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Discussion The meaning of "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Episode VII and Beyond (Archive)' started by Spam Bot, Mar 20, 2013.

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  1. Spam Bot

    Spam Bot Jedi Padawan star 1

    Nov 16, 2012
    Something that has been taken more or less for granted by most Star Wars fans is the setting. We take the opening text on face value; the story being set in the distant past of a remote galaxy, separate from ours. This literal interpretation, which one would expect to be of some interest, hasn't really been explored by the SW universe (even when including the EU), even though the premise raises some questions, for me the most prominent being 'Why are there humans in a far off galaxy that predate us by "a long time"?'

    Of course, it could be some artistic license on Lucas' part, eschewing the logical problems with the presence of humanity in such a remote point in space and time for the sake of having characters more accessible than aliens, though it still causes one to wonder, if this is the case, why there should be a need to place the story in the past when it might not have lost any of its merit or charm by placing it in the future?

    I am aware that in early drafts of the first Star Wars (IV), the story was set in the very far future of our own galaxy (33rd century). The explicit mention of this was dropped, though I hesitate to say that it's actual placement in time was moved; it still could be set in the future without any mention of it.

    An idea I've come across (which I've accepted in my own personal canon) is that the opening text isn't a literal statement. Rather, it is the "space" equivalent to the common introduction to fairy tales; 'Long ago, in a far away kingdom, there lived a princess etc.' So, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" is the cliche opening to fables in the SW galaxy, thereby displacing Star Wars from its commonly accepted point in the past to anywhere in the future. It isn't as direct of an interpretation as having it literally in the past, but to me, it is more sensible than taking it literally.

    Perhaps it is the past to the "Whills", who GL has said (in at least some early drafts) were observing and recording events for their "Journal of the Whills". The opening line of text may be meant as an extract from said journal.

    Regardless of whether SW is set in the past or the future or if the line is meant to have been written by the Whills, the question I mean to pose with this thread is this: Will the sequels touch at all on the time and place of the saga in relation to our "present" day?
  2. Darth_Zidious

    Darth_Zidious Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 3, 2001
    I've heard Lucas comment on this in the past. It's just a very short and direct way to say "This isn't happening on Earth, past, present or future."
    LWSwann, KevinM1, SnakeWesker and 3 others like this.

    DARTHSHAME Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 19, 2003
    Agree, I think he simply wanted to establish that we should not think the story has anything to do with Earth or its history.
    Sum-Wan likes this.
  4. Jcuk

    Jcuk Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Mar 16, 2013
    Wow I've never really thought of it that deeply! I just take it as the beginning of telling a fairy tale that's set in space. As for why are there humans in another galaxy far away from our own in the distant past? That's kind of like asking why are there elves who are immortal living side by side with men in some place called Middle Earth? There just are because its fantasy, it's escapism. If someone watching finds it hard to suspend their disbelief and buy into it. Then fantasy ain't for them. And erm..who are the Whills? I'm sorry but I've never heard of them?
  5. Iefan

    Iefan Jedi Knight star 1

    Jan 31, 2013
    I've always liked the fact that the placement of Star Wars in the universe has always somewhat mysterious, and I'd like it to remain that way. I don't like it when people try to force science onto what I perceive as magic, or in this case rationalizing the the setting of Star Wars. I like your idea that it is could easily just be a cliched opening and homage to the classic fairy tales, which after all, is what Star Wars IS. But I think it's open to individual interpretation. It's part of the charm.

    Tolkien said about Middle-Earth being set in a different Era of time:
    I like to view Star Wars in a similar way.

    I would like them to not bring it up in the ST. Let the fans imagine what they want to imagine. Don't give me more Midichlorians.
    Rawne likes this.
  6. Krueger

    Krueger Chosen One star 5

    Aug 9, 2004
    I’ve always loved it. The first film came out in 1977, so how long ago is “Long Ago”? The beginning of our time? Even further back? The fact that it takes place in a Galaxy very far from ours is another thing I like about it. Makes it so much more mysterious. None of it matters, anyway. I’ve always taken it as the sci-fi version of “Once Upon a Time”.
  7. Sum-Wan

    Sum-Wan Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 16, 2013
    As for the question if the sequels will ever take place in our present I would say I don't think so... just because the "long time ago" gives me the sense of maybe billions of years considering that we're talking about another galaxy in this 13.7 billion year old universe. A few decades ago would be nothing in this scale...
    Lord Tuvitor likes this.
  8. bstnsx704

    bstnsx704 Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 11, 2013
    It means that Star Wars has nothing to do with, and never should have anything to do with, Earth. It is completely irrelevant in Star Wars.
  9. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 30, 2012
    They taught Qui-Gon how to become a force ghost and and all 6 movies are what R2-D2 is telling them.
    TheManFromMortis likes this.
  10. bstnsx704

    bstnsx704 Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 11, 2013
    The Whills have never been mentioned in a film, so its highly unlike that they, whatever the are, are the ones who taught Qui-Gon how to transcend death.

