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.