May 19, 2010
The Movie that Spawned a Sub-Culture
This Friday is the 30th Anniversary of the greatest Star Wars movie of all time. The Empire Strikes Back has been a fan favorite since it first opened in theaters in 1980. I was only 7 months old at the time. Its really crazy when I think about it. How can someone become a fan of a movie that came out when they were that age and remain so into their thirties?
In 1984 my brother and I recieved Star Wars figures for Christmas. He had a Gomorrean Guard and I had Lando Calrissian. I was five at the time. When I was seven we had The Empire Strikes Back curtains in our room. I can still see them. The images invoked adventure, and I loved to look at the different characters. I became obsessed with Star Wars in the 1990s, when Lucas released the trilogy box set as well as new figures. I soon had a room that was full of unopened figures.
I spent the night outside the theater for episode 1 and was so disappointed that I sold almost all of my Star Wars items. I did manage keep all of the vintage figures. Episode 2 and 3 were great and somewhere between them and the Clone Wars cartoons, I actually began to like Episode 1. A great deal of that is probably because of my children (Luke and Leia).
It all really began and hinged on The Empire Strikes Back. If it had not been for Empire succeeding as a sequel, Star Wars would have only been a great special effects advancement. It would not have the following or pop culture mainstay that it currently enjoys. Empire gave us three new worlds, the realization of Vader as Luke's father, and no clear resolution with the freezing of Han Solo. It also gave us the characters of Yoda, Boba Fett, and Lando Calrissian. It was as near to perfect as a movie can get. Empire had it all, action, drama, romance, and comedy.
My family will be going to Celebration V this summer for the 30th anniversary convention. I cannot wait. Star Wars fans form a close knit tribe. I can meet a fan for the first time and we instantly have a common bond. Sometimes I wish Christians were more like Star Wars fans. I should be able to go into any church or meet any believer and feel totally welcome and linked in a spiritual way. This is not always the case. It is truly sad because what unites followers of Christ is real and powerful. We could learn a lot from the fictional world of George Lucas and the community it has created.