Where were you when Star Wars first entered your life? I was in a cinema in Sheffield. It was 1983. I was four years old, soon to be the grand old age of five, and my mum had brought me to see a film for the first time. Knowing that Return of the Jedi was the first movie I saw on a big screen feels like something of a badge of honour. Look at me, I’ve been a sci-fi nerd my whole life. I was a geek way before it was cool, and way before I even heard the term. I kinda wear that with pride.
Star Wars is integral to my cultural DNA, as it is for many people. Star Wars is more than just a series of films. Love them or loathe them, the movies that make up this astonishing saga are a rite of cultural passage. Star Wars is so woven into the story of our lives now that it is quite impossible to think of life without it being there. Even with an encyclopedic knowledge of the history and development of science fiction and fantasy icons and culture, thinking that there was a time before the Jedi, the Sith, the rebels and the rest just seems immeasurably odd.
It all seems like a long time a go, in a galaxy far, far away that my eyes pretty much melted out of their sockets. Even with the inclusion of Ewoks, nothing could stop that film blowing my mind. Afterwards I was instantly hurled into a universe of play battles, action figures, spaceships and making the lightsaber noise with my eighties toy version.
Hit it, Chewie. Lightspeed forward to 2000. I wind up working in a comic shop, where I discover a bunch of other people who grew up with Star Wars lighting a spark in them during their childhood, and over the next nine years I meet thousands of like-minded individuals, and a few misguided souls who thought the prequels were better.
Star Wars isn’t something reserved for geeks who know the ins and outs of every single scene and who Mara Jade and the Yuuzhan Vong were. Star Wars is universal. It may have been derided somewhat when it originally came out by some parts of the science fiction community who saw it more as Science Fantasy than Science Fiction (they were right about that, but nothing changes its impact).
Head forward again. It’s 2018. I’ve gone bald. I have two kids and live in suburbia. The comic shop closed seven years ago. My eldest is a Star Wars fan and loves Kylo Ren. The next generation has their Star Wars now, and while society has spiraled into complete insanity of late, Star Wars remains a constant.
I sit down, slip on The Last Jedi with my son next to me, and as soon as the opening them begins, I see in him what my mum probably saw in me in a cinema in 1983. The eyes widen. The mind being blown. Adventures across the stars that cross decades and families, stories that could never be replicated, all stemming from an indie movie that nobody thought would make its budget back.
Star Wars isn’t ours. It doesn’t belong to those of us who have been there throughout its reign. While Disney may have the rights, it doesn’t really belong to them either. Not the magic of it. The magic of it, that Force of it, that belongs to all of us who have been a part of that journey. Star Wars made heroes of unlikely characters, and gave millions of kids – young and old – dreams to dream when we glance at the stars.
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