It's impossible for me to fathom the influence that Star Wars has had on my life.
In more ways than one, the saga of a "long time ago in a galaxy far far away" changed everything. My fascination with Greek mythology and magical heroes of lore gave way to a love of science fiction. My ambitions of becoming a doctor gave way to an obsession with becoming an astronaut. Drawing flowers and mountains gave way to drawing space ships and alien creatures. Playing with toy cars and trucks gave way to playing with an 8mm camera... complete with hand-drawing laser blasts and lightsabers directly on the film with a magnifying glass and a Sharpie marker. Nothing was the same for me, and that's just as it should be when one grows up in the era of Star Wars.
The original film was released when I was 11 years old. I don't think I saw it until months later in its second-run at the local Vue-Dale Drive-In (long since torn down). I can't remember the details. But I do remember the obsession that followed. I remember getting my hands on every issue of Starlog magazine I could find and going insane over the speculation for the inevitable Star Wars sequel.
Then 1980 happened.
And The Empire Strikes Back was unleashed on an unsuspecting 14-year-old me who stood in line to see the movie on opening day at the Liberty Theater. "Unsuspecting" because there was no way on earth I thought that there could ever be anything greater than Star Wars... only to find out that there absolutely was.
And it was then that my love of all things Star Wars was made permanent. The Empire Strikes Back remains one of my favorite movies of all time. It led me into a Star Wars obsession which had me collecting every action figure, toy, pillow-case, magazine, and kick-knack that I could find. And, because even that wasn't enough, I became fanatical about tracking down interviews, specials, articles, and anything else related to the making of the films. Eventually the "behind the scenes" information was almost as important to me as the films themselves.
My addiction was severely tested in 1983.
Though I loved all the space battles and light saber fighting in Return of the Jedi, the burp jokes and Ewok teddy bears reduced a once great sci-fi epic to kiddie fodder meant to sell toys. It was a pretty big let-down after the sci-fi triumphs that was Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.
But Star Wars had been imprinted on my soul, and there was no going back... even when George Lucas unleashed the unbelievably shitty prequel movies.
Which I hated.
But there's always something to come along and remind me of my love for the original two films. Most recently was this...
Which is a book I highly, highly, recommend. You can get it at Amazon here.
Which brings us to today, where George Lucas dropped this bombshell...
"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."
And, just like that, Disney acquired LucasFilm.
Which both thrills and terrifies me.
Thrills me because George Lucas is (assumably) done fucking up the franchise he built.
Terrifies me because Disney could easily fuck things up even worse if they put the wrong people on the property.
All I can do is hope that Disney understands that kids today are far more sophisticated than "burp and fart jokes" and Jar Jar Binks idiocy now-a-days (something I don't think Lucas ever comprehended). As the near-miracuous success of The Avengers has so aptly demonstrated, a serious approach to genre entertainment can pay off like gangbusters, because that's what people are dying to see.
And how frickin' amazing would it be to take Star Wars back to the mind-bogglingly awesomeness we got from Irvin Kershner with The Empire Strikes Back?
Suddenly I'm 14-years old again.
I guess we'll find out in 2015 if I stay that way...