Star Wars is a science fantasy saga and fictional galaxy created by writer/producer/director George Lucas during the 1970s. This epic trilogy began with the film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which was released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox. The film became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon, spawning five more feature films developed by George Lucas and an Expanded Universe of his films, which includes three spin-off films, five television series and an extensive collection of licensed books, comics, video games, action figures, trading cards, card games, backpacks, Lego sets and other products, all of which are set within a fictional “galaxy far, far away.”

Setting
The events of Star Wars take place in the fictional Star Wars galaxy. Each Star Wars film begins with an “opening crawl” of text that provides specific context for the events of the film. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” is the line that appears first in the opening crawl for each film and alludes to the classic fairy tale opening of, “Once upon a time, in a faraway land…” The opening crawl is the only instance that the Star Wars galaxy has been defined in relation to our real world.

Many of the characters in the film are essentially identical to humans. The characters commonly interact with fantastic creatures of many different types from numerous planetary systems within the Star Wars galaxy. Star Wars uses supernatural elements such as magic, Jedi knights, witches, and princesses that are related to characters found in fairy tales and other epic stories.

The film series spans the events of two generations. The Star Wars “Expanded Universe” is comprised of stories that are set in the Star Wars universe that have not appeared in the original film series. The “Expanded Universe” covers events that span millennia. Novels from a series called New Jedi Order later extended the Star Wars setting to different galaxies with the introduction of alien beings named Yuuzhan Vong. Most aliens prior to the New Jedi Order series came from the same galaxy in which the films are set.

The Star Wars world, unlike the traditional science-fiction and fantasy films that featured sleek and futuristic settings, was initially portrayed as dirty and grimy. It is notable that the setting does not portray technological evolution, despite stories that span millenia, the technology is relatively the same throughout. In interviews, Lucas tells of rubbing new props with dirt to give them a weather-worn appearance. He has referred to this as “a used or ancient future”, a concept further popularized in the film Alien.[citation needed] Earlier films by director Sergio Leone utilized a similar process for films of the Western genre. Director Akira Kurosawa had previously used this method to give his settings a more authentic appearance.

Plot
Episodes I, II, and III chronicle the downfall of the Old Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire. It is also the story of Anakin Skywalker, the “Chosen One”, rising as a gifted young Jedi and eventually transforming into Darth Vader via the Dark Side of the Force. The story begins as Darth Sidious manipulates the Trade Federation into invading and occupying the planet Naboo. Sidious concurrently maintains his public identity as Palpatine, who represents the world of Naboo as a Senator in the Galactic Republic. Palpatine uses the crisis to convince the Senate to elect him as Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. He further manipulates the Senate into granting him emergency powers and orchestrates the Clone Wars, a conflict between the Republic (which he controls as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine) and a Separatist movement (which he controls as Darth Sidious).

A young boy named Anakin Skywalker, incredibly strong with the Force, is discovered by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon believes Anakin is the Chosen One, prophesied to bring balance to the Force. After Qui-Gon is killed by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan defeats the Sith apprentice and then, over the strong objections of Master Yoda, obeys his master’s final wish to train the boy. Anakin grows powerful with the Force, and his skill causes him to become arrogant and chafe against Obi-Wan’s training, which he feels is restrictive. Against the strictest rules of the Jedi Order, Anakin falls in love with Padmé Amidala, first Queen and later Senator of Naboo. The two wed in secret, an act forbidden for Jedi due to the inherent emotional vulnerability.

The Clone Wars begin to rage through every part of the known galaxy, and the Jedi fight tirelessly to bring peace back to the Republic. Anakin and Padmé continue to keep their marriage a secret, but soon Padmé becomes pregnant. Although thrilled by the news, Anakin begins to have visions of Padmé’s death. The secretive nature of their relationship forces him to seek help outside of the Jedi order, and he desperately asks aid of Chancellor Palpatine, now as dangerously powerful in public as well as in secret.

