Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Star Wars

Let me get say this up front. I’m a Star Trek guy. Have been since 1966 and I suspect that my first act when I reach the pearly gates or other dimension, Valhalla or StovoKor will be to get the Star Trek DVDS with the correct region codes for the hereafter. Like any life long Trekker, Trekkie, or just plain Trek NUT, I believe Star trek is just plain BETTER than Star Wars. Kirk is cooler than Solo. Data is superior technology to C3PO, and the Enterprise can just plain kick Death Star ASS!

Now that I have hurled that gauntlet I also want to say that I LOVED the original three Star Wars films. I waited impatiently for the ever greedy Lucas Arts to suck every DVD dollar possible before they released the films on BluRay and immediately snatched them up. (My old Star Wars DVDS have an honored place in the Maglio Video Archives. NEVER would I dispose of those babies!). Star Wars is AT LEAST as big as Trek and they did not produce over 400 hours of TV and film to get there.

My point...besides my deliberate attempt to royally tork off both Star Wars AND Star Trek Fans???

(ALWAYS a worthwhile endeavor by the way!)
Star Wars just turned 35!

"Star Wars" launched in theaters May 25, 1977, introducing the world Luke, Darth Vader, Leia, Han Solo, R2-D2 and C-3PO.

The film, spawned two sequels, 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi,". (The less said about the second trilogy, the better). Empire Strikes Back was my own favorite. Not only was Empire one of the two greatest sequels ever made (Godfather 2 being the best in my opinion), it was one of the best MOVIES ever made...period.

That first film laid the groundwork for a multi-billion-dollar franchise now comprised of comics, games, novels, clothing, all sorts of collectibles, a TV series and of course the legendary Star Wars Christmas Special (you could look it up!). Today one of the most successful MMORPGS being played is Star Wars – The Old Republic. Star Wars is EVERYWHERE.

Star Wars, like Star Trek, has become part of our cultural identity. Who among us hasn’t said “May the Force be With You” at least once in our life? Darth Vader has become one of the most iconic symbols of villainy in popular fiction history. He’s right there with The Joker, Moriarity and even Dracula. Everyone knows what a light saber is, what a Death Star does (and how oddly easy they are to blow up), and what “The Dark Side” is (if not precisely WHERE it is).

But it wasn’t always that way. Many, if not most of those reading this cannot remember a time when there WASN’T a Star Wars. From the time you were little kids, you got Star Wars on a regular basis. I was lucky enough to be there at the very beginning. I was 20 on that magical opening day, when the little hyped Star Wars first hit the big screen. Once out of the bag though, Star Wars spread like Shatner’s belly midway through any given Star Trek season. was THAT fast!

It’s hard to express just how ground breaking Star Wars was. You simply had to be there to appreciate the fact that nothing like it had ever come before and that nothing would ever be the same. Of course Star Wars was influenced by the likes of Flash Gordon, Forbidden planet, Saturday Afternoon Westerns and yes...even Star Trek...and yet...Star Wars was also a true original. It wasn’t just the revolutionary special effects. It wasn’t just the great score or the chemistry between the stars. Star Wars resonated with people in much the same way that Rocky did. It took elements from our collective culture and struck a perfect emotional chord with it’s audience. Also like Rocky, Star Wars (while beloved world wide) is resoundingly American. It is a Western writ large across the Galaxy. The good guys wear white and the bad guys wear black. Star Wars was created by the man who gave us American Graffiti, a quintessentially American film. Lucas is steeped in post World War II American values.

Never did he realize them more fully than in that first film.

Happy Birthday Star Wars. Here’s to another 35 years. And MAYBE Lucas Arts will come back from the Dark Side of merchandising and make some more GOOD Star Wars Films. (I can hope can’t I?!)

That’s 30!


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