Celebrating Star Wars and 45 Years of Magic This May

 This month will be celebrating the forty fifth anniversary of Star Wars.  On May 25, 1977, this crazy epic about space wizards with laser swords was released in limited theatres before then moving on to a much wider release.  Forget the story for a moment, all of the production aspects of A New Hope were a calibre that hadn't been seen before.  From space battles to light sabres, this movie was a massive leap forward in special effects and production design.  The imagination and realization of all of the elements created a worn in universe that felt incredibly real.

And then there is the story itself.  The galaxy was oppressed by a hostile and heartless empire, and the Emperor himself was perhaps the most intimidating antagonist ever to be witnessed on a theatre screen.  This galaxy was without hope, which makes its title very appropriate.  On a bleak desert planet, a teenager wants to be a part of something bigger.  Not only does this end up happening, but he is the one that will eventually bring the hope itself that is needed across an entire galaxy.

For myself, this was an adventure that I got entirely lost in.  I was fortunate enough to see A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back in the theatres on re-release before Return of the Jedi came out in 1983.  Having been born in 1978, I feel extremely lucky to have had the privilege to see each of the original trilogy exactly as George Lucas intended.  Well, as he intended at that time.

Of course, as a young boy, I had many Star Wars toys.  The brilliance of these movies was their imagination, and a child was able to take that creativity and not only recreate scenes of the movies with their toys, but to also easily develop their own adventures.  All of the toys and other branded merchandise was a stroke of genius from George Lucas.  The toys were so popular that toy manufacturer Kenner essentially had to sell empty boxes with IOUs so that they could be reclaimed later when manufacturing started catching up with demand.

While growing up, there was a little hesitance on my part to talk to others about Star Wars.  While it was widely popular, it seemed to be something nerdy and wasn't exactly 'cool' to be a fan.  The popular kids in high school weren't exactly walking around with Darth Vader t-shirts.  This could have just been where I grew up, but when the prequel trilogy came out, it felt like more and more people were opening their minds to the franchise.  After Disney started releasing Star Wars films, there is no longer any nerd aspect that I feel.  As the movies came out over the years, it felt like a greater number people were either exposed to it or felt like they could talk openly about how much they enjoyed it. 

Past the movies themselves, I was able to get even more access to this beloved property through video games and books.  In my mid twenties I began reading some of the novels, prompted by a friend who had started delving into the written word of this galaxy far away.  What I found was that there were some really interesting stories outside of just the movies that had been released.  Covering events before, during, and after the films, there was a never ending pipeline for more stories.

The video games, however, were probably what grabbed me the most.  I remember playing the games X-Wing and Tie Fighter on a friends computer and how much fun they were.  Then came the adventures of Kyle Katarn that allowed me to play as a Jedi.  Holy smokes, I was using a lightsaber!

The dangerous development came with Knights of the Old Republic, an RPG video game that took place long before the events of the movies.  I already knew that role playing games were addictive time vampires for me, and I have no clue at all at just how many hours I spent with this game and its sequel.  There was so much choice available in these games, that you could go through each multiple times and do everything so differently.

And then there was Battlefront and Battlefront 2.  These third person shooters recreated locations and battles from the movies with a scale that I had not experienced before.  With the second game, there were so many different game play options, from a story campaign, to a wide open universe that you had to try and take over, like a Star Wars version of Risk.  I loved these games so much that I purchased a PlayStation 4 just to be able to play the 2015 version of Battlefront that was being released by EA.  

I got so excited for the beta weekend, which also happened to be a weekend that my wife was away.  All I was going to do that entire time was play that game, eat chips, and sleep.  Who knew if the cats would even get fed.  I didn't care.  I had been waiting for this game for way too long.  And when I finally got my hands on the beta I ended up playing for approximately half an hour.  It sucked.  Awful, awful stuff.

Through games, literature, and movies, Star Wars is the single most influential intellectual property in my life.  I have been able to enjoy it in so many ways, and it has boosted my creativity and shown me that some far out ideas can work.  Imagination is key with Star Wars, and that allowed for so much enjoyment outside of just the films.  Celebrating forty five years is terrific, because it has been an undeniable part of my life as far back as my memory will take me.  Hold up your glasses of blue milk and cheers the franchise.  Enjoy it, and pass the love along to the next generation of viewers.