I's not presumptuous to say that the Star Wars films are an iconic part of film history. The originals, and even the prequels, have touched the lives of many and spawned generations of dedicated fans around the world. And now we're on the cusp of another new era for the Star Wars universe and we've already picked up our BB8 toys in anticipation.
But it's not just us that has felt the magnetic pull of the dark side, or the need to play with lightsabers every time we post them in a toy shop, even directors with other hugely successful films under their belts have been affected by the Jedi cause. Here are a few memories from other filming greats...
Guillermo del Toro
"I first saw Star Wars in a small multiplex in Guadalajara, Mexico, at a matinee. I went around the block and lined up again to see it in every single show that day, until midnight. I then bought a Super 8 print of film selects that included the stop-motion chessboard and some saber training.
"I had never seen world-building at that scale and with that much detail. Lucas poured all of himself in there. And he made everything feel lived in and real. You come out of movies transformed once in a blue moon. Star Wars changed the entire landscape of what was possible and what was not."
"I never saw or felt audience participation like that, in my life. The theatre was shaking By the time the movie was finished, it was so stunning that it made me miserable. Thats the highest compliment I can give it; I was miserable for a week. I hadnt met George at that point, but I thought, Fuck George. Then, somebody sent me this script called Alien.
"I said, Wow. Ill do it. Star Wars is absolutely seminal for me, that first one George Lucas directed. So creatively brilliant that he decided to make it the flip side of the coin to 2001, and it certainly became the flip side of Alien, which I would do two years later. George made a fairy tale story, with a princess, the young prince, and the cynical Harrison Ford playing Han Solo. To me, it was an absolutely perfect rendition of a great comic serial."
"What I remember is driving home after seeing A New Hope. My brother and I were blasting away at all the other automobiles like we were Han and Luke in the Millennium Falcon. It really made a huge impression on us. And I think this is true for a lot of fans, but the music was key. Besides the amazing visuals, which were unlike anything Id seen at the time, the music is so powerful and so memorable.
"My parents are both big fans of opera and symphony, so the music kind of became a great language between me and my parents, because my father would play the records. He would show me music in his collection, and play something from Strauss to show how its similar to something John Williams had done in Star Wars, or something from Wagner. It just became a great link between me and my parents. I think Star Wars has done that for a bunch of different generations. It allows kids and parents to get together and watch something that they can truly enjoy and appreciate and come together on. I think thats one of the traits of the Star Wars franchise; something that makes it strong."
"My reaction to it was not, Oh, wow, thats cool. I want to see more. It was, Oh wow, I better get off my butt because somebody is doing this stuff, you know, and theyre beating me to it."
"Three of four school friends and I had bought tickets in advance for the first day, but we still had to queue up outside the Cinerama theatre in Wellington. Star Wars delivered. I remember standing and cheering and waving my arms around when Luke was flying towards the Death Star. I remember being incredibly overwrought at the excitement of it all. It was probably the first time in my life Id ever become that heavily engaged in a movie, to the point of wanting to jump up and down and yell at the hero."
"The first I knew about Star Wars was when a kid came back from America with a C-3PO T-shirt. It was weird and exotic. I remember us all standing round in the park trying to work out what it meant. Then there was a colour article about Star Wars in a Sunday magazine. I remember looking at the Imperial cruisers and thinking they were real. In those days, with the staggered releases, you could feel the radiation of a big cinema event like this coming from across the Atlantic. Six months after the US release, it hit the UK. I saw Star Wars in 1978. I was five. Though I remember more clearly when it played on TV in 82, of re-watching it on tape every morning for a whole summer until every tiny sound effect was burnt into my memory. We only had three tapes the other two had Ladykillers and Alien on them.
"In the 70s, Buster Crabbes Flash Gordon was on TV in the afternoons and Star Wars films played all the time. I was mad for the Sinbad movies, anything with Harryhausen creatures, Star Trek and Doctor Who. Lucas minced all that culture up and sprinkled a bit of THX 1138 on top of it. No wonder it hit us all so hard. Star Wars has been with me since I was a child. I always go back for more. But nothing can ever top the first one. Its like Roger Moore is my Bond and Tom Baker is my Doctor. Im fused with these things because of first contact. Because of never knowing any different before being exposed to something so culturally strong. Did Star Wars make me want to make films? Not really. As far as I was concerned, the first time I saw Star Wars it was a documentary. I had no clue it wasnt real. F**k films, I wanted to be Han Solo."
"My first memory of Star Wars was with my friend John. We were in the second grade in 1977. He got the first action figures. Right before the movie came out they advertised: Order these Star Wars early bird action figures! It was like a pack that had Darth Vader, R2-D2, Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi and maybe Princess Leia. He brought the figures to school and it captured my imagination.
"I hadnt seen the movie yet, but I went home and immediately everybody was like, Did you see this Star Wars movie? And then we went that night and, my god, I fell in love. Thats when it became my religion. Up until that point I was a seven-day Catholic kid. I was an altar boy. But after I saw Star Wars I was a Darth Vader acolyte for the rest of my life. That was where I wanted to live. So if you want to talk about transforming figures, at age seven, holy cow."