Star Wars Influence: May the 4th Be With You

The first Star Wars movie came out 40 years ago on May 24, 1977.  I know the years seem to be speeding by faster and faster, but how is it possible?  I went to see the movie during the summer of 1977 at a drive-in on a date with a guy who had already seen it multiple times. He kept telling me I had to see it – and he was right.  Star Wars has influenced my life ever since.

The Star Wars movies are amazingly faith-filled considering they never talk about God.  The Force lives in each person, but some choose to follow and some do not.  People can choose to follow the light or the dark – very biblical themes.

Star Wars is a common language shared with generations.  Tom and I made sure that John saw all of them movies at an appropriate age.  Since new movies come out every few years, new people discover the Empire.  Think of the words we commonly use that we didn’t know before the first movie:  Jedi, Yoda, death star, light saber.  We can tell a lot about a person just by knowing if they have seen the Star Wars movies.

From Star Wars I learned that heroes can be male or female and that each person has gifts that can be used.  Princesses can lead battle teams and think strategically.  This was a somewhat radical idea in 1977.  Princess Leia worked toward rescuing herself.  When she needed help from others, she wasn’t afraid to ask for it – but she also didn’t swoon or simper.  In fact, she always thought she was (or should be) in charge.

Even though the Star Wars galaxy was “long ago and far away” its mythology transcends time.  The senate electing and applauding an evil dictator presaged a recent election.  One of the most powerful lines in the movie series – for me – is the classic “So this is how liberty dies – with thunderous applause.”  I hold on to my belief that the checks and balances in the United States means that we won’t allow a dictator to take over, but sometimes I wonder.

But I like Star Wars best because it is just a great story.  For a while, while we watch, we live in another galaxy.  There are people we care about.  Their lives flow from one movie to another and we watch them develop as people.  We laugh, we cry, we care, we imagine.  It seems possible that anyone can be a hero.  We want to choose the light and not the dark.

I am thankful that Star Wars is one of the stories of my life.  I look forward to each new movie released.  What about you?  When did you see your first Star Wars movie?  How has it influenced you?