Back when they came out, I considered the movies of the original Star Wars trilogy to be fun, visually impressive, and little more than that. On further reflection, I have realized that these did two things I think good movies should do: (1) make me think about them the day after I see them and (2) cause me to ask questions that go beyond the obvious statements in the script. When a cinematic experience is at its best, we do more than watch. We also interact on some level. We assign our own meanings to the work, and we often reflect on our own lives.
Having said this, I would like to mention some themes from the original trilogy. These may or may not have been intended by the directors, writers, and producers of the movies, but that doesn’t really matter to me. What does matter is that they pulled me in far enough for me to get invested, to be stimulated to think. So here are what I would call (if nothing else) a couple of THEMES IN MY HEAD. Readers may disagree, but let me remind you that you have just entered MY universe.
The first theme is the origin of evil. This can be thought of on at least three levels: in itself, in the individual, and in the group. The origin of evil in itself is something which challenges my Christian mindset since I believe in a benevolent creator. George Lucas said in at least one interview that he was interested in religions as plot and theme elements, including eastern religions in which this theological snag would not present the same problem. The origins of evil in the individual and the group lead us into psychology, sociology, and ethics. In other words, why do the characters in the story behave as they do? How Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader was an interesting question which was not answered by the original trilogy.
The second theme is spiritual development. Luke Skywalker learns that he has a strong connection to The Force, and a significant amount of screen time is devoted to how he learns to grow in his capability. His tutelage comes at the hands of Obi Wan Kenobi and then Yoda. Also this learning process folds back onto the first theme in those instances when he is tempted to succumb to the Dark Side of the force.
I said last week that I was going to make you wait for it, but next week we’ll get into the new Star Wars movie, especially in light of these two themes.