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A Long Time Ago: Exploring the Star Wars Cinematic Universe Paperback – November 6, 2015
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I'm of the generation that saw Star Wars when in elementary school. It's had a profound effect on my life. So when I read about this book on Facebook, I was excited. And how was it? Far better than I imagined it could be.
It takes a linear approach. It begins pre-Star Wars and the narrative covers everything to the cinematic universe and stops just shy of "The Force Awakens" (which will be out shortly after the book's publication). Along the way every film and TV show is visited.
My favorite essay, simply because it's a topic I've invested quite a bit of time in myself, covers "The Star Wars Holiday Special". The first part is summary, since few of the readers will have seen it, and I didn't learn anything there. Then, though, the author went into the background and production, much of which was new to me.
"Ewoks" and "Droids" share a chapter. There's one for the Ewok movies too -- which I may have to rewatch. They're in the "Star Wars" section of our DVD shelves somewhere. There's even a chapter covering the creation and content of "Star Tours"!
And then there are the surprises. I knew that the book was going to cover the Prequels (which I loathe), and I knew that they would dominate the second half. To my shock, though, the essays continued to be fascinating, entertaining, and informative. Even things to which I have NO connection, the second "Clone Wars" series and "Rebels", have essays that I enjoyed greatly.
To conclude, if you're a fan at all, then you'll find something here to delight you. And probably far more than you expect. The different viewpoints remain refreshing, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every essay.
There's something to learn in every chapter, and every contributor really outdid themselves in their knowledge and research, but I particularly appreciated the piece on Return of the Jedi because it seemed like there was more going on behind the scenes than in the film itself. One minor criticism I have with the book was the section discussing the Clone Wars cartoons; it felt a bit biased to me which contrasted the rest of the chapters' objectivity in my opinion.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in how Star Wars became the pop-culture icon that it is today; breaking through to pretty much every generation since it debuted in the 1970s. I should mention; however, that while I found the book entertaining it wasn't published for that purpose. It catches you up on the cinematic universe right to The Force Awakens and is a long overdue collection of SW world-building stories.