    Heck, I've heard the name 'Whill' thrown around a million times and I don't even know what they are...
  11. darklordoftech

    darklordoftech Force Ghost star 6

    Sep 30, 2012
    The script, novelization, and Blu-Ray deleted scenes of ROTS state that the Whills taught Qui-Gon how to become a force ghost.
    bstnsx704 likes this.
  12. bstnsx704

    bstnsx704 Jedi Master star 3

    Mar 11, 2013

    Interesting. Thank you very much for the link!
    darklordoftech likes this.
  13. Darth Chiznuk

    Darth Chiznuk Superninja of New Films star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 31, 2012
    It's the Star Wars equivalent of "Once Upon a Time..." I don't see any reason why it should be explained in the ST. It is pretty self explanatory. The story takes place long ago in a galaxy far away from our own. Don't see what more needs to be explained.
    Lord Tuvitor and bstnsx704 like this.
  14. Garrett Atkins

    Garrett Atkins Jedi Knight star 4

    Feb 11, 2013
    "A long time ago but somehow in the future..."
  15. chris hayes

    chris hayes Jedi Master star 4

    Nov 13, 2012
    It takes place sometime in the past further away than the moon.......
  16. Placeholder

    Placeholder Jedi Knight star 4

    Jan 30, 2013
    It should never be explored. That mystery is part of it's charm.
  17. Jcuk

    Jcuk Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Mar 16, 2013
    Ie midichlorians
    Captain Tom Coughlin likes this.
  18. Placeholder

    Placeholder Jedi Knight star 4

    Jan 30, 2013
  19. ForceJumpAnakin

    ForceJumpAnakin Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Dec 24, 2006
    A long time ago (when?) in a galaxy far far away (where?). Remember the basics: who, what, where, when, why. All that remains is who, what, why. Who is Skywalker and Friends, What is the Force and stuff, Why is to make money realizing his ideas, and maybe win some fans.

    Please refer to the Book of Lucas, Chapter 11, Verse 38: And I shall paint thee house, white. Thou shan't concern thyselves with whispers of complaints. Lo and behold, the devil cried "but my lord, any other color will brighten the features of the house, making it look pretty." Ah, but Lord Lucas in turn replied "I may paint this house with a color, can I not? Is white not a color? Dear child, do not concern yourself with cries of heresy and ill will. Popularity is not key".

    And so, as the Lord shifted his talent from puppets to CGI, he accomplished that which was impossible several years prior: "Alas! Pure digital work. This should garner the attention of fans as they pour their heart and soul (also translates to money) into my creation. May the dialogue stiffen as hard as a wooden bat. Amen"
  20. Ryus

    Ryus Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 25, 2013
  21. Sith_Knight087

    Sith_Knight087 Jedi Padawan star 1

    Sep 5, 2012
    Another time... another galaxy... another universe!!
  22. Luukeskywalker

    Luukeskywalker Force Ghost star 5

    Jun 23, 1999
    "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" is Lucas' space fantasy-esqe way of saying "once upon a time". No more, no less. Can't read into it more than that.
  23. EHT

    EHT Manager Emeritus star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 13, 2007
    It's the SW equivalent of "once upon a time in a far away land...". Making it the past and not the future, and making it far from Earth, removes it as much as possible from our world and from us thinking about whether this could happen someday. So we are free to just enjoy the story without concerns about history, technology, etc., yet still able to connect emotionally with its universal themes of good vs. evil, family ties, etc.

    I also find it interesting that the earliest commercials for Star Wars (ANH) had a voiceover narrator saying something like "somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now." Uhh... no. That's not how the movie's creators actually wanted people to feel, so it's funny that that got through and into ads even though the movie itself always started with "A long time ago in a galaxy far far away....".

    And all but one of the movies (ROTJ, IIRC) had four dots after "away", not the usual three. :-B
    Darth Chiznuk likes this.
  24. A Chorus of Disapproval

    A Chorus of Disapproval New Films Malleus Maleficarum star 8 Staff Member Manager

    Aug 19, 2003
    Because... "Once upon a time" is so cliche.
  25. bluemilkcheesypuffs77

    bluemilkcheesypuffs77 Jedi Knight star 2

    Nov 5, 2012
    Wait. So my "stormtrooper accuracy" thread gets locked and this gets to continue limping along!

    Wheres PrincessKenobi when you need her?! She's pretty hot though, wish she'd reply to my emails...
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