Let's try and see if we can intimate some things about why you're here.
Odds are your partner or your child is massively into 'Star Wars'. You, being the good sort that you are, want to know enough about it or, at the very least, try to understand why they love it so much.
After all, it's just a series of movies, right? Sure, there might be TV shows that have spun off from it, but it's just that, isn't it? If it's been around since the late '70s and it's still going, there's got to be a reason for it, right?
Let's try and dig into some of it.
OK, I KNOW THERE WAS A MOVIE IN THE '70S AND '80S AND IT'S ABOUT A SON WHO'S FATHER TURNS OUT TO BE EVIL AND THEN THERE WAS THE ONE WITH EWAN MCGREGOR AND THEN THE RECENT ONE WITH THE GUY FROM 'GIRLS' AND...
Look, the best place to start with any of this is to actually sit down and watch them. Now, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Hey, idiot - if I had the time to watch all these movies, why would I be reading a beginner's guide?" Well, that's a fair comment.
Basically, you only really need to watch a couple of them - two, maybe three at best, to know if you're into them. We'd recommend starting with 'The Empire Strikes Back' and then maybe follow that up with 'Return of the Jedi'. If those two have piqued your interest, go back and watch 'Rogue One' or maybe 'Revenge of the Sith'.
From there, you'll probably be hooked enough to go watch all of the stuff and then you're up and running.
THAT'S A LOT OF WORK. JUST GIVE ME THE GIST OF IT ALL.
The thing about 'Star Wars' is that it's really, really, really, really detailed, so the gist is pretty pointless. It's an entire universe set far, far away from anything resembling our existence. In fact, none of it correlates to our world. Not overtly, anyway. There's a good bit of commentary on our world, but it's subtle enough and some of the commentary itself is kind of dated for where the world is now.
However, if you need a basic rundown, here it is - for thousands and thousands of years, the galaxy is ruled by a central government called the Republic, or the Old Republic. That government eventually falls and is replaced by the Galactic Empire. Through the course of the prequels - that's 'The Phantom Menace', 'Attack of the Clones' and 'Revenge of the Sith' - you find out that there's a massive conspiracy right at the heart of the Old Republic and its downfall was plotted over many years by one diabolical genius. When the Empire starts up, the Rebel Alliance forms and begins to fight back and that's where the original trilogy - 'A New Hope', 'The Empire Strikes Back', and 'Return of the Jedi' - kicks off. Fast-forward to about thirty years after these movies, and then you've got the sequel trilogy - that's 'The Force Awakens', 'The Last Jedi', and 'The Rise of Skywalker', which is a whole other thing entirely.
Now, we're basically only giving you a fraction of the story there, but it's the overall idea of what's going on in this universe. Out of this wide-range conflict, there's loads of interpersonal stories - a father and his twin children reuniting, a smuggler who becomes a hero, an ancient order of warriors who are wiped out and then come back, and so on and so on. Again, we'd be here a long time and it's really just simpler if you watch the movies.
I WATCHED THE MOVIES. THEY'RE TERRIBLE.
Well, yes, but to be fair, the original movies were made in 1977. CGI was basically a pipe dream. All of the sequences were filmed with miniatures originally and then, as the years went by, improvements were made to try and update some of the scenes were newer technology. On top of that, a lot of the actors in the original movies were either just starting out in their career or coming to the tail-end.
Harrison Ford, for example, was basically a carpenter when he did 'A New Hope'. Carrie Fisher was just starting out on her own and trying to forge a career separate from her mother, Debbie Reynolds. Alec Guinness, meanwhile, took the role purely for the money and nothing else. On top of that, George Lucas wasn't all that passionate about directing actors. He preferred to write and work on the special effects and trusted the actors to do their own thing.
THAT MAY BE, BUT THE MOVIES ARE STILL TERRIBLE?
OK, so you have to take these movies for what they are - big, loud, basic fairy tales. If the moral architecture of them seems simplistic, that's because they are. It's made for young kids and teenagers. On top of that, George Lucas isn't a great writer, and he was emulating '40s sci-fi serials like 'Flash Gordon' so it's all a bit... hammy. Then again, a lot of these big franchise pieces like 'Harry Potter' and the Marvel Cinematic Universe tend to have a certain amount of hammy acting.
It's kind of part of it all. You expect it, like a big CGI battle at the end or a really good soundtrack to raise the whole thing up. The other part of this is that you're most likely seeing it in the worst possible conditions - at home, on a regular TV, and without a crowd of people around you. 'Star Wars' as a concept is meant for communal experiences. It's meant to be watched on the biggest screen possible with a giant soundsystem just straight-up blasting John Williams' score at you.
Seeing it on a TV, no matter how good your setup is, doesn't come close to seeing the Death Star for the first time in a cinema.
RIGHT, SO IF I CAN'T WATCH IT IN A CINEMA, I SHOULD JUST GIVE UP?
Well, no. We could have done a quote here, but 'Star Wars' fans reading this, you know the one.
They're still good to watch on a TV, but you're getting half the experience. If you want a more conventional TV experience, 'The Mandalorian' is a really good place to start. It's basically done like a Western, there's some really good actors involved in it, and it's set in the 'Star Wars' universe. You won't see many of the big characters like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren, but you'll see a couple of familiar faces.
'Rogue One' is also a good entry point. A lot of non-'Star Wars' fans often cite is at their favourite out of all of them, and it's easy to see why. It's done in such a way that you can pick up the story pretty quickly and the acting isn't quite so terrible as the original ones. On top of that, it's a really self-contained story. It's all about how the plans for the Death Star were smuggled to the Rebel Alliance. That's it. Nothing else.
DO I NEED TO LEARN ALL THE NAMES AND THE PLANETS AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE JEDI AND THE SITH AND...
Absolutely not. In fact, you can just watch the movies and never, ever read a book about 'Star Wars' or play any of the many videogames. There's an entire Expanded Universe that's just that - Expanded. It's not necessary for you to go into any of it if you're not interested. There might be a couple of nods and winks in some of the stuff you'll watch, but none of it is important. Not only that, a lot of it isn't especially germane to the story or factors into your enjoyment of it.
RIGHT, WHERE DO I WATCH ALL OF THESE MOVIES YOU KEEP HARPING ON ABOUT?
You can watch them on Disney+ or, failing that, your partner or the person in your life who's really into it already has a DVD or Blu-Ray that they're just itching to show you.
I'M GOING IN. ANY LAST PIECE OF ADVICE?
The key thing is to keep in mind is that it's all a big fantasy fairytale. Cynicism doesn't factor into any of it, and it's difficult to comprehend why people love it so much.
Most people got into it when they were kids and have grown to become adults who still enjoy it, and then they in turn show it to their kids. 'Star Wars' deals with themes of familial legacy and that's why it's something that gets passed down. A lot of parents who are into it talk about how they couldn't wait to show their kids 'Star Wars' and get them into it, because they wanted to see the reaction they had as kids on their own kids' faces.
That's really at the heart of it. It's a big spectacle, wondrous and adventurous, and completely cut-off from our reality. It's an escape in the best possible way.