Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young Fans Lead Force-Ful Lives

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Young Fans Lead Force-Ful Lives

Article excerpt

"The Force will be with you . . . always." Who would have imagined that those immortal words, spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi more than 20 years ago, would still ring true today?

Yet the Star Wars phenomenon is just as important -- if not more so -- to this modern generation as it was to their predecessors.

Star Wars, released in 1977, has been a cultural icon since birth for anyone under the age of 22. They've never known life without Star Wars, without the Force, without Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. They've been bombarded with Star Wars characters everywhere, from television to books and even Pez dispensers.

Some of the youngest have even waited their entire lives for a new Star Wars movie.

But just what kind of impact has it had on their lives?

Travis Cooper, 14, saw the movies for the first time when he was 3. "My brother was a big fan, and I thought it was a great movie," he said.

Twelve-year-old Jeremy Houghton was fascinated by the mythic story: "It seems so real, even though it's fantasy."

It goes deeper than that, though.

Creator George Lucas' canny repackaging of ancient myths -- and his focus on the elemental battle between Good and Evil -- has touched a whole new generation. His movies have transcended classic-film status and achieved the rank of epic myth.

Consider the words of a young commentator on National Public Radio, who recently went so far as to call the series "the cornerstone of my moral and aesthetic universe."

He even invoked biblical imagery, noting that "with the release of The Phantom Menace, George Lucas fulfills a covenant made 16 years ago" -- referring, of course, to The Return of the Jedi, released in 1983.

Jerad Grimes of Jacksonville was 6 when he first saw the original but count him among the lifelong devotees of the series: "Honestly, I don't remember much of the six years before Star Wars. …

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