It is a day that has become an unofficial holiday for fans of the Star Wars franchise - May 4th, as in, May the Fourth be with you... You know, like the saying in the films. 

The movies have gripped the imagination for nearly 50 years since the first one - Star Wars - came out in 1976. Since then, there have been two sequels in the original trilogy, a prequel trilogy, and a sequel trilogy. There have also been several television series, stand-alone movies and more. 

The franchise has spawned many debates about the canon of the story. Where did Palpatine go after Return of the Jedi, how did a bounty hunter capture Han Solo in Empire Strikes Back, how did Jar Jar Binks get elected to the Galactic Senate, and perhaps the best-known debate - who shot first, Han Solo or Greedo. 

Ryan Janke is a movie aficionado and is with Weyburn's coming Spark Cinema. He is a fan of the Star Wars franchise and sees that particular scene, which takes place in the first part of the first movie, as something that establishes the character of Han Solo, and the trajectory the character will take across the series. 

"That established him as kind of an anti-hero, kind of a bad guy, which creates his arc to his near-sacrifice in Return of the Jedi when he becomes a hero," Janke explained. "Even in that movie (the original Star Wars), he's a bad guy in that scene, and then the pivotal scene that really makes Star Wars is when he comes back and bails out Luke Skywalker in the Death Star trench run."

This warning is a little late, but we should say, there will be plenty of spoilers for the franchise, particularly the first movie, which, as we said, is nearly 50 years old. 

There is a bit of movie lore surrounding that entire scene, Janke continued. He pointed out for Harrison Ford, part of the reason he liked playing the character was that in the original release, Solo shot first, then ultimately became a hero who changed his gunslinging, shoot first, ask questions later ways. Then, in 1997, a re-release would make Solo out as less of a villain, and it made who was the person who shot first less clear. 

"It changes the scene, but it also changes Han Solo's character because he was a bad guy who became a good guy in the original cut, and then when they add this in, he's a good guy the whole way through, which makes him a flat, one-dimensional, uninteresting supporting character, which I don't think Harrison Ford was very happy with," Janke lamented. 

The Star Wars franchise has also become a cultural icon, complete with characters who have become merchandising gold. Starting with the original Kenner action figures, all the way to how everything surrounding Jar Jar Binks in Episode I - The Phantom Menace. 

"I can honestly say there's no movie I've paid to see more times that I didn't really like than The Phantom Menace," Janke said. He noted the character was an attempt to have a key character that could be used as a masthead, like Mickey Mouse with Disney.

"Obviously, it didn't work."

Being such a cultural touchstone that has now spanned generations with new, fresh material 48 years after the premier of the first movie, Star Wars continues to be something that is accessible to everyone without too much gatekeeping. 

"Star Wars manages to walk the line between being acceptably nerdy and acceptably mainstream," Janke explained. "You can tell that in that Star Wars fans have never really acquired a name. I mean, if you're a Twilight Zone fan, you're a Zony. If you're a Star Trek fan, you're a Trekkie. All of them have that, but Star Wars never did."

The franchise, in addition to spawning endless debate about the canon, has also helped to pioneer special effects and special effects processes. Janke pointed to the fact that so many of the special effects used in movies today were in some shape or form based on something that was pioneered for Star Wars. A good part of this is because of the development of Industrial Light & Magic, the special effects company created by Star Wars creator George Lucas, specifically to get things done that they didn't have a way to do. 

So, take the time to enjoy Star Wars Day (and weekend) by putting in the entire series. The order you want to watch them is completely up to you, whether by release date or the chronological story. Enjoy the day, and May the fourth... I mean force... be with you.