May 4th is an important date for all Star Wars fans. The myth of the Far distant galaxy relives every year with the celebration of the most famous film saga of all time. A multigenerational work that has become a point of reference and source of inspiration for other products. Characters such as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Leia, Han Solo and terms such as Forza, Dark Side, Jedi, Sith have become iconic and representative for a saga that has gone beyond the boundaries of the seventh art to become a real cultural phenomenon that after more than forty years does not seem to feel the weight of the passage of time. Three trilogies, with the addition of two spin-offs, which told the public stories of heroes, villains and archetypes that still have a strong impact within our collective imagination.
The classic trilogy: the origins of the myth
In 1977 it was screened in American cinemas Star Wars – Star Wars (in Italian), to which the subtitle will be added later Episode IV A New Hope – the second feature film directed by George Lucas later The man who escaped from the future e American Graffiti. The narrative structure of Star Wars does not present anything overly complex. We are in fact facing the story of a group of rebels fighting not to give in to the tyranny of the Empire and its charismatic leader, Darth Vader.
One of the elements that mainly characterized the film was the innovative use of special effects, which made the experience even more immersive within the imaginary universe conceived by Lucas.
This was joined by a concentration of multiple cultural influences ranging from classical cinema to oriental philosophy, passing through references to Metropolis, the western and the works of Akira Kurosawa, with the peculiar traits of classic science fiction that mixed with fantasy, giving life to a Space Opera centered on strong dichotomies with an immediate aesthetic impact: rebels and empire, light side and dark side, technology and mysticism.
The public knows for the first time the Power, the universal energy that pervades the whole universe and every living being, as well as the element of mysticism that will give even more folklore. With The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – considered one of the best films of the saga – a tragic tone takes shape, in sharp contrast with A new hope, which will lead to the infamous scene, which has become one of the most iconic in the history of cinema, in which Darth Vader reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is his father. The group of main characters featured in the previous film, such as Han Solo, Leia, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the R2-D2 and C-3PO droids, are joined by Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett, the master Yoda and the fearsome Emperor Palpatine.
The first historic Star Wars trilogy ends with Return of the Jedi (1983), which ends both the journey undertaken by Luke Skywalker and the narrative parable of Darth Vader, which reaches a coherent epilogue of redemption.
Prequel trilogy: politics and a past to tell
With Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) George Lucas takes over the brand that consecrated him to the history of cinema. In this new trilogy the events they will bring are narrated Anakin Skywalker to transform into Darth Vader, with a world and a political set-up that are profoundly different from classic films.
The Jedi knights, almost entirely extinct in the previous trilogy, are at the height of their power and hegemony. Wastelands and wild places give way to big cities and highly technologically advanced structures.
The Force itself is subject to technical control, with the introduction of the Midi-chlorians that quantify what until now had remained shrouded in mystery. The massive structural development is also reflected in the political vision and social fabric that characterizes the new chapters.
The tyranny of the empire is still absent, while we find an apparently solid Republic, but in reality overwhelmed by dynamics of power and market that will lead to the formation of cracks in which the dark side and the evil Emperor Palpatine will be able to settle and take root.
For the technical realization, Lucas makes extensive use of computer graphics Mostly in Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) ed Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005). From a narrative point of view, the prequel trilogy shows Anakin Skywalker’s slow sinking into the dark side.
The key character of the whole saga fails to oppose a nefarious fate that will see him inexorably lose all the people he loves, such as the master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and his mother Shmi.
He will also lose his beloved woman, Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman), having succumbed completely to the dark side and becoming a distant relative of the Jedi Knight he was in the past.
Through thick and thin, the prequel trilogy described the decline of a world that no longer existed.
The new Disney movies, between rebirth and discontinuity
Following Disney’s historic acquisition of Lucasfilm, for Star Wars the time has come to return to cinemas around the world with a new trilogy focused, this time on the events following Return of the Jedi. Among those involved in the project is JJ Abrams, who will direct Episode VII – The awakening of the force (2015) ed Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019), and actors Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford who will reprise their original roles.
The prequel trilogy hadn’t totally satisfied fans of the saga, which is why expectations for the new Star Wars course were very high. The awakening of the force marks a decisive return to the past. The settings recall those of A new hope. The historical characters of the saga play a fundamental and active role towards the new protagonists, the young Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaacs). The galaxy is in fact threatened again. The First Order replaces the old Empire, while Supreme Leader Snoke appears to be the new and dangerous antagonist.
With Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) the new trilogy breaks some elements with the mythology of the e saga try to take a new direction.
The protagonist, in fact, is not a Skywalker and the Force no longer becomes the prerogative of specific characters. The figure of the villain, central and all-encompassing as happened in the previous films, is replaced and everything is played on the dualism of the two young protagonists, Rey and Kylo.
In the midst of the unfolding of the canonical episodes, two spin-offs have also come out that have expanded the narrative universe of the saga. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), set between Revenge of the Sith e A new hope, shows the dirtiest and cruelest side of warfare, in which a group of people will find themselves fighting for steal the plans of the Death Star.
Solo – A Star Wars Story is entirely dedicated to the famous character of Han Solo. We will witness life and the people who radically changed his way of being and turned him into the rogue played by Harrison Ford.
The final chapter of the trilogy, however, arrives in the room later the great controversies for the change of course undertaken by the director with the previous film, and Rian Johnson himself is also expected to take care of a new trilogy.
Some narrative dynamics are again revised and the intention seems to bring the saga back to a beaten ground that is more recognizable by the public.
Some historical figures return, such as Emperor Palpatine, and Rey has a second revelation about her origins, after the first ne The last jedi.
The lack of fluidity in the narrative dynamics between The last jedi e The rise of Skywalker has brought the new trilogy of the saga to stand on a structural balance that is not always stable. The need to climb on the shoulders of a myth and that of creative emancipation have not produced a fully satisfactory synthesis.