With the release of The Force Awakens, today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Star Wars saga. The original trilogy stunned a generation, spawned a gigantic marketing franchise, worked its way into the hearts of millions of people, and the films have become such a part of modern culture that it had generated countless memes, and the language has worked its way into everyday usage; phrases like “use the force”, “the darkside”, “don’t tell me the odds”, and many more have become commonplace. Heck, just say “Luke” a certain way and the chances are pretty good people will get the reference.
Note: This post contains spoilers for the original Star Wars trilogy. If you haven’t seen it then why not?
No other film franchise has ever had the impact of Star Wars. At the time of its original release, the special effects were groundbreaking, there were fresh ideas like lightsabers and Jedi, a great cast and humorous dialogue. At its heart though is a great story: love, loss, redemption, set against the background of a galactic dictatorship. Throw in the concept of Jedi Knights and the sheer awesomeness of lightsabers though, and you have something that, though parodied many times since, was unique and garnered a huge, devoted following.
But just as important as the Jedi and the forces of good are those opposed against them: the Emperor and, of course, Darth Vader. And what would the original trilogy be like without such a striking antagonist as Darth Vader? Almost certainly weaker. From a certain point of view, Vader is the doomed hero of the original trilogy: the only man powerful enough to bring down the Emperor; a man left broken and half-machine; conflicted by the emotional tug-of-war between the Emperor and Luke Skywalker. And, in the scene sitting above my PC, Vader risks everything to offer Luke a chance to join him. Vader is willing to join forces with Luke to end the Empire’s tyranny and bring about a new era of peace and prosperity. And, you know, rule the galaxy together. But he was willing to face off against the Emperor (a man who can shoot lightning from his fingers) to unite his family and rule the galaxy. So, from a certain point of view, Luke Skywalker could even be seen as the villain of the saga.
Star Wars remains a favourite of mine to this day, and to celebrate the release of The Force Awakens I have added a picture above my monitor, one to inspire me to writer better, bigger, and bolder than ever. For those times when I get stuck in a plot, write awful dialogue, or otherwise struggle with my writing I have Darth Vader watching over me, reaching out to offer a helping hand so we might rule the galaxy together, or at least so I can write a better book than the last one. If I need inspiration I need look no further than an inch above my screen where I can be reminded why I love Fantasy and Science Fiction and the worlds they can transport us to.