Ambition and Hope on Full Display

There was a lot going on with the Disneyland opening of the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge land expansion this past weekend. During the opening ceremony Thursday night many of the actors from the Star Wars movies were there with George Lucas and Bob Iger to stand in front of the Millennium Falcon and open the place officially to fans, and the event was something to behold, even if viewers were not really keen on science fiction or movies in general. I am a fan and I see great possibilities for this new Disney land expansion which puts as its own kind of Cinderella castle the Millennium Falcon that so many people were emotional about. Which brings me to the question that deserves an answer, why? Why does the opening of a place like this and the full-sized star ships that previously had only been little models that we could see in a museum provoke such an intense emotional response?

I include below a picture of my Craftsman tool box that I’ve had for a vey long time. It looks now pretty much the way when I first got it which was a big deal for me. As I’ve told the story a few different times about my twenties and how difficult they were. Life was trying to turn me into ground beef and I was pushing myself to be a fine steak so that collision was intense. Given some of the challenges I thought it was an amazing achievement to get that tool box and the tools in it and to work at Cincinnati Milacron back when it as a big place to work in Oakley, Ohio. And to work there I had to have tools to make my living with. Most of the guys who worked with me were very much older than I was and they all had fancy tool boxes too, it was sort of a rite of passage thing and they always decorated their tool boxes with pictures of girls, and cars they either wanted or had restored, something that made them happy.

So my version of decorating my own tool box is seen in that picture, they are things I wanted most at that time and I have kept it that way just to remind myself from time to time. And featured prominently there is of course the Millennium Falcon from the movies being built at Elstree Studios in London. I always thought it would be incredible to see that ship up close, and obviously many thousands of others, even millions felt as strongly about that as I did. But why? After all, and this has become the theme of the entire Star Wars series, it was a pirate ship in the stories, the home of a couple of smugglers. So why was the Millennium Falcon such a fan favorite? I can only say that for me, it was always a symbol of hope and when things were especially dark in my life, and extremely difficult, I would think about that ship and what it would be like to build one in real life that you could actually touch and maybe even fly.

Well, I wasn’t the only one, as could be seen in the videos contained in this article. For me the Millennium Falcon has always stood for overcoming obstacles. I don’t think that was intentional on the part of George Lucas when he created the concepts for all this stuff, but it has certainly evolved that way and obviously Disney has realized this after a few years of trial and errors after they purchased the property from Lucas way back in 2012. All this time I have been saying how important culturally opening up this Galaxy’s Edge park would be and now here it is. Putting the Millennium Falcon center stage as a full-sized prop to symbolize everything the place stands for is pretty incredible. For me it fulfills something I’ve been thinking about most of my life, its certainly nothing I ever expected to see. But there it is.

I have not been a fan of the more progressive elements that Disney has brought to their ownership of the Star Wars stories. For a while they were really blowing it, but they have listened to some extent and are correcting course I think in a positive direction. Disney after all is a very capitalist company even though they try to appease the radical left with sentiment to keep them off their backs as a very large corporation that has one objective, to make money. So no matter what their objectives or political beliefs are as a company, to tell the stories people want to see, they have had to stick with the formula that works. And that formula is present in the Millennium Falcon, a pirate ship that is at the center of a rebellion against tyranny and big government that was brought to life by a couple of smugglers who were outlaws. Han Solo, the character, was not fighting for others, he was not putting the world before himself, he was very much an Ayn Rand type of character and over time became the fan favorite that has defined everything that Star Wars is to people, a concept of hope and resilience. And that is why Disney put the Millennium Falcon front and center in their new theme park expansion.

There is a lot more going on at Galaxy’s Edge. I think the impact to visitors is going to be tremendous. Mythically speaking I see that something different happened with Star Wars that hasn’t yet happened anywhere on earth previously and for the first-time human beings have an emotional vehicle that is finally breaking the Vico Cycle. I am certain that was the intent of George Lucas because for a while he was one of the Board of Directors for the Joseph Campbell Foundation which I was very proud to be a member during those same tough twenties. I was a very young man hanging out with some very smart movers and shakers and I’ll never forget what I learned in those years. Myth helps people deal with the world around them and Star Wars was always intended to be a powerful mythology. But I never expected this kind of Star Wars land. Looking at the faces of the people visiting for the first time reflects my own sentiments. But its not the props themselves, its in seeing a mythology come alive that people can interact with and where that goes is very much up in the air. How many new scientist, artists and great thinkers are being born while visiting such a place? I personally think a lot. The people who built Galaxy’s Edge obviously loved Star Wars and were like me, wanted very much to touch and feel something that was only made good by the special effects in movies. But now many of those elements are a physical reality. What excites me is to contemplate what happens next. How many young people will visit this world and grow into a drive to take the next step, whatever that is. Honestly, I think commercial space travel just become much more of a reality than ever before because people can see and touch a concept that will therefor generate a reality that is much better than what we’ve had, and that is a beautiful thing. Who wouldn’t want to fly routinely to Mars and the moons of Jupiter if only they could travel in something like the Millennium Falcon? Sure, it may not travel and move just like the ship in the movie, we probably have about 10,000 years of evolution before something like that is possible, but it’s a start.

Rich Hoffman

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