Palpatine, as Darth Sidious, seizes this opportunity to tempt Anakin to the Dark Side, promising that Padmé can be saved if Anakin joins the Sith. His guile succeeds, convincing Anakin to abandon the Jedi. Anakin’s turning point comes when he intervenes in a lightsaber duel between Jedi Master Mace Windu and Palpatine, cutting off Mace Windu’s hand before Palpatine kills the Jedi Master. Palpatine declares Anakin a Sith Lord and gives him the name Darth Vader, then orders him to hunt down and destroy all the remaining Jedi in the galaxy (see Order 66 for more on the demise of the Jedi). Anakin starts learning the Dark Side of the Force from Palpatine, and starts a duel with his own master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anakin loses the duel and becomes terribly disfigured. He wears a black armor and mask and came to be known as Darth Vader. Tragically, Anakin is still unable to save Padmé, and becomes directly responsible for causing her death.

Padmé dies giving birth to twins, whom she names Luke and Leia. The twins are given to two separate willing parties for safety: Luke to Anakin’s step-brother Owen Lars and his wife Beru on Tatooine; Leia to Senator Bail Organa and his wife on the planet Alderaan. Obi Wan-Kenobi and Yoda, the last remaining Jedi, exile themselves. Obi-Wan becomes a hermit on Tatooine, where he assumes the responsibility of watching over Luke from afar. Yoda similarly becomes a hermit on the bog-like world of Dagobah. Sidious (as Palpatine) reorganizes the Galactic Republic into the First Galactic Empire, and declares himself its Emperor.

Episodes IV, V, and VI pick up approximately 30 years after the events of Episode III, during the Galactic Civil War, a lengthy conflict in which the Galactic Empire falls at the hands of the Rebel Alliance. These films follow the story of Luke Skywalker, the son of Anakin Skywalker (now the black-clad Darth Vader), and his rise in the rebellion against the Empire. The tale ends with the redemption of Anakin Skywalker at Luke’s hands, and the reconciliation of the galaxy by the ultimate destruction of the Sith and the Empire.

Leia, Princess and Imperial Senator for Alderaan, is a secret member of the Rebel Alliance. While she carries home the plans for the Empire’s battle station, the Death Star, her ship is intercepted by Darth Vader. She sends a message for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi by means of R2-D2. Darth Vader takes Leia to the sinister Grand Moff Tarkin. Luke inadvertently intercepts the message and meets Kenobi. Leia is forced to witness the destruction of her home-world by the dreaded Death Star. After the murder of his aunt and uncle by Imperial Stormtroopers looking for the droids, Luke joins the ragtag Rebel Alliance — traveling with Kenobi, his (then unrecognized) sister Leia Organa, smuggler Han Solo, Solo’s Wookiee companion Chewbacca, and the droids C-3PO and R2-D2. The Rebel Alliance eventually destroys the Death Star and Tarkin.

Prior to the destruction of the Death Star, Luke trains with Kenobi. After Kenobi’s death at the hands of Vader, Luke finds the exiled Yoda to continue his Jedi training. Luke believes that his father was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader, having been told as much by Kenobi at their first meeting. When Luke learns the truth — that his father and Vader are one and the same — he is profoundly shaken. Despite this, Luke successfully resists the efforts of Vader and Palpatine to turn him to the Dark Side. Instead, in a reunion aboard a new and improved Death Star, Luke succeeds in turning his father back to the Light Side of the Force. Vader throws Emperor Palpatine into the Death star’s reactor to save his son from Palpatine’s murderous rage, but is mortally wounded in the process. In killing Palpatine and returning to the light, Anakin/Vader fulfills the Prophecy of the Force, proving that he was the Chosen One who would bring balance to the Force by destroying the Sith.

Meanwhile, Leia and Han, who were pursued by Vader in an effort to find and turn Luke, develop a romantic relationship, and Leia finally learns of her Jedi heritage just before their strike team disables the second Death Star’s defenses. The Rebel fleet, led in part by Solo’s friend Lando Calrissian, then scores a decisive victory against the Empire by destroying the second Death Star.

