I love Star Wars. All of it.
I have tried and failed to sum up my thoughts about the series as a whole this morning, in advance of seeing The Rise of Skywalker tomorrow. I have seen every Star Wars movie in the theater since 1977, when I saw A New Hope shortly before my seventh birthday. Like Cassian Andor, “I have been in this fight since I was six years old.” And I have loved them all. Even the ones that I didn’t always like so much, I found something in them to love.
I’ve stayed off social media this week, to avoid spoilers for the new movie. I’m even trying to avoid seeing headlines for the reviews that I will not be reading until after I see the movie. But honestly, I don’t care what a single other person has to say about it. And the experience of recent years has shown that when it comes to Star Wars movies our individual responses can be wildly subjective. There are people who hate my favorite Star Wars movie with a white hot passion, while I love it unreservedly and refuse to recognize that it has any possible flaws. There are other people who will passionately defend as the best in the series a movie that I enjoy to a point but think has marked flaws. And I think that is perfectly okay.
The point is that for many of us Star Wars has become far more than just a series of films. Through the books, and comics, and role playing games, and video games, and TV spinoffs, and theme park rides, and on and on, and on… It’s become an outsized part of our lives. Sure, it’s a fantasy about space wizards with laser swords that is intended for children, but Star Wars is still real and it matters in profound ways.
There has always been talk about Star Wars being a “modern mythology,” and I think that is true. It’s the closest thing to a religion for many of us (and the often rancorous disagreements between fans do resemble doctrinal disputes in a lot of ways). The moral lessons that Star Wars teaches still resonate today, and the new movies continue to provide lessons that we very much need.
I’ll be seeing The Rise of Skywalker tomorrow morning on my own, and then again on Saturday with the family, and by then I’ll probably have gotten back onto social media, and taken a look at a few reviews. But in many ways I feel like the only opinion that will matter to me is that of the six year old me that lives in my head and has been waiting for this movie for more than 42 years, and I strongly suspect that he’s going to like the movie just fine…