I have an addiction, I am a total film buff. I get asked a lot what influenced me as a kid to make me such a huge film lover. The answer is quite simple, Star Wars. As a young kid of 5, I have vivid memories of seeing Star Wars on the big screen. At the Southtown theater here in Milwaukee, I remember well. The line was huge, wrapping around the block. I went with my older sister and some of her friends. It seemed to be late at night, the dark skies were full of stars. Probably not as late as I remember but, to a 5 year old kid, anytime it's dark, it's late at night. Star Wars is the first film I can remember seeing on the big screen. I'm sure I went to some Disney films before that but, they didn't affect me as much as Luke Skywalker and his adventures in space. The music, the characters, the setting, all of it culminated into one big joyful experience I never shook. I remember cutting the ads for the film out of the newspaper (remember those?) and, taping them to my walls. The toys that came out were top on my list for Santa. I hoped he would make them in time for Christmas, thankfully he did. Star Wars became a cultural phenomenon in 1977.
In 1980, George Lucas brought arguably the best Star Wars film to date. The Empire Strikes back. This, hands down my favorite Star Wars film swept the country like wildfire. Name a popular magazine, it dominated the cover pages. In 1983, we were graced with Return Of The Jedi. Our bittersweet goodbye to the characters we loved and despised. Little did we know at the time, we weren't over Star Wars yet. As the years passed, authors created what is known as the Expanded Universe. Countless stories and characters were created. Star Wars was bigger than anyone could have imagined. George Lucas was still at the head, allowing and dismissing characters. Rumor has it, only Lucas could give a character a "Darth" title.
The prequel years came soon after. Young Obi Wan would meet the child Anakin Skywalker. Needless to say, fans were hyper with excitement. Star Wars - Episode I The Phantom Menace gave us new characters, new Jedi masters, a new Darth, who has since become an iconic figure, rivaled only by the notorious Boba Fett. Although, the film was met with mixed reactions, we could all agree Jar Jar Binks was totally wrong. 2 more prequels would follow, completing the prequel trilogy. Star Wars Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith was the chapter we were all waiting for. We would see the fall of Anakin and, the rise of Darth Vader. The trilogy might have started on a weak note but, it went out with a bang. The prequel trilogy birthed a cartoon series "The Clone Wars" that spawned a whole new generation of fans. Now, there were 2 camps of fans. OG trilogy and prequel trilogy. The demographics were opposite. Only one franchise could do that, our beloved Star Wars.
After the prequel was over, fans settled into the realization the Star Wars story was done, it was over, the story was told. Little did we know, it wasn't. When Disney announced it had purchased the Lucasfilm company from George Lucas, many thought it was a joke. Why would he do that? He said no one would ever make Star Wars films except him. Ever. He actually quite sternly said that, by the way.
Soon after, Disney announced a whole line up of films, starting with Episode VII. Set 30 years after the events in Return Of The Jedi, The Force Awakens would reunite all the main characters. Fans went nuts. Star Wars, which began nearly 40 years ago is at a new high.. What is it about the film and the total loyalty it inspires in it's fans? Just ask that kid that saw it on the big screen in 1977.