Star Wars sets record as fans debate meaning
The Force Awakens is set to become the highest-grossing film ever in North America this week. The series is a global phenomenon – but can we learn anything from its story?
When the first Star Wars film came out in 1977, its creator, George Lucas, told his studio that they could expect to make $8m in ticket sales. Nearly four decades later, Star Wars has spawned six more films, made $42bn and been watched by around 1.3 billion people. Its characters are world-famous.
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‘It’s an epic of heroes and villains, and aliens from a thousand worlds.’
This is what a trailer for the first Star Wars film promised. While the dazzling special effects have always been a big part, the movies are perhaps best known for their memorable characters and dramatic tale of good versus evil. It's the ideas behind the films that make them so good.
Fans have often said that Star Wars is inspired by myths and religions. ‘The Force’, the mysterious energy which guides ‘the light side’ and ‘the dark side’, has been compared to the Chinese concept of yin and yang and certain ideas in Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. And the Jedi — who maintain peace and order in Lucas’s galaxy — send out strong moral messages about patience and wisdom.
Star Wars is little more than a highly successful way to make money. It's simple: combine some of the world’s most popular actors, state-of-the-art special effects and a merchandise campaign that gets fans to splash out on toy lightsabers and Chewbacca dolls. And as Lucas himself said, ‘the Force’ has no religious basis.
It is not just about money – there is a deeper meaning in the films. Star Wars can teach us a great deal: about timeless struggles between good and evil; about personal relationships, including with those who seem very different to us; and about the difficulties all humans face in dealing with their imperfections. The success of Star Wars shows that it means a lot to many.
- Did you enjoy the film? If you have not seen it, do you want to?
- Create a poster for the new Star Wars film, showing why you do — or do not — think it will be worth seeing.
Some People Say...
“People do not go to the cinema to discuss the meaning of life.”What do you think?
What do you think?
- Taking the most money in box office receipts.
- Produced, given birth to.
- Yin and yang
- An idea in Chinese philosophy saying that opposite forces, like light and dark (what 'yin’ and 'yang' mean), are actually interconnected.
- An ancient religion founded in Persia in the 6th century BC. Struggles between light and dark forces play a big role in its beliefs.
- Using the most recent technology.
- Faults, problems.