I’m a movie guy. I have so many favorites, but no story stuck with me as a child, and still today as an adult, as much as Star Wars. I was justifiably horrified when my girlfriend told me that she had never seen any of the Star Wars movies. I had to think of at least one reason for her to watch the movies other than “my boyfriend won’t shut up about it”. Instead of one, I came up with seven.
Disclaimer: I am going to spend my time here arguing primarily for the original trilogy ("A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi"). I actually like the prequels and I love "The Force Awakens," but they haven't provided as much inspiration and fun as the original trilogy.
1. They’re actually really good films.
Before I get to the other reasons, I have to start here. The original Star Wars trilogy is a collection of phenomenal movies. These movies aren’t just cult classics, they’re critically acclaimed and widely praised films. Yes, Star Wars fans are among some of the most devoted and passionate fans of any media on Earth, but appreciation for these movies goes far beyond the diehard fans. Both "A New Hope" and "The Empire Strikes Back" are in the IMDB top 20 at spots 20 and 12 respectively. It says quite a bit for these movies to be ranked so highly as science fiction movies are usually maligned by critics and not appreciated by the film community. "The Empire Strikes Back" is, in my opinion, is the best coming-of-age story ever told. It develops the character of Luke from a whiny teenager into a wise and powerful man in such a believable way, not to mention the metaphors and imagery that elevate it to a whole new level.
2. They changed the game.
Every now and then, a movie comes around and reshapes not only a genre, but the film industry as a whole. "The Wizard of Oz" did it in 1939 when it switched from black and white to color. Moviegoers’ jaws across the country dropped when Clark Gable uttered his famous words, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in "Gone With the Wind," marking the first time a curse word was used on the big screen. "A New Hope" did all that and more when it was released in 1977. The special effects used in this movie revolutionized moviemaking. George Lucas created the company Industrial Light and Magic in order to produce the effects for "A New Hope." ILM is still one of the most used effects companies in Hollywood. The technology developed to make the Star Wars movies also led to the creation of the first Pixar computer, which helped create eight Oscar winning movies. Imagine growing up in a world without "Toy Story." Terrifying.
3. It literally busted the block.
"A New Hope" was one of the first blockbusters. The movie "Jaws" was the previous box office king, but it didn’t have the impact that "Star Wars" would have. "A New Hope" shattered box office records. In total, the saga has generated almost $3.2 billion at the box office alone, not including toy, video game, or apparel sales. The term “blockbuster” was coined because of these movies. Lines to see all of the original trilogy movies were so long that they wrapped around the block unlike they had for any other movies before.
4. The score, dude, THE SCORE.
"The Imperial March" might be the most well known piece of music from a movie, not to mention the main theme. John Williams is one of, if not the most, accomplished film composer ever. The great music is not limited to just the original trilogy. Even "The Phantom Menace," which is, by many fans’ accounts, disappointing at best and blasphemous at worst, still provides us with a fantastic track in John Williams’ "Duel of the Fates." "The Force Awakens," the highest grossing movie in history, also came with a beautiful new song in "Rey's Theme." Williams has gone on to compose other fantastic scores for "Saving Private Ryan," "Schindler's List" as well as the main themes for the Harry Potter movies.
5. It teaches great lessons.
The Star Wars saga offers so many life lessons. Many of these come in moments of teaching for Luke. He, and by proxy, the audience, are taught the power of belief, not only in others, but in ourselves. These are not lessons exclusive to Star Wars of course. Even my high school football coach used to say, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right," an echo of the words spoken by Yoda in "The Empire Strikes Back." However, the most important message that this trilogy delivers is the power of forgiveness. Ultimately, as George Lucas has stated, the original trilogy is about the redemption of Darth Vader. "Return of the Jedi" demonstrates how life-changing and beneficial forgiveness can be. These films teach us that no one is beyond repair, and that deep down, everyone is worth saving, despite how lost they may seem.
6. It’s EVERYWHERE.
The Star Wars saga has absolutely invaded pop culture. One of the reasons for this is that the movies are just so quotable. For example “No, I am your father.” (Vader in "The Empire Strikes Back"), “Do or do not, there is no try” (Yoda in "The Empire Strikes Back") or “It’s a trap!” (Admiral Akbar in "Return of the Jedi") pop up all the time in other TV shows and movies. These quotes pop up in memes and throughout pop culture all the time. Star Wars might provide the most unique memes out of any franchise ever. "Family Guy" did an entire three-part, full-length parody series of the original trilogy. Other popular shows like "The Simpsons" and "That 70s Show" have also parodied these films. One of the most popular film series of the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, pays homage to Star Wars by having one character lose an arm in each of its “Phase 2” movies. Additionally, in "Captain America: Civil War", Spiderman, portrayed by Tom Holland, doesn’t even attempt to be subtle and straight-up said that he was taking his tactics directly from "The Empire Strikes Back."
7. It’s so iconic.
The characters of Star Wars are some of the most well-known and iconic in all of movies. From Darth Vader and Yoda to Han Solo and R2-D2, these characters have transcended the silver screen and turned into parts of culture. Darth Vader toys are still being sold 33 years after the release of "Return of the Jedi." The design team did a spectacular job of crafting a world that subtly used culture and history to nonverbally communicate character traits and motivations. For example, Darth Vader's suit, inspired by the uniforms of Nazi soldiers, as well as the voice acting of James Earl Jones, displays menace and evil so perfectly that this character has become the archetype for movie villains. Yoda, a character whose appearance is based on that of Albert Einstein, conveys wisdom in a way that mirrors the man who inspired his character. Harrison Ford, one of the biggest movie stars of his generation, used his role as Han Solo as a springboard into superstardom. The exposure he got from playing Han Solo allowed him to go on to play another iconic movie figure in the Indiana Jones franchise and even the president of the United States in "Air Force One."
These movies, the fandom they inspire, and the impacts they have had on moviemaking are here to stay. It is so rare that a 40 year old movie resonates so well with an entirely new generation. If you are one of those people who have gone their whole lives without seeing the original Star Wars trilogy, please, for your own sake, go watch them.