Ok, I love Star Wars, at least The Empire Strikes Back. I remember purchasing light sabers when they first came out right after the movie debuted some 38 years ago and separately visiting all my friends late at night, tossing one to each (and my friends eagerly grabbing them), and having a variety of light saber fights across the city of Chicago that evening. The joy in those light saberings reflected a spirit that we could accomplish anything we wanted; that with serious effort, what was right would eventually prevail. I was in my 20s.
On this Christmas day, JB and I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yes, the plot of this movie is reminiscent of the first Star Wars film. Yes, the new characters are vague composites of the old characters. And yes, there was some sentimental leaning into nostalgia as Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) reappear as their older selves. But the original spirit of Star Wars was there in The Force Awakens in its engaging and genuine characters, style, and mythic storytelling— robots, humans, a plenitude of strange creatures, and dazzling special effects made for an unexpected gift this Christmas Day.
The Republic had always embraced diversity (Remember the bar scene in the first Star Wars film? There’s a version in this film too.) but having a female lead as a promising Jedi (Daisy Ridley as Rey) and a man of color in a major role (John Boyega as Finn) pushed the film into the 21st century. In our world today, where the complexities of good and evil abound, where misinformation and intolerance have openly embraced our political and human discourse, where there is serious doubt whether what is right has any chance at all of prevailing, it was reassuring to see the hopeful determination of the Force and its promise of righteous justice be successful.
May the Force be with us all!