Monday, July 16, 2018

I think that the new direction Star Wars is headed will be a place where good and evil are just words and everything depends on a certain point of view.

I watched The Last Jedi again on Sunday night with my father. He hadn't seen it, but has been a fan of the Star Wars franchise for some time. Now that I've had some distance from my initial viewing of it in theaters, and have watched Solo: A Star Wars story and finished watching Star Wars: Rebels, I actually found that I liked The Last Jedi a lot more than I initially did. This was a kind of strange reaction as I think I was kind of immediately outraged that everything was so incredibly different than I expected.

It still isn't a movie that I would ever want to own, primarily because it's not a feel good movie. I also don't own a copy of Schindler's List for anyone that's been wondering about that. But The Last Jedi deserves more credit that the thrashing it has been given by fanboys online. For one, it's well put together. The script is coherent from beginning to end, the dialogue makes sense, and it wastes no time with confusing escapades or dealing with metaphors. Additionally, I'm more appreciative of the way in which Luke and others (Yoda) poke fun at the seriousness with which the Jedi have been treated for decades. The way he tosses the lightsaber over his shoulder, the way Yoda casually berates Luke for not picking up the "page turners" that were the Jedi histories, and the way Snoke berates Kylo Ren about his helmet. "Take that ridiculous thing off."

Favorite lines: Rey telling Luke, "I've seen your daily routine. You're not busy."

It's funny stuff. There's also more hope buried within its carefully constructed script than I originally gave it credit for having. It seemed like Disney just took a jackhammer and wrecking ball to everything. But there's all kinds of kernels hidden in the narrative that point to a new kind of story that can be in which kids who are not a part of the Jedi order learn to use the Force because the Force "doesn't belong to anyone." I liked that line that seemed like it was a throwaway the first time I saw it (when Luke is teaching Rey who is sitting on rock). "The Force doesn't belong to anyone." It's an interesting concept and it pushes the idea that all this training and rules and discipline and everything else were just made up things meant to constrict people who should have felt free to access the Force and use it however they want (if they had the talent).

Even the code breaker says as much in his worldview. "Good guy, bad guy...those are just words." It's weird to think that Star Wars, the iconic franchise of good versus evil, is starting to embrace the idea that "good" and "evil" are just concepts. What is "good" and what is "evil" is entirely dependent on a certain point-of-view. At least, that's what I'm getting as The Last Jedi's most prevalent kernel that underlies the whole movie and story. It's probably the direction that they are going to go in the next movie, and it makes me wonder what it may look like.

George R.R. Martin is also a believer that "good" and "evil" are just words. Instead, it's motivations that matter (and the philosophies and actions that take place behind those motivations). Am I thinking that we may see a Star Wars that resembles something more like what we see in Game of Thrones, only in space? I'm not so sure. But it may end up resembling a universe in which countless stories can be told with they dynamics, say, somewhere between Star Wars and Game of Thrones. It'll be a place where good and evil are just words, and who you side with will depend on the framing provided by the script.

I will not be posting on Wednesday, but I will be back this Friday.


  1. It's like True Lies where his wife asks how many people he killed and he excuses it by saying, But they were all bad. So it's ok to Force choke someone if they're bad. The problem though is that bad guys don't think they're bad.

  2. Good and evil don't exist, all that matters is power <-- these are the words of those who would do evil. Definitions of good and evil vary in time, and bad things can be done for good reasons, but when you do away with the concepts entirely, you're going down a dark path.

    However, in Star Wars, the old Jedi were pretty hidebound when it came to their rules. And their rules needed a bit of fixing. Religions do that, though. There's this interesting idea that someone has. They teach others. It gets codified into a religion, and other people take over. Those people want to retain control. Retain power. So, they create rules that help to keep them in power. And by controlling various aspects of others' lives, they feel like they're important.

    Wow, I got off topic. I think there is a difference between good and evil, but in Star Wars they can loosen things up a bit, I think.

  3. Liz makes a great point above about good, evil and power. I do agree with you about Star Wars' has always focused so much on good versus evil that any waffling on the theme can set off warning bells. Personally I hope that it's not the words that matter but the actions taken behind them. Do we act or react out of compassion and generosity or out of hatred? Early in the franchise, the ugly evil Emperor tried to provoke Luke into fighting with hatred and violence, and it was through self-control (maybe more than goodness) that made Luke control himself.

    Anyway, I really like your insight into this idea.

  4. I liked the movie at first, but after reading Patrick's blog post about it I just didn't like it as much. It seems that so many movies and series are going with that trend. Characters seem to be a mix of good and evil, and that makes them more realistic.