest of transparency, not every bit was lore was top-notch, and much was discarded after Disney took over. This made some people very angry and others not at all. Just like everything ever done.
While I’m delighted by the proliferation of Star Wars content, back in the day, all we had was the one movie, and any bit of lore we might glean as we poured over articles in Starlog. It was a science-fiction magazine. Printed on paper, once a month. Because that’s how we rolled back then.
Besides all the obvious reasons, why did I love Star Wars so much? After watching it for the umpteenth time (way more than twenty, so suck it childhood friend whose name eludes me now), something occurred to me. What intrigued me was what we didn’t see.
Now to be sure, we saw a lot of stuff, but we only visited two planets, the desert world of Tatooine and the jungle moon of Yavin 4. For a setting for a galactic struggle, that’s not a lot. Sure we saw Yavin Prime, a crimson gas giant, and Alderaan from a distance. For very clear reasons, we don’t get to visit them. R.I.P. Alderaan.
There is a lot mentioned that we don’t see and is not explained. What were the Clone Wars all about? How does the Force work? What is a Womprat, other than being a little bigger than two meters? Where does blue milk come from and what does it taste like? How can you make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs when a parsec is a measurement of distance and not speed? What do Jawas really look like under the hood?
Lots of these have been answered with varying degrees of satisfaction. While I have spent quite a lot of time seeking details about the Star Wars universe, watching the original made me long for the time when a lot of mysteries still existed. Given the time I’ve spent watching movies and shows, to say nothing of the many, many books I’ve read, it seems contradictory.
Truth be told, it is. I want to know everything and simultaneously don’t. In a way, the more I know about the Star Wars Universe, the smaller it seems. When all we knew was what we saw in one movie, it felt… infinite.
One of the highest bits of praise I can give a fictional world is that feels as though there is something around the corner, even if we don’t see it. Star Wars has that and then some. In my mind, every one of the stars we see at the opening has a unique and intriguing world. Some even have more than just one. What are they all? We’ll know when some creative force, no pun intended, reveals it to us. If they don’t, that’s okay too.
The younger version of me would not agree. He’d want it all and he’d want it right now. I can’t blame him, even if he wouldn’t love it all. Probably.
Maybe what I want is to return to a time when the world seemed undiscovered and full of possibilities, at least from a certain point of view. I’d be lying if that doesn’t hold a very powerful appeal. Impossible of course, we all must move forward.
While I can’t go back to that state of innocence of Star Wars lore, I can bask in the memories of a time before knew what Midi-chlorians were and the arguments that they created. Before the dark times, before the Empire. Not the Empire Strikes Back, that was awesome.
Excuse me, I need to stare off at the horizon at the setting twin suns and reminisce about when I took my first step into a larger world.