Postscript: The Rebel Alliance’s victory eventually leads to the end of the Galactic Civil War and the downfall of the Empire, restoring the Galactic Republic as the New Republic.

Themes
George Lucas embraces a style of epic storytelling that uses motifs, common themes and concepts which he alters slightly each time they occur. The concept is lifted from Romantic (early 19th century) music, but Lucas applies it both visually and as an integral part of his storytelling.

On a larger scale, there are many parallels between the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy; the stories of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker echo and reflect each other in a myriad of ways.

The Force is one of the most recognizable elements of the Star Wars series. It is described by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film as, “An energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”

Those who can use the Force, such as the Jedi, can perform feats of telepathy, psychokinesis, prescience, clairvoyance, and mental control. Two aspects of the Force are emphasized: the light side and the dark side. The light side of the Force is the facet aligned with good, benevolence, and healing. The dark side of the Force is aligned with fear, hatred, aggression, and malevolence. Jedi, followers of the Light, believe that knowledge serves as a guide and path to power, whereas the Sith rely on the Dark Side in the belief that power brings knowledge and understanding. The dark side seems more powerful, especially to those who use it, because it is driven by rage and hatred — its effects are more direct and easier and faster to achieve. In reality, neither the light nor the dark side of the Force is stronger than the other, each possessing its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the dark side conveys an inherent disadvantage to its users, which is arrogance and overconfidence in their own abilities. However, this aggression allows its acolytes to become more formidable warriors — illustrated when Luke is able to finally overcome his father in battle because of his anger at the thought of his sister turning to the dark side. On the other hand, Jedi can occasionally become crippled by their compassion and suffer defeat at the hands of a ruthless opponent. This is balanced by an ability to remain calm even in extreme circumstances, and to intelligently reason their way through complex and precarious situations.

Influences
Many different influences have been suggested for the Star Wars films by fans and critics. George Lucas himself has cited some quite surprising inspirations for his films, for example the novel Watership Down. Lucas acknowledges that the plot and characters in the 1958 Japanese film The Hidden Fortress, directed by Akira Kurosawa, were a major inspiration. Lucas has said in an interview, which is included on the DVD edition of The Hidden Fortress, that the film influenced him to tell the story of Star Wars from the viewpoint of the humble droids, rather than a major player. It also played a role in the conception of Darth Vader, whose trademark black helmet intentionally resembles the black kabuto of the arch-villain in Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.

Prior to writing the script for Star Wars, George Lucas originally wanted to make a film of Flash Gordon. The rights for Flash Gordon, however, were held by Dino De Laurentiis, and Lucas decided to work on his own science fiction project instead.

Another influence in Lucas’s creation of Star Wars was the writings of Joseph Campbell. Campbell’s work explored the supposed common meanings, structures, and purposes of the world’s mythologies. Lucas has stated that his intention was to create in Star Wars a “modern mythology” based on Campbell’s work. The original Star Wars film, episode IV, for example, closely followed the archetypal “hero’s journey”, as described in Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This influence was discussed by Bill Moyers and Campbell in the PBS mini-series, The Power of Myth and by Lucas and Moyers in the 1999 program, Mythology of Star Wars with George Lucas & Bill Moyers. In addition, the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution sponsored an exhibit during the late 1990s called Star Wars: The Magic of Myth which discussed the ways in which Campbell’s work shaped the Star Wars films. A companion guide of the same name was published in 1997.

It is thought that the setting for the Star Wars universe came from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, published in the early 1950s. This saga also involves a galaxy teeming with inhabited worlds held together by a collapsing galactic empire using hyperdrives (for long-distance transportation). It also features the planet Trantor, which is entirely covered by the galaxy’s capital, similar to Coruscant, and the protagonist of Foundation and Empire is Lathan Devers, a character resembling Han Solo. Even lightsabers have precursors in the The Foundation Trilogy as force field penknives. The planet Korrell is thought to be the basis of the planet Corellia.

