Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
Kol Drake created the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
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“This analysis is not going to go the way you think”
Over at bittergertrude.com, Melissa put the Star Wars in historical and cultural perspective.
Star Wars has always had its finger on the pulse of the cultural fear of the moment. In the original trilogy in the 1970s and early 80s, it was The Man – an evil establishment that needed to be purified by a younger generation. In the prequels of the 90s, it was evil corporations secretly colluding with a corrupt government to create endless war.
Now, in early 21st century America, the villain is an unstable young white man who had every privilege in life, yet feels like the world has wronged him. Unbeknownst to his family, he finds and communicates with a faraway mentor who radicalizes him with a horrific, authoritarian ideology. By the time his family finds out, it’s too late, and now this unstable young white man has this horrific ideology, access to far too many weapons, and the desperate desire to demolish anything that he perceives as a threat – or is told to perceive as a threat.
Star Wars has always pushed at the boundaries of its culture. Princess Leia was mainstream filmmaking’s first self-rescuing princess, and the films were unstinting in depicting her importance to the military strategy of the Rebellion, reflecting an incipient 70s feminism. The prequels were clear that we were all complicit in a corrupt system whether we admitted it to ourselves or not, symbolized by noble Jedi finding themselves leading an army of slave clones that were purchased from part of a massive military industrial complex. For all the films’ faults– and they are legion– this was a stunning accusation, and played to the 90s’ growing concerns of big business’ influence on government.
The new films are again at the vanguard of cultural concerns, but push harder and more subversively than any of the previous films. Above all else, The Last Jedi is about smashing patriarchal white supremacy – smashing it to the ground and starting over– and I am here for it.
While the earlier films were about the need to purify corrupt systems, the new ones are about smashing everything and starting over.
This is a fair assessment. Movies do tend to reflect our views on society, etc. What 'worked' for the original Star Trek series (wild west, fists and finally, coming to a compromise) probably would not survive long in the era of The Next Generation (diplomacy over fists first). Hard boiled spies of the 60s have to be more nuanced in the 20-teens. We change; they change. We go to 'see' what we hope and expect to see.
Expectations and Point-of-View are a major part of TLJ. (imo)
Kol Drake replied the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
In TLJ, Rian Johnson pretty much took all the messy strings laid down by J. J. Abrams and tossed them over the cliff -- much like Master Luke did when Rey presented his old lightsaber. Not that RJ went 'fully rogue.' He had some nice 'tip of the hat' moments to the original trilogy with R2-D2 playing the holographic recording from Princess Leia. The New Order (Sithian) Throne room had a similar flavor to Palpatine's haunts. Rian asked us to 'remember' instead of Abram's efforts to 'just mirror the old stories'.
This installment was not what I expected.
As I stated, it seems to me expectations are a recurring theme. Luke is not the Legend Rey expected. He even says he's a flawed person which, for me, makes Master Skywalker even more epic. He knows he has feet of clay instead of buying into the 'Savior of the Galaxy' hype. Long, long ago, we were told that the Jedi were the guardians of peace and justice and could do no wrong and yet, Luke Skywalker has some really good and valid criticisms of the Jedi order. Their dogmatism, hypocrisy, and hubris not only allowed Palpatine to rise to power but also helped to create Darth Vader.
For many, these stories were supposedly about the Skywalker bloodline – Anakin to Luke and Leia to their children.
(That's how it was in the books Disney turned into 'alt history' – 'Legends.') Rian Johnson has Luke talk about how he believed his great Skywalker blood made him a legendary Jedi Master, but it was just hubris. Supreme Leader Snoke saw something in Kylo Ren. He not only saw pure, untamed power, but something truly special -- the potential of his bloodline. But bloodlines do not make people truly special. Our actions and our deeds make us special. And Snoke 'assumed' the Light that would rise to counter his and Kylo's Dark would be Luke Skywalker. More 'expectations' shot to heck.
Luke isn't the hero / legend Rey expected to find. Nor the 'teacher' she wanted and expected. (( I loved the implied reference to old movies about 'getting into temples'… having to be rejected; sticking to the decision even when it meant camping out on the doorstep in the wet and cold; stubbornly staying until they open the gates and allowed you to train. Very old martial arts movie influence… another tribute to the original trilogy? ))
Poe expected to be rewarded for being a hot shot pilot even though their entire group of bombers and support fighters got wiped out. Poe 'expected' a large victory would bring reward and 'mean something'. But, as George S. Patton stated –
“No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.”
While it was 'one blow' against the New Order, it killed way too many people and wasted scarce resources they could ill afford to lose. Wars are more than 'micro victories'. Having some military background, I thought Poe got off easy with a simple slap, tongue lashing, and a demotion.
But Poe had his own expectations. He knew Leia supported his antics before. He thought he could do no wrong. Hot shot pilots are like that. In Star Wars and in real life. It seems to be part of the genetic code for being great pilots. Poe's inability to see beyond 'the battle of the moment' cost lives. And alienated him from the command structure at a critical time.
It is odd though… Poe never gave the order for the fleet to attack, he simply disobeyed orders and attacked it by himself. How then did the fleet join the battle alongside Poe to destroy the dreadnought when they were originally attempting to escape? Only the military commander can give that order – General Leah. She effectively sacrificed half the rebel fleet for one man, her best pilot, Poe. Then Leah and all the other rebel leaders blame Poe for losing half her fleet. There has to be some Point of View-ness in that bit.. but might have been left on the cutting room floor?
