With Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens premiering later this week, one formerly-clueless mama has provided her Top 10 tips for getting up to speed so you can speak your Jedi-mad kiddos’ language.
If you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, please stop reading right here. This isn’t for you.
For the rest of us less informed regs, treat this as a crash course to the epic Star Wars series, and more importantly, a blitz read to make you look cool and informed about what’s going on — especially with the latest episode, The Force Awakens, coming out in Singapore this week (in case you hadn’t heard!).
I say this from experience: you might be the best mom on the planet, but if you don’t know anything about Star Wars, you’re as ancient as VCRs (as my 8-year-old twins keep reminding me). The doppelgangers can barely recite their times tables, but ask them anything about Star Wars, and they could give George Lucas a run for his money! I blame my husband (also a serious Jedi fan himself).
Meanwhile, here I am barely knowing the difference between the clone troopers (who used to be the good guys but then turned to the dark side and became storm troopers, aka bucket heads). Still with me?
Commit the following nuggets of information to memory and salvage your reputation:
- There are 6 episodes to date, and the 7th one – The Force Awakens – is hitting cinemas on December 17th.
- Though they are labelled episodes I-VI, that’s not the order in which they were released. Episodes IV-VI were released first, and then came episodes I-III.
- The good guys, The Jedi, are led by the little green Yoda on the light side of “the force”, while the bad guys (including the striking Darth Vader) make up the dark side of the force.
- What is ‘The Force’? ‘The force is an invisible energy field that binds all living things together in the universe’, as explained by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson).
- ‘This weapon, the lightsaber, is a Jedi’s life’ – each Jedi builds their own unique lightsaber as a Padawan (Jedi-in-training) and keeps it for life.
- Although it’s a grammatical nightmare, you’ve got to learn the way Yoda speaks. His most famous line: ‘Do or do not, there is no try’.
- Here’s a 5-minute summary of what you’ve missed so far:
- Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Obi-Wan (played by Ewan McGregor) and his late master Qui-Gon Jinn, by chance, find and train Anakin Skywalker. He is very powerful with the force and viewed by Qui-Gon as the chosen one – the one believed to bring balance to the force. We are also introduced to two of Star Wars‘ most popular characters, the robots C3PO and R2D2. C3PO is Anakin Skywalker’s creation, built out of spare parts for his mother. R2D2 was with Obi Wan and his master Qui Gon Jinn on the ship that landed in Tatooine (where Anakin lived).Qui-Gon is killed in the closing scenes by an evil Sith apprentice, Darth Maul, so Obi-Wan becomes Anakin’s master. Meanwhile the Galactic Empire, which has been peaceful for generations protected by the Jedi (protectors of the light side of the force), seems at risk of coming under the evil Sith influence.
- Episode II – Attack of The Clones (2002)
Anakin (played by Hayden Christensen) has become a Padawan and together with Obi-Wan, is sent by the Jedi Council to protect Senator Padme Amidala (played by Natalie Portman). Anakin ends up falling in love with Padme and in the closing scenes of the movie, the two are married (which is forbidden under the Jedi Code). In the meantime, Obi-Wan discovered that the Jedi Council apparently had ordered the development of a large army of clone soldiers. The movie ends with an epic battle scene between the Jedi, their new Clone army and the Separatist forces (led by Count Dooku, a former Jedi Master, now turned to the Dark side of the force as a Sith Lord). It is also revealed that Count Dooku’s Master is none other than the Chancellor of the Galactic Senate (completely unknown to the Jedi Council). The scene is set for the Sith to return.
- Episode III – Revenge of The Sith (2005)
The Jedi unveil a plot to overthrow them, while Emperor Palpatine (aka the Dark Sith Lord, Darth Sidious) convinces Anakin that the Jedi are hatching a plot to overthrow him. Anakin is torn in terms of where to place his loyalty and is simultaneously distracted by Padme, who is now pregnant, and who he fears may be lost in child birth. Palpatine plays on this fear to convince Anakin that he can ensure Padme survives, thus cementing Anakin’s allegiance to the Empire. After an epic battle with Obi Wan where Anakin is left to die, the Emperor rescues him and transforms him from his human form into part cyborg (the famous Darth Vader mask and suit). Anakin is now on the dark side! Darth Vader’s first act is attacking the Jedi temple and wiping out the students, while the Jedi Knights deployed across the universe to protect it, are betrayed by their own clone troopers and wiped out. Only Yoda and Obi-Wan survive. Padme gives birth to twins, Luke and Leia, but dies in childbirth. Luke and Leia are separated to hide them from Darth Vader.
- Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
This is the original Star Wars movie, which premiered in 1977. The episode begins with Princess Leia’s (played by Carrie Fisher) space ship being taken captive by Darth Vader. At the same time, Luke (played by Mark Hamill), who has been brought up as a normal farm boy, begins training to be a Jedi by Obi-Wan. They end up chartering the Millennium Falcon (one of the most famous space ships in Star Wars), captained by Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) and his trusted Wookie co-pilot, Chewbacca, to give them safe passage (best described as a ‘large carpet’, Wookies were a species of tall, hairy humanoids, native to the planet Kashyyk). But they end up being detained on the Emperor’s new weapon of terror, the Death Star, a planet-like battle station with the ability to destroy entire planets with its laser cannon. Obi-Wan engages Darth Vader in a battle as a diversion to allow Luke, Leia and Han Solo to escape and is struck down by him. Obi-Wan becomes a Force Ghost and continues to guide Luke from the afterlife. The movie ends with the Rebel forces attacking the Death Star, with Luke using the force to help him make the critical shot which leads to the Death Star’s destruction.
- Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The rebels have set up their base on the remote and frigid Hoth system, but the Empire catches up to them and destroys it. This leads to the epic Hoth battle where the Rebels finally flee and assemble in space. Luke breaks away at Obi-Wan’s instruction to travel to the remote Dagobah system where he is to meet Yoda to continue his training. Yoda is unimpressed by Luke and has to be convinced by Obi-Wan to teach him the ways of the force. Meanwhile, Han Solo and Leia are on the Millennium Falcon, hiding from the Empire, and take refuge at what they thought was the friendly cloud city, Bespin. But they are betrayed and Darth Vader is there waiting for them. Han Solo is frozen in carbonite while Luke, sensing that they are in danger, leaves his training to save them. He engages Darth Vader in battle but is defeated when Darth Vader says the famous words to him, ‘Luke, I am your father’.
- Episode VI – Return of The Jedi (1983)
Luke and Leia are in Tatooine at Jabba the Hutt’s Palace in a plot to release Han Solo who is hanging on the wall as a carbonite decoration. They succeed, but are captured by Jabba’s forces and sentenced to death. A battle ensues, but they escape and rendezvous with the rest of the Rebel forces who are gathering in space. The Empire has constructed another, larger, even more destructive Death Star and it must be destroyed. A ground team comprised of Luke, Leia and Han Solo are dispatched to the planet moon Endor to destroy the shield protecting the Death Star. Meanwhile Luke surrenders to Darth Vader to protect his friends and is taken to see the Emperor who wants to make him his apprentice. Luke refuses to kill Darth Vader and the Emperor tries to strike him down with Sith Lightning. Darth Vader’s instincts as a father overtake his allegiance to the Emperor and he destroys the Emperor to save his son Luke – ultimately showing himself to be the Chosen One who brings the force back into balance. Meanwhile the Rebel forces destroy the Death Star and the Galaxy is once more free from the evil grips of the Sith and the Galactic Empire.
- What happens next? Watch the trailer to the highly awaited Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
- Head out to Changi Airport or Vivo City and see life size models of the space ships, a Lego Star Wars mural wall, clone trooper marching parades and other super cool stuff.
- The older episodes are on TV every week (FOX Movies HD). Record them and watch while ironing or during the day while the kids are at school if you want to surprise them with all your newfound knowledge!
After countless pop quizzes and failed attempts over the years to name characters, space ships, the episode order or dialogues, I have been told I’m not as bad as before. I have to admit, it’s pretty cool but Star Wars is never going to rock the centre of my universe! I’ll leave that for my boys. But I truly have finally earned my stripes to say that I’ve progressed from being a Padawan to a Jedi.
And now it’s your turn. May the force be with you, mamas!