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Star Wars 101

An one stop guide for parents

If you don't know your Kylo Ren from your Kanaan then worry not we're here to help. If you already know the difference and have a passion for Star Wars this article will probably frustrate and annoy you so maybe give this one a miss.

A long time ago, in a film studio far far away George Lucas crafted a cinematic fairytale like no other and invented The Blockbuster (well not single-handed there were other directors doing things that also contributed but we'll brush over Steven Spielberg's Jaws like it never happened). Breaking the mould from science fiction that came before it, Star Wars was a new, vibrant and an immersive world. Gone were the shiny utopias of the old science fiction films. This was a world that felt lived in and real. All the characters had flaws just like humans (even if most of them were aliens), and the spaceships were in and out of the repair shop like your mum's old Cortina. Lucas took many influences in the crafting of his saga from WWII dogfights, Jack Kirby comic books, Akira Kurasowa's Hidden Fortress and Arthurian Lore to craft the most lucrative franchises of all time.

But your kids don't care about any of this do they? What they're interested in is the epic battle between good and evil... the light side and the dark side. So lets cut the nostalgia and give you some good solid knowledge so you can play at star wars with the kids.

The basics

The whole universe of The Star Wars Saga is bound by The Force. It's a universal energy which penetrates and surrounds everything and everyone. Some individuals are attuned to The Force, allowing them supernatural abilities such as telekinesis, foresight, mind control etc. A group of these individuals formed the Jedi, a group of warrior monks who use there connection to The Force to promote peace and understanding throughout the galaxy and defend the innocent from evil. This is all happened way before the actual stories in the films. A rogue Jedi found that by giving in to his darker emotions i.e. Fear, hatred, anger. he could access an untapped potential which he dubbed The Dark Side and the dark side was instrumental in the foundation the Sith and ultimately foundation of the Empire. Eventually war broke out between the two factions, ie. The Star Wars The films tell the story of the Star Wars. Oh and just in case you've read this whole paragraph because you can't remember the name of the guy in the photo, that's Yoda.

The films

Now just to confuse us (and feel free to skip this whole section), chronologically, the first Star Wars Film: 'A New Hope' (1977) is actually episode IV of the Star Wars and it was followed by episode V 'The Empire Strikes back' and episode VI 'Return of the Jedi'. Lucas didn't make episode I, 'The Phantom Menace' until 1999, (which to those of us who didn't bother watching episodes IV-VI to begin with was really no biggy). He then made episode II 'Attack of the Clones' and III 'Revenge of the Sith' and retired on the profits. Recently Disney acquired the rights to the franchise and they released the first of their new trilogy which was set after the first trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) with Episode VII: 'The Force Awakens' and later this year the second of that trilogy Episode VIII 'The Last Jedi' is to be released.

Disney are also releasing Spin-off films set within in the universe which slot around the first 6 films, somewhat haphazardly. One features Han Solo, and another, 'Star Wars: Rogue One', shows how the Jedi got their hands on the plans for the death star. They are calling these additional films anthology films. Confused? I'm not surprised it took me a while to get my head around all of this. Here's a picture that might help.

The story

Actually once you get over the incredibly complicated details, the story of Star Wars is pretty straight forward. The two factions, the Jedi and the Sith, battle to control the universe. Until recently, this resulted in <spoiler alert> the death of Darth Vader at the hand of his own son, Luke Skywalker. They were two very talented manipulators of the force on opposite sides of the war but in his dying moments Darth Vader sees the error of his ways. That was the end of the story in 1983 but now, like a soap opera twist, it seems that Darth Vader was a mere puppet for real evil forces of Darth Sidious and so the war continues.

As episodes I-VI were all released in the last century it is quite likely that you're children were introduced to Star Wars through the cartoon 'Star Wars: Rebels', the film 'The Force Awakens' (the one after Darth Vader is already dead) or the video games or toys. so let's focus on those characters and things from their stories.

Jedi

The Jedi fight with the rebel alliance, which is led by General/Princess Leia (she has some Jedi skills too) They fight against the Empire. Despite a killing spree to eliminate all of the Jedi, known as The Purge, there are still some Jedi, notably Kanaan. He survived The Purge thanks to the sacrifice of his Jedi master. He's been effectively in hiding but takes up the lightsaber once again when he discovered Ezra a young Jedi in need of training. Rey and Finn (both pictured above) are the plucky new Jedi in the chronology. Jyn Erso has also been introduced in Rogue-one (let's not get back into the chronology), she's a 'good guy'. So it's not just about Obe Wan Kanobe and Luke Skywalker anymore.

The dark side

Kylo Ren (pictured above) seems to be the most popular badddie amongst the kids. Kylo Ren is the son of Leia and Hans Solo who trained as a Jedi under Luke Skywalker before he turned to the dark side and killed all his fellow students. Kylo Ren is controlled by Supreme Leader Snoke. The term Sith is given to baddies who use the force for evil and they always have a red bladed lightsabre.

Weapons

The Lightsaber is the ancient weapon of the Jedi & Sith. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I thought it was called a Lightsaver for the first 19 years of my life). It is a blade of pure energy emitted from a metal hilt. Lightsabers can cut through practically anything and these days they often have more than one blade. Though anyone can use a lightsaber, only people adept in The Force can utilise it's potential to deflect a Blaster fire powered by Kyber crystals. A Blaster is "ranged energised particle weaponry" but yes, between you and me it just blasts stuff. A Kyber crystal is a crystal that occurs naturally and is attuned to the force.

Spaceships

Millennium Falcon is the large spaceship that Han Solo won from his friend Lando Calrissian in a card game. Most people refer to it as "a piece of junk" but though it frequently has problems it has gotten our heroes out of a few scrapes here and there. Another popular means of transport is the X-wing (pictured above), which is a one man ship in an X shape. The Death Star, is not, (as I wrongly believed) a spaceship but a space station.

Robots

The great things about the robots is that they play a part in the lives of all the generations and in all the films and you don't have to keep track of lots of new names. R2D2 and C3PO are the ones that have been around since the beginning, R2D2 is the three wheeled useful droid and C3PO is the humanoid worry-wort. You've also got BB8 (pictured above), he is relatively new to the party, he's the one with a spherical body and orange circles on. He's a companion droid, those orange circles all contain various tools and weapons. In Rogue-one there was another humanoid droid introduced by the name of K2SO. He helped the rebel alliance recover the Deathstar, he's Silver.

Extras

That pretty much covers the need to know stuff. But if you want some stuff the kids won't know but might find interesting here are a few little facts we've uncovered for you.

  • Ewan McGregor, while performing his lightsabre scenes as Luke Skywalker, would make the sound effects with his mouth proving no one ever grows up.
  • David Prowse, the actor who physically portrayed Darth Vader, is banned from all official Star Wars events because George Lucas finds him annoying.
  • Yoda was originally going to be played by a monkey!!
  • The phrase "I have a bad feeling about this" appears in every film.
  • Well I hope you've enjoyed our dip into the pool of everything Star Wars until next time May The Force Be With You...

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