We just saw the new Star Wars over the holidays and while there is a lot out there on social media about its special effects, the storyline, the integration of new and old characters, whether you're a fan or a critic there is an undeniable appeal to the franchise that has become Star Wars over the years. Yet what is it about the story that draws people in?
Star Wars contains many of the themes and archetypes that have permeated our stories and mythologies across time and cultures. The battle against good and evil or light and dark, the belief in the core essence of good in humanity, the hero realizing and fulfilling their destiny, and the importance of hope and believing in what one cannot necessarily see.
These same themes and archetypes can be found throughout popular culture, in our movies and books and folklore. From the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Harry Potter, to children's stories and folklore such as Jack and the Beanstalk and the tales of King Arthur to ancient Greek Mythology such as the Twelve Labours of Hercules, these themes have been present in our stories and teachings throughout time.
There is a timelessness to these themes and archetypes, qualities that we choose to emulate and pass down from generation to generation. But what exactly is their appeal? For most of us these stories are not necessarily representative of how we live our every day lives, but rather they exist as tales we use for entertainment and teaching. Yet can they serve another purpose as well beyond a simple means of escape, as something to aspire to? As an illustrative means of how we make choices in our lives, of what drives us and how we determine what matters to us most?
On a deeper level these stories speak to us of a longing, of something missing. A seeking of a greater meaning, a higher purpose to life. Something that is larger than ourselves, or at least greater than our everyday identities and routines. Of living for and fulfilling a more noble cause. Do we only live vicariously through heroes in stories and movies or do we seek to become heroes ourselves and for those around us? Think for a moment what our lives would be like, what the world would be like, if we all lived our lives with a little bit of Luke Skywalker or King Arthur inside of us? What could we create?
Just something to chew on over a bag of popcorn at your next movie or Netflix night.