Star Wars: A Generation Awakens

by Kayla Coursey

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It is an era of Star Wars. Fans of the classic films, striking from all generations, have their first victory against the largely disliked prequel trilogy. A new film has joined the franchise, honoring the style of the classic stories and reviving fans that were disappointed by Episodes I, II, and III.

Star Wars fans are difficult to please. Many fans were left disappointed with the prequel trilogy (Episodes I, II, and III) and upon hearing the news about a sequel series were left very concerned for their favorite franchise’s reputation. Disney bought Lucasfilms in 2012, meaning that Disney would now be in charge of the future of the favorite galaxy far, far away, leaving fans even more concerned with what may happen.

In summary, Star Wars is about a distant galaxy where a small group of rebels fight against an oppressive totalitarian government, all the while a young person, with the help of a mentor, finds their place in the balance of good and evil and eventually restores balance to the mystic, all connecting ‘force’. The story generally follows the layout of other epics, like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, except rather than worlds of fantastic creatures, it takes place in space.

The new era of Star Wars has had resounding success. In the Worldwide Box Office, The Force Awakens has earned itself third place, behind Avatar (2009) and Titanic (1997). The series has received very positive critical reviews as well as personal reviews from long-time fans.

John Green, a historian, author, and massive Star Wars fan, said in a YouTube video, “The Force Awakens honors the myth of the hero’s journey from the original Star Wars and also expands and deepens it.”

The Force Awakens is, of course, not without some debate. Justin Chang, the chief film critic for Variety, said, “The Force Awakens feels so determined to fashion a contemporary echo of the original trilogy that it becomes almost too reverential.” The parallels to the old films and the return to the classic hero’s journey that has gained so much praise has also been the film’s primary source of criticism.

Whether or not fans liked the new movie or not, they were largely hoping for a film that could carry on the Star Wars legacy. Many of the people who watched the original film in 1977 now have their own families and are bringing their own kids to see it.

“You’re now seeing what I would call a third generation of people,” said Mr. Dan Brown, a Monticello teacher and Star Wars fan. “I grew up with the first three, my kids saw the second three . . . [my youngest son] is that new generation like you guys who is seeing [it] for the first time.”

The faces representing the franchise have changed just as much as the times. The new faces of Star Wars are John Boyega, a British actor whose parents are from Nigeria, Daisy Ridley, another British actress who is making her film debut in The Force Awakens, and Oscar Isaac, a Guatemalan American actor and a musician. The diversity of the casting alone has garnered praise, especially when reflecting on media’s effects on children and their self image.

“There’s a whole new generation of people watching it [The Force Awakens] and they’re going to see something that stands alone but can also… tie in nicely with some of the older episodes,” said Mr. Brown. “[It is] going to be a whole new generation of videos.”

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