Feel the force, Mickey . . .

9 Nov

Star-Wars-Disney-8It’s been interesting watching the reactions to Disney Studios acquiring Lucasfilm and potentially revitalising the Star Wars franchise. I have mixed feelings about extending the original series – although I doubt Disney can come up with a worse character than Jar-Jar Binks….

So I will wait with some nervousness to see what happens . . .


As anyone who has visited DisneyLand will agree, Disney are the ultimate storytellers, creating a whole new world of magic and mystery, where anything might be possible. When I was head of global conferencing for Unilever, I used to make regular trips out to Florida to attend an international technology conference run by IT heavyweights IBM. Accompanying me on those trips were often a number of slightly more junior technical staff from around the world, who were often not a little awed by the presence of the head honcho.. a situation which I always found faintly embarrassing, and sought to disappraise them of at the earliest opportunity.

disney-star-wars-crossovers-570x696As part of the hospitality, IBM got one of the Disney parks to stay open late just for us, so we could wander the streets and enjoy the rides without queuing, and stop off at any of the fast food joints we chose. I was so caught up in the sheer magic of the place that I found myself actually skipping up Main Street, much to the open mouthed shock of most of the team following me like some sort of schooltime crocodile. My French number two simply looked at me, raised one eyebrow and shook his head in despair.

But that’s what the creation of a magical world does – it frees us to enter into this world of illusion, where anything can happen. And story preserves truth, too. Story becomes the way that we pass down truth from generation to generation – through fairy tale and legend taught through bedtime stories, to tales told around campfires and under starry skies, to the movies and TV shows that shape our lives (and sometimes send us cowering behind the sofa). Disney are really good at creating these worlds that immerse us in the illusion.

disney_star-wars-e1351659547383And that’s what Star Wars did too – bring us a new Universe full of wonders, excitement and danger – but still with that echo of our own world – the ragtag port and cantina of Mos Eisley, the windswept deserts of Tatooine contrasting with the wonders of miraculous space technology that was just dodgy and grimy enough to be plausible. We were swept up into that world that seemed to be simply an extension of our own – a world of heroes and villains, dreams and despair where universal truths could be played out on a neutral backdrop.

I have my own thoughts on the energy that bound the Star Wars universe together – the mysterious ‘Force’ that was at the heart of the story. And maybe those thoughts will be told one day soon.

Episode_4_Luke_Skywalker_1I do feel a particular affection for the hero of Episodes IV to VI, the young Luke Skywalker on his journey into a world that held so much promise and yet so much danger. ‘Skywalker’ used to be my nickname at university. Partly, it was my hairstyle – but recently it seems to have been almost prophetic as I have found myself journeying on a similar path – from Luke losing everything he knew,  leaving the sterility and safety of home to step into a new journey that took him around the universe – through meeting, learning from and in some cases losing friends and mentors to carry on alone, to encountering a mysterious supernatural world in The Force that became the core of his own truth – moving from adventurer and warrior to mystic and wizard.

screenshot.1It seems to me that Star Wars epitomizes the core of what Joseph Campbell called ‘The Hero’s Journey’ – that path that we start to tread when we choose to step into all that we can be – when we choose to make something important of our lives. And that journey is going to be just one of the things I’ll be exploring in the near future – looking at the stories and the myths, the heroes and the challenges that rule our lives.  For me it’s all part of the adventure of being alive, part of a journey into understanding myself – and understanding others. I hope you’ll join me on that journey – stay tuned for more information coming soon….




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