The power of the binary sunset in Star Wars

December 24, 2019

Scot Herrick

Long ago, in a career far, far away, I was oblivious to Star Wars. Star Wars, mysteriously titled “Episode IV – A New Hope,” came out when there weren’t 10,000 movie screens, half of which were in a single theater. No, back then, there were single movie theaters with single screens. The way you knew a movie was great was because the newspaper ad for the movie started with “Held over for the X big week!”

Well, Star Wars was out for it’s 14th big week and I hadn’t seen it. I remember the night very well when I learned of Star Wars — Bob, my office mate, (no cubicles back then!) had come over for some grilling of primal meat and a few beers out on the back yard picnic table. He casually asked if I’d seen Star Wars yet. I said I hadn’t and didn’t know what it was.

He practically came across the table at me yelling:

“You haven’t see Star Wars yet? I can’t believe it!”

“Well, what’s it all about?,” I asked.

“It’s this space western romance with C3PO and R2D2 and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia trying to stop the Evil Empire.”

Now picture that: someone who has not heard of Star Wars before hearing that gibberish about a movie.

But, he was my office mate. Partially to calm him down (I’d never seen him this agitated…), I said, “Okay, Bob, I’ll go see it. I’ll see it right away this weekend.”

Honestly, mostly to shut him up. But I knew I had to go see it or I’d never hear the end of it.

So in its 14th big week, I saw Star Wars, A New Hope, for the very first time.

And I saw it nine times after that. And again when it was re-released to the theaters in February whenever.

I love that movie on so many different levels, but I think getting lost in the moment and lost in the galaxy really started with the scene of Luke and the binary sunset.

I can’t describe the scene as well as Joshua Brown over at The Reformed Broker (yes, a finance dude describes the impact perfectly) in his article The Binary Sunset. Here’s an excerpt:

But this isn’t any sunset – there are two suns!  We are at once reminded that Luke, even though he lives in a galaxy far, far away, has the same wanderlust and longings that we do.  We get a close-up of Luke’s eyes surveying this miraculous double sunset and this is the exact moment that Star Wars captures us.  It grabs the 16-year-old within us and never lets go, we are now and forever in its grasp. 

Not to downplay the creatures or the father-son stuff or the starship battles, but this scene is the key to the whole thing.  Star Wars instantly vaults itself above any science fiction or adventure film that’s come before it or since with this single shot of a boy searching the sky for his destiny.

Yes, it brings out the new hope in all of us. It brings us to clarity about being lost, then finding a purpose, belonging to something larger than ourselves, with a cause that is just. For a moment, we can be gone from our cubicles, fighting the just fight, piloting space ships with effortless ease, and finally feeling we can make a difference.

There are any number of overpowering moments in the Star Wars movies. But the binary sunset, remembering that lost feeling and being found — that my destiny is out there somewhere — will be that emotional moment remembered and celebrated from when I first saw Star Wars, A New Hope.

About the author

Scot Herrick manages Cyber Security Programs at the edge of change. He is the author or "I've Landed My Dream Job -- Now What???" and is also the owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.

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