I thought about writing this post fairly recently as the idea came to mind when I was talking to someone about why Star Wars means so much to people from a certain generation. The conversation I was having at the time caught me off guard, someone born in the seventies who hadn’t seen the films. I was racking my brain to figure out why and then wonder what life would be like without that experience at the age I was and era that I grew up in without the Star Wars experience.
If, like me, you were born in the mid seventies then you were born amongst the dying embers of Apollo and the early beginnings of the Space Shuttle. My early memories were of hope, space travel, the future, flying cars, 2001, white walls, a clean and sensible society. I even thought (when I was young) that when it turned from 1999 to 2000 in the flick of a switch everything would become futuristic….
In 1977 I was barely one year old as Star Wars (later rebadged as Episode IV) was erupting all around me. It took till I was about 5 or 6 years old (which is a crucial point when I get to it later) when I saw it for the first time on the TV in the early 80s and combined with and thanks to early VHS it was on heavy rotation.
Weirdly the initial order I watched the original trilogy was Star Wars (circa 1982) followed by Return of the Jedi (1984) and then Empire Strikes Back (after 1985). In fact, I thought the Death Star in ROTJ was actually the remains of the Death Star from the first film….it was a couple of years after seeing ROTJ at the cinema that I found Empire (pre-internet and we didn’t have video rental just then).
I drank that world in with huge gulps, bought the toys and made Lego shapes based on it (before Lego was part of the franchise I may add)
When I think back to the late nineties and the dreadful prequel trilogy as objectively bad as they are; I think there is an element of me being in my early twenties at the time. On some level I probably couldn’t re-capture of associate myself with those films. A big part of this, is that trilogy does not feel or look like Star Wars films. To call them a facsimile is only scratching the surface. I had no connective DNA tissue with them on an emotional and biographical level.
Which brings me round to Episode VII; it is fascinating to see how much The Force Awakens (TFA) has re-captured the love, joy, youth and cultural significance of the trilogy I love. And how little the promotion of TFA refers to the prequels, it is as if they never happened, no one is mentioning them….ever. The fact that TFA looks like original canon and the lengths of which J J Abrams is going to in order to re-create the connection with the original three (shooting on film, using John Williams, practical sets, original cast members………and the fact that it is a direct follow on to that story) means that I feel the force again…..
This connective tissue then takes me to my own daughter who is now six years old. In the last 12 months she has become obsessed with Star Wars (the original three only I may add). Her favourite is Empire Strikes Back and she is aware of and looking forward to The Force Awakens in December this year. I personally feel like I have come full circle and re-enjoying the original three and looking forward to the embryonic new trilogy. I hope it has as great an influence on her as it did on me. She is certainly just at the right age…..