It is often argued that Star Wars was influenced by Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction book Dune. Many elements of Star Wars are also evident in Dune. There are so many similarities, in fact, some Dune devotees consider Star Wars little more than a campy film adaptation of Herbert’s work. While this is certainly an exaggeration, many of the similarities are striking. For example, both Dune and Star Wars are set on desert planets. Both stories feature a mystical knighthood of sorts – the Jedi in Star Wars and the Fremen of Dune. In both stories the hero is a messiah-like character, uses mystical powers, exhibits mind control (Jedi mind trick/the Voice), and duels opponents with sword-like weapons. Finally, both stories describe a corrupt empire and the hero’s efforts to overcome it.

Some comic book fans have drawn parallels between Star Wars and Jack Kirby’s epic Fourth World series, published by DC Comics. The cosmos-spanning series of titles was never completed because DC canceled it, citing low sales. At the heart of the series was the battle between Orion of the New Gods and his villainous father, Darkseid (pronounced “dark side.”) Orion called upon the mystical force known as “the source” to aid him in this struggle. The Death Star is somewhat reminiscent of Apokolips, Darkseid’s home planet. Likewise, Darkseid’s headpiece is similar in structure to Vader’s.

Furthermore, Orion, like Luke Skywalker, was separated from his evil father at birth, growing up ignorant of his true parentage. Also like Skywalker, Orion was mentored by an old man who carried a staff and was far more powerful than his appearance suggested; the Highfather. Finally, both Orion and Skywalker are forced to struggle not only against their biological father’s dreams of universal conquest but also against their own inner darkness.

The Star Wars saga has also been influenced by historical events; Lucas claims to have drawn on ancient Rome (the Republic becomes an Empire), World War II and the Vietnam War for inspiration. The reference to the historical past can be seen with Lucas’s use of ‘stormtroopers’, commonly associated with the stormtroopers of World War I Germany and Nazi Germany, and also associated with the SS under Hitler in World War II. These troopers acted as the Nazi party’s military force, under Hitler’s direct control. Similarly, the stormtroopers of Star Wars acted as the Empire’s military force, under Palpatine’s direct control. Lucas also based the space battles in A New Hope on World War II-era aerial dogfights. The rise of Palpatine mirrors Hitler in that a democracy becomes an empire.

Even Star Trek is said to have had a limited influence on Star Wars. Gene Roddenberry’s intergalactic vision among humans has long been a staple for these concepts. A reference to ST is used in Episode V when an Empire commander mentions a cloaking device, a device used by Romulans and later Klingons, to describe the disappearance of the Millennium Falcon. It has been mentioned that Lucas wanted to label the Falcon’s light speed capabilities as “warp drive” but was advised against it because at the time Roddenberry was looking into doing the Star Trek Phase II TV show and Lucas did not want to start a conflict.

Scripts
The Star Wars saga began with a 14-page treatment for a space adventure film that Lucas drafted in 1973, inspired by multiple myths and classical narratives. According to one source, Lucas initially wrote summaries for fifteen stories that would make up the Star Wars saga. Out of these fifteen stories, Lucas originally planned to film only one of them as a feature film. Then, in 1978, following the success of the first released Star Wars film, he publicly announced that he would create a total of twelve films to chronicle the adventures of Luke Skywalker (in the original scripts, the character’s name was Luke Starkiller). In 1979, Lucas retracted his former statement, saying that he would instead make nine films. Four years later, having completed Return of the Jedi, Lucas announced that he was putting Star Wars on indefinite hold until special-effects technology had improved to his satisfaction. Finally, in 1994, (after seeing the effects results of ILM’s work on Jurassic Park) Lucas decided that he would produce the trilogy of prequels (Episodes I, II, and III), for a total of six films. He also claimed at the time that he had always envisioned “the whole thing as a series of six films”.

