Star Wars Celebrates its 40th Anniversary

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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. or May 25, 1977 to you and me, George Lucas and his team were gearing up to give the world its first glimpse of what would become, although nobody knew at the time, a generation-spanning, galaxy-conquering, behemoth of a film franchise that would touch the hearts of millions of film fans all over the planet.

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Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), left, George Lucas, centre, Harrison Ford (Han Solo), right

On this day 40 years ago, the very moment that John Williams‘ signature score boomed into life, accompanied with the bright yellow words of the opening crawl, fans knew that this new-fangled Star Wars movie was going to be something different and completely out of this world. And how right they were.

The opening seconds of what became A New Hope have, over the years, become ingrained in Star Wars fans’ minds, with the planet of Tatooine on the horizon, the Tantive IV zooms overhead, taking fire from the gargantuan Star Destroyer in its wake, already the audience are on tenterhooks. From the jaw-gaping size and scale of the pursuing spaceship, it was clear that nothing like this had ever been seen in cinema before.

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Star Wars as a film was truly groundbreaking, paving the way in terms of its ambition, design and effects, but what made George Lucas’ space opera resonate so much with fans was not the spaceships, the lightsabres or the mystical energies of the force, no it was its story and the characters within that story who have gone on to become icons of the film industry and some of the most beloved movie characters of all time.

The household names, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) lead the way in the struggle against the villainous Empire, led by non other than cinema’s greatest ever bad-guy, Darth Vader (James Earl Jones/David Prowse), in what is in itself a quite simple tale of good vs evil, but the emotion and feeling invoked throughout the movie has been enough to stand the test of time and become one of the best, and most universally loved films ever created.

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Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo)

Star Wars had always been a part of my childhood as I was introduced to the original trilogy as a young child and watching it for the first time absolutely blew me away. Seeing Darth Vader enter the fray on the Tantive IV, the three heroes struggling to escape the Death Star’s trash compactor, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Vader facing off, lightsabres drawn and the X-Wings fighting it out with TIE fighters in the trench run scene were (and still are) some of my favourite scenes as a child and some of the most memorable moments I’ve ever had while watching a film.

The release of the prequels seemed like a god-send to an eight year-old me who only wanted more Star Wars after being introduced to the original trilogy by my parents and even now, with even more Star Wars films coming as a result of Disney’s takeover, I feel that childlike excitement welling up inside once again, especially when seriously geeking out over new trailers or set-photos from the upcoming films.

The days after I watched A New Hope for the first time saw me dragging my parents to Toy R Us to pick up any action figures or toy lightsabres that we could find. Even as a student, my tiny room at university is covered in Star Wars posters and there are pieces of Star Wars merchandise and memorabilia on display all over the place just to give me that sense of homeliness, while also trying desperately to cling on to my childhood.

I see Star Wars as a film that offers an escape to a distant galaxy, full of heroes and villains, action and intrigue, not to mention spaceships and laser blasters! Who wouldn’t want a piece of that intergalactic adventure? It is without doubt, my go-to film if ever I need cheering up or distracting from the outside world, an attribute that is only shared by The Lord of the Rings series.

40 years on from the release of the original Star Wars, thankfully the franchise is bigger and more far reaching than it ever has been under the stewardship of Kathleen Kennedy, the President of Lucasfilm since Disney’s 2012 takeover.

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Kathleen Kennedy – President of Lucasfilm

I was very sceptical of Disney’s $4 Billion purchase at first as, let’s be honest, it was just a move to make them more money, but after seeing their first two attempts at making Star Wars movies, I am more than happy to see what else they have in store. Especially with the continuation of the episodic saga, Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, is setting itself up to be a real treat and the inner child within me can’t wait to see where the series will go on from here.

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Before I finish, I would like to offer my thanks to George Lucas. For creating such a wonderful film franchise and the incredible characters and stories that have spanned generations and touched the hearts of so many. Thank you

It leaves me with only one more thing to say….

Happy 40th Birthday, Star Wars!

…and here’s to the next 40 years.

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