When Star Wars came out in 1977, I was utterly transfixed. I can’t figure out how I would have accomplished seeing the movie 21 times in the theaters. I would have been six or seven, and recently moved back to Evansville, Indiana. The only way I can imagine seeing the movie so many times would have been taking myself to the Rossie Theater a couple blocks away from my grandparents’ house where we lived for our first year in Evansville. Whether or not I actually did see it 21 times in the theater, I am convinced that I did. If it didn’t actually happen that way, it must be that my subconscious concocted the memory.
I was so moved by the film, that I always stood up in the isle during the ending scene when Luke Skywalker, Hans Solo and Chewbacca are presented medals of honor for defeating the Death Star to the ringing trumpets playing the Star Wars Anthem.
I didn’t realize until years later how influenced by East Asian culture George Lucas must have been in creating the Jedi. As geopolitical events would have it, the mid 80’s was the zenith of Japan’s global economic dominance. The US entertainment industry translated that fascination into movies about the ninja, and all things samurai. As you might predict, as a slovenly adolescent I became transfixed by the mystique of “the Orient”. Little did I recognize how much Star Wars might sow the seeds of my interest in the philosophies of the East.