"A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away..." It definitely was a long time ago since those words first found their way to the silver screen on May 25, 1977. I was exactly 5 months and 5 days old, and I can't begin to tell you what an immediate impact the movie had on me on opening day... just kidding. To be honest, Return of the Jedi was the first time I experienced Star Wars in the theater, at the tender age of 5. But I was hooked, man, line and sinker. I prodded my parents to buy me damn near every Star Wars toy in the galaxy, even the now-coveted Ewok Village. If only I wasn't such a, you know, kid, and actually opened the box and played with it, and if only my grandma wouldn't have thrown it out. I could probably start an empire of my own with the coin I could make off of that one alone, but that's not why I'm here, Jedi master. I'm here to tell you how much these movies mean to me...even the first two episodes which I will still defend, even if they aren't as perfect as their predecessors. But, most of all, I'm really here to say thank you, George.

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I'm not sure if you fully realize the breadth of your empire, George, but you've changed the entire movie experience, in more ways than one. The prime example being the super-fans (freaks, some might call them) out in line as we speak outside of whatever that new movie theater is that Fox booked Revenge of the Sith for instead of Grauman's Chinese Theater, and, as of right now, the handful of fans sitting in line outside my local theater in southeastern Minnesota, while regular folks are strolling in to see Kicking and Screaming or some other flick that won't be nearly as important as Revenge of the Sith will surely be. No other series of movies has been able to cause such a stir to have people sit in line to buy a simple movie ticket, not even the Lord of the Rings series. But it isn't just a movie ticket, it's an admission to an experience like none other.

What's even more amazing is the incredible amount of flak that has constantly flown your way about the prequels, and yet, still in line they sit. They probably bitched to high heaven about Jake Lloyd, or Jar Jar Binks...ok, I did my fair share of bitching about Jar Jar too, but still, hooked, line and sinker. They bitched and complained all the way to Attack of the Clones...and it still made $311 million. They complained about it being too much for kids, and straying from the young adults who grew up on the original "holy trilogy" as one of your more ardent fans, Kevin Smith, refers to Episodes 4-6 in some of his own movies. But they still kept coming, George, because the story is just so damn perfect they didn't want to miss a second of it. I wouldn't be surprised to see the rental figures for this week, and see The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones at or near the top of the charts for this week, because fans of the original trilogy who wrote off the first two are so pumped for this one they need to play catch-up. You're the nicotine of the movie business, George. Smokers will cough, and complain about spending too much money on smokes, or God knows what else, but, when that last cigarette is smoked, still, they go back for more. Your detractors love to bitch, and dissect even the miniscule features of your flicks, but guess where they'll be on May 19? Standing in line, buddy, waiting to see how the saga completes the circle.

The prequels aren't perfect, and I'll be the first to admit it, but the last to chastise the movies as a whole, unlike many. Others say they didn't like Phantom because of Jar Jar or Jake Lloyd, or they didn't like Clones because it was too lovey-dovey, and I would agree. I won't, however, say that I don't like the movie as a whole because of these imperfections. You said the Entertainment Weekly piece that came out this weekend, that 60 percent of your ideas for the prequels take place in Revenge of the Sith. Sure, the scripts for the prequels might have needed more work, but the beauty is, their minor failures will bring about massive success for Sith. Your buddy Steven Spielberg said in that piece, "it's the payoff among payoffs." That is one guy I would tend to trust, when it comes to movies. That's the thing about this whole series, George. They've transcended beyond movies themselves, from people standing in line, to infinite websites devoted to your 6 movies, to the merchandising, the fans dressed up as the characters you've thought up over three decades, to the epic story about a galaxy far far away that will live forever when other movies are forgotten about minutes after moviegoers leave the theater. If someone asks me what I'm doing on May 19, I won't say, "I'm going to see a movie." I'll say, "I'm going to Star Wars."

Some may say that you need Revenge of the Sith to be a huge success to revive your legacy, and I say that's a load of crap. No matter if this movie makes a trillion dollars or a million, no matter how many people bitch about it or not, your legacy will be secure on May 19, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. You are The Force, George, and your legacy will always be with us. Thank you, George, for these six amazing films with the epic story and wonderful characters that will live on forever, even if someday we do live in a galaxy far far away.


Brian Gallagher