“Fear not for the future, weep not unto the past.” – Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Voyage of Temptation”. by Miriam Orr
Many of you already know that my journey into the galaxy far, far away started with A New Hope, given I wrote an article on it already (see A Bigger Fish: The Fandom Journey of a New Star Wars Fan). I’ll spare you the story.
The war of the galaxy started on this day, 1977. The launch of this film would jump-start the overwhelming popularity of science-fiction and would forever manipulate the change of the movie-world. A New Hope revolutionized film culture, and thus fandom culture, and set the bar for all films to follow – however unbeknownst it would be to creator George Lucas.
Its track record speaks for itself – in 1977, ANH was voted the year’s best film by the LA Critics Association, and was selected as one of the best five English-language films of the year by the National Board of Review. Also it was on the “ten best” list of Time as well as the New York Times, as well being nominated for ten Academy Award nominations – ultimately winning seven (McDowell, xiii). Still today it is critically acclaimed in the Library of Congress as a significant piece of culture.
Despite its flaring popularity, ANH exists to be something more than mere entertainment. In a quote from Lucas himself, he states that he envisioned Star Wars “…to be a traditional, moral study.” (Seabrook, 146). Ultimately, this film would usher people back to the cinema and revolutionize the concept of space travel and science-fiction, as before no one had ever envisioned space as a habitable place to build worlds and colonies of populations. Also it would challenge people to look at morality and ethics and ask questions of themselves that no other film of this genre had done before.
In the years before ANH, science-fiction films had always been a venture: people from earth rocket into space, land on a rock, and battle aliens (more or less crudely put). It was always negative. There were aliens invading earth, things going wrong, asteroids plummeting to earth. There wasn’t a happy science fiction movie – it was a deeply unexplored and negative genre, and people were not into it. It was strange, and rarely pursued. A mysterious enigma. In essence, it was indeed very far away.
But, Star Wars opened the galaxy like a scroll. Suddenly audiences realized that space was a lot more than aliens and asteroids and blackness – it was a world of its own, or, it really could be. Life could exist on hundreds of different planets like Earth did. Star Wars became a universe people could connect with and envision, and it explored the possibilities. People could suddenly be legendary Jedi and smugglers, Sith lords or pilots and live a life that other science-fiction movies could never explain. Life in the stars became relatable to life under them for thousands of people, suddenly and unexpectedly. No body expected it walking into the theatre; no expert critic foresaw it in science-fictions future.
Ultimately, these movies moved us because we began to relate with Luke Skywalker and the mysterious Ben Kenobi; began to fear Darth Vader and the Deathstar in ways we never had before. They suddenly became iconic figures, representing a lot more to us than just bad guys and good guys. When we heard Vader’s music, we began to grapple with out own failures and fears and shortcomings. We began to dream when Luke boards the Millennium Falcon with Ben Kenobi, life forever changed for him as a normal teenage boy. Some of us grieved our own losses when Ben surrenders himself to the force, leaving Luke to cope with the heavy burden of a forgotten legacy of the Jedi. People began to wonder about Jedi with elegant weapons of a more civilized age and what that age was, and we fell in love with Princess Leia and her spunky courage. Han Solo became the rogue every man wanted to be and every woman dreamed of, and practically every child discovered a friend in R2-D2.
Needless to say, Star Wars broke the mold in 1977. It was a trend-setter and captured the hearts and imaginations of people across the world, and still does today. Perhaps what was missing in the previous science-fiction films in cinema history was the relatability that Star Wars brings to the table: we had characters we could identify with, who explored and overcame challenges, all while living seemingly average lives, just on different planets.
These movies began to inspire us and challenge our imaginations in ways previous films did not. They forced us (no pun intended) to think of a bigger picture, to question morality and pursue justice. For some, it forced us to consider the forces of light and darkness and the evil and good within the world – and for yours truly, it forced a desire to walk closer to the light side. Star Wars highlighted a promise that the light is never truly overcome by darkness (John 1:5), all while ushering in a new hope for cinema never before felt by the population.
The purpose of this tribute is to remember Star Wars: A New Hope. It is to set aside the divide between the prequels and originals and bask in the beauty of the universe. It’s an encouragement to look forward to what’s coming and not worry about the genre – to weep not for what was in the past. It is a day of remembrance for the films we all love deeply– a tribute to everything it accomplished cinematically, morally, and fictionally.
And, it is to remind you that there is something bigger – that there is always, always a bigger fish.
Lucas, cited in John Seabrook, Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing – The Marketing of Culture (New York; Knopf, 2000), 146.
John McDowell, The Gospel According to Star Wars: Faith, Hope, and the Force (Kentucky; John Knox Press, 2007), xiii.
Since the bright and adventurous age of 5, Miriam Orr has been writing adventures to captivate audiences of all walks of life. She has been published in over ten poetry journals and graduated the creative writing certificate program through the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. Currently, she possess a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Christian Studies from Crown College (MN). She hopes to respond to the call of Isaiah 6:8 across the globe and venture with the heart of Jesus Christ into the nations. Miriam currently resides in Minnesota and enjoys film, fiction, cars, poetry, and coffee. You can see more of Miriam’s work on her blog https://loudfictionblog.wordpress.com/