Ok, people, it’s here. December 18th, 2015. Star Wars Day.Nerds around the world are celebrating what has to be the most significant day in fan history since, well, May 25, 1977. The long-awaited sequel to Return of the Jedi (1983), Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens is in theaters.To celebrate this momentous occasion, I’d like to present a brief history of George Lucas’s first Star Wars film and a literary primer for J.J. Abrams’s new one. Enjoy, dorks!
The big news about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is — spoiler alert — that it’s good! Despite the prerelease hype, it won’t save the world, not even Hollywood, but it seamlessly balances cozy favorites — Harrison Ford, ladies and gentlemen — and new kinetic wows along with some of the niceties that went missing as the series grew into a phenomenon, most crucially a scale and a sensibility that is rooted in the human. It has the usual toy-store-ready gizmos and critters, but it also has appealingly imperfect men and women whose blunders and victories, decency and goofiness remind you that a pop mythology like “Star Wars” needs more than old gods to sustain it.
No one wanted Star Wars when George Lucas started shopping it to studios in the mid-1970s. It was the era of Taxi Driver and Network and Serpico; Hollywood was hot for authenticity and edgy drama, not popcorn space epics. But that was only part of the problem.