Crowds throng Mann's Chinese Theatre for "Star Wars" in 1977.
Crowds throng Mann’s Chinese Theater for “Star Wars” in 1977.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is the latest chapter in the popular and long-running “Star Wars” saga, which began in 1977. The film opens in December 2015 and you can bet it will be huge at the box office. A major reason is that the underlying “Star Wars” story is powerfully transcendent.

The most transcendent stories are often those that touch on myth or tie to events that people understand on a deeper level. “Star Wars” creator George Lucas borrowed heavily from mythology and was influenced by the work of scholar Joseph Campbell. Following the release of “Star Wars”, Lucas stated that his story was shaped, in part, by ideas described in Campbell’s book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.”

“It was very eerie because in reading ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ I began to realize that my first draft of Star Wars was following classic motifs,” said Lucas, so I modified my next draft according to what I’d been learning about classical motifs and made it a little bit more consistent.”

Volumes have been written about the mythic story elements of “Star Wars” so I’ll mention just a few of them. Luke Skywalker is the young man on a quest who is transformed by trial into a conquering hero. Obi-Wan Kenobi is the mentor who guides Luke on his quest. Darth Vader is the dark figure Luke must battle, a part of which is actually a battle against himself. Compare “Star Wars” with the elements of such classic myths as the Arthurian legends or the Norse sagas and you will find many similarities.

“People may not realize it on the surface, but [the Star Wars story] touches something inside us in a way that mere entertainment doesn’t,” wrote Shanti Fader in Parabola magazine in 1999. “Last year’s action movie is last year’s action movie. Most of them are forgotten. Something mythical like Star Wars endures.”

That’s why several generations of moviegoers will be lined up for more of the “Star Wars” legend very soon.

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