When it first hit the theaters, the science fiction blockbuster “Star Wars” blew everyone’s minds. I know. I was there. (Yes, I’m that old.) No one had ever seen a movie like it before, and they kept coming back to the theaters to see it again. It ran for a straight seventeen weeks at the main movie theater in my town, which was unheard of at the time.
Back in 1977, there was no such thing as a multiplex movie theater. There weren’t even that many strip malls. In fact, I suspect that the idea of a multiplex theater resulted from “Star Wars”, and the way it transformed the movies.
Before “Star Wars”, going to the movies just wasn’t that thrilling. Movies were rated as either good, bad, or great, and people were often just as satisfied to stay home and watch one of the many popular TV shows. It wasn’t until after the success of this film that producers and moviegoers started thinking in terms of “blockbusters”. Something that would far exceed everyone’s expectations, break the mold of the average film, and sell more tickets than was deemed possible.
Investors then became willing to put up a lot more money to help make another blockbuster happen, along with all of its related products. Through its astounding box office success, and its commercial earnings from all the movie-related books, toys, video games, T-shirts, and comics, “Star Wars” had rocketed to movie stardom beyond anyone’s imagining. And everybody everywhere – producers and viewers and publishers and toymakers – couldn’t have been happier.
Except for writer and director George Lucas. He was disappointed that he couldn’t have made a better movie.
Sadly, he didn’t have the budget to do the film the way he really wanted. Which leads one to believe that no one would have had such a budget, since this movie had already stretched its special effects past the limits of contemporary filmmakers’ minds and wallets. Still, Lucas had to rush to put together the final version of the film. It’s rumored that “Star Wars” was still being edited a few hours before its nationwide release into theaters. As such, Lucas felt he had done a disservice to his concept, never fully realizing his original vision.
Much like his protagonist, Luke Skywalker, who feels ill-equipped to join Obi-Wan Kenobi on a revolutionary crusade, though he wants to do so with all his heart. It’s been Luke’s longtime dream to join the academy of fighter pilots, and to secretly join the Rebel Alliance that’s fighting against the cruel dictatorship of the Empire. However, his “practical” considerations hold him back from taking such huge risks. He sees no way to leave his home planet and his responsibilities, as well as his family’s expectations, to venture out into an uncertain future. It’s the same thing that scares all of us. What if we can’t reach the goals we set for ourselves? And what will everyone else think of us when we fail? What if we choose the wrong path?
It’s a new year, the time when people start thinking of how to change their lives for the better in the next 365 days. Getting in shape and getting out of debt. Joining a worthy cause and spending more quality time with our families. Learning how to make pasta or write a sonnet or hang drywall. We want to add in whatever we feel is missing from our lives and making us feel somewhat incomplete.
But most of us never get off of our comfortable couches to accomplish these goals and dreams, because we fear the devastating disappointment of failure. We often set ridiculously high expectations for ourselves, such as running five miles a day when we’ve never even gone for a brisk walk. And then, surprise, we don’t reach our goal! Just as we had expected, deep down. We set out to do something simple – like produce a mega-hit blockbuster movie – but it doesn’t quite turn out the way we had hoped it would.
That’s okay. Really.
At a Christian conference several years ago, a speaker encouraged us to remember that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. He explained that he had mis-quoted this familiar moral intentionally, because all too often, we think that our pet projects must either be done well or not at all. In fact, most of us think they should all be done perfectly. And therefore, we never really start work on them, because we’re never satisfied with our efforts.
At some point, we just need to step out and get it done. Even if it’s not perfect, it could be something great. And we’ll accomplish far more by making an effort than by refusing to get started.
Luke Skywalker ran out of excuses when his family and home were destroyed. The murder of his adoptive family showed him how dangerous the Empire was, and freed him to do something about it. Under Obi-Wan’s tutelage, he learned to control his outbursts of temper and to exercise a new faith in the Force, a source of strength and focal power that only a few people still believed in. Luke found the means for changing and directing his life to accomplish something incredible, ultimately destroying the Empire’s deadly weapon and nullifying their threat.
But he had to start with a simple decision to step out. As he practices with his new light saber and tries to understand how to get in touch with the Force, he begins to experience its power. “That’s good,” Obi-Wan instructs him. “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.”
So go ahead. Take a risk. Try something new. Open your mind to new ideas, new opportunities, and the very likely possibility that you’ll succeed in a far greater measure than you anticipated, if you just take that step. And if you don’t achieve all of your goals, don’t sweat it. Just like George Lucas, you can always go back and fix it in another twenty years.
Find more reviews of Star Wars at amazon.com!
Wednesday, December 31st, 2008