Today, something I have been waiting for over three-quarters of my life has finally come to fruition – the release of the ninth and final movie in the “Star Wars” saga.
In all honesty, that might be a slight exaggeration. It is true that the duration between “Star Wars: A New Hope” in 1977 and “The Rise of Skywalker” being released equates to over three-quarters of my life (85.5% to be exact). However, I can’t say when I became aware of George Lucas’ grand plan to release nine movies in the saga. After all, I wasn’t even seven years old at the time of the original release. All I knew back then was this was a really cool movie that I enjoyed seeing over and over and over again.
The release of this final installment will be a bit bittersweet. As with many things, it can be said the wait is half the fun. As a kid – and admittedly even in adulthood – the anticipation of going to see the next installment builds to a climax, especially (as I wrote in this column almost exactly two years ago) since I try to avoid seeing any spoilers before seeing it.
At the same time, I don’t think anybody, not even Lucas himself, would have anticipated that it would take over 40 years to complete all nine movies. Once it became obvious that the three-year gap between release dates had been broken following “Return of the Jedi,” I think a lot of people (myself included) eventually came to accept the fact that not all nine movies would be made.
In fact, I think most people still believed that even after it was announced that the three prequels would be made. According to some sources, Lucas himself had become resigned to the fact that his vision had been shrunk to six movies.
And who could blame him? Even if the three-year gap, which was reapplied to the three prequels, were to continue, that would mean that over 30 years would have passed since “A New Hope” before what wound up being titled “The Force Awakens” would have been released. Obviously, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were 30 years older, making the idea of the original concept of following those main characters to the end very difficult.
Enter Disney to “save the day” in 2012. Powered by them, not only were the final three episodes to become reality, but additional “Star Wars Stories” would be made, which I recently discovered was also in Lucas’ original vision.
That all leads us to today, and the official release of “Episode IX.” It can be heavily debated whether this extended delay, or the introduction of Disney, has helped or hurt the overall series. It can’t be denied that modern technology has made the movies a much more visceral experience. But did the delay force too many changes in the original plots, which it is said Lucas had in mind way back in the early ’80s? Then there’s also the fact that fans have grown up and have a much different expectation for the movies.
For that, I have no answers. All I know is that I have opted to look at the movies as not only a piece of nostalgia, but as quality movies unto themselves. And with that, I have a lot of excitement, but also a twinge of regret, over the conclusion of this adventure – unless of course, the rumors of additional “Star Wars Stories” movies are true, which would bring on a whole other “New Hope” for this fan.
Bill Stickels III is editor of the Isanti-Chisago County Star. He can be reached at 763-689-1181 ext. 107 or email@example.com.