x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Required reading: living in a Star Wars world

With new that Disney has bought LucasFilm and plans to release a seventh Star wars movie, we have a look at some of the best Star Wars books.

Disney has paid US$4.05 billion (Dh14.8bn) for Lucasfilm, the production company – founded, of course, by George Lucas – that brought the world the Star Wars franchise. News that Disney plans to release a seventh Star Wars film in 2015 has brought obsessive fans – and there are millions of them – to fever pitch. So how did a single film, shot for $11m by a then little-known 33-year-old director, spawn five follow-ups, an ocean of merchandise and some of the most recognised fictional characters in history? Time to visit the bookshelves.


The hold that Star Wars exerts over the contemporary psyche owes much to a book published nearly 30 years before. Go to The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (New World Library, Dh111) to read the source text: Campbell argued that a basic pattern – comprising call to action, struggle, and final victory – ran through much of ancient mythology. Lucas employed the structure Campbell outlined when he devised the story of Luke Skywalker, called from his mundane existence on planet Tatooine to struggle against the Galactic Empire.


Filming began in 1976 in the Tunisian desert and didn’t go well. Diehard fans will love Jonathan Rinzler’s definitive The Making of Star Wars (Ebury, Dh117), which includes interviews with crew and cast, including Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, from the period.


Of course, Fisher’s semi-autobiographical 1987 first novel, Postcards from the Edge (Simon & Schuster, Dh47) subsequently revealed that she was not entirely sober during filming: something to bear in mind when you read her interview.


Today, the six films that make up the Star Wars universe have earned $4.4bn in box office receipts worldwide. Its cultural capital, though, is perhaps even greater. Devotees of the films attend regular Star Wars Celebration conventions, and some have gone even further: read Star Wars: The Jedi Path (Titan Books, Dh76) to learn more about the Star Wars devotees who have literally turned the films into a religion.

Don’t believe it? In an Australian census in 2011, 65,000 respondents listed their religion as Jedi. Presumably, they’ll be first in the (long) lines to see the seventh, Disney-produced instalment.