Star Wars films inspire many, unite generations

Lauren Frias and Nick Moran

The room is dimly lit, and silence falls upon the audience in the theater. The quiet ambiance is quickly disrupted by a blaring trumpet fanfare, and an all too familiar yellow font fills the blank theater screen reading: “Star Wars.” For many students at South, scenes like this are all too familiar, even invoking fonder memories for some viewers. Whether they’ve seen one or all seven of the movies, the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars lives at South too.

In an non-scientific Oracle survey of 277 students, 71.5 percent of students at South have seen at least one of the seven movies in the Star Wars series. For many, like sophomore Grace Rodriguez, the reason she saw Star Wars was due to her brother and her friends always talking about how much they loved the movies. Rodriguez noted that the overall appeal of the franchise is the impact it has on the lives of its audience.

“It’s a captivating story with lots of lessons about life,” Rodriguez said. “It’s become a classic movie staple. The franchise is branching out and becoming more diverse and connecting to more people. It’s definitely a big influence on my own life.”

For junior Sam Fenton, the aspect that brings the most magic to Star Wars is the soundtrack. Composed by John Williams, the orchestra fills the movie with sound from dark, swampy planets to underground alien clubs. According to Fenton, the musical aspect of the series often goes unnoticed.

“I really think John Williams is a great composer,” Fenton said. “His music is just fantastic […] I don’t think people notice how much of an impact it has for people. For me, it makes the movie.”

Fenton also points out the evolution in the graphics and special effects throughout the series. A fan of both the new and old movies, Fenton appreciates the graphics in both, from older visual tricks to newer computer-generated imagery.

“The graphics are just awesome,” Fenton said. “I definitely respect new-age. But I like the, not necessarily cheesy, but outdated graphics. You can tell it’s maybe more cartoonish, but I think that adds to it.”

According to Rodriguez, the series makes her feel “powerful and motivated” because of the strong female lead roles.

“Seeing a girl win battles in space against a male inspired me from a young age and continues to inspire me with Rey in Episode VII,” Rodriguez said. “The franchise is exciting because it connects all age groups, and the story is timeless and immerses you in a whole new universe.”

Science Teacher David Lieberman recalls a childhood full of Star Wars action figures and movies. According to Lieberman, his earliest memory of the franchise was seeing Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in theaters as a child, claiming that the Star Wars world was a huge part of his childhood.

“I remember setting [the toys] up and having these huge battles,” Lieberman said. “It was just a lot of fun. And then, when Return of the Jedi first came out on cable, I taped it and stayed home from school ‘sick’ and just watched the last 40 minutes of the movie. I just loved it.”

Lieberman attributes the reason Star Wars has been successful for so long to its innovative special effects, story and marketing strategies. According to Lieberman, the characters still hold desirable traits that have lasted from the initial movies until the newer ones, including those of his favorite character, Han Solo, a bold space smuggler.

“I really like Han Solo,” Lieberman said. “Just how smooth he is, the scoundrel parody character that is good and has a good heart, and can kind of do his own thing. There’s something rebellious about it that always kind of stuck with me.”

The newest release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens rekindles excitement and childhood giddiness, according to Lieberman. For the younger generation, the surreal worlds that the franchise produces keeps it alive for Fenton.

“They’re easy-to-enjoy and easy-to-like movies,” Fenton said. “As far as plot, I wouldn’t say it’s not sophisticated, but you don’t need to be [an expert] to enjoy it. It’s fun to watch.”