Other sources, including publicly available draft scripts of Star Wars, show that Lucas had an incomplete and quickly-changing conception of the Star Wars story up until the release of the first film in 1977. Story elements such as the Kaiburr crystal present in early scripts are missing entirely in the films, while names were freely exchanged between different planets and characters — “Organa Major” being the original name for Alderaan, for instance (Organa later became Princess Leia’s surname). Even as late as the production of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, there were significant differences from the films which emerged — for example, Lando Calrissian being a clone from the Clone Wars and the climactic battle of Return of the Jedi taking place against two Death Stars orbiting the Imperial capital planet, then known as Had Abbadon. Another version of the Return of the Jedi script had Luke turning to the dark side after killing Darth Vader. Leia would then become the next Jedi to fight the dark side. This did not happen, however, because Lucas felt that the ending would be too dark, especially for children, who were a major target audience. Also, George Lucas had the script of The Empire Strikes Back saying that “Obi-Wan killed your father,” all the while having the “I am your father” line in mind. Since Darth Vader’s voice was overdubbed by James Earl Jones, the true line was revealed in post-production. In addition, the story released as the novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was intended as a possible direction for a low-budget Star Wars sequel – however, the success of A New Hope allowed Lucas to pursue the more ambitious The Empire Strikes Back instead.

For his part, Lucas claimed in a segment filmed for the THX-remastered VHS release of the original trilogy that the original Star Wars story was intended as a single film but was later split into three because the story was too long to be told in a single film. In the DVD commentaries for the original trilogy, Lucas claims that many story elements were changed within the production of the films — for instance, the attack on the Death Star in A New Hope was moved from the end of the trilogy in order to strengthen A New Hope on its own merits, while the character of Chewbacca established the Wookiees as a technologically advanced race, necessitating their replacement with Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Other changes, including the death of Obi-Wan in A New Hope, were made during the filming. Lucas also stated in the commentaries that the prequel stories existed only as “notes” explaining the backstories of characters such as Obi-Wan. In an interview with Wired prior to the release of The Phantom Menace, Lucas remarked that he had allowed the publication of novels written as sequels to the films (see Expanded Universe) because he would never make the sequels himself.

Lucas’s history of different statements regarding his future and past plans for the Star Wars saga have caused a great deal of popular confusion, while drawing criticism from some. For example, some still believe that Lucas’s original plan was for a “trilogy of trilogies,” based on early statements made by Lucasfilm regarding sequels. For more information on the supposed sequel trilogy, see Sequel trilogy (Star Wars).

It has been reported that Lucas’s original script was almost 500 pages long. The title, originally The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, was changed several times before becoming Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Expanded Universe
The term “Expanded Universe” has come into existence as an umbrella term for all of the officially licensed Star Wars material outside of the six feature films. This includes television productions, books, comics, games, and other forms of media. The material expands and continues the stories told in the films, taking place anywhere from 25,000 years before The Phantom Menace to 140 years after Return of the Jedi. The first Expanded Universe story appeared in Marvel Comics’ Star Wars #7 in January 1978 (the first six issues of the series having been an adaptation of the film), followed quickly by Alan Dean Foster’s novel Splinter of the Mind’s Eye the following month.

George Lucas retains ultimate creative control over the Star Wars universe. For example, the death of central characters and similar changes in the status quo must first pass his screening before authors are given the go-ahead. In addition, Lucasfilm Licensing devotes considerable effort to ensure continuity between the works of various authors across multiple companies.

Some purists reject the Expanded Universe as “Apocrypha”, believing that only the events in the film series are part of the “real” Star Wars universe. However, elements of the Expanded Universe have been adopted by Lucas for use in the films. These included the name of the Republic/Empire capital planet, Coruscant, which first appeared in Timothy Zahn’s novel Heir to the Empire before being used in The Phantom Menace, while a character introduced in Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars series, a blue Jedi Knight named Aayla Secura, was liked enough by Lucas to be included as a character in Attack of the Clones (and is seen meeting her demise in Revenge of the Sith in an ambush on the jungle planet Felucia).

Books
Star Wars-based fiction predates the release of the first film, with the 1976 novelization of Star Wars (ghost-written by Alan Dean Foster and credited to George Lucas). Foster’s 1978 novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, was the first Expanded Universe work to be released. In addition to filling in the time between the films, this additional content greatly expanded the Star Wars timeline before and after the film series.

