A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Director J.J. Abrams did what many thought impossible and brought a new Star Wars film to the screen that satisfied hardcore fans and new viewers alike. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is making news all over the world as millions of people flock to cinemas to see it. But what is this whole Star Wars thing? Here’s a quick primer!
Back in 1977, a relatively unknown director, George Lucas, brought out a film called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Why Episode IV? What was new about this hope? And why were people raving about it? Well, A New Hope was always meant to start the story halfway through and many years later, Lucas made Episodes I-III, known as the ‘prequels’ to the ‘original trilogy’. People were raving about A New Hope because, though the storyline was very recognisable, this universe was rich and fantastical. It drew people in with its tales of an ancient order of knights called the Jedi who had been all but destroyed by the evil Empire, and the bold Rebellion, who fought for freedom even though the odds were overwhelmingly bad. This plucky band of heroes won the audience’s hearts, and many people have grown up watching Star Wars, dreaming of being Jedi knight Luke Skywalker, courageous senator Leia Organa, charming smuggler Han Solo or even the masked villain Darth Vader.
The best way, really, to watch the Star Wars films is in the order they were released, because the prequel trilogy is very different in tone, but if you want to see the story as Lucas intended it, you can start with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. However, while the prequels have a lot of value in showing the rise of Darth Vader, they are considered to be weaker than the original trilogy for their sprawling storylines, poor pacing and, most of all, a ‘comic relief’ character called Jar Jar Binks. However, if you want to see awesome Jedi sword fights, get some context for the Clone Wars and learn about the rise of the Galactic Empire, they’re worth watching. Find Episodes I-VI in the Information Store DVD Lobby (791.43) and see what all the fuss is about!
Star Wars has inspired countless fans to create art, fiction and cosplays of the characters over the years, and before the most recent films, there was an extensive expanded universe with books, TV shows, computer games and comics exploring the galaxy before and after those Skywalker kids caused all kinds of trouble. However, they also covered the heroes’ lives after Episode VI, so the film-makers for Episode VII have declared that the expanded universe is no longer canon. While it’s sad to see some of the really excellent fiction out there declared non-canonical, it also makes sense that Lucasfilm would want to wipe the slate clean so they could do something new with their third trilogy.
While it may no longer be canonical, Star Wars: Empire (QUICK READS GRAPHIC NOVELS 741.5973) is still well worth reading. It is a graphic novel about Darth Vader’s hunt for a Jedi on a backwater world and his first encounter with the bounty hunter Boba Fett. This takes place immediately before Episode IV: A New Hope, and provides context for some of what happens in the first Star Wars film to be released.
If you need more of the original trilogy characters in your life (and who doesn’t?), read A Long Time Ago: Dark Encounters (QUICK READS GRAPHIC NOVELS 741.5973), a collection of short comics about Luke, Leia, Han and plenty of other much-loved characters. Want to see Han and Chewie face off against Jabba the Hutt, and hear more about Luke’s time on Tatooine with Biggs? How about the gang’s wacky adventures on the Jawa Express? Read them all, and many more, here!
If you’ve always wanted to learn to draw and love Star Wars, have a look at You Can Draw Star Wars (BOOK ZONE 741.5), which introduces a lot of solid concepts for learning to draw through your favourite Star Wars characters! There are special sections on drawing lightsabers, spaceships, droids and aliens, as well as step-by-step guides to how your favourite characters can be drawn, all built up from basic shapes. There are also great tips from people who have worked on the Star Wars graphic novels.
If you like Star Wars…
Check out J.J. Abrams’ fan-favourite reboot of the Star Trek universe with Star Trek (DVD LOBBY 791.43) which takes lovable characters like Captain Kirk, Mr Spock and Uhura back to their roots of dazzling heroics and hilarious mishaps.
We’ve got a wide range of Doctor Who novels, audiobooks and episodes from the classic TV show. While Doctor Who has always been on a BBC rather than a Hollywood budget, the creators managed to evoke a whole universe of possibilities, often with little more than bubblewrap, wellies and a fire extinguisher. Find our QUICK READS Doctor Who section (everything in there is marked with a ‘?’) and classic episodes in the DVD LOBBY at 791.456.
The original Star Wars trilogy used practical effects such as model starships, alien puppets and full body suits for actors Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker (droids C-3PO and R2-D2) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca). Before CGI, directors had to use clever ways of getting the visuals for weird and wonderful worlds. Have a look at Special Effects in Film and Television (BOOK ZONE 791.43024) for insight into how some of the greatest special effects in cinema were created, and marvel at the detail that went into the costumes for Episode I in The Episode I Visual Guide (BOOK ZONE 791.43).
KAMiKAZOW (2006) Opening logo to the Star Wars films. [Illustration] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars#/media/File:Star_Wars_Logo.svg (Accessed: 28/01/16)
Neel, M. (2006) Cosplay of the Star Wars character, Boba Fett. [Photograph] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars#/media/File:Boba_Fet.jpg (Accessed: 28/01/16)