December 17, 2015

May the Force Be With You

It seemed only appropriate to share a post celebrating Star Wars on the eve of the release of the latest film in the franchise. The hype for this one has been huge, with all sorts of promotions and merchandise available for consumption, and I can't deny that I, too, have been swept up in the tide of excitement that has overtaken all my fellow fans. It's the dawn of a new era, where old and new fans alike are going to gather together to see what lies in store for us on this latest adventure in the saga. 

I must confess, however, that it is only this year, after seeing all the films again, that I really felt like a true member of the Star Wars fandom. I saw the entirety of this franchise with new eyes, impressed at every turn by these memorable characters, incredible stories and unparalleled lore. These films, particularly the three released in the late 70s/early 80s, are excellent examples of stories unique enough to stand out among their contemporaries at the time. But they also have themes, emotional ties and complicated relationships, that are easy for anyone to relate to - friendship, family, romance, rebellion, corruption, morality, freedom, to name a few. Is it any wonder that the films turned into such a phenomenon, one that carries on until today and will carry on well into the future? 

But what I find most fascinating about the universe is not the lore, not the history of the worlds or the cultures, not even the exciting, action-packed plots or unexpected twists. (Don't get me wrong though - all of those things add something extra to the stories that make them as amazing as they are.) No, what really captures my interest when it comes to the Star Wars universe are the characters. There is a large cast of characters involved in shaping these stories, and I have affection for friends and anger for foes aplenty. (I have the softest of soft spots for Chewbacca, R2-D2, C-3PO, and the Ewoks.) 

But there are two standout characters that really define my Star Wars experience: Leia Organa and Han Solo. As a character reader, it's not particularly shocking that I always look for strong characterization in any form of media, and both of these individuals fit the bill. Not only do the movies give us an adequate introduction to who they are, there are also novels that allow us more than just a glimpse at their actions, like Alexandra Bracken's A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel and The Farm Boy.

Han Solo is a charming scoundrel, captain of the Millennium Falcon, who has been smuggling and gambling his way through life. That is, until he meets Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and, later, Leia Organa. It is when he starts allowing himself to care for the others that his true nature - the loneliness, the fear of vulnerability, the innate kindness, the loyalty, respect and love - makes an appearance. He's the unlikely hero, ready with a sarcastic retort even as he lends a hand. (If you know my taste in characters at all, you're probably not surprised that I'm drawn to him.)

And then there's Leia Organa. Princess of Alderaan. Senator of the Galactic Empire. A member of the rebellion. A fighter, with a clever mind and brave spirit. I couldn't help loving her for being such a strong female presence in a world where it appears mostly men take the reins, and for fighting tooth and nail to protect justice, freedom and life in the universe. She goes through her fair share of traumatic experiences, including the destruction of her home planet and torture at the hands of the Empire. But in spite of what she has to endure, she remains indomitable, a fierce lady with the skills of a warrior. If I could be anyone in the Star Wars universe, it would be Leia. (And not just because I'd be married to Han Solo.)

From these two characters and their lives all the way to how the fate of the universe hangs in the balance, I really do love this franchise. There's such rich, vibrant storytelling here, complete with complex characters, intricate relationships, strong lore and plenty of action and twists too. I, personally, found a stronger connection than ever to this universe this year, and I cannot wait to revisit this universe when I go see the film.

I wanted to share a few snaps from last Monday, when Rachel & I visited the Star Wars and the Power of Costume Exhibition at Discovery Times Square. It was seriously so, so fun to wander around the displays that showcased the various costumes (and props) used for the films! I was amazed at the variety of materials and styles that went into creating the entire franchise, and I was particularly giddy to get to see some of my particular favorites (and I know you can guess who). Here's a bit of a preview of what you can see up close at the exhibit! (It's definitely worth a visit for a Star Wars fan.)

Hope you enjoyed reading all of my Star Wars thoughts today! I'm really excited to catch the latest film (and you'll see my thoughts later on this year), and I hope many of you are as well. Tell me all your Star Wars thoughts in the comments - your favorite characters, your favorite Star Wars books, your favorite film!


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