1. Because it’s universal
Trust me, you will see yourself in one of its characters. Star Wars is fundamentally about growing up, discovering who you are and figuring out how you can be all that you’re meant to be. When Luke leaves his family home to join Obi-Wan on his quest, it’s a metaphor for how all of us make the leap into adulthood – though thankfully, most of our families haven’t had run-ins with Imperial stormtroopers. Rey’s journey speaks to anyone who’s been inspired to unlock the potential for greatness within. And Jyn, Lando, Han, and Finn stand in for all of us who, at one time or another, have made the all-too-important leap from indifference to caring.
Star Wars also lets you learn about people who aren’t like you. In the story of Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader, you can see how goodness can be corrupted, and the stories of Kylo Ren and Darth Maul demonstrate the destructive toll that hatred takes. Jabba the Hutt lets us imagine what it’s like to be a space gangster (though none of us have encountered bounty hunters in our daily lives. Hope not, anyway!)
George Lucas built the story of Star Wars around “the hero’s journey,” an idea from the historian Joseph Campbell, which traces the frameworks of common stories back thousands of years. In its DNA, Star Wars has The Odyssey, the King Arthur legends, samurai tales, and Norse, Indian, and Chinese mythology, because, like those stories, it follows heroes and heroines on a path of evolution and maturity.
Star Wars borrows from so much of the pop culture that came before it: you can see how Spaghetti Westerns, Kurosawa masterpieces, Russian war epics, and Flash Gordon sci-fi serials all had a hand in shaping Lucas’s vision. By drawing on a diverse range of influences, he was able to come up with a saga that’s truly original.
Star Wars has a droll, quirky sense of humor: Jabba spitting a piece of meat at a gong to start a podrace; C-3PO’s eternal bafflement at everything that’s happening around him (his double-take when he sees a fellow droid that’s been “disintegrated” at Jabba’s palace is one of the funniest things ever); Lando laying on his charm a little too thick. You will laugh.
That said, you may cry too. Personally, I always have when Luke almost touches the dark side in his final battle with Vader, then realizes how much he has in common with his enemy. And I’m practically choking up right now when I think of Maz gently urging Rey to let go of the past.
This is a saga of space knights with laserswords, scruffy smugglers, suave gamblers, sinister bounty hunters, and weird cantina patrons. It’s a universe that’s so detailed you can easily lose yourself in it.
8. Because it holds a mirror up to real life
Though set in a galaxy far, far away, Star Wars has much to say about our lives here on earth too: how to deal with tragedy, how democracies can become dictatorships, how we have to fight for and protect the values we hold most dear.
9. Because it’s timeless
It’s hard to think of three films more influential than the Star Wars original trilogy. You practically need an expert knowledge of Star Wars just to decode much of modern pop culture – it feels, at times, like references to the saga pop up in every single movie or TV show since. Even if you’ve never seen Star Wars, you’ve felt its influence.
10. Because it has evolved
Star Wars hasn’t just stayed the same in the 40 years since A New Hope. Three distinct generations have watched and connected with Star Wars because there’s been three distinct eras of storytelling – the original trilogy, the prequels, and now the sequel trilogy and standalone spin-off films. Each has spoken to the moment in pop culture at large. And it’s so exciting to see, in its deepening representation of different kinds of diverse characters, how Star Wars is becoming that much more a reflection of the world we live in, while taking us to places we could only ever have dreamed.
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