Photo courtesy of Star Wars Celebration | The “Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker” cast at Star Wars Celebration. Photo by Star Wars Celebration
By Griffin Winter ’21 and Nick Pecora ’21
On Dec. 20, 2019, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” will release to audiences around the globe. “The Rise of Skywalker” will be wrapping up the sequel trilogy which started in 2015 with the release of “The Force Awakens” and followed up by “The Last Jedi.” The film will continue the stories of Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, and Leia while bringing back Emperor Palpatine. The film will be the last Star Wars film for a while because Lucasfilm will be taking a four-year gap to plan the next films.
“The Skywalker Saga” is a term coined by fans for all of the films included in the three main trilogies. The original trilogy really put Star Wars on the map in the 1970s and 1980s. George Lucas brought back “Star Wars” in 1999 with the prequel trilogy. After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, a third Star Wars trilogy was put into production aptly named The Sequel Trilogy.
The first movie in the Skywalker Saga was “A New Hope,” which was released on May 25, 1977. The cultural impact of “A New Hope” was gigantic to people during the 1970. “The first film is the most impactful, I saw the film when I was eight and it truly changed the way I looked and good and evil,” said longtime Star Wars fan and Brophy teacher Dr. Matthew Whitaker. This is where many people became fans of the series due to iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Darth Vader. While the first movie had great success, “The Empire Strikes Back,” which was released in 1980, built off of the first film with another success. The film expanded the Star Wars Universe by introducing a number of concepts we see later, including Force Ghosts, while also teaching a whole new generation of tragedy in film. The brilliant twist at the end of the film reveals to the audience that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. “‘Empire’ is still my favorite Star Wars movie to this day, but when I first saw it, I didn’t like it due to the darker tone that it took. Over time, I have come to appreciate the writing and the direction taken with the film,” said sci-fi movie club leader and Brophy teacher Mr. Scott Middlemist ’87. More fan-favorite characters were introduced including Yoda, Lando Calrissian, and Emperor Palpatine. The original trilogy wrapped up in 1983 with the release of “Return of the Jedi.” The film, which ended the original story that George Lucas had planned out, features Luke defeating the Emperor with the help of his father, Darth Vader. These original films, while dated, have shaped a generation with masterful storytelling, fantastic characters, themes and ideas that changed cinema forever. These characters’ storylines will be concluded with the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” later this year.
George Lucas brought back Star Wars to theaters on May 19, 1999 with the release of “Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace.” The film was met with poor reception, however. “Episode I was a tragedy,” Dr. Whitaker said. While some would consider this film a rocky start, it gave fans cult characters to follow like Darth Maul, Jar Jar Binks, Qui-Gon Jinn and Mace Windu. “I grew up watching these movies and I feel like we all did as teenagers, so that’s why the prequels are my favorite,” said Brophy sci-fi movie club leader Graham Earnest ’20. Audiences were again split on the second film in the prequel trilogy, “Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones.” This film had the introduction of the clones and the start of the Clone Wars and some hints at how Anakin Skywalker would fall to the Dark Side. The finale to the prequel trilogy was released with “Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith.” This film finally showed audiences Anakin’s turn towards the dark side to become Darth Vader and the beginnings of how the Empire rose to power. While these films, in particular, catch a lot of flak, they inspired a whole new generation to love Star Wars and gave audiences a truly worthy third film with “Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith.”
After a long hiatus and Disney buying Lucasfilm, Disney commissioned another Star Wars film. The film was titled “Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens.” The original trilogy cast was brought back for this film and served to usher in a younger generation. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was released to mixed opinions on the film. Mr. Middlemist said, “The movie had too many diverging plot lines which bogged the movie down.” While “The Last Jedi” was divisive among fans, the Brophy community is still excited for the conclusion to the Skywalker Saga. Dr. Whitaker said “I have faith that they can pull it off,” and Mr. Middlemist concurred, saying, “I have faith that [director] J.J. Abrams can do a great job with this final film.”
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” releases on Dec. 20 in theaters all around the world.