On my 10th birthday, my Dad gave me a lightsaber.
On the eve of the (re)awakening of the Force, I find myself with a bout of nostalgia. There are some who say that Star Wars is just a movie. Well, for me, and the millions of nerds like me, it’s about a bit more.
I first saw Star Wars IV when I was 7 or 8 years old. Up until then, my cinematic education had been a lot of glass slippers, big libraries, and a Great Lion. Then one fateful day, Dad sat me down to watch a new movie.
Suddenly, there were droids, lightspeed, a Millenium Falcon, scruffy-looking nerf herders, and something called the Force. But more importantly, for a young impressionable person like myself, there was an underdog ready to take on the galaxy, an unwilling hero, and a princess ready to save herself.
Princess Leia introduced to me to feminine bad-ass-ery. She’s an interesting blend of sass and diplomacy. She doesn’t give in to torture, or attempted mind-probe by the Empire, she lies to Governor Tarkin to his face. During a battle, she’s in the control room, or out in the thick of it. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, and she’s not afraid to make anyone angry.
Leia is more than a sarcastic second; she’s the leading sarcastic second. She is the accidental force that gets Luke to become a Jedi. If she hadn’t have put those plans in R2D2, Luke never would’ve talked to Ben (ok, that’s debatable). She is the one with the access to the resources they needed to keep going. She risks getting killed multiple times, and goes undercover to save her scoundrel.
So why do we like Star Wars that much? It compels us to imagine. Because in the midst of all the bad things, we still need the reminder that the underdog can win. That the farm boy can become the Jedi Knight. And also y’know, that one day I can have my own R2D2.
I could talk about Star Wars for hours, and sometimes I do. I could go into all of the other things I love about Star Wars, like Chewie, R2, the Force, my love for Han Solo, or why I terrified of Yoda as a child (He was so scary). Because Star Wars, 1-3 excluded, are great movies. Even though the stories took place in a galaxy far far away, they were believable.
Maybe they are because we want them to be.
The Force will be with you, always.