On Wednesday, May 25, 1977, audiences got their first look at Star Wars (which later added "Episode IV A New Hope" to its title) at 32 theaters in the U.S. Written and directed by George Lucas, it quickly became an international phenomenon, making the phrase "May the Force be with you" and characters such as Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader a part of American culture. A deceptively simple morality tale of good versus evil set across a fantastic galaxy of exotic planets and bizarre creatures, the box-office sensation earned seven Academy Awards. The story of Luke Skywalker and a band of Rebels battling Darth Vader and the forces of the Galactic Empire was continued in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, released in May 1980, and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, released in May 1983.
In May 1999, Star Wars returned after a 16-year absence with the release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. A box-office smash, it was also the first of a new trilogy of Star Wars episodes that charted the origins of Darth Vader. Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, the first major live-action movie to be shot entirely digitally, was released in 2002, and the climactic Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith was released in 2005. Completing the sprawling Star Wars saga, the most recent movies have attracted a new generation of fans to the vast universe created by George Lucas.
The design of the sheet of 15 stamps includes the Star Wars logo and background images of a space battle, including a Star Destroyer, TIE fighters, X-wing fighters, and the second Death Star under construction, as seen in Return of the Jedi. The background also includes the lightsaber-wielding form of Darth Vader, whose helmet comprises the largest of the 15 stamps.
The back of the stamp sheet includes extensive text describing the dramatic roles that each featured character or vehicle plays in the Star Wars saga.