Star Wars fiction flourished during the time of the original series (1977-1983) but slowed to a trickle afterwards. In 1991, however, Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy debuted, sparking a new interest in the Star Wars universe. Since then, several hundred tie-in novels have been published by Bantam and Del Rey. A similar resurgence in the Expanded Universe occurred in 1996 with the Steve Perry novel Shadows of the Empire, set between Episodes V and VI, and accompanying video game and comic book series.

LucasBooks radically changed the face of the Star Wars universe with the introduction of the New Jedi Order series, which takes place some 20 years after Return of the Jedi and stars a host of new characters alongside series originals. However, several significant events which occur during the course of this series (such as the death of a major film character) have sparked much fan criticism.

Comics
Marvel Comics published Star Wars comic book series and adaptations from 1977 to 1986. A wide variety of creators worked on this series, including Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, Howard Chaykin, Al Williamson, Carmine Infantino, Gene Day, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Whilce Portacio, Jo Duffy, and Ron Frenz. In the late 1980s, Marvel announced it would publish a new Star Wars comic by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. However, in December 1991, Dark Horse Comics acquired the Star Wars license and used it to launch a number of ambitious sequels to the original trilogy instead, including the very popular Dark Empire stories. They have since gone on to publish a large number of original adventures set in the Star Wars universe.

Games
Since 1982, over 120 video games have been published bearing the Star Wars name, beginning with Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back published for the Atari 2600 by Parker Brothers. Since then, Star Wars has opened the way to a myriad of space-flight simulation games, first-person shooter games, roleplaying games, RTS games, and others.

Two different official tabletop role-playing games have been developed for the Star Wars universe: a version by West End Games in the 1980s and 1990s, and one by Wizards of the Coast in the 2000s.

In the video game Star Wars: Battlefront you can choose to be either the rebel allience, the empire, the seperatist droids, or the clones. You travel across many different exotic worlds in the battle of good and evil, whether being soldiers from the New or Old Republic. Within the many different modes of play, there is one named “Galactic Conquest” in which you struggle against the opposing side of the one you chose at the start of the game, for total control of the galaxy. It also has online play for those competitive players who want to go beyond the computerized characters you usually battle agianst.

In the Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy the films are played in a different way. In Star Wars: Empire at War, players can take control of either the Empire or the Rebellion and fight for control of the galaxy.

Also, SOE (Sony Online Entertainment) has developed a MMORPG called Star Wars Galaxies. In this game, which requires a monthly subsription fee, you choose a class, (Jedi, commando, smuggler, etc.) and fight for control of the galaxy by choosing the Empire or the Rebel Alliance.

LucasArts is also currently developing a next-gen Star Wars game for the PS3 and Xbox 360. The game, entitled The Force Unleashed, takes place in the largely unexplored time period between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and casts players as Darth Vader’s “secret apprentice” hunting down the remaining Jedi. The game is set for a November 2007 release date.

Trading cards
Star Wars trading cards have been published since the first ‘blue’ series, by Topps, in 1977. Dozens of series have been produced, with Topps being the licensed creator in the United States. Some of the card series are of film stills, while others are original art. Many of the cards have become highly collectible with some very rare ‘promos’, such as the 1993 Galaxy Series II ‘floating Yoda’ P3 card often commanding US$1000 or more. While most ‘base’ or ‘common card’ sets are plentiful, many ‘insert’ or ‘chase cards’ are very rare. Star Wars card game cards are different from the trading cards. A thriving market for both types exists on eBay.

Fan works
The Star Wars saga has inspired many fans, called “Warsies”, to create their own stories set in the Star Wars galaxy. In recent years, this has ranged from writing fan-fiction to creating fan films.

