With the Star Wars epic adventure, George Lucas has taken the world on a journey that (so far) has lasted four decades. It began in 1977 with a film that was ahead of its time and yet nostalgic. It was the height of the Cold War, which by definition is something so ambiguous that the ambiguity of it all only heightens the fear. We worried about so many indefinable things, including nuclear holocaust and World War III, but Lucas gave us “A New Hope” by telling us a story about Nazis in space.
In the midst of the Cold War, Star Wars reminded the Western world of the last time that it was easy to tell good from evil. For many people, it also solidified their suspicion that communism (in whatever form it may take) was no less a threat to freedom than fascism.
And so we have the Galactic Empire, a fascist regime in which a ruling tyrant enslaves an ever-widening sphere of victims through violence and fear. We have the Rebel Alliance, reminiscent of the French resistance, engaging in almost hopeless guerrilla warfare against the evil empire for the sake of freedom. And to add a flavor of holy crusade, we have the Jedi Knights, warrior saints reminiscent of the Templars or other medieval militant holy men. They even use swords, of the laser variety. The Death Star, a moon-sized station with the power of complete destruction. is a metaphor for the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation, but it is also a symbol of the absolute power of an invincible government that exists only for the benefit of those in power and considers the vast majority of people expendable.
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