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A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…

Maddy Wheaton, Co-Editor in Chief

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The upcoming release of the highly anticipated Star Wars movie, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, hits theaters on Dec. 18, 2015, and has both students and staff at South talking. The trilogy’s first three movies came out between 1977 and 1983, starting with Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope and many have waited over 40 years since the release of original movie to see this new one.

“I’m actually old enough to have seen the original Star Wars in a movie theater,” said assistant principal Phil Pakowski. “I grew up with two brothers and three sisters, and we all went as a family outing to see Star Wars when it originally came out. Ever since then I have been a Star Wars fan.”

“I saw the first one when it came out,” said English teacher Jeff Jarot. “The first time it came out in the Joliet area was at a drive in movie theater, which was one drive in movie theater that was showing it. It really defined my childhood. As a little kid it was right in my wheel house.”

There are even some who are excited for the movie even though they may not be diehard Star Wars fans.

“I can honestly say I have never seen a Star Wars movie in my entire life, but my brother was very into them,” said English teacher Hannah Christi. “He was very proud of his Jar Jar Binks bean bag chair.”

After hearing about the new movie, Christi knew exactly who would be buying tickets to see the movie.

“I instantly thought Mrs. Smith and Mr. Jarot were going to be very excited,” Christi said.

Anyone who goes into Jarots room will see decorated movie posters from many movies including Star Wars. He also has memorabillia from films in his classroom. Mrs. Smith has a giant Hans Solo cut out on her counter.

“I was excited beyond belief [about the new movie]. There had always been rumors. When Disney bought Lucas Film and said they were making more movies, I was like doing back handsprings of joy in my mind because I felt like a little kid again,” Jarot said.

A New Hope was released on May 25 1977 and the film changed the graphic world forever. According to English teacher Jennifer Chesna, the “special effects” were what stuck out about the movies, and Jarot agrees.

“I think that it was a real game changer in the sense that special effects were [something] people had never seen,” Jarot said.

Not only were the special effects something that made the original movies stand out, but the era the movies were released seemed to arrive at a pivotal moment.

“I think [the movies] happened to hit the country at the right time because right after Watergate and Vietnam, the country was kind of in the doldrums. I think people needed an escape fantasy and to forget about real life for a while,” Jarot said.

Jarot believes that in the later generation of people including high school students favored the Harry Potter series and similar movies because the Star Wars series were a little before their time. However, some students still like the originals the best.

“The second of the originals (The Empire Strikes Back) was the best because the plot was great,” said senior Claudia Piwowarczyk.

Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith came out between 1999 and 2005, a time when many of the current teenagers were still in primary school.

“Episode I and VI [are my favorite] because I remember watching it with my brother,” said sophomore Katie Kilgore.

Senior Megan Kocanda can relate to Kilgore because some of her earliest memories also involve spending time with family.

Kocanda said she likes, “Watching them with my younger brother as kids.”

“The cool thing about this for me has been with my kids, mainly my son when he was growing up. I had a chance to introduce the movies to him; it was a lot of fun to have him love the movies and play with action figures and dress up like the characters for Halloween. It was a lot of fun to pass that on to him,” Jarot said.

The popularity of Star Wars sky rocketed since the latest three have come out, producing many spinoff TV shows, popular video games, and memorabilia.

“I think what makes these movies so popular is the nostalgia,” Christi said, “People across generations can connect to something, whether it was seeing the movies in theaters with a loved one of watching it at home as part of a tradition.”

Even if it has lost some of its touch in the recent generations, many adults are excited to see Star Wars with their kids and share this experience.

“I’m excited. My son and daughter both want to see it,” Pakowski said.

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A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…