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Star Wars Memories, The End of an Era by Loraine Smith
The End of an Era

By Loraine Smith

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An 'older' Star Wars fan contemplates the future, and the past.

Maybe it's because I'm exhausted from spending too many sleepless hours on the Net surfing for information on 'Episode 1', staying up for five hours one night to download the new trailer, only to get cut off by my ISP with 5 seconds of video to go, studying my 'Behind the Magic' CD the whole of the first night I bought it, or going out to see movies I would otherwise not have bothered with, just to catch The Trailer on the widescreen. Whatever the reason I am in this melancholy mood, I have to admit to a deep and growing sorrow.

Why should I feel sad, when I should be excited and elated about the joys that will unfold on June 3rd? I've looked forward to this new Trilogy for so long and the trailers have left me with such a sense of anticipation. At the cinema, during the trailer, I sit bolt upright and just say 'Wow' many times over. Yet having seen it once more last night, I finally realise why I feel so low.

Everything is about to change. A whole new era is commencing. One in which the heroes of the Star Wars saga are no long Luke, Han and Leia; Obi-Wan, is not some "old fossil" played by a Shakespearian actor, but by the 'cool' young star of Trainspotting (who recently on TV mocked my hero, Mark Hamill, for his career, or lack of it, since Star Wars trilogy, which proves he hasn't done his research - but then I didn't bother to see Trainspotting).

Maybe it would have been much easier on us had there not been the huge gap between the first and second sagas, but it's hard at 40-plus to pretend you're still part of the young generation. My non-SW friends have gradually accepted that I am a SW fan, pretty much because the saga has gone down in history as a classic. It's like being an Elvis fan, dated but OK if that's what you like.

But what now? There will be a gap of two decades between the fans of the Old SW and those of New SW. Many future SW fans will even be adults born since the original movies were made, and they may well have little interest in something that predates the New Trilogy. Millions are now destined to talk about 'Star Wars' and mean 'Episode 1' onwards, and not the one that ended with 'Return of the Jedi'. Perhaps even the very word 'fan' is out-dated and I'm just showing my age…

Will die-hard fans of the New Trilogy exist in twenty years from now? Will some of the new generation of SW fans love these movies for as long as we have loved the first three? Or is it a sign of the times that movies are considered 'cool' for about four months, and then its devotees move on to something else for fear of being considered non-trendy?

Remember, there was little else in those days of our youth to distract us from the sole joy of following the paths which led directly from SW, and even though it's been hard to maintain enthusiasm during those Dark Ages when we heard so little about anything SW-related, we allowed the movies to shape our lives into what we have become today.

How many of us don't know where we would have been without Star Wars?

Speaking personally, I would never have moved to Australia had there been no SW or my direct contacts with HAMILLS/StarWalking. Maybe without the inspiration of Luke Skywalker gazing wistfully at the Tatooine suns, I would never have been so adventurous in trying to find my destiny. Certainly, I have no regrets about my sometimes totally fanatical involvement which possessed my life like it did, no matter what it cost along the way. I guess Trek fans have had to go through this, enduring three new eras of total change in Universal Time.

Yes, the Classic SW fans may well adore the New Trilogy, but some of us weren't too accepting of the Special Edition, so what does this bode? I wonder how many Trek fans could claim to love equally each new episode of adventures with all the different characters you have to get to know and love? It's my guess that all would prefer one series to the rest. Only a very open-minded SW fan will give equal credibility to the Classic Trilogy and the New Trilogy. No matter how good the new one is, the Old Trilogy will always be something so special in our hearts that it can never be bettered. Wasn't that the argument about the Special Edition: how can anyone improve the perfect?

In future, when we discuss SW, it will be necessary to clarify whether we are talking about ANH/TESB/ROTJ or E1-E3:TPM, whatever Lucas decides to call the forthcoming movies. When you consider that a large part of the new Trilogy will reach people's lives in the next Millennium, you could equate it to the Pre-Millennialists and the Post-Millennialists debating this Second Coming, either with excitement or dread, never knowing for sure which one is right.

In the coming years, even 'SW Insider' magazine may well feature fairly exclusively 'Episode 1' and its sequels, and ignore the old Trilogy in order to cater for the thousands of newly acquired magazine subscriptions. The Classic Star Wars Trilogy will become just a page in history, due the occasional nostalgic flashback and little more.

We're going to sound like grandparents when we reminisce on the good old days when Star Wars was simply one Trilogy which changed our lives. A whole new generation, millions of young and older people are going to grow up barely recognising the names of Luke, Han, Leia, Lando… Even the name 'Darth' is going to represent Maul or Sidious for a few years, and no longer Vader.

Outwardly, I will be carried along by the hype and will of course be one of the first in line at my local cinema on June 3rd. But inwardly, my heart is heavy. Us 35-pluses belong to a bygone era which is giving way to a new and bright future which will, in many ways, leave us oldies behind, no matter how hard we try to keep up.

Yes, it's the end of an era - but a very special era that I wouldn't have missed for the galaxy.

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Loraine Smith
See also: Star Wars reviews, by Ali Kayn or Loraine
Star Wars Memories by Ali Kayn
Phantom Menace photos -- new each week

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