WOODLAND PARK, N.J. — Who could say a bad word about Star Wars?

Not a million fans who grew up playing with Han Solo action figures, throwing their trash into R2-D2 wastepaper baskets and wearing Princess Leia pajamas.

Today, many of us can no more imagine life without Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, Darth Vader, Yoda, Boba Fett, Jabba the Hutt, Obi-Wan-Kenobi, Emperor Palpatine and Lando Calrissian than we can imagine life without indoor plumbing.

Is it possible, even thinkable, that anyone could have — say it all together, Star Wars fans — “a bad feeling about this”?

Possible, it is.


Star Wars, which was released 40 years ago this month — on May 25, 1977 — is practically the definition of a pop culture game-changer. Whether the change was good or bad is another matter.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” says Gregg Biermann, who teaches film studies at Bergen Community College in Paramus.

“I can watch a popcorn movie like everyone else,” Biermann says. “But my own prejudice is for art films and films that have more to digest, that have a more complex moral outlook.”

Many, to this day, blame Star Wars for driving these subtler kinds of films off America’s multiplex screens.

“I would argue that the 1970s was a golden age,” says Neel Scott, who teaches film history and film production at Ramapo College in Mahwah.

“It was this one period where you had this widespread blossoming of American personal cinema,” Scott says. “I think Jaws, in 1975, was the beginning of the end. And then certainly Star Wars.”

Tell that to hardcore Lucas buffs who know every last factoid about Ewoks, Tauntauns, Banthas, Wampas, Wookiees, Tuskens, protocol droids, TIE-fighters, and the Forest Moon of Endor. Tell it to your Uncle Carl, who still thinks it’s funny to breathe…