Posted at 2:50 p.m., Dec. 8, 2015

The force is strong with this nation

Personally and culturally, nothing could compare to the widespread influence of Star Wars, but how it continuously impacts many of us may be much deeper than we realize.

What Star Wars is at its most basic level is an adventurous story but it is one that all people, young and old, can identify with. The films themselves were influenceWd by many factors, but one of them in particular is the work of Joseph Campbell, an expert and scholar mythologist who found commonalities in the myths and legends of cultures, which is what Star Wars is not only built upon but shares with all of us.

“Those mythological elements are so engrained in us,” said Theatre and Communication instructor Jason Pasqua, who says that storytelling is what separates man from beast. “I think that these archetypes are somewhere so deeply inside of us that we can’t help but relate to them.”

Those archetypes are not new, we have seen them over again in the form of a character and especially within those in the Star Wars universe: the princess in Leia, the scoundrel in Han, the farm boy in Luke, the wizard in Obi-Wan and even warriors in Jedis and Siths. These make up one of the most well-known and age-old stories known to man, the young man who goes on a journey. “What child would that story not speak to?” Pasqua said.

As Star Wars’ storytelling definitely strikes a chord with us personally, it says something about us culturally as well.

From its beginning, the films have shown overlapping concepts with religion and, more recently, politics. Myths and legends sometimes tell us more about our ethical and moral behavior much like religious stories, Pasqua said. These stories put us on a level of safety to ask certain questions about the nature of life, but it’s up to us to approach it a certain way.

With the films’ approach to the duality of good and evil, the most recent of the films, “Revenge of the Sith,” comes the closest to politics and how it has been viewed in a modern setting. Speaking heavily on the films overall approach to dictatorship, Pasqua believes people find comfort in knowing there is not only good and evil, but that we can do something about both.

“We are aware of our own mortality and that when we do things that changes the world,” he said, speaking specifically about this belief that all people are genuinely good but that their needs sometimes affect behavior. “When Yoda talks about fear and anger leading to the dark side that is a very profound statement because you’ll notice the Force is a very comforting notion for many as it’s not a deity or a personification but an energy field that is all around us, therefore it’s not good or bad,” he said before adding, “People use it to do good or bad.”

These concepts relating to religion, politics, good and evil have been brought up in numerous stories that connects to many of us and may even change them to make a career out of it.

“Any story is designed to get us to ask questions and when you have a group of people behind making that happen, it’s a fantastic thing.”

Those people that Pasqua spoke of were also once impacted. By watching serial B-movie sci-fi during childhood, George Lucas, in addition to Joseph Campbell’s work, helped make sci-fi a serious and well-respected genre to work in. Star Wars, which was released almost 40 years ago, has seen its influence and impact take hold of many through the generations since its release. For the upcoming installment in the saga, an argument can be made that its director, J.J. Abrams, is a filmmaker today because of watching the original films.

“If it inspires someone to be a filmmaker,” Pasque added, “then what else do you want?”

Having a fan contribute to a story that has also touched him gives Pasqua and possibly others hope for the success of the new film.

“There’s a group of people who desperately want to feel the same way they did when they were a kid and that’s why it didn’t work,” said Pasqua about how he feels the release of the prequel trilogy took away the magic of the older films and is hopeful for Abrams’ current movie. “All great stories are constantly going to be invented and reinterpreted and Abrams may be doing honor to the past while doing a service to move the story and the characters into the future.”

As for himself, Pasqua, who first saw “The Empire Strikes Back” at the age of 5, recalls that what he felt the most was wonder, which is hard to come by nowadays, he said. He’s sure that the newest installment will bring back that magic for him but if it doesn’t, he already sees it grabbing the imagination of the younger generation.

“I’m seeing in my son a little bit of that wonder now,” he said about recently showing his 7-year-old the original trilogy. “He’s coming to it the same way I came to it and then we’ll go and see it and that’ll impact him the same way it did for me.”

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