I’ve said before that I had a Star Wars club at my elementary school that fell victim to other claims on my time. Someone has brought up-and so I am considering-that it is time to open that door again. With that in mind, I am making a trial run of such a club here on my blog, running 4 weeks just like the club would. Week 1 is “The Importance of Star Wars.”
People who aren’t Star Wars fans can easily trivialize the movies as nothing more than routine entertainment, and as such, not everyone’s cup of tea. That is certainly true on one level. But the real truth of Star Wars lies much deeper than that surface interpretation. Star Wars is so deeply ingrained in American culture that even those who have never seen the movies know lines like “No, I am your father,” and can understand them in context. With this pervasiveness comes a certain cultural unity that Americans otherwise find hard to come by. Also, in a society that is by and large obsessed with media, Star Wars has revolutionized movie production and inspired a generation of filmmakers who have turned out some of the best loved dramas of our time. Finally, for those who are willing to consider it, the Star Wars saga represents the heroic journey of people who, in spite of certain paranormal advantages, still travel the same road that we must all travel, learning lessons that we must also learn.
The world has seldom seen a movie that has had the cultural impact that Star Wars has had. Already The Force Awakens has become the highest grossing movie of all time worldwide. Star Wars is something that everybody knows. Why? Because the movies are simultaneously full of fun and full of gravitas, uplifting and cautionary, personal and epic. In spite of the exotic settings, the characters are intimately relatable so that nearly everyone can find something of him- or herself in one of them. Star Wars has simply become very much a part of who we are as people on this planet.
George Lucas totally revolutionized filmmaking when he made these movies. He needed special effects that didn’t exist and he found a way to make them happen. He created sound that made you feel as though you were actually in the movie. Now, as a result, we have ILM, which does special effects for a huge percentage of movies that need such things, and Pixar of Disney movie fame. He also founded THX sound. A whole generation of filmmakers are in it because they first saw Star Wars, people such as James Cameron and Peter Jackson. Cinematic production has never been the same.
Finally, Luke’s story is our story. Oh, sure, he has Force powers, but, bottom line, he’s just a kid from Tatooine dreaming of bigger things than the life he knows. He gets a call to save the galaxy, but we also get called to do things in our lives. He is tempted to ignore the call as are we when the status quo is easier to accept than shake up. He accepts his call and that is where we are challenged by the movie to step out of the mundane and seek more excitement and more meaning in our lives. Luke recognizes the wisdom of good training and shows us that we too can be taught to do remarkable things if we will just choose our teachers wisely. Ultimately, goodness and love win out in his story as they can in ours if we are not afraid to reach for the stars and stick to the right path to get there.
How’s that? Not bad for a first meeting of the club, huh? Can I make this into an hour of activity for 9 and 10 year olds? I think I can.