The trouble with Star Wars is that it was historical fiction

I know. It’s blasphemy to even suggest that there is a flaw in the first Star Wars film.

Still, there was. And it takes place in the first ten words:


In these ten words, George Lucas renders everything we are about to see less immediate and less pressing by the fact that the people and events in his story are ancient history. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia have been dead for centuries, if not millennia. They are historical figures, more distant to us than George Washington and Charlemagne. 

Though I may ultimately be drawn into their story, any dangers that they might face are mitigated by the fact that these dangers passed a long time ago.

Thankfully, Star Wars was great enough to overcome this flaw. Even as historical figures, the characters are vivid and enduring. I can still recall sitting on the edge of my seat as Luke Skywalker flew his X-wing fighter through that trench in an effort to destroy the Death Star, even though that battle took place hundreds or thousands of years ago. 

The story and character were good enough for me to forget the opening scroll completely.

Still, it was a mistake. No need to remove the characters and events from the audience any more than necessary.

Also, and perhaps even more egregious, an ellipsis consists of three consecutive dots. Not four.

Did George Lucas fail to hire a copyeditor?