Thursday, January 31, 2013

Star Wars: Magic of Myth

Books With Your Barista
by Jared A. Conti
Fanboy’s dreams come true

The old familiar yellow words crawling amid the vast emptiness of space hit me every time:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

It’s not like I haven’t seen the movies a ga-jillion times. It’s not like I have deep-seated issues concerning the prequels or (God forbid) get the angry shakes when I see Hayden Christensen primly seated next to Obi-Wan and Yoda. Blasphemy, I tell you.

I know every time I watch what I’m about to experience, I know what they say. And now, thanks to Mary Henderson’s Star Wars: The Magic ofMyth, I’ve a better understanding of what it’s all about.

Originally conceived as a companion volume to the exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, curator Henderson delves deep into the roots of the original Star Wars trilogy. These films take cues from all walks of classic and modern mythology, the battle that is forever taking place between good and evil. There’s also plenty of another of my favorites, the time-honored traditions of Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces.

The book, alongside the exhibit, follows the path of the hero’s journey that many myths and fairy tales tend to follow consciously or unconsciously. It shows through words and pictures why these stories affect us on such deep, personal levels. In one way or another, we can all relate.

I’ve seen a Star Wars science exhibit in Boston with life-size wookies and ship replicas, so I can only imagine what this presentation would have been like to a story writer and lover.  The book itself is packed with quotes from creator George Lucas and Joseph Campbell among others. Movie stills and production and concept art round out the book’s sense of purpose, alongside Lucas’s ideas as to why he made the choices for including certain bits of history.

All in all, this book reinforces why Star Wars is one of the generations best film series. With its engaging storyline which comes hardwired into each and every one of our psyches, it’s no wonder that it all feels so real. A wonderful companion piece for personal discovery and learning with others.

This was originally printed in the Lock Haven Express, 01/31/13

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