So began the opening sequence of the first (and every episode since) in the global pop culture phenomena that is Star Wars way back in 1977. The final chapter of what has been described as the 'Skywalker Sequence' - Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker goes on general release today and I for one am really looking forward to going to the cinema to watch it.
For many wargamers the Star Wars universe has been a constant companion and indeed, a source of inspiration in many ways as the background has transitioned into board games, role playing games, miniatures games, computer and arcade games. There have been countless novels and short stories that have really expanded the universe and provided the wargamer with a rich background to tap into for gaming purposes. On the table top one can battle with star fighters, star ships, squads of troops or individuals or even tackle the whole thing at a strategic level - the choices are really vast and are limited only by one's imagination (or wallet....).
I am a lifelong Star Wars fan and have gamed many elements of it at one time or another as well as dipping into the wider universe via the written word - I really enjoyed Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry as well as the Thrawn Trilogy - as well as for the original films. Then of course there is that magnificent soundtrack penned by John Williams which, to this day I will happily listen to and will acquire the latest release (his final so I believe) in due course.
At a personal level it feels as though Episode 9, despite the further films we are told are in the works as well as the TV tie ins (I have yet to see the Mandalorian but am really looking forward to Kenobi) is drawing a veil over a big chunk of my life and to be honest, it is a little sad really. The adventures of Luke, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando, Chewie and the droids R2D2 and C3PO, latterly joined by Finn, Rey, Poe, BB8 and all in opposition to Darth Vader, the Emperor and Kylo Ren have given me enormous pleasure over the years in an escapism, Saturday morning cinema kind of way.
The original trilogy will always be my favourite although I have enjoyed all the others. I felt that he prequels were good overall but there were certain elements that felt as though they had been included 'because they could be' rather than for any logical reason that I could fathom. I enjoyed then anyway because the Star Wars universe is such a great place to set any kind of film in. Rogue 1 was outstanding in my opinion and much as I enjoyed Solo I felt as though it was an opportunity wasted in many ways. The Last Jedi, which has upset many die hard fans was not a bad film - I rather enjoyed it - but again, there were elements that were included that did not appear to offer anything. I also felt that Luke could have been used to far better effect.
There will always be those that will attack a film or films on the point of detail or, dare I say it, artistic interpretation. For me that kind of misses the point. The universe has been planted and the films are very much snapshots of events that have taken place in it. For sure there will be things that may not gel but let us just enjoy it for what it is offering. In doing so it will enable you to gloss over the oddities!
From a gaming perspective I truly believe Star Wars put Sci Fi - or rather Science Fantasy - gaming firmly on the map so to speak. There have been myriad sets of rules for all manner of games released since 1977 that in some way tap in to the universe that George Lucas gave us and many of these are thriving still. There are also some very good games currently available that use the original films as a background but that then bring them up to date to incorporate the latest films etc. X Wing, Armada, Imperial Assault and Legion all spring to mind.
I should also mention Lego as there is a huge amount of Star Wars material available and I have really enjoyed building some elements from it with my light sabre wielding 9 year old grandson as well as with my Wookie and Yoda impersonating 24 year old daughter. Truly this is a generational phenomena and watching the films with them is a real treat.
As I write this the a couple of well known quotes from the films come to mind that sum up the universe of Star Wars and how it has shaped so many things and in so many ways.
Of Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker - "The circle is now complete...."
Of the entire Star Wars universe: "Remember, the force will be with you....always."