Welcome to the first edition of Newcomer Chronicles, a segment of this blog that records the first impressions of someone getting into a popular series for the first time.
Star Wars is among the single most important entertainment properties in all of geek culture. The episodic space opera of the 1970s goes down in history as one of the most important film franchises ever, and the most influential sci-fi series ever. Everyone by now knows some of the films’ classic lines, charming characters, and timeless themes. It has gotten to the point that, even if you have never seen a Star Wars movie before, you are aware of its existence and can respect it for the impact it has made… I should know.
Unlike most others, I wasn’t introduced to Star Wars right away. In fact, if you asked me a couple years ago, I could tell you I never saw a single movie. It’s not that I wasn’t interested or that my parents didn’t want me watching it. My parents have seen and enjoyed all of the movies. It was more of an accident that me and my siblings never saw these films.
However, I was and still am the nerd of the family; and one of the unspoken laws of geekhood is to see at least the original trilogy before you die. That’s why I took the initiative in my teenage years to finally see these films. Driven by the fact that Episode VII is coming, I set out to complete this dubious task.
I started with A New Hope when I was 15. I was lucky enough to have an English teacher who showed the film (the original VHS version as well) in order to teach us about archetypes. When we weren’t able to finish, I finished the film by myself during winter break. I liked it a lot and decided to keep going.
I was sitting on Empire Strikes Back for a long time with every intention of seeing it. I eventually saw the film while on a long train ride on New Years Eve. (I was 17). That I loved a tad more.
Knowing I’m two-thirds the way done, I knew I couldn’t wait another two years to see Return of the Jedi. I found the means to see that film last month. Now at 18 years old, I finally completed the original trilogy and can confidently deem myself a true nerd.
It’s funny how each passing film came to me as a right of passage. Similar to how Luke came closer to being a true Jedi with each film, I simultaneously became even more of a Star Wars fan. I am pleased to now say that I am a true Star Wars fan, and it’s nice to finally look at this fandom from the inside.
When spending so long on the outside looking in, it’s hard to know what to expect when you finally begin. One thing I noticed is how surprisingly grounded it is from what I anticipated. I kind of expected this corny, over the top sci-fi movie. However, what I found was a straightforward, ambitious story. It’s a film with higher accessibility than you would think. Within ten minutes you’re totally invested in the world this movie makes. You’re right there with those characters and you’re on the edge of your seat to know what happens next.
I think one of the movie’s great strengths is how simple the story really is. Many including J.J. Abrams consider Star Wars a fairy tale, and that’s a great term to use for these films. The core of the film is a young man discovering a force greater than he realized, and with the help of an old mentor goes on a journey to bring peace to the war-torn universe. Not that complicated when you really think about it, but that’s not the point.
It’s not just a story that makes a good movie; it’s how you tell that story. The way Star Wars is written and made gives you the feeling that this simple story is something much more complex. It’s a story with themes of vengeance, responsibility, companionship, and compassion- and that’s just scratching the surface of what themes these films tackle.
This film, among others of its time, changed the way science fiction was handled from then on. That’s indisputable. You can see elements of Star Wars in many modern-day sci-fi films. What I found was that this story was so consistently pure in it’s concept and tone, which only added to how invested I would become in this series. I think that’s because I have been seeing sci-fi movies years before I saw Episode IV, many of which have taken influence from that film. So when seeing Star Wars later rather than sooner, you gain a sense of appreciation for it. It comes off as refreshing and uncomplicated, something modern sci-fi movies often struggle to achieve.
And these characters are just so good. Again, incredibly straightforward and simple personalities that are easy to fathom. However, that simplicity shouldn’t be confused with underdevelopment. It’s only simple in the sense that they are relatable. You can generalize each character from Luke to Vader in one word if you really want to, but by doing so you wouldn’t capture the entirety of that character. It’s not that they’re one dimensional characters. It’s just easy to see the movie through their eyes if you are tasked with doing so. This aspect makes even the droids C3PO and R2-D2 relatable. That’s something very hard to achieve. To me the characters are what make these films work. Remove even one of them, and you have a totally different movie.
I actually find it very difficult to pick a favorite among these films. If you were to ask me right now, I may go with Empire Strikes Back. It’s the film with the most going on and that tells the better story overall. It’s not as accessible as A New Hope is nor as satisfying as Return of the Jedi, but it trumps the others in terms of quality and quantity.
I’m glad that I was able to finally see these movies. It’s an incredible experience when people talk of Star Wars and I can actually join in instead of just stare absentmindedly at what their saying. In a way, though, it was a blessing in disguise that I waited so long to enjoy these films. While I can never have that childhood attachment to the movies like my peers, I was able to look at these films with appreciation rather than nostalgia.
There’s a sense of whimsy and wonder that only Star Wars can achieve that was able to affect me in my teenage years. I didn’t think it possible for a film to give me a reaction similar to that of a child. For that, I am grateful for the experience Star Wars has given me.
And now I can for the first time look forward to The Force Awakening along with just about everyone else. Those trailers look amazing!
Thank you all for listening to my little story. I tried hard to get this post done by the end of today. It may be coming late but today was the day to get this out, especially considering how long I’ve been promising this. Feel free to comment and tell me your thoughts on Star Wars- whatever it may be- because I love discussing these things with you guys.
May the Fourth be with you!
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!