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Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
by Mary Henderson
ISBN 0553102060

Star Wars: The Magic of Myth 

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This official companion volume to
the landmark exhibit at the
Smithsonian Institution's
National Air and Space Museum

explores the mythological roots of
the Star Wars saga;
a story that will continue to unfold
into the next millennium.


Written by the exhibit's curator and
illustrated with hundreds of photographs,
drawings and images,
Star Wars®: The Magic of Myth

illuminates this modern tale of
the ageless and mythic battle of good versus evil.

   The Magic of Myth Forum

From The Publisher:
The story of Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi has had such an influence on our culture that it prompted Joseph Campbell, one of the most original and influential thinkers of our time, to hail the trilogy as a masterpiece of "creative mythology" - a work of art that gives new depth and dimension to our sense of self and our sense of place in the universe.

For millions of viewers, the Star Wars epic presents a special vision that incorporates the wisdom and symbols of age-old myths in dynamic new ways that speak uniquely and unforgettably to our modern-day quest for meaning.

Using hundreds of illustrations, Star Wars: The Magic of Myth presents the relationship between the creation of the movie trilogy and the mythic structure on which it is based. Here is a rich, detailed, and fascinating account of how characters, costumes, and settings were modeled on some of the most powerful imagery from the realms of history, myth, and the imagination.

Incorporating elements from Greek mythology to Flash Gordon, Star Wars is not only entertainment in its grandest form but, like all great myths, a limitless source of imagery, insight, and universal emotion.

As Joseph Campbell and other scholars have noted, there is a certain typical hero sequence of actions that can be found in most myths. First, the hero must separate from the ordinary world of her life up to the point at which the story begins; then, in the new world through which the journey takes place, the hero must undergo a series of trials and must overcome many obstacles in order to achieve an initiation into ways of being hitherto unknown; finally, the hero returns to share what she has learned with others.

This story pattern can be found throughout classical mythology. Campbell himself cites the examples of Jason--who left the cave in which he was brought up in order to search for the Golden Fleece and then returned with his prize to recapture his homeland--and Prometheus, who traveled to Mount Olympus, stole fire from the gods, and brought it back to earth. The knights of King Arthur's Round Table set off to seek the Holy Grail, and the great figures of every major religion have each gone on a "vision quest," from Moses' journey to the mountain, to Jesus' time in the desert, Mohammed's meditations in the mountain cave, and Buddha's search for enlightenment that ended under the bodhi tree.

As these last examples show, the journey is often not just a physical adventure that takes the hero from one place to another but it is also a spiritual one, as the hero moves from ignorance and innocence to experience and enlightenment. This is one reason why the middle leg of the journey is called "initiation"; as in the initiation rites of primitive cultures, the hero must give up the "childhood" that innocence and dependence represent and "come back as a responsible adult."

In a psychological sense, then, this is a voyage of self-discovery, an expedition whose true destination is the realm within each of us, where we must find our own unique center with all its strengths and weaknesses.


Excerpted from Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
by Mary Henderson. , ™, and 1997 by Lucasfilm Ltd.

Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books,
a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.

 The Magic of Myth Forum

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