The Star Wars gen re began in 1977 with Episode Four: A New Hope. This film launched the amazingly-successful Star Wars genre. Everyone has found memories of watching Luke Skywalker flying down the death star trench to deliver the final, fateful blow, to the Death Star installation. The film has a simple plot with generic characters, the old wise man, the swashbuckling hero, and the princess. But, although these roles seem generic, they are not. The film has a complex philosophical conflict. The conflict of good vs. evil. Darth Vader is the iconic bad guy, but a master of evil and death. He is the servant to the Galactic Emperor and the evil Galactic Empire.
This film might be simple on the surface, but after watching repeated times it is really philosophical and intriguing. Everything from galactic politics to the role of good and evil in society is portrayed in A New Hope. I find it fascinating that George Lucas used historical empires such as the Roman Empire/Republic as the basis of the Old Republic and the Galactic Empire. He mirrored the Galactic Empire's storm troopers and leader Emperor Palpatine after Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.
A New Hope was the beginning of the the Star Wars genre. But, my favorite film is The Empire Strikes Back. The triumph of the Rebel alliance in the previous film is completely overshadowed in this, by the overwelming might of the Imperial Navy and Imperial Army. The Battle of Hoth ends with a Rebel Defeat, but all things happen for a reason. Luke Skywalker is trained by Yoda and eventually will use that training to turn his father back to the light side of the force. This turning was fortold by ancient Jedi Consulars during the Old Republic. They fortold that Anikan Skywalker would bring balance to the force by destroying the Sith. The Empire Strikes Back is a dark film. The good guys lose, but it sets up The Return of the Jedi. While, this film does use the Death Star as a plot point, it further expands on the mythos of good and evil by showing Palpatine for the first time. Darth Vader becomes a side-note (in terms of evil) when compared to the Emperor. The Emperor is truely a representation of the darkest, most insidious evil, the Galaxy has ever known. Darth Vader would eventually side with his son and destroy the Emperor and the last of the Sith teachings would die with him.
The original Star Wars series is exellent and is perhaps the most succesful and entertaining Sci Fi series to date. The franchise has spun hundreds of novels, dozens of video games and graphic novels. These successive contributions to the franchise have established background lore and canon that stretch from thousands of years before the Galactic Empire to hundreds of years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire. But, the original series is important because it is not just a Science Fiction series, it has heavy elements of philosophy, religion, civilization building, and strong characters that the viewer can relate too. Some of this is lost with George Lucas's prequel series. I will elaborate on these failures at a later date...