A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
These are the simple words that launched an epic story that would go on to captivate the imagination of millions of people around the world. Released on May 25th, 1977, the first movie hit theaters featuring a cast of mostly unknown actors, written and directed by George Lucas, who had garnered critical praise for his previous film American Graffiti.
There were two crucial elements that catapulted Star Wars to its unlikely success. The first was George Lucas' technical prowess. Moviegoers were dazzled by special effects that were leaps and bounds beyond anything that came before, thereby making this imaginary galaxy feel very real to viewers.
The second element that captivated audiences, and perhaps why it has stood the test of time, is Lucas' use of the archetypal pattern of classic myth in the story of a young hero who sets out to save the galaxy against impossible odds. Drawing inspiration from everything that had most entertained him as a child, from comic books to cartoons, fairy tales and war movies, Lucas unified these elements into the pattern of myth.*
For nearly half a century, that myth has endured. The Star Wars universe continues to expand beyond the imagination of its creator. As few imaginary worlds have before, it has become part our culture.
*Gordon, A. (1984). "Return of the Jedi": The End of the Myth. Film Criticism, 8(2), 45-54. Retrieved May 19, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/44018756
Download this slide show presentation to learn more about the influence of myth making in Star Wars.
The Story Chronology of Films & Television
Four years after Star Wars was released, it was re-released as Episode IV: A New Hope and instantly threw the entire story timeline into chaos. Suddenly, it was the beginning of the story, but the middle. The Star Wars stories have bounced around the fictional timeline ever since...sometimes frustrating fans, but always sparking speculation. It's time to set the story straight. We've placed all the films and television shows in their chronological order.
Star Wars: Forces of Destiny
*Just to make things complicated, episodes of this animated show take place between all of the movies.
The Saga Continues...
Over the past forty plus years, there have been countless Star Wars stories published in books, graphic novels, and comic books for fans of all ages. Below are selected novels that add new chapters to the Star Wars universe.
Star Wars: Darth Bane, Path of Destruction
by Drew Karpyshyn
Old Republic Era
On the run from vengeful Republic forces, Dessel, a cortosis miner, vanishes into the ranks of the Sith army and ships out to join the bloody war against the Republic and its Jedi champions. There, Dessel’s brutality, cunning, and exceptional command of the Force swiftly win him renown as a warrior. Studying the secrets and skills of the dark side, Dessel embraces his new identity: Bane. In order to gain acceptance into the Brotherhood of Darkness, he must defy the most sacred traditions and reject all he has been taught. It is a trial by fire in which he must surrender fully to the dark side–and forge from the ashes a new era of absolute power.
Darth Maul, Shadow Hunter
by Michael Reaves
Phantom Menace Era
After years of waiting in the shadows, Darth Sidious is taking the first step in his master plan to bring the Republic to its knees. When one of his contacts disappears, he orders his apprentice, Darth Maul, to hunt the traitor down. But the secret has already passed into the hands of information broker Lorn Pavan, placing him at the top of Maul’s hit list. In the labyrinthine alleyways and sewers of Coruscant, capital city of the Republic, Lorn crosses paths with a Jedi Padawan on a mission to earn her Knighthood. Can an untried Jedi and an ordinary man, stranger to the powerful ways of the Force, hope to triumph over one of the deadliest killers in the galaxy?
Star Wars: Outbound Flight
by Timothy Zahn
Phantom Menace/ Attack of the Clones Era
The Clone Wars have yet to erupt when Jedi Master Jorus C'baoth petitions the Senate for support of a singularly ambitious undertaking: six Jedi Masters, twelve Jedi Knights, and fifty thousand men, women, and children to embark-aboard a gargantuan vessel on mission to contact intelligent life and colonize undiscovered worlds beyond the known galaxy. Unknown to the famed Jedi Master, the successful launch of the mission is secretly being orchestrated by Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, who has his own reasons for wanting Outbound Flight to move forward.
Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil
by James Luceno
Events Leading up to Revenge of the Sith
The war that erupted in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones is nearing its boiling point, as the dauntless Separatist forces continue their assault on the teetering Republic–and the diabolical triumvirate of Count Dooku, General Grievous, and their Master, Darth Sidious, fine-tune their strategy for conquest. In Episode III Revenge of the Sith the fates of key players on both sides of the conflict will be sealed. But first, crucial events that pave the way to that time of reckoning unfold in a labyrinth of evil. . . .
Star Wars: Death Star
by Michael Reaves
New Hope Era
What is the whole story, and who are the players, behind the creation of this world-killing satellite of doom? From inception to completion, construction of the unprecedented Death Star is awash in the intrigues, hidden agendas, unexpected revelations, and daring gambits of those involved on every level. The brightest minds and boldest egos, the most ambitious and corrupt, the desperate and the devious, all have a stake in the Death Star–and its potential to control the fate of the galaxy.
Soldiers and slaves, loyalists and Rebels, spies and avengers, the innocent and the evil–all their paths and fates will cross and intertwine as the Death Star moves from its maiden voyage to its final showdown.
Heir to the Empire
by Timothy Zahn
Post Return of the Jedi Era
It is five years after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and drove the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi twins. Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights. But thousands of light-years away, the last of the Emperor’s warlords, Grand Admiral Thrawn, has taken command of the shattered Imperial fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the New Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to build.