Study Guide

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Genre

Genre

Science Fiction, Adventure, Fantasy

First and foremost, Star Wars is science fiction...or, more specifically, space opera, which is an epic and more fantastical form of science fiction.

Sci-fi purists would argue that the genre needs to be...well, not realistic, but plausible. For a good example, look at the spaceships in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which were based on actual NASA vessels with just a little speculation thrown in.

Star Wars is dedicated to a practical universe—that is, a universe where everything looks like it has a practical purpose and has been used in practical ways—but with Jedi mind tricks and hyperspace-breaching weapons on display, they don't see a need to stick close to reality. Coupled with the larger-than-life figures and do-or-die heroics on display, it makes space opera a slightly more comfortable fit than pure sci-fi.

That also helps out its other big genre a lot. Nothing says "adventure" more than hopping in a spaceship and seeing what's on the next planet, and Star Wars has always been part of that tradition. Last-minute rescues, impregnable fortresses, alien races with weird customs and mating rituals that will sear themselves into your nightmares? We see those in old-school stories like Tarzan and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Star Wars just adds a high-tech sheen to it all.

Finally, you can't talk about Star Wars without talking about fantasy: ancient worlds full of monsters and magic where some young lad or lassie leaves their humble farm and learns valuable bits of wisdom on the road to defeating a great evil. Like every other film in the series, The Force Awakens actively embraces its inner Tolkien, and underneath those spaceships and lightsabers are the old-fashioned horses and swords that epic fantasy heroes are very familiar with.

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