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1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+

Everything I ever needed to know, I learned from Star Wars

Really. OK, maybe not *everything*...

First the common sense (and funny) ones:
1) You will, throughout your life, be thrust into impossible situations by fate. When you find yourself in such a situation, you should always say "I've got a bad feeling about this."
2) Evil people will stalk you. Need I say more? It seems to happen a lot, from what I can see.
3) That man that has your life planned out for you (and his plans are the total opposite of yours)? He's your father. Deal with it. In the end, you'll learn to respect him. And you might become him. So watch out.
4) The tall, handsome rougue always wins the girl. Even if they have to re-write the plot and make her your sister to make it happen. If you are a short blonde guy, you will always and forever, for the rest of your life, have trouble getting the ladies to notice you. Even after you save them from disaster. ( Guess who, besides Luke Skywalker, is short and blonde? )
5) Don't threaten to kill people in bars. You'll get fried like poor Greedo.
6) Don't stand next to an ugly person at a bar. He won't like you. Definitely don't stand next to ugly guys who have the death sentence in twelve systems.
7) Old men are prone to lie, er, stretch the truth.
8) Don't eat hunks of meat hanging out in the forest.
9) Teddy bears are your friend.
10) Don't mess with polar bears that got beat with an ugly stick in their youth. They have bad attitudes.
11) If we ever meet little green men from other planets, they will be wise.
12) Your old jalopy may not look like much, but if it runs, it's better than being stuck on a backwater desert planet. Being from a backwater desert town, and owning a jalopy that doesn't look like much, I can vouch for that one.

Now for the more serious ones:
13) Good always wins in the end. You can count on that.
14) Your sins can be forgiven and you can be redeemed.
15) Good guys don't always wear white and bad guys don't always wear black. Just to keep life confusing.
16) Belief and faith are far more powerful than any technology man can devise.

In my personal and religious life, I firmly believe and stand by these last ones.

It is well known that George Lucas drew from many sources, including Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, and Christianity when constructing his ideas about the nature of the Force. It seems that he tried to create for the Star Wars universe a generic human religion, which includes those elements common to all the major faiths, without all the doctine. He did a good job. I've met Buddhists that would swear up and down that the Force is really Buddhism. As a Christian, I personally have drawn many parallels between the Force and Christianity. And from my studies on Taoism, it could be cast in that light as well. The point is that Lucas tried (and succeeded) to reach the very core of the human experience, and place it in a foreign world with different peoples. In this, each person's own belief system seems mirrored in the teachings of the Jedi Master, Yoda. It means something different to everyone, but the same fundamental truths are evident and understood by all.

This element of common spiritual ground is part of what has captured audiences for at least two generations. I often see critics write or talk about how they didn't understand how these movies could have the success that they have had. They point out that the acting, while not bad, is generally not spectacular; the music is largely derivative of Wagner and others (something John Williams has taken an undue amount of criticism for--all music is derivative!); the special effects were great for their time and still not too bad--but special effects do not a movie make; the plot is largely derivative from other tales, and many parts are clearly imitations of The Seven Samurai. What the critics are missing, though, is the entire *point* of the films--the eternal struggle between good and evil, the hope that good will win out in the end--the classic fairy tale story is what makes these films timeless and captivating around the world. George Lucas has tried to make clear that his intentions were the story by saying such things as "a special effect without a plot is a pretty boring thing," but the critics did not listen. I have to say that I agree with Mr. Lucas on that point about effects. I hated The Lost World and I though Jurrasic Park was overhyped for what we got. Sure the effects were great, but JP2:LW just didn't have a real plot. It was a bunch of political statements (99% of which I disagreed with, BTW!), and "kewl" special effects. Star Wars, on the other hand, had a reason for existing beyond selling plastic dinos with JP tattoo'ed on their rumps. Sure, Star Wars has been very marketable, and in many cases, overmarketed, but it had a captivating story!

As I await the new films, I can hardly contain myself. I want to see the beginning of the story, because that will make the end (which we already know) have an even greater impact. It's kind of like reading the end of a well written book before reading the beginning...you think "wow! I've gotta see how this happened!" Waiting for the new films, I don't want to know many plot secrets. The quieter that front is, the better! I don't mind seeing some effects, since I've already explained that the effects are nice, but aren't the point of the film. I don't mind knowing what kinds of characters there are, and even who they are, as that allows me to have fun thinking up what might happen. I don't mind that because it's fun, and I won't imagine the same thing that George Lucas will. I fully expect to be surprised when walk into the theater in 1999. If I'm not, I'll be disappointed.

So, maybe I didn't learn *everything* I need to know from Star Wars (I learned a lot more in Sunday School), but it was certainly an entertaining way of visualizing the eternal struggle.

See you at the theaters in '99! And remember, if you're playing board-games with a Wookie over the holidays, let the Wookie win!

Merry Christmas!

Darin Smith

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