Remember it is Star Wars Day – May the Fourth be With You

Happy Star Wars Day.  Sadly not a bank holiday yet but maybe with enough campaigning we can get the government to recognise this important day.  I mean after the last census here in the UK, enough people put “Jedi” as their spiritual bias that it is now officially a religion.

In my opinion Star Wars is one of the finest films ever made and certainly my favourite.  I can still remember going to the cinema when I was just 11 years old to see it for the first time.  It was the opening scene that had such a big impact on me.

After that wonderful orchestral intro at the start of every 20th Century Fox those immortal words “…A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… and then the Star Wars logo comes rushing to the front of the screen with the music that will forever conjure up image of Imperial Stormtroopers and light sabres.

As that subsides the scene is set for us by the scrolling words that fade into the distance telling us about evil empires, beautiful princesses and secret plans.

And then as the music fades, the camera pans down and first there is a small moon and then you realise you are sitting above a huge planet.

On the big screen this was massive but then a small spaceship appeared from the top right of the screen being fired at by an as yet unseen adversary.

And then the mother of all spaceships appears from the top of the screen and we are looking up at the underbelly of this monster.  I can still remember as an 11 year old gasping at the scale of this huge spaceship and feeling the vibrations of the engine noise resonate in my small chest.

It was like being there and was unlike any movie experience I had ever encountered.

The rest of the film had all the ingredients of an amazing story/film – incredible effects, beautiful princess, handsome hero, rugged bad-boy, love story, good overcomes evil, magical powers, evil warlord, overcoming struggles ….

I could go on but I think it is safe to assume that the film had a massive impact on me and I can remember those experiences just like it was yesterday.

So what was it about all of that which made it so memorable?  Well first of all as an impressionable 11 year old who read war and sci-fi comics, Star Wars was like a dream come true for me.

My strong interest in science fiction at that time meant that I was always going to be interested in the film, especially with the amount of hype that there was at the time.  Nothing changes there then although these days I think much of the hype about the majority of supposedly “great” films is sadly unfounded.

Another reason that the film was so memorable was at that time no other film had ever used special effects to the extent that you actually believed what you saw was real.  Many previous films and television series were laughable at the way they used special and not so special effects.

I can always recall having to consciously extend the use of my imagination when I used to watch Flash Gordon (not the film with the Queen soundtrack, but the black and white, spaceships on string, cardboard set version).  So Star Wars was both unique and outstanding compared to its peers (although you could argue that it had none!)

However probably the main reason that the film and especially the opening scenes were so memorable was that it engaged both the emotions and the senses right from the start.

So not only did I see and hear this incredible spaceship, the scale of which I had never even imagined before, but I felt the throbbing of the engines in my body as though I was actually sat on the craft itself.

And from there on in I was hooked and it was then riding the roller coaster of emotions and experiences as I lived the life of a young Jedi, discovering his purpose and then finding his way and so on.

And can I remember his journey?

Of course I can.

Not least because since then as my favourite film I have watched it many times.  So my Star Wars Experience reveals some age old truths about why we are able to remember certain things:

  1. If you are passionately interested in something then you are going to be likely to remember it.
  2. Anything that is unique, unusual or stands out from the crowd will also last longer in your memory
  3. When your senses are fully involved and you have a strong emotional connection with something, that too will create a far stronger impression on your memory.
  4. The ebb and flow of a good story is much easier to remember
  5. Repetition is the mother of skill and when it comes to being able to recall something, that is true too.

So once again happy Star Wars Day, May the Fourth be with you and if you need to remember something…

…think like a Jedi.