Lucas was inspired by the writings of Joseph Campbell, as well as Saturday matinee serials such as Flash Gordon, while penning his saga of a young farm boy who journeys to become a Jedi, a princess who co-leads a rebellion against a sinister empire, and the central battle between good (the Light) and evil (the Dark Side). And let’s not forget two droids, a Wookie, and a smuggler, as well as spiritual, mythic, and psychological motifs throughout. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said, “You’ve taken your first step into a larger work.” The rest is history.
|The 1977 original film|
That being said, this film (as well as its sequels, Empire and Return of the Jedi) bridge the gap between ages, generations, cultures, and countries. They also represent subtle amalgamations of different genres, and not just science-fiction. Says Forrest Wickman of Slate magazine, “There are few faster ways to incense a movie geek than by calling Star Wars ‘sci-fi.’ [It] may feature spaceships and aliens, but . . . its aspirations are definitely not those of science-fiction. Ask what Star Wars actually is, however, and you’ll receive as many answers as there are scoundrels at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Star Wars is a western . . . a samurai movie . . . a space opera . . . a war film . . . a fairy tale. A Jedi craves not such narrow interpretations. In fact, Star Wars – the original 1977 film that started it all – is all these things. It’s a pastiche, as mashed-up and hyper referential as any movie from Quentin Tarantino. It takes the blasters of Flash Gordon and puts them in the low-slung holsters of John Ford’s gunslingers. It takes Kurosawa’s samurai masters and sends them to Rick’s Café Americain from Casablanca. It takes the plot of The Hidden Fortress, pours it into Joseph Campbell’s mythological mold, and tops it all off with the climax from The Dam Busters. Blending the high with the low, all while wearing its influences on its sleeve, Star Wars is pretty much the epitome of a postmodernist film.”
|(l-r) Rey, BB-8, and Finn in The Force Awakens|
Rey is exceptional as a strong female lead in the Star Wars universe. Writes Alicia Cohn for Christianity Today, “Throughout the series, Star Wars has shown us a chosen character grappling with how to use his unmerited gifts. It established the pop culture expectation that a young man has the right to choose his own path. Now perhaps it’s time for an iconic coming of age tale about a young woman. It is particularly encouraging – particularly for the mothers taking daughters – that for once, a female coming of age story in popular culture might not involve a messy sexual awakening, but her own search for power, agency, and calling.”
Said Siskel and Ebert, on the construction of stories: “If a story is written well, if it is told well, if it is acted well, then it will reach across to audiences with its mythological influence.” This is part of what makes Star Wars timeless, as well as historically, culturally and globally relevant.