You didn’t think I was really going to skip this one, did you?
But this is going to be a different sort of Star Wars retrospective then is perhaps the expected norm. Because I really find all the major things that can be said about this movie to be not only obvious, but commonly accepted knowledge. And ultimately because, one or two points notwithstanding, the legacy and impact of Star Wars are not actually especially important here in Star Trek land.
The major intersection between Star Wars and Star Trek I can think of is far more materialistic than inspirational: Paramount’s decision to scrap Star Trek Phase II and greenlight Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead would seem to be the standard response, but that actually had far more to do with Close Encounters of the Third Kind then it did with Episode IV, as during the period between the two films everyone largely assumed Star Wars was a fluke and science fiction held no promise for regular, reliable success at the box office. The only other thing I can think of off the top of my head is the frequent description of Benjamin Sisko’s story as a “Hero’s Journey”, which to me is just as much about a fundamental failure to understand what Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was supposed to be about then it is about Star Wars cementing itself into the collective Western consciousness.
I am, of course, expected to talk about Joseph Campbell, the Myth of the Hero, how Star Wars draws on many myth and story archetypes from around the world and how that transformed not only the pop culture landscape, but how people respond to all stories at an instinctual level. It’s had an incalculable impact on entire generations of writers and readers alike, and I’m sure you all are waiting for me to say something about it. The thing is, absolutely everybody who has ever written about Star Wars has talked about this: Star Wars is, in fact, one of the most overanalysed and overstudied works of fiction in history. I’ll just let James Rolfe explain this in a far more heartfelt, poignant and personal way then I could ever manage, and then call in Phil Sandifer to make the case for the prosecution (in spite of me largely disagreeing completely with his opinion of Star Trek) and to point out the problems with the Campbellian approach. I have literally nothing more to contribute.
One observation I will make is that one of the reasons at least the original Star Wars had the impact it did was because it is very good at building a sense of a larger pre-exisiting world and history that we only get fleeting glimpses of. Everything from the famous opening text crawl, to Obi-Wan telling Luke about the mysterious and long-departed Jedi, to the Jawa merchants and the canteen on Tatooine (with its twin suns) to the Empire itself, is described in terms that make them seem equally wondrous, fantastical and mundane.…