Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Power of Story by Syndi Powell




One could argue that the Star Wars saga is an international phenomenon. The most recent addition, "The Force Awakens" has made over a billion dollars in ticket sales alone. This doesn't include the money made from all its marketing efforts from toys to clothing to a new ride at Disneyland. But what is it about "Star Wars" that draws fans?

For me, it is the power of its storytelling and the strength of its characters. We are presented with characters that we grow to love and hate, a plot that includes a fight between good and evil, and the promise of a journey to redemption... or destruction. While the special effects may draw some in, it is the characters and their journeys that keep people interested.

I must admit that I'm a bigger fan of the first three films (actually the middle three in terms of the chronology), and much of my observations come from these.

Luke Skywalker is the Everyman thrust into a battle of galactic proportions. He is a simple farm boy sent on a hero's journey to vanquish the evil Emperor. We root for him because he is most like us. He has been shielded from much of the harsh realities of life until something comes to his world that turns it upside down.

Han Solo is an anti-hero. He's like the bad boy next door that we get sucked in by his charm but know that deep down he's only in it for himself. He's out for his own interests until the chips are down and he has to confront the struggle between self-preservation and fighting for a cause.

Princess Leia is a sassy heroine who we admire for her courage in the face of danger. She holds on to her beliefs even when things are at their darkest.

And we can not forget Darth Vader, the ultimate villain. Just the sound of his labored breathing can cause fear to prickle through an audience. He could be presented as a one-dimensional bad guy, but Luke's belief that there is still something good in him brings about an inner struggle between the need for power and for love.

Throw these characters into an epic struggle that spans galaxies, and audiences become enthralled with the story. We cheer for the rebels, even when things look their bleakest. We watch breathless during battle scenes. And we fall in love with the characters who will now have lives beyond their screen time in the hearts and minds of fans worldwide.

16 comments:

  1. Syndi, if I hadn't already seen all the movies,I would certainly want to after reading this. That's the power of your post! :-)

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    1. Thanks, Kate. I've been a fan of the series since the first one in 1977. It was one of the first films I saw that made me want to be a writer.

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  2. I haven't seen them, but I need to. I do.

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  3. Good job analyzing Star Wars, Syndi! I often wonder what it would feel like to be George Lucas and know you've created something that's affected almost everyone on the globe, and probably will for years to come. I'm going to see it with a friend tomorrow and am so looking forward to it. Liz! You have to see it. It's so much more than a science fiction flick.
    Great to hear from you Syndi. Hope all's going well.

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    1. Thanks, Muriel. I look at people like George Lucas or JK Rowling and wonder if they knew the impact their need to tell a good story would have. They, and others like them, create worlds that readers/audiences want to join. What a gift!

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  4. You're absolutely right. The appeal of the original was in the story and the characters.

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    1. Thanks, Beth. The power of story and its characters can't be denied.

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  5. Nice post, Syndi. The power of the story as you describe it is true of most of the great tales we'll always remember: Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. Characters that live on once their story has ended.
    Cynthia

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    1. I'd have to add Anne of Green Gables to that list too. I always wondered what happened to her and Gilbert in their later years as they became grandparents. I always wondered about Scarlett O'Hara as well. I even tried to write a sequel to it when I was in 7th grade.

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  6. It's fascinating how it spans generations. How grandparents, parents and kids are all enamored of the story and characters. The Hobbit is sort of like that, too. I remember when my nephews couldn't believe I'd read the book, and then again my grandkids. Each group claims first rights on these great characters.

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    1. Roz, ironically I just finished watching the Hobbit movies the other day. I wouldn't say that I am a fantasy or sci fi fan, but I am a fan of a good story, and Tolkein is one of the best to tell them. I think of all of Tolkein's characters, I would be a Hobbit. I love good books, good food and the comforts of home. Yet when called upon, I can be brave and give a good fight.

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  7. Fun post, Syndi! I loved the new Stars Wars almost as much as the very first ones! They really have a little bit of everything that makes a successful and intriguing story :)

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  8. I loved Star Wars. My son and daughter played for hours on end with their plastic replicas. It was one of the few things they did together without fighting.

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  9. I LOVE Star Wars, Syndi!! I agree that Episodes 4, 5, 6 (the original three) were far better than the newer ep. 1-3, but I really loved The Force Awakens and can't wait for the next.

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  10. I am so bad. For me, it's Harrison Ford. Sorry. Yes, it's a great story. Great plot. My son is so die-hard Star Wars fan that my granddaughter has been indoctrinated as well. I saw the original Star Wars a hundred times at the dollar theater back in the day. It was Harrison Ford. I plead guilty to being a die-hard fan.

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