When the original Star Wars film was released in 1977 the world was a very different place. For example, it was still considered acceptable to base your essential evil empire on the Nazis. It was also considered allowable to dress your female characters in very skimpy clothes. And when your female characters weren't sitting around in little more than a couple of coconut shells and a string of tinsel, they were designed to be saved by a hunky hero. And only minor characters were any colour besides white.
Many things have changed in the almost 40 years since episode 1 - or rather episode 4 - of the Star Wars saga, and it's an interesting exercise to see what's gone, and what's stayed in the latest episode. (Before I go any further I'd best point out that I will not be including any spoilers in this post. If you still want to see the new movie but haven't yet, reading this won't hurt.)
Time has not been kind to Princess Leia or Luke Skywalker. Han Solo, on the other hand, is still a handsome hunk, but this time the film has plenty of fully-dressed female leading characters who are every bit as good at fighting, and flying and maintaining the Milennium Falcon, as he is. There's also a second hunk in the latest episode, who's black. (I would say African American, except the actor playing him is British!)
The robots look familiar, but have been joined by BB-8, an orange and white mini snowman-looking machine who apparently really exists, thanks to modern computing science. C-3PO now has a red replacement arm, but R2-D2 hasn't altered at all. Oh, and Chewbacca looks as if he's been well groomed.
There's a new, improved Death Star, lots of battle cruisers and fighter craft: only this time they're created through CGI, rather than meticulously hand-drawn, frame by frame. There are silver-coloured (female) Stormtrooper officers, but the baddies still look like Nazis.
As I said earlier, time has been unkind to Princess (now General) Leia. Her new hairdo is slightly less ridiculous than the old bagel-over-the-ears image, but her obvious botox addiction means her top lip hardly moves, which means she's not the most emotive character in the film, even when she needs to be. On the other hand, Luke Skywalker is allowing every wrinkle to show, but he could do with a decent haircut!
The storyline is recognisable by anyone who saw the first three - 4 to 6, not 1 to 3 - and there are plenty of internal references to keep the purists happy, but basically it's a mostly politically correct update for the 21st century.