If the story of Luke Skywalker - a innocent dreamer who once gazed at the stars and hoped his life would aspire to something more - is our collective coming of age story, then the penultimate instalment of the Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi,leaves us grappling with our mortality.
As we have grown, the Star Wars story has grown alongside us, with deeds bold and brazen, tales of sacrifice and absolution, its deeply-flawed heroes and strangely compelling villains coming together in a clash of light sabers which magically blends the futuristic and the ancient.
For the generation of fans for whom it has been a constant cultural companion, the story of an unyielding Empire and the flicker of rebellion against it is, in the final analysis, a story of hope lost and rediscovered.
The cultural footprint of Star Wars - a multibillion-dollar franchise which now spans films, television series, merchandise and a library full of literature - is immense. Even its ubiquitous Jedi faith - whose master Yoda taught us: "luminous beings are we, not this crude matter" - has crept into censuses worldwide.
In purely commercial terms, the fate of Star Wars in the longer term is all but assured. The studio giant Disney has parlayed the brand into one of Hollywood's few same-time-next-year cinema bookings.
After The Last Jedi will come 2018's still-untitled Han Solo movie, 2019's Episode IX - the final chapter of the Skywalker saga - at least one more "standalone" movie and a brand new trilogy cycle, kicking off a new story, which Lucasfilm confirmed earlier this year.
As the penultimate episode of the Star Wars "saga", The Last Jedi takes us to the brink of the end, with only one story remaining in the telling of a tale which now spans four decades. (If it's any consolation to the next generation, their episode nine is bound to come far quicker than ours.)
And while other Star Wars stories will be told, few will hold the mythological power of the Skywalker story: of a father's fall into darkness, a son's rise and redemption of him, of a clash between light and the dark, and a war of angels and fallen angels which is the equal of John Milton's Paradise Lost.
In the clash of wills between aspiring Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley) and the man she hopes will mentor her, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), The Last Jedi asks us challenging questions about faith and dogma, and about the choices we make in deciding what we take forward, and what we leave behind.
With a lavish budget beyond the reach of almost any other franchise in cinema, Star Wars may wear the cloak of a lasers-and-Wookies space adventure, but at its heart it is an exploration of philosophy and humanity, if only we could make the jump to hyperspace and see it.
It also speaks powerfully to the seven-year-old child: the one who sat in a darkened cinema in 1977, eyes as wide as Luke Skywalker's with wonder, as that huge star destroyer rumbled into the frame pursuing the tiny rebel starship, the Tantive IV.
Each chapter in the story has inched our emotions forward: the original trilogy's hope, uncertainty and eventual victory of the Jedi and the rebellion, and the prequels which offered us a glimpse into the past which shaped it, as the ancient republic shattered under the weight of its own corrupt bureaucracy. Modern day America, anyone?
Indeed The Last Jedi makes the boldest statements on war of any Star Wars film to date, presenting it not as an ideological clash between good and evil, as the posters and lunch boxes have always neatly framed it, but rather a commercial machine fed by a system which profits by keeping two sides of the galaxy Force-pinching each other's throats.
The Last Jedi also leaves us with a heavy heart, and the complex questions of life, death and mortality. Spoilers aside, there is only one certainty going into this film: we know we have lost actress Carrie Fisher and that during the film we will have to grieve for her on-screen alter-ego General (nee Princess) Leia Organa.
Things of course do not go to plan - warning: mild spoilers follow - and while it feels as though our chance to say goodbye almost slips through our fingers, instead we are offered a glimpse into the past when, in one of the film's most poignant scenes, the droid R2-D2 plays the crackling, aged hologram recording which began the Star Wars story back in 1977.
"General Kenobi," the younger, shimmering image of Princess Leia says in it, "Years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars; now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire."
And for a moment, there she is, young and luminous, a celluloid echo rendered in light and beautifully frozen in time, of a young woman whose spunk, courage and words - "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" - lit a cultural spark which burns to this day.
And of all the lessons in The Last Jedi that is the one which is taught the most deeply: that so long as there is a little child in the world able to hold a broomstick and pretend it is a light saber, and gaze up to the night sky and dream of something better, that fire will never be extinguished.