Again, my own view regarding military stuff. Vice Admirals and Generals do not HAVE TO tell their subordinates all the plans. The subordinates are told what they NEED TO KNOW to get the job done. The top level officers are playing the larger game; trying to see beyond the edges of the game board. As a leader of the pilots, Poe should have been given SOME information but he did not need to know all the mechanisms going on. BUT, I supposed that would not have given as much 'DRAMA' and character friction to move the scenes along. (( though it might have kept the 'mutiny' from happening later? ))
Heck, Poe 'expected' Vice Admiral Holdo to be some legendary military leader after her victory at… whatever that place was - I forget. He expects Holdo to be as dynamic as Admiral Ackbar and as charismatic as General Leia. Expectations. And, news flash – not ALL good (or great) military leaders are charismatic, dynamic figures. General George S. Patton did NOT look like actor George C. Scott. Patton was a whip thin guy you wouldn't give a second glance if not for the uniform and stars on his collar.
Vice Admiral Holdo echoed words she had shared with Leia. She was speaking nearly the same words but, due to expectations, the impact of her 'speech' was negligible. Folks walked away going, “so, why did we listen to her?” Holdo looks like some tall drink of aristocratic water who does not know her elbow from an X-Wing. Expectations smothered any 'spark' her speech may have kindled.
Kol Drake replied the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
(( BDT's character I hope to see in SW IX – maybe the 'new version' of Lando Callrisian… learning that being 'bad' doesn't pay as well anymore ))
We as the movie viewing crowd had 'expectations'.
We expected to see a Light versus Dark showdown. We got Kylo Ren vs Luke Skywalker. When Ren shifted his feet to prepare for his attack, the salts beneath his feet moved the white and exposed the red material below the surface. Anyone else notice, when Luke 'shifted his feet'… no salts or sands moved? No 'red material' showed? When Luke's lightsaber lit up it was blazing white. Anyone else 'notice' it was not the green lightsaber he had been using but the one 'legacy' saber Rey had carried to him? AND, since that family lightsaber was already torn in two – there was no way he would be using that one? EXPECTATIONS. They can spur us forward but also blind us to the obvious which we might 'see' in 20/20 hindsight.
“Many of the truths we cling to greatly depend on our point of view.” – Obi-wan Kenobi (ROTJ)
Remember when Force Ghost Obi Wan Kenobi finally had to 'fess up to Luke about his father?
LUKE: Ben! Why didn't you tell me? You told me that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered my father.
OBK: Your father... was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be the Jedi Anakin Skywalker and "became" the Sith Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So, what I told you was true... from a certain point of view.
LUKE: A certain point of view?
OBK: Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view. Anakin was a good friend. When I first met him, your father was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as a Jedi. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong.
We got a great example of 'from a certain point of view' with the Skywalker / Ren flashbacks. Luke tells Rey about how he went to confirm his growing doubts and confront his student Ben Solo, but Ben had turned on him and left him for dead. Then Ben burned the Jedi Temple down and killed some of his fellow students. That was Luke’s version of the story from his point of view. But Kylo Ren had a different point of view. He tells Rey that Luke came to kill him in his sleep and that he had to defend himself against Luke and escape. Luke later admits that while he did have that one moment of weakness and ignited his lightsaber to kill Ben Solo, he realized that it was the wrong thing to do and became ashamed. Both Luke and Kylo Ren have their own point of view and they are all true.
The casino was very fleshed out. I suspect because we shall see it again for the 'young Han Solo' trilogy of movies. Finn and Rose 'expected' them all to be slimy creeps but, they all looked like high class folk. (expectations) And let's toss in point of view. One view might be, these folks are enjoying the pleasures bought by their hard work. Another view is that they are all warmongers; making all their cash selling to the New Order. Finn is shown ANOTHER view. That many are selling to BOTH SIDES in the conflict. Bad for selling to the New Order but 'good' for selling to the Rebellion? Del Toro's character was the most pragmatic one of the movie. “You blow up them today; they blow you up tomorrow…”
Rey and Ren POVs. They 'touched' and each 'saw' their futures. Rey saw Kylo turning to the Light Side. Kylo 'saw' Rey joining him on the Dark Side. They were 'seeing' actions during their epic 'throne room' fight. Rey standing side by side with Ren vs eveyone else might have seemed like he 'joined her'. Ren 'seeing' Rey help kill his foes and even tossing a weapon at the last moment must have seemed a 'sure sign' she was taking his side.
Kol Drake replied the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
“The greatest teacher, failure is.” – Yoda (TLJ)
Rian Johnson took everything we thought we knew about the Jedi and showed that they were failures. Even Yoda was a failure. This is something I loved about Revenge of the Sith. Yoda lost against Sidious because he acted out of anger, fear, and aggression. He learned his lesson and passed on what he had learned to Luke in ESB and ROTJ. Johnson reminded us of that.
Luke failed; a fact that he can’t stop telling us about. I admit, that was drilled in a little too much. He failed Ben Solo by fearing the Dark Side. Fear, as we know, leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. Nