Star Wars holds a special place in my life. It was the first movie from my childhood to truly transport me to another world. There was a time when I believed Luke Skywalker existed, and Darth Vader was a threat. I watched the trilogy over and over again without growing weary. If anything, I grew fonder of the characters and the story gifted to me by a man I knew nothing about. I believed that only a great man could create something as wonderful as Star Wars. Before I knew him, I worshipped George Lucas.
Back then I had the original trilogy on VHS. It came with a three part interview between Lucas, and critic Leonard Maltin. They spoke about the early days of the film, when Star Wars was just an idea. Lucas, soft-spoken and terrifically mysterious, presented his account of the creation with great humility. Maltin acknowledged the invaluable contribution that Lucas had given to our culture, and wished me well as the light faded and that wonderful LUCASFILM logo appeared to welcome me back to that galaxy far far away.
Lucas decided to rework his trilogy in the mid-nineties, and what we got was the Special Edition. At the time, I loved it. I had heard from many adults that Star Wars was meant to be watched on the big screen, so here was my chance. Plus it had been updated with newer special effects, and that can only make a good thing greater, right? Right? At the time, I thought so. Well, I was a little turned off by that lame Jabba the Hutt scene they added in A New Hope.
Then came word of a new trilogy. Lucas was going back to the story of Anakin Skywalker and how he became Darth Vader. Finally, we were going to see Obi-Wan as a young Jedi. We would see Luke and Leia’s mother. It would be revealed how the Empire came to power and where Darth got that black suit. I waited with the utmost excitement for the May release of The Phantom Menace. Finally, my generation’s Star Wars was here. It was the movie going event of the decade…or millennium. As the LUCASFILM logo flashed on the big screen, I experienced film nirvana. Could it get any better than this?
Two hours later, George Lucas became a mere mortal.