Bow to the Masters: Star Wars

Bow to the Masters is a series of posts that will feature fantasy authors that I think are da bomb. These are authors that inspired me to write my own fantasy tales, those I’ve learned from, those I respect. So, these posts have no objective viewpoint. Sorry about that. But I can’t go into robot mode when I’m passionate about something.

I love Star Wars.

It’s one of my favorite escapes. It’s one of my top five films/sagas that whenever you’re in a rut and don’t know what to watch, well, throw in Star Wars, settle down on the couch and still be entertained even though you can speak the lines by heart. (And yes, that even includes you, Phantom Menace!)

Now, you don’t need me to tell you all about George Lucas and Star Wars. You know how he invented the technology on what later became “A New Hope” that powers so many films todays – hello THX, Skywalker Sound, pre-viz, computer graphics et al.

And while a lot can be said about Lucas, I can sympathize with the guy who knows that sometimes you become the dark empire you set out to challenge.

Which is why I didn’t write his name in the title of this post. I don’t know whether he has mad writing skillz or even whether Lucas would see himself that way. Namely as a writer.

As a story teller? He seems to be at his best and most comfortable as a world building visionary in that galaxy far, far away as well as in our own world. My favorite Star Wars installment is “The Empire Strikes Back” and that was co-written by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan. Seeing the massive amount of acting talent and visual technology Lucas put together for the prequel trilogy, maybe he shoul dhave co-written that story with the some of the best screenwriters. It couldn’t have been that much more difficult.

Still, I like the first trilogy. There are some good moments in there. (And epically failed ones, too, Podrace.) I’m also not sure he’s a brilliant film director as say Ridley Scott is a brilliant film director, you know, like a visual expressionist. But I do think he’s a good film maker as in someone who produces films.

However, one thing I will say for Lucas: go read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and you’ll see the birth of Star Wars on those pages. If there ever was a movie to capture the essence of Campbell’s book and show case it for all to see, it’s Star Wars and especially: A New Hope. But you know this: the cantina scene /watering hole, the threshold moment, the Mentor archetype, the approach to the cave/death star. Come on. Nothing new under the sun, right? Except Light Sabers, maybe, the weapon for a more civilized age.

Also think of Lucas as a culture contributor, a catalyst: there are so many fantastic filmmakers who wouldn’t be filmmakers if they hadn’t seen Star Wars. And honestly, I figure there must be tons of authors out there who wouldn’t be authors if they hadn’t seen Star Wars.

Sometimes, when omething important happens, something life-changing, rocking your world – you never forget where you were at that point, right? Well, I think this also has a spiritual application, pointing to who you were at that point in time as well, kind of like where you were on your personal journey. Like a cornerstone moment in your life – a pivotal point that cannot ever be undone because you had an insight and your mind was so blown you could never go back?

I have a few of those moments with literature. But the moment I saw Star Wars, I knew I was changed.

I was eleven years old and wanted to be in Luke Skywalker’s adventure. I wanted to become a Jedi and battle Darth Vader. But after a short while, just replacing Luke with a version of me in my head wasn’t enough. (Also, at eleven years old I wasn’t so in love with the idea that Darth Vader was my father.) I wanted my own story. I wanted my own adventure. And thus, the writer in my head was born. And she’s been writing epic fantasy tales on the insides of my skull ever since.

Now I’m not eleven anymore – thank the Maker – but I still want that feeling. I still want the excited creative energy that comes with watching the Saga and learning from those movies. Seeing myself grown through the difference in perception, those shifts of identity that come naturally when you mature.

Example? I was definitely not and never will be the target audience for Jar Jar Binks. However, Jar Jar’s character lights up my kids eyes in a way that gets me excited for them. I recognize that gleam and I know it’ll bring forth awesome things. Maybe not tales. Maybe pictures. Maybe films. But the spark is there and instead of being the Jedi student, I see myself as the – sometimes overwhelmed – Mentor on their journey.

(And also, Jar Jar provides one of the best and most quotable lines in the whole first trilogy. During their introduction moment, Jar Jar points out to Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn that he can talk and thus is by implication an intelligent being. And Qui Gon responds by saying: “The ability to speak does not make you intelligent.” Best. Line. Ever. This should be in every comment section on Youtube at least once. If I knew how to make memes, I would totally do this. It would go viral.)

It’s passing on the torch to the next generation that makes Star Wars awesome and everlong.

And having said that, here are some reasons why I think that selling the Star Wars franchise to Disney was a smart move and why The Force Awakens (Episode VII) will deliver the goods.

  1. It’s Star Wars. The target audience is just waiting for a new installment of awesomeness: star fighter battles, fights with light sabers, memorable characters and epic world view differences (Dark side versus Light).
  2. It’s Disney. They know how to entertain. They’ve been doing it for some time now, even beyond the death of Walt Himself, and have the money and awards and film record to prove it. (I’m still humming “let it go” from Frozen and I’m not the target audience for that either!)
  3. It’s Star Wars. It’s been around longer than I have and it will be when I’m not and that’s a good thing. Longevity.
  4. Evidence, hard evidence: the new Disney Star Wars Rebels cartoon series. Sure, it’s targeted at young kids, and showing it over on Disney XD means it’s targeted specifically at boys, but it’s fun watching the series as the parent generation, too. It’s back to the roots “Space Opera.” You know, as in Soap Opera or those family sitcoms, only with the awkward parents being a twilek smuggler pilot mom and a Jedi gone Cowboy dad, people shooting blasters, flying space ships, and using the Force. And by the way, the moment in the Pilot “A Spark of Rebellion” where Kanan reveals himself as a Jedi? … Goosebumps. Seriously.
  5. It’s Star Wars. ‘Nuff said.

Conclusion:

If Tolkien’s Silmarillion is a lesson in world building, the Star Wars Saga is a lesson in taking that world and making it live on in the heads of your readers.

Here’s the Star Wars – The Force Awakens trailer for you, if you haven’t seen it yet (although you totally should have!)

What’s your Star Wars moment?

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