On Star Wars

Introduction: Star Wars on Trial

Star Wars and Truth and Why We Even Bother, and Why It's Worth Your Time to Bother, Too

By Matthew Woodring Stover

Unlike some folks ’round these parts, I’m only going to make one Star Trek reference.

Dammit, Jim, I’m a storyteller, not an essayist.


Saturday afternoon, June 1977, Danville, Illinois. Danville is a little industrial town buried in a tangle of railroad tracks and cornfields three hours south of Chicago; in those days it had a GM foundry and some meatpacking plants, a sheet-aluminum producer and some big grain elevators and a fifteen-year-old me, a week out of ninth grade with five bucks lawn-mowing cash in my pocket and a blue Schwinn English Racer, and some goofy flick called Star Wars playing at the old Fischer Theater a mile and change downtown. A kid named Jeff Masters showed up at my front door a little after one o’clock with his own bike (also a Schwinn–an Orange Crate, I think) and asked if I wanted to check out this goofy flick, and I’d seen a grand total of one commercial for it (on late-night TV out of Terre Haute, Indiana), but it had lots of shooting, a guy swinging over a chasm with a girl in his arms, spaceships, Peter Cushing and Alec Guinness, and the temperature was already over ninety and our lone window-unit air conditioner was on the fritz, so I said, “What the hell.”

That’s an exact quote.

I’m not here to talk about the experience of coming to Star Wars on the big screen entirely by surprise. I’ll leave that to your imagination. Suffice it to say that even the memory of  …

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