This Thursday Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens will open in cinemas across the globe and when it ends its run I have no doubt that it will do so as the highest grossing film of all time. Such is the power of the Star Wars franchise to influence pop culture and shape our imaginations. And nowhere will the Force be felt more heavily this week than here at The Eclectic Eccentric. To start this Wookie-tastic week off right we’ll look back at the movie that started it all and ask the question of that one curmudgeonly, anti-Star Wars for the sake of being anti-Star Wars, kind of a bit of a dick friend of yours who insists he’s never seen A New Hope, with the appropriately dripping amount of incredulity: How Have You Not Seen That?
At this point anyone over the age of seven who hasn’t seen A New Hope is just being a contrarian. They probably suck and use words like “sheeple”. That’s fine. If they can’t be persuaded to see even the first film in the greatest trilogy ever made, then so be it. (By the way Star Wars is the reason we even have movie trilogies.) But if they try to get snooty about it then get ready because I’m about to load you up with some knowledge bombs that you can drop at your convenience.
First is the easy and obvious argument: The unparalleled impact of Star Wars on global popular culture. And while it may be the obvious argument it’s still worth pointing out. This is a saga that has inspired hundreds of comics, novels, and video games not even counting the various homages, parodies, and, straight up rip-offs. Tens of millions of people around the world have felt the influence of Star Wars. From the 400,000 people in the U.K. who listed their religion as Jedi in the last census to the still preserved set in Tunisia to the annual Chewbacchus parade thrown to honor the Wookie God of Wine every Mardi Gras right here in my current home of New Orleans. The iconography is timeless and is often used to lay out scholar Joseph Campbell’s famed “Hero’s Journey” for high school students. Why even the music has become legendary with John Williams’ score performed by every college marching band in the land as well as such esteemed orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic and the Boston Pops.
Due to its enormous impact on the zeitgeist and its close association with nerd culture often times people overlook the impact of A New Hope on film itself. It would be a mistake to dismiss Star Wars as just some sci-fi movie that a lot of geeks get way too excited about. This is a film with great significance to both the art of filmmaking and the history of cinema. Not only did it serve as the impetus for the modern era of blockbusters and can claim movies such as Jurassic Park, Independence Day, and The Avengers as its progeny, but it also rates among one of the most important films ever made for its breakthroughs in special effects and sound editing. In fact, more than a few film scholars believe it deserves a place alongside Birth of a Nation for its influence on the way films are made.
Look I could go on for days about why you should have already seen Star Wars: A New Hope and honestly I can’t fathom how you could have gotten to this point in your life without seeing it, but with Disney preparing to unleash a new entry to the franchise once a year every year for the next ten years do you really want to continue being difficult about it. Because anytime you open your mouth to admit the hideous fact that you have never seen A New Hope to your friends and family I can guarantee that their reaction will be a contemptuous version of How Have You Not Seen That?