While we wait for Rogue One: Star Wars Story to come out (which I hope will be very good) I figured that now would be as good a time as any to talk about my time with Star Wars, as probably my favourite series of films of all time. This’ll be my first time writing an editorial-style piece so I hope that you enjoy.

I didn’t discover Star Wars until I was around 7 years old; I knew about it but as a child primarily raised on Disney films, I never really had an interest in watching the films for myself. One day, when my parents were in Curry’s looking to buy something for the kitchen, I (being the adventurous soul that I am) decided to explore the store and found one of those portable DVD players that you can take on long car journeys. It was playing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, specifically the last 20 minutes of it – the duel between Darth Maul, Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Jinn and the Battle of Naboo. Something about it got me mesmerised and immersed in the action, to the point where my parents were waiting for me to finish watching the damn film.

At the time, I still barely knew anything about Star Wars, so I had no idea that this film was apparently an insult to Star Wars community that had stayed loyal over the past decades. Still, 7 year old me loved it, even those last 20 minutes of it. It wouldn’t be until later when my friend Alex showed me the Original Trilogy on VCR that I was able to enjoy the films that had captured a generation. Over the next few years, I watched the other prequel films, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Again, me as a child loved those films, my naiveté and wonder at the different worlds, the effects and the story unfolding before my eyes. I read the comic books that came out (including one of my favourites, a duel between Vader and Maul) I just couldn’t stop consuming these stories and coming up with my own.

It was after Revenge of the Sith that cynicism began to hit me, as I listened to other people talk about the films, about their failings, how they were an insult, about Hayden Christensen, etc. etc. I was a very impressionable person, so I went along with that, all that wonder and joy at seeing those films play out lost to wanting to be accepted by other people.

It was for this reason that I skipped Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as I was expected to dislike that series. But as time went on, the series did get better and I found that I was really enjoying it. I looked elsewhere for other Star Wars material to enjoy; Knights of the Old Republic, the New Jedi Order series, Robot Chicken Star Wars, other good series. I also gave Star Wars: The Old Republic a go, but eventually gave up on it, even after becoming so invested in my personal character’s story that I had actively thought more for.

There was still Star Wars media that I was enjoying, but the fact that I was expected to hate the prequel trilogy for no other reason than everybody else hated it still bothered me somewhat. I recognise that the films aren’t good, don’t get me wrong, but I’d have liked to have made the decision myself and not be pressured into it. And I think there are redeeming aspects of the prequels, the action scenes are great, the Emperor is a joy to watch and there were a couple of good ideas there. When I watch the prequels, I don’t see some evil corporate mastermind who decided deliberately to release bad films to ruin people’s lives, I see someone who clearly had vision, but let it get too far away from him because of wild expectations and his own self-admitted inability to write good dialogue. I know the prequels aren’t good, as I said, but I still enjoy watching them.

So we get to 2015, I’ve been a fan of Star Wars for over 14 years. I kept up to date with the Expanded Universe material and the hilarious parodies that some people thought of, but I felt that Star Wars was done, that I would never get to feel that joy which I felt when I was a kid discovering Star Wars for the first time.

This is why I was so thrilled to go and see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I hate to sound corny, but when the opening music blared as I watched it in the cinema, I got very emotional. Watching the film, I thought to myself, ‘the people who made this really do care about Star Wars.’ I came out of the cinema very happy with what I saw. As I had time to think and hear what others had to say about the film, I formed some critique of the film, but my initial view of the film remained unchanged; I did and still do really like The Force Awakens. I’m not blind to the problems that come up, but I’m not gonna let that change how I feel about the film. If you don’t like it, that’s fine too, I’ll respect that. But I’m never going to let anyone tell me how to think ever again, it took 15 years of Star Wars for me to realise that.

I wrote a lot more about Star Wars and me than I initially thought I was going to. In conclusion, I can only speak about the reasons why I like Star Wars. I think it’s because of that sense of discovery that you get, the characters you follow, the Hero’s Journey that you see unfold. There’s tons more that I could write about, but I’ll leave that to people who can write better than I and I’ve written enough I feel.

Star Wars isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s something that I’ll keep going back to.

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