Star Wars was released on this date, 40 years ago. It was just called Star Wars, then, no episode titles or subtitles, spinoff animated shows, bedsheets, or product blitzes. Just a mythic space opera that became a sensation, then a model for anindustry, then a franchise, then a religion (literally).
What is there to say on such an anniversary? Star Wars is covered.
All I have to add is this: I miss Carrie Fisher.
Vanity Fair released a special issue to celebrate the 40th anniversary, including a feature on the late Fisher, and photos by Annie Liebowitz. Be sure to take a look.
On in particular stopped me cold. Luke, the hidden, and his sister, General Organa, embracing. Luke and Leia, Carrie and Mark.
Luke and Leia feature on the original one sheet for Star Wars. They are the heart and soul of the franchise. Leia is the fierce freedom fighter, leading the resistance from the first moments of the series. Her brother is a lost kid who must realize his true self, and rise up, and become a Jedi.
In the decades after May 25, 1977, Luke and Leia moved to the background of Star Wars culture. The brash Han Solo became the cultural icon of the series. Darth Vader became the epitome of cinema villainy. Minor characters like Boba Fett took on new lives in novels, games, and the imaginations of fans.
But in recent years, Leia and Luke began to reemerge. Even before The Force Awakens re-discovered the heart of now exiled Luke Skywalker and General Organa, the pair’s ascendent trajectory was clear. Maybe culture was tired of the Han Solo type. Maybe the prequel trilogy brought Vader down a peg.
Or maybe, Luke and Leia, Carrie and Mark, were there all along, just waiting for us to realize who it is that really makes Star Wars work. They were together from the beginning, and it’s heartbreaking that Carrie Fisher won’t be there at its end.