Today sees the release of J.W. Rinzler’s The Making of Return of the Jedi, an epic tome chronicling the years of hard work that went into the last film in the original Star Wars trilogy. Rinzler, executive editor at Lucasfilm, had unprecedented access to the source materials, concept art, and handwritten notes in the Lucasfilm Archives, and his extensive research shines through in the pages of this book.
Star Wars Day is one of my favorite days of the year, but not just for the obvious reasons. Sure, it’s a day when the global fan community can come together and celebrate the greatest entertainment franchise in human history. And sure, many companies offer discounts and other special offers on their Star Wars products to reward the diehard fans who are scouring the Internet for them. But the Star Wars theme is only half of what makes May the 4th so great. The other half: puns, my favorite genre of comedic humor.
The Star Wars movies were about many things — good versus evil, The Hero’s Journey, tolerance versus oppression, and so on — but one of the most fundamental tensions in all six films concerned the relationship between the state and its people. In the Prequel Trilogy, this emphasis on politics was more pronounced: some of the most important developments in the first three films took place in the Republic Senate, as Palpatine twisted that august body to suit his needs. When Ben Kenobi told Luke that “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic,” that lit a firestorm of speculation about how exactly the Republic had fallen. Through carefully crafted speeches and secret plots, the newer trilogy showed us the fall of democracy itself.
(Photo credit: official WSW website)
Last Thursday, scientists and space geeks all over our little blue-and-green speck began observing World Space Week, “an international celebration of science and technology, and their contribution to the betterment of the human condition.” The Star Wars saga opened our imaginations to the possibility of life on exotic and fascinating planets and galactic conflicts utilizing incredible technologies. Since 1977, many of humanity’s accomplishments in space have been measured against the galaxy far, far away. While we still don’t have hyperspace travel, lightsabers, or proton torpedoes, we have been learning more and more about the universe we inhabit, and some of that new information has prompted comparisons to George Lucas’ space fantasy epic.
Join us for a review of Star Wars-like discoveries and technologies as we prepare to celebrate World Space Week!
I grew up with Star Wars, but unlike a lot of fans, I actually started with The Phantom Menace. I was eight years old in 1999, and the experience of seeing that movie did more to propel me into watching the Original Trilogy over and over again than any marketing campaign ever could. I was, quite simply, hooked. The releases of Episodes II and III completed my viewing experience, but before then, I had The Phantom Menace and its huge array of established plot lines to ponder. Starting from the beginning and then jumping ahead gave me a glimpse of the Empire and the Jedi-less galaxy that Palpatine would establish, but it wasn’t until first 2002 and finally 2005 that I would have my many “How did we get there?” questions answered.
Today on the Fan Stage at Celebration VI, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a panel entitled “Star Wars and NASA: Science Fiction and Science Fact,” with Holly Griffith, a friend of mine who works as an International Space Station flight controller for NASA Mission Control in Houston, TX. Holly and I were joined by Travis and Michelle Fitzgerald, two fellow flight controllers on the ISS, and Dennis Bonilla, an open government consultant who works with NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. As befits such a great lineup of smart and talented space geeks (I’m excluding myself, of course!), our panel filled the 840-seat Fan Stage! (more…)