Friday, 18 December 2015

Star Wars!

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



Yes, yes, I know that was a tremendously clich├ęd decision to open a Star Wars post like this, but I just couldn't resist!!!

Okay, okay, okay, (I'm excited) let me tell you why I'm writing about Star Wars. Considered to be "a phenomenon like none other", Star Wars is a sci-fi/fantasy/space opera series of movies that has gone far beyond the walls of the cinemas. It is like a great big tree with many branches. These branches or extensions of the story that include television series, comic books and novels. All Star Wars media that isn't a movie 'Episode' is considered to be part of what's known as the 'Expanded Universe' or 'EU'. Star Wars has also spawned an empire of merchandise that ranges from, well, anything that you could imagine. However, if you are unacquainted with Star Wars and wish to explore this amazing world of imagination, I advise starting with the movies, the stem of the tree.

Assuming you haven't seen any form of Star Wars media and you want to investigate Star Wars, I recommend watching the movies in chronological order starting from 'Episode 1: The Phantom Menace' (1999), then to 'Episode 2: Attack of the Clones' (2002), and then to 'Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith' (2005). Once you have seen the prequel trilogy, you will need to go back to the original trilogy starting with 'Episode 4: A New Hope' (1977), then to what is often considered to be the best of all the Star Wars movies 'Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back' (1980). After that you will need to see 'Episode 6: Return of the Jedi' (1983). Alternatively, I suppose you could watch the original trilogy and then backtrack to the prequel trilogy. This should ensure that many of the twists in the original trilogy are not spoiled. If you manage to see the 6 movies relatively soon, then you might be lucky enough to see the first movie of the sequel trilogy 'Episode 7: The Force Awakens' (2015) while it's still in cinemas. I'm not much of a 'Movie Gower' but I did see 'The Force Awakens' yesterday. This movie had me on the edge of my seat and I was choking back tears throughout the film. Many people predict that Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens will overtake 'Avatar (2009)' and become the highest grossing movie to date. The Force Awakens LOOKS REAL. While computer generated imagery were used to enhance some effects, the movie heavily relies on practical effects to create the desired impact. Just see for yourself in the official trailer...



As you know by now, I love Star Wars. I love Star Wars because it has so many elements that are true to life and Martial Art. This is because Star Wars sprouted from seeds of real world phenomena including historical periods such as samurai orders and nazi imperialism, the nature of politics, culture and religion, mythology and philosophy; predominantly Eastern (as I interpret the essence of the 'Force' to mirror our own concept of Tao). The Eastern way of thinking plays a big part of defining Star Wars through the conceptual essence of the Force. The reason for this goes back long before the first movie was released. At this moment I only know the basic outline of the story. In the mid 20th century, there was a Western philosophical mythologist called Joseph Campbell (1904-1987). Campbell was at a university where he met an Indian man (don't know his name unfortunately) researching Eastern religion, mythology and philosophy. The two became very good friends and educated each other about their respective areas of knowledge. Unfortunately, the Indian man fell ill a year after their initial meeting and sadly passed away. Joseph Campbell carried on his friends research and and educating himself about Eastern religion, mythology and philosophy. Fast forward to the 1970s and there was a young film director named George Lucas. Lucas met and befriended the now old Joseph Campbell who taught Lucas much of what he had learned from his deceased friend and his studies of the East. George Lucas combined what Campbell had thought him and combined these concepts with his own inspiration from classical space opera movies. The end product was a movie released by LucasFilm (George Lucas's self made film company) in 1977 that broke all box office records called, 'Star Wars'. As a side note, I see many similarities between Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts.

So, almost 40 years on, why do people such as myself love Star Wars so much? I believe it's because there's something in Star Wars for everybody. The characters, especially in the original movies are so relatable and believable. I personally get emotionally invested with the characters, even those in the prequels. The concepts explored, whether it be political, philosophical, romance, cultural or even if it obviously takes inspiration from history or religion, all of this truly engages me. When I first got into Star Wars at the age of 9, the action alone, whether it be battles in space, inside spaceships, on fascinating and exotic planets and of cause, the epic lightsaber duels, were all enough to entertain me at that age. As I move through life Star Wars appeals to me in different ways. The continuity in Star Wars is immaculate. The movies link to each other so well. Even the comic books, novels, video games and TV programs are clearly connected to the theatrical movies. However, you don't need to explore the expanded universe to understand and enjoy the movies.

One thing I must also mention is that the the music for all the Star Wars movies is conducted by John Williams. His music for Star War feels so grand and spectacular that I get goose bumps when ever I hear tracks including 'Duel of the Fates', 'Across the Stars', 'Order 66', 'Yoda's and the Force', 'Imperial March' and especially the introduction theme at the start of every movie. When ever people hear this theme, most often, they automatically this of Star Wars.

While I'm on this topic, I'd like to state that I like ALL Star Wars movies. I'm well aware that the prequel trilogy has been received very negatively by the majority of the Star Wars fandom and even the general public because it's "not as good at the originals" and "they're just special effect reals" and so on and so forth as Bruce Lee would say. I see it very differently. I believe While the original movies focused on a smaller group of people, the prequels tell their part of the story from more of a societal point of view. I believe that all media, whether it be comics, novels, TV programs or movies in this franchise has something brilliant to contribute to the one, ongoing story millions know and love, Star Wars. I don't want to get into a debate with myself so I'll move on. Although, I might revisit this topic one day because I feel passionate about it and it is really mentally stimulating.

Back on track now. As I have mentioned, Star Wars is so true to all realms of life, including Martial Art. Yoda's teachings are a perfect example of this. I could have gone deeper into this, but I'd rather save this subject for another blog post. I predict the post to be long because this is such a diverse subject. I also don't want to spoil anything of the story of Star Wars for anyone who hasn't been introduced to it. If you haven't seen the Star Wars movies before, I highly recommend seeing them. From my perspective, you will only be enriching yourself by watching them. If you have seen the Star Wars movies or any related media, please, tell me what you like about Star Wars? Why is Star Wars so special to you?

Relevant websites...
Official Star Wars Website: http://www.starwars.com

Wookieepedia: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

As always guys keep up the good work, thank you for reading and...

May the Force be With You.

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