This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Through nine films over the course of 40 years, every Star Wars movie has been introduced the same way. Blue letters over a black backdrop reading, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” Its twist on the 600-year-old fairy tale opener, “once upon a time,” appropriately sets the stage for the defining fantasy story of the last three generations, but there’s another phrase early in the original 1977 film that could just as easily stand in for the entire series:
“It is a period of civil war.”
The Star Wars saga is one that spans 66 years of fictional time but in every film, the galaxy is embroiled in, or on the brink of civil war. The Invasion of Naboo set the stage for the Clone Wars, which set the stage for the Galactic Civil War, which planted the seeds for the rise of the First Order and the destruction of the New Republic, and on and on it goes. The series, after all, is titled Star Wars, and it does right what it says on the tin. Time after time, despite their best efforts, the heroes of these stories fail, the structures that are established to prevent evil from rising crumble, and the war rages on. After nearly seven decades of enduring this never ending cycle, what is left but to look on and realize that the systems that govern your reality are so deeply, fundamentally broken that they can never truly be repaired? Evil will always find a foothold, heroes will eventually fail, and no matter how long you keep fighting, the war will never end. How do you respond when faced with this kind of existential horror?