In case you hadn't noticed, this year is probably one of the most momentous in cinema history. It's the year that the most anticipated film of all time will be released and will, effectively, ensure that any other film around at the same time will have poor attendance figures.
In fact, I imagine that you'll soon be hearing about large multiplex cinemas that will be giving over most of their screen real-estate to the film. Some have already hinted at the idea of running marathons of all six preceding films:
Yes, Star Wars gets its seventh outing.
Of course, there's a lot of hope that this film will do what The Phantom Menace couldn't, i.e. be good.
Yes, I remember all too well the hype and expectation of the last trilogy of films which opened to near universal derision when they appeared. After some fantastic trailers which had obviously been edited perfectly, we were left with three films which were mostly just animated noise.
Like me, most fans almost refused to believe what they'd just watched and went back to the originals.
However, they were by no means a failure and if anything, they reinvigorated the market for branded gadgets. Light sabres were re-invented, kids wanted everything that had a Darth Vader face on it (including clocks) and any dad worth his salt couldn't be seen without a Star Wars mobile phone case.
All of this, however, is nothing compared to how the original films affected our life. Today we talk not about how Star Wars gave us branded ties and socks, but about things that were life-changing. Things that were inspired by the films and things that, to this day, affect our lives.
In the 1980s, the world was gripped by the Cold War. This was essentially a time when the USA was facing off to Russia, and there was a real threat that someone would press the button to launch nukes all over the world.
US President Ronald Reagan announced the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), a fanciful idea that would put satellites in space to knock Russian missiles out of the sky. It would use a multitude of technologies to do this, including...
"space- and ground-based nuclear X-ray lasers, subatomic particle beams, and computer-guided projectiles fired by electromagnetic rail guns&mdashall under the central control of a supercomputer system.”
Hmm. A bunch of stuff that hadn't been invented yet, but did appear in science fiction, such as Star Wars. In fact, the project was dubbed "Star Wars" and much was made of the technology being based on what we'd all seen on the big screen.
After a while, things began to unravel as it was soon discovered that the systems proposed just wouldn't work. They couldn’t work. They’d probably been made up in some defence office as a way to spend an awful lot of money. The technology didn't exist, and wouldn't for a while. It was shelved, and luckily the Cold War ended before anyone could try to shoot anything down with peashooters.
While nobody is going to argue that the SDI was actually based on Star Wars (not publicly, anyway), the fact it was promoted as such was never really denied by the USA, and they went along with it. We'd seen how the good guys won out in Star Wars and so when Reagan called Russia "The Evil Empire", it recreated the struggle of the films perfectly.
A big feature of all Star Wars films are the robots. They're everywhere, but they really took off when the new films came out as it was a time when we could actually envisage humanoid robots doing our bidding. C3PO was merely a camp side-kick to the real human heroes, but could they do more? Could they fight for us as well as translate the binary language of moisture vaporators?
Google's Atlas robot is a real thing. It exists, and it can walk about on rough terrain in a weird fashion. It's spookily realistic.
Could it one day be armed? The chances are it could, and we could end up with a war taking place where the outcome is decided by programmers. Scary thought eh? Or maybe all those hours spent on Call of Duty will come in use after all?
Until Star Wars, space was unattainable. We'd been to the moon and it was so expensive, we didn't go back. All those rockets and all the fuel and metal made most people believe that it's just not the sort of thing anyone will be doing soon. Space was for spacemen, not us.
But in Star Wars, people flew around in their own spaceships in the same way we go to buy a bottle of milk. They're as common as cars. They take people to the far reaches of the galaxy on sightseeing trips or to blow up Death Stars.
Up until that point, films had only portrayed space travel as a big thing handled by big organisations. In Star Trek, which was a successful TV series at the time, the "Federation" did all the flying about in their huge spacecraft built by massive machines in orbit.
If you want to go planet side you had to get into a shuttlecraft and be guided down by a pilot.
Not in Star Wars. Nope, you got in, fired up the engines and went. Not so much as a call to air traffic control. But could this happen eventually?
Elon Musk, the inventor behind both the Tesla car and Space X, the company hoping to take people into orbit, has said that Star Wars inspired him. Let’s hope he’s on our side when the aliens invade.
A few weeks ago I was watching the news where someone was talking about their new artificial hand. It was a standard medical piece, but the owner of the new hand explained that it was very much like the one given to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars.
If you don't remember the moment, it was in The Empire Strikes back after "that" incident with Vader.
We're now getting much better at making artificial limbs of all kinds so that people who suffer injury, or even those born without them can live normal lives.
Obviously George Lucas didn't invent these things, but there's every chance that by putting such radical technology into these very popular films, the scientists and technologists of today were inspired by them. If not the underlying technology, then maybe the design has been pushed due to how they worked in the films.
It's a fact that film can have an effect on people, both positive and negative, so there's a chance that some of the incredible inventions above would not have happened if it weren't for Star Wars.