In 2002, Lucasfilm sponsored the first annual Official Star Wars Fan Films Awards, officially recognizing filmmakers and the genre. Because of concerns over potential copyright and trademark issues, however, the contest remains open only to parodies, mockumentaries, and documentaries. Fan-fiction films set in the Star Wars universe are ineligible. Initially this limitation caused an outcry for those interested in creating serious fan-fiction for a competition.[citation needed]

While many of the serious fan films have used elements from the licensed Expanded Universe to tell their story, they are obviously not considered an official part of the Star Wars canon. Lucasfilm, for the most part, has allowed but not endorsed the creation of these derivative fan-fiction works, so long as no such work attempts to make a profit from or tarnish the Star Wars franchise in any way.

Lucasfilm’s open support and sanction of fan creations is a marked contrast to the attitudes of many other copyright holders. Some owners, such as Paramount Pictures with the Star Trek properties, have been known to actively discourage the creation of such works by fans.

Cultural impact
The Star Wars saga has had a significant impact on modern global pop culture. Science fiction since Star Wars, particularly in film, has often been influenced by and compared to Star Wars. References to the main characters and themes of Star Wars are casually made in Western society with the well-qualified assumption that others will understand the reference. George Lucas is also famous for using the best possible cameras and technology (see also Industrial Light and Magic) in his films. Many say that the visual and virtual effects that take over today’s films would have never been created if not for Lucas’s revolutionizing of the film industry with Star Wars.

Parodies
Both the film and characters have been parodied or spoofed in popular films and television. Notable film parodies of Star Wars include: Hardware Wars, a 13 minute spoof which George Lucas has called his favorite Star Wars parody; Spaceballs, a feature film by Mel Brooks, and Troops, a COPS-style documentary.

There have been numerous parodic references to Star Wars in films such as Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Hot Shots! Part Deux, and most of the films of Kevin Smith. In 1997, the first film’s twentieth anniversary, Saturday Night Live featured a pair of skits that parodied the film’s screen tests, which included Kevin Spacey playing Christopher Walken auditioning for Han Solo. Walken was originally considered for the role before Harrison Ford was chosen. Star Wars Kid swung a golf ball retriever pretending to be Darth Maul. Star Wars toys is a parody that uses Star Wars Toys and Stop Motion Animation.

Songs
There have been many songs based around the Star Wars universe, the most notable of which are “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Yoda, (a parody of The Kinks’ “Lola”), which describes Luke’s training with the “wrinkled and green” Jedi master, and The Saga Begins, (a parody of Don McLean’s “American Pie”), which chronicles the events of Episode I. The latter of these is particularly reveled, as it was released one week before the film. On Blink-182’s album “Dude Ranch”, the track “A New Hope” discusses the bassist Mark Hoppus’ obsession with Princess Leia.

In late 1977, at the height of the original Star Wars craze, comedian Bill Murray portrayed Lounge Lizard Nick Winters on Saturday Night Live and sang a swanky version of the Star Wars theme, complete with inane improvised lyrics.[12] Carrie Fisher reprised her role as Princess Leia on SNL in a parady of Star Wars and the old beach party movies with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello with Fisher as Annette singing about Obi Wan Kenobi

In 1977 an album called Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk was released by Meco which featured disco remixes of Star Wars music.

Other songs based on the Star Wars saga include The Star Wars Gangsta Rap and Star Wars Cantina.

Northern Ireland band Ash released an album called 1977, named in honor of the year Star Wars was released, on which “Lose Control” used sound bytes of a TIE Fighter, and a song entitled “Darkside Lightside” is an obvious reference to the mythology created by the films.

Other references
Film director Kevin Smith has frequently used the Star Wars movies as points of humor in a number of his films. His first was in a scene from Smith’s 1993 independent film Clerks, main characters Dante and Randall have a lengthy discussion about the parallels between the endings of Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and independent contractors being victims of war related casualties. Other examples include lightsaber battles in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and another discussion in his recent Clerks II where Randall tries to defend his Star Wars fandom against fans of the Lord of the Rings movies. Another, in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck), references the famous Han shot first, saying, “This may be the worst idea since Greedo shooting first, but a Jay and Silent Bob movie?”.

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