Monday, May 28, 2007

Star Wars - 30 Years Later

I was seven years old when Star Wars came out in 1977. It is the first movie I remember seeing. It impressed me greatly and it and the two sequels helped to dominate my fantasy life for years. I watch these movies today and I still can recall the lines so well that I annoy my wife by speaking them out loud.

The History Channel aired Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed tonight. The site description reads, "Thirty years ago, an unheralded film known as Star Wars opened in theaters and took audiences on a groundbreaking journey to a galaxy far, far away. It instantly seized the public's imagination, and three decades later still claims that grasp. On Memorial Day Monday, May 28th @ 9pm, The History Channel premieres STAR WARS: THE LEGACY REVEALED, a 2-hour special exploring why the emotional impact of the Star Wars Saga remains as relevant as ever. Through interviews with politicians, academics, journalists and critics, we'll learn about the similarities between the tales of Luke Skywalker and King Arthur and Buddha and Yoda. We'll see how Star Wars' intensely compelling stories - borrowed from diverse traditions, from Greek mythology and American westerns to the Bible and even Vaudeville - force us to explore some of the biggest questions of our time."

When I was an undergraduate, my university library ran a promotion offering a free "Dialog" search of databases on a topic. This was in the days when searching databases required a librarian to do it for you and you even had to pay for the privilege of having them do it! I took advantage of this and had the librarian (her name was Gwen) search Greek hero myth and Luke Skywalker. Even in the early 90s, I got some good results. I wrote a paper for a philosophy class and got an A- I believe. Alas, the paper is now gone. Nowadays, good, mediocre, and bad papers by college students are saved forever in and on plagiarism sites. If I had a copy of the paper, I would post it here.

The History Channel show focused heavily on the parallels of the Star Wars Republic falling like the Weimar Republic in Germany before the Nazi takeover. Obviously, there are strong parallels between Hitler benefiting from the Enabling Act and Palpatine assuming emergency powers. However, to me, the fall of the Roman Republic seems to be a bigger inspiration for the fall of the Galactic Republic to me. The biggest difference is that Palpatine in Star Wars was clearly evil and I do not think Julius Caesar was an evil man.

Thirty years after its release, Star Wars plays a central role in American (and world) popular culture. People know the story. I bet a hundred years from now, Star Wars will still be studied. Those six movies mattered. What an embarrassment to the Academy Awards that Annie Hall won the 1977 Oscar for Best Picture. Which movie is more significant and being studied still today and is likely to have the greatest impact on future films? Those Oscar voters lacked vision in this case.

1 comment:

super hero said...

it is so sad you dont have a copy of your study. would be interesting to read it. i am not sure if there is anyone left who at least havent heard of Star Wars.