Tag Archives: Yoda

Mythology In Space: Part 2


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.

Mythology In Space: Part 1

I wanted to wait until the hype about Star Wars: The Force Awakens had died down (well, maybe it has a little) before mentioning it in my blog. Having said that, I won’t write about it this week. I’m going to make you wait for it. Instead, I’d like to offer some observations about the original trilogy (episodes IV-VI). Is there a better starting point for a series entitled Mythology in Space? So before I go any further, here ‘s the obligatory photo:

From Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), written and directed by George Lucas
From Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), written and directed by George Lucas

What I was asking myself was why this franchise was so popular. Since I’m old enough, I went back in my mind to 1977 (the year this movie was released) and remembered how it had impressed me a long time ago in a state far, far away. Here, then, is my list of reasons:

  1. The light and dark sides of The Force (whose meanings are claimed by Christians and practitioners of eastern religions alike) were compelling spiritual concepts. Even in my profession of academia, professors across this great nation refer to colleagues who have gone into administration as having crossed over to the dark side.
  2. The Jedi and their counterparts have telepathic and telekinetic powers. Along with The Force, these added a new dimension to the science fiction genre.
  3. Darth Vader (played by David Prowse, voiced by James Earl Jones, and played by Sebastian Shaw when the helmet is finally removed) is one of the all time great villains in cinematic history. The Emperor (Ian McDiamid) is also noteworthy.
  4. Obi-Wan Kenobi (the venerable Alec Guinness) and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) are cool. So are Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford),  Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), and Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz). In other words, the characters are memorable.
  5. So that diehard fans don’t get mad at me, C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) were cool, too.
  6. The spaceships, the Death Star, and all the other space machinery were cool, and the special effects used to bring them and their battles to the big screen were groundbreaking for their time.
  7. Lightsabers are definitely cool, even their sound. I mean, who wouldn’t want one in a fight?
  8. It was a good story. The plot was compelling.

I’d better stop here. The more I write, the greater the chance that fans better versed than I will find grounds to correct me. A quick look at this insufficient list will show that the iconic imagery, concepts, and characters are extensive. Lest we blame George Lucas eternally for the second trilogy (which came before the first?), let us remember that this piece of cultural history was his creation and that he wrote and directed the first installment (which turned out pretty well). After all, even a damaged Death Star is impressive.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope Death Star
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Death Star