I have a question about Star Wars. Recently, I pay more attention to the text and come up with a question. There's a quote in the text.

Long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away...

Far away from where? Is it from Earth? Is there any secret meaning from the text?

I read here, here and here. But come up with no answers.

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    The very first Star Wars film is largely based on martial arts movies. Think about the old, wise master on the hill, a noble sacrifice, learning to defy physics etc. In those "a long time ago, in a land far away" fits nicely. There, the question of 'far away from where' is pretty valid. I think we can safely assume it's far away from Earth (when thinking in astronomical distances, different parts of the earth are basically in the same places).
    – AJFaraday
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 8:05
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    Why are you only asking "far far away from where", when the same can be asked of "A long time ago from when"? If the latter makes sense, then apply the same logic to the where.
    – krillgar
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 15:18
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    “A galaxy far, far away from here. (A long time ago from now.)
    – WRX
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 15:22
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    @krillgar Aren't the two somewhat equivalent? If it's in a galaxy far away, it must take a long time for the story to get here. Even travelling through hyperspace takes time.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 1:36
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    A fan theory that I've heard is that R2 is actually narrating the Star Wars saga however many years after when and however far away from where it actually took place. The theory does allow confusing parts of the series to be explained away pretty nicely; I think it's a bit far-fetched, but it's a hypothesis nonetheless :) Commented May 6, 2017 at 18:15

5 Answers 5


It is difficult to answer this without the “opinion” sin, but Star Wars was very dear to Lucas. It was a story he had worked out in his head for a long time and written several drafts for. It's also based on many things from the past.

The Force is loosely based on ancient religions and martial arts. “Energy is in all things, let it flow through you.” “Sense danger.” I have read in the past that it is particular to a religion from Thailand, I think, but I could not find a source to back that up.

The story is based on the movie The Hidden Fortress. Lucas has said this. It is a story from historic Japan.

The theme and the lead character’s journey is strongly influenced by Joseph Campbell’s book A Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell’s point, if I can summarize, is that the Hero’s story is almost always the same and it is something everyone can related to. Pretty much everyone relates to Luke, they might like Han better, they might like Leia better, but they relate to Luke.

The story felt, to Lucas, familiar and ancient. He did not want to approach it as a brave new world or interesting future, which is how Star Trek, as one example, kind of approaches its world. Lucas felt like he was retelling an old story, not presenting a future.

A long time ago in a place far away, or something similar to those words is often used at the beginning of fables and it is familiar to most movie-goers. It has a story-telling ring to it, and those words have been used in Aesop and other story-telling venues. I believe Lucas wanted to start out by giving the movie viewer that familiarity. He did not want the first impression to be a space-ship chase. He wanted the first impression to be “This is an old fable.” because that is what it was to him. Then he followed that with a magnificent space-ship chase, which was a brilliant contrast in my opinion, and wonderfully backed up by the orchestral music. The whole approach was brilliant.

But I think his reason for doing it went beyond the contrast. I believe, he genuinely wanted to begin by telling the viewers “this is a fable”, because that is what long ago and far away suggests. He wanted to begin his movie with that familiarity.

And, just to add, “Rescue the Princess” is also straight from countless fables. The movie still works as a futuristic looking space adventure, but it has got its roots in fable.

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    Is there a way you can remove the subjective hero-worship from this answer? "x was brilliant, y was brilliant, z felt this way, that way"? Just present the facts and back them up! Commented May 7, 2017 at 0:31
  • @BoundaryImposition I'm OK with that if you mean my sentence "everyone relates to luke". Which I suppose is my opinion but I think it's accurate. That said, I'm OK with removing that part. I won't remove the Joseph Campbell reference because that was very much an influence on Lucas' final product.
    – userLTK
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 0:49
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    Your call. But, for future reference, paragraphs like the following: "The story felt, to Lucas, familiar and ancient. He did not want to approach it as a brave new world or interesting future, which is how Star Trek, as one example, kind of approaches its world. Lucas felt like he was retelling an old story, not presenting a future." are unsupported by any presented evidence (of which there is none) and also do not answer the question. It's not about "shortening" per se. This is a Q&A not a discussion board or chat. Cheers Commented May 7, 2017 at 1:09
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    @BoundaryImposition I'll need some time to consider that, cause I feel it's true and backed up. Joseph Campbell's writing was very much "this story has been told 1,000 times by every culture". That's what "A hero with a thousand faces" means. Lucas was heavily influenced by that book and he said as much. That Lucas was retelling Campbell's story that Campbell said has been told 1,000 times by 1,000 cultures is, I feel, pertinent to the answer. Star Wars was, in a sense, a fable, but it was also Joseph Campbell's hero's journey which is an ancient story. I can't separate that out.
    – userLTK
    Commented May 7, 2017 at 1:18
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    I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm saying it's not backed up by any presented evidence, and doesn't contribute objectively to an answer to this question. It could be separated out by writing an answer to the question "a galaxy far, far away from where?", rather than an essay/editorial on Lucas's state of mind and "brilliance" Commented May 7, 2017 at 1:20

In the earliest drafts of the Star Wars screenplays, the concept was that these mysterious ancient texts called "The Journal of the Whills" had been found on Earth.

These texts contained the whole Star Wars saga. The whole idea ended up being done away with, but the opening crawl beginning with "Long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away..." is the last remnant of the whole conceit.

You can read about the whole idea in the Star Wars Annotated Screenplay, or here on Wookiepeedia : http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Journal_of_the_Whills


I think it is safe to presume the opening text is aimed at the current viewing audience, therefore, the story purports to have taken place a long time ago from modern day and in a galaxy far away from the Milky Way.

I don't think there is much more to it than a sci-fi twist on the very conventional opening of many fables, "Once upon a time..." (per wiki: "used in some form since at least 1380")

From: http://www.folktale.net/openers.html
"...tales often start with a few words at the beginning that are designed to get listeners ready for a different kind of discourse: a long narrative that we don't suppose to be literally true, set in a kind of dreamtime that is apart from, but closely involved with, ordinary reality."

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    Not safe to presume this. Commented May 5, 2017 at 20:28
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    @BigDataLouis Live dangerously
    – MmmHmm
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 20:49
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    Seems pretty safe to me... I'm not sure what other conclusion you could reach except that giant yellow words were floating in space which seems like a more dangerous assumption to me...
    – Chris
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 9:29

I always assumed that this left open the possibility that the Star Wars galaxy exists in our own universe. This would set up Star Wars as an ancient myth that we now tell the story of millennia later.

Since it was a LONG time ago in a galaxy far far away, you could presumably say that someone (humans, perhaps) from the Star Wars galaxy left and colonized Earth in the Milky Way. This is a known line of speculation.

Source: https://www.thoughtco.com/does-earth-exist-star-wars-universe-2958000


In my opinion, the "long long time ago" serves as sufficient 'excuse' for the filmmakers to present more sequels, covering the journeys and adventures of the skywalker bloodline, the "far far away" helps the author to break away from humanity and its issues, that means he would not be bound to include various issues such as the future of humankind, fate of the earth, etc. since humanity and the earth dont exist in the writer's universe, this helps in a fairytale like approach towards the story, as said in some of the earlier answers. We find 'humans' in the star wars universe along with various other alien races, this just shows how brilliant was Lucas. If weird-looking aliens can exist, why can't human-like aliens? Although human evolution is quite complex but we cant utterly rule out the possibility of aliens which look human, also, it was quite difficult during lucas' time to animate or present a large amount of weird creatures on screen, as CGI was not developed yet, making the film cheaper and preventing it from being a CGI animated kids' show XD. Also, Lucas was a man who liked breaking away from convention and doing something more original, unlike the works of sci-fi writers of his time. Concluding, I'd say, there are bigger issues and problems to be pondered upon than this, so stop asking weird questions about weird stuff, cuz it takes a weird guy to give a weird answer to the question..... JUST KIDDING I respect your curiosity and am more than happy to help discover the best answer :)

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