A Quick Guide To Star Wars If You're Too Afraid To Ask
The Debrief: The film's a-coming and you're too scared to ask anyone what the big deal is. Here's one super fan's super-quick guide to one of the most successful movie franchises ever.
In a galaxy not so far away (aka, here on earth), the biggest movie event of the year – possibly even the past decade – will take place next month on 17 December, with the release of the much-awaited new Star Wars movie, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. It’s the start of a three-part episodic instalment, directed by JJ Abrams.
The first film in 1977 changed the sci-fi genre forever and fans are obviously rejoicing about the first film in over a decade.
If you haven’t seen a Star Wars movie before and want to catch up on the last 38 years, to see why this is the biggest franchise in the world, then now’s a great time to do so. It looks like ticket sales will hit 100 million before it opens, so surely all those people can’t be wrong.
Maybe you’re going to see the film with a friend, relative or love interest and don’t want to spend the minutes in a state of total confusion or perhaps you just want to see what all the hype is about. If you don’t have time to watch all SIX movies before it comes out, then you need not despair. Here’s a succinct but thorough enough guide to get you up to speed...
Let’s start with some, erm, good news and debate...
Disney has bought Lucasfilms (George Lucas is the creator and director of Star Wars) and subsequently introduced a new canon that does not include the entire Expanded Universe novels.
The Expanded Universe includes all of the officially licensed background stories and this is a hotly debated topic for fans who are worried about a lack of Jedi action and a few characters being missed out.
Going forward, the next films, known as Star Wars Legends, are broken down to a canon that includes six novels, four comic book series, two cartoon TV series, and one video game as opposed to the dozens of novels that made up the original canon. This is a lot less revision for newbies.
The previous films
The first three films – Star Wars: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi – are in effect, episodes four, five and six of the story. Parts one, two and three, known as the prequels – The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith – were made afterwards.
When the first Star Wars film was made in 1977, Lucas had no idea how successful it would be, so he made a film that could stand alone and started from the middle of the complex narrative.
Here’s the first three films (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) in short...
The first Star Wars movie is based around an advance in weapons engineering, the fascistic Empire, which rules the galaxy and has developed a super-weapon called the Death Star. The anti-imperial Rebels have gotten the secret plans to it, which reveal a single weakness, so the key to destroying the Death Star comes from the film’s young hero, Luke Skywalker, who is central to what is one of the best coming-of-age tales of all time.
The second movie focuses on the Empire’s attempts to crush the Rebels and Darth Vader is determined to destroy Luke who is busy with his Jedi Knight training. It’s revealed in this film that Darth Vader is actually Luke’s father, Anakin, who was assumed dead. Dramz!
In the third movie, the Empire is developing yet another Death Star, but Luke is having a more spiritual battle with Darth Vader and he finds out that Princess Leia is actually his sister. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for poor old Luke, but he still manages to defeat the Empire and redeem his father.
Good vs Evil
The Rebel Alliance are the good guys, and the Galactic Empire are the bad guys, and they both use The Force as they battle against each other. The good guys are known as Jedi, the bad guys are known as Sith.
What is this Force that everyone keeps going on about?
In order to get Star Wars, you must understand what The Force. It’s basically a metaphysical power that can be used for good or evil and is traceable in your blood in the form of so-called midi-chlorians. The Force is described as an energy field that binds all living things together, and its mastery involves some mixture of faith, awareness and mental discipline.
The Jedi order is often associated with Buddhism and Taoism, with wise teachers like Yoda and Obi-Wan. Young Jedi must train in order to reach the Force’s full potential, which includes heightened senses and control and force altering. Pretty cool, heh.
What actually is a light saber?
The light saber is the coolest and most recognisable weapon in Star Wars and is most closely associated with the Jedi Knights, although it is also used by Siths. If things get confusing when watching the films for the first time, then it’s useful to note that the good guys have blue, green or purple light sabers while the bad guys have red, orange or yellow ones.
What do they mean when they talk about ‘going to the Dark Side’?
The Dark Side of the Force is a corrupted part of The Force. It is like the yin without the yang. It draws energy from passion and violence and is driven by negative emotions, such as greed, anger and selfishness. It is rejected by the Jedi and is the chosen force of the Sith.
The Star Wars ships
The trailer has shown us a few of the crafts that will appear in the upcoming film, such as X-wing fighters (used by the Rebels), TIE (Twin Ion Engines), fighter planes (used by the Galactic Empire), 74-Z Speeder Bike (smaller motorbike-like hovercrafts), and the The Millennium Falcon.
The Millennium Falcon is owned by Han Solo and has been iconic since it first appeared in the second film, Attack of the Clones.
So what about the new film?
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens plot will be set 30 years after the Battle of Endor and the events portrayed in Return of the Jedi. This means that there will be a number of iconic characters returning, plus some exciting new ones.
Let’s also take a moment to celebrate how many interesting female characters have been introduced in this latest film.
The old ones
Carrie Fisher returns to play Princess Leia. She’s ballsy, has one of the most iconic hairstyles ever and is one of the few characters to stand up to mean old Darth. Go gurl!
Harrison Ford returns as Han Solo, who has been defending the universe for 30 years.
Mark Hamill is also back playing Luke Skywalker, but it is not known what his role will be in the plot of this particular film.
The new ones
John Boyega’s Finn is the first character who pops up in the film trailer, but any info about the his character is strictly hush-hush. He has been the subject of much debate and speculation over the past few months.
Daisy Ridley is playing an interesting character called Rey, who is from the planet Jakku and has a very cool speeder. It is hard not to get excited about her.
Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, is a new hero, who is replacing Rebel Alliance pilot Wedge Antilles in the new films.
BB-8 is a loveable gyro droid who is set to be the new R2 D2. His design is based on Ralph McQuarrie’s original art work.
There are so many question being asked about Domhall Gleeson’s character, General Hux. Is he good or bad and/or Luke Skywalker’s son? He is a young general in the remnants of the Empire and very powerful, but we’ll have to wait to see the film to find out any more.
Gwendoline Christie (from Game of Thrones) gets to wear a kick-ass suit (a variant of the Stormtrooper suits) to play Captain Phasma of the First Order.
Adam Driver will play the baddie Kylo Ren in the new movie and there’s a lot of pressure, considering many think Darth Vader is the best villain ever. ‘Ren’ is a new clan, which is set to be introduced in this seventh movie, and they’re dubbed the Knights of Ren.
Characters from the previous films who are worth a mention include Jabba the Hut, a big fat blob that is essentially as hideous on the inside as he is on the outside and, in contrast the likeable robot, C3-PO who is wonderfully angsty and camp.
Admiral Ankbar is Supreme Commander of the entire Rebel Alliance but best known for three words, ‘It’s a trap’, and who can forget Chewbacca, the awkward friend we all know and love. The fact that R2-D2 doesn’t have a single line of dialogue but provides a lot of the comedy elements is noteworthy and then there’s the ultimate proof that size doesn't matter in the form of Yoda.
As Yoda would say,‘Go see the film, the magic of Star Wars, you will not doubt.’
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