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Star Wars is a science fantasy saga and fictional galaxy created by writer / producer / director George Lucas during the 1970s. The saga began with the film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope), which was released on May 25, 1977, by 20th Century Fox. The film became a pop culture worldwide phenomenon - spawning five more feature films , three spin-off films, five television series and an extensive collection of licensed books, comics, video games, and other products - all of which are set within a fictional "galaxy far, far away."
An example of the space opera genre, the Star Wars story employs archetypal motifs common to both science fiction and mythology, as well as the romantic music motifs now often associated with those genres.
Unlike the traditional science fiction films preceding it, the Star Wars world was initially portrayed as dirty and grimy, rather than sleek and futuristic. In interviews, Lucas tells of rubbing the new props with dirt to make them look weather-worn, a concept he has referred to as "a used or ancient future", a concept further popularized in the film Alien of the same era.
Each Star Wars film opens with the text, "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." Lucas intended this as an allusion to the classic fairy tale opening of, "Once upon a time, in a faraway land..." This is the only way the Star Wars Galaxy has been defined in relation to the real world. To some, Lucas's allusion suggests that the films are to be interpreted as allegorical and metaphorical narratives of the future, rather than literal events of the past. Lucas intentionally left the details open to interpretation. Events occur in the Star Wars galaxy; although the film series itself spans the events of only two generations, other stories set in the Star Wars universe (those from the so-called "Expanded Universe") cover events that span millennia.
The Star Wars films use an opening text to provide the audience with the background to the story. Lucas emulated the Flash Gordon serials by having his opening text "crawl" up the screen from bottom to top at a high pitched angle, as if the text were disappearing into the distant starscape. Also in all Star Wars films, a starship of some kind whooshes by after the crawl disappears completely.
The saga shows us a very "ancient" galactic civilization thousands of years old. The setting is totally unrelated to Earth or our galaxy, which gives it more liberty, in a sense. The Star Wars Galaxy prominently features aliens who are essentially identical to humans. Their civilization was able to develop space travel, terraform, build ecumenopolises and build space colonies 200,000 years "ago."
Star Wars melds science with supernatural elements that strongly relate to epic stories and fairy tales (for example, magic, knights, witches, princesses and 'whimsical' alien races such as Ewoks and Gungans). The scope of Star Wars history spans over 5,100 years among all the Star Wars fiction produced so far (from Tales of the Jedi to Star Wars: Legacy), even though the films span only two generations. Later novels from a series dubbed New Jedi Order opened up the Star Wars setting with alien beings named Yuuzhan Vong that came from a different galaxy. Most aliens prior to this series came from the one galaxy in which the films are set.