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By Pete Vonder Haar | May 16, 2005

Reviews of “Episode III” have been trickling out for the last week or so, and it just had its big debut at the Cannes Film Festival (no doubt sending hundreds of French film purists into spasms of rage). Advance word of mouth has been good. Not “Empire” good, but good. In a few short days, millions will line up for midnight showings or take long lunches in order to watch the final chapter in George Lucas’ almost three decade-spanning space opera.

Whatever the box office results, the legacy of “Star Wars” is set. An entire generation of human beings have grown up with the original (retroactively dubbed “A New Hope”) as the film that sparked in them a love of motion pictures. I count myself among their ranks, and for me the ending of the “Star Wars” saga is an occasion for both silent introspection and exultant jubilation.

I don’t find it odd or depressing that there aren’t going to be any more films. We went from 1983 to 1999 without one, after all, and somehow we managed to live our lives in a more or less normal fashion. When the end credits for “Return of the Jedi” rolled, I think many of us weren’t even sure if Lucas was planning on going back to the well at all (bear in mind, this was all pre-“Howard the Duck”). Books were written, and games – both role-playing and video – were developed, but the sense of finality we came away with at the end of “Jedi” meant there wasn’t much need for anticipation.

Even now, having seen “Revenge of the Sith” and having been exposed to some of the least shocking plot developments since that big-a*s ship sank in “Titanic,” I find it hard to mourn the franchise’s passing. The “Star Wars” legacy will live on: in the TV shows Lucas is developing, in more “Knights of the Old Republic” games, in comics and novels, and in the wonderful world of Han and Chewie slash fiction that I have no personal knowledge of but I’m sure is a mere Google search away, should you be so inclined.

And that’s not counting the soon-to-be published books detailing the intervening years between the ascent of Emperor Palpatine I and the destruction of the first Death Star. I’m sure R.A. Salvatore and Kevin J. Anderson – to name two likely candidates – are already warming up their keyboards to spin yarns about the Empire’s hunt for Yoda and Obi-Wan, to say nothing of the other Jedi who might have survived Order 66 (perhaps assuaging the disbelief a number of us felt at the relative ease with which many of the so-called Masters bit the dust). The extended universe of “Star Wars” has always offered some of the most interesting stories, and I see no reason why that won’t continue to be the case in the aftermath of “Episode III.”

The report continues in part two of THE STAR WARS REPORT: THIS IS THE END, BEAUTIFUL FRIEND>>>

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