Tonight at midnight, the world will be forever changed. I suppose in the truest sense it is already different, since it's out there now. The last Star Wars movie is unspooling into pop culture history. I feel it, somewhere, down deep "like a thousand voices crying out at once and then suddenly..." Relevance? I can't be sure that by taking three decades to tell his story that George did anything but ensure his merchandising stranglehold on three generations (I am presently craving the "light saber spoon" available in specially marked boxes of Kellog's cereal).
It's nice that it ends where it began - the circle is now complete. My son is as rabid for all things Star Wars as I ever was. I bought the masks for Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and C-3PO. My younger brother had the stormtrooper - I don't know where that is now. I built the scale models. I listened to the "Story of Star Wars" on vinyl. Now I lay on the floor and recreate the Battle of Hoth with my son's Legos and watch the DVDs. Permutations of plastic.
I spent the summer of 1977 at Star Wars. A stranger once paid me a dollar to stop reciting lines during one of these showings. Another time I got in free because I was wearing the aforementioned Darth Vader mask. Good guys and bad guys with lots of explosions and a rousing score (I played the theme in my high school band - lifetime nerd quotient assured).
Now here's the truth: I won't be as sorry to see this one go as I was when the last Planet of the Apes movies came out. This one was a lot harder sell to most of my friends, but I stuck with it all the way through to the barely budgeted "Battle for the Planet of the Apes." John Huston played the sage orangutan Lawgiver in that one. My patience was rewarded twice - just barely - once with the TV revival which kept Roddy McDowall's career on life support for a couple more years, and then Tim Burton's ill-conceived "revisioning" (hey, Paul Giamatti played an orangutan in that one!). As was the case with the Star Wars movies, there was a circular story line leading back to the beginning - and the second movie was the best and most even toned for both. Go ahead and argue - I won't listen. Planet of the Apes is the reason I could never get fully pissed off at Charlton Heston (closet hippie - check out "Soylent Green" and "Omega Man" too if you don't believe me.).
I hear George Lucas wants to keep Star Wars alive in some way via television. It makes me shiver to think of what that might mean. I don't think I could handle that kind of disappointment, but I guess I'll have to tune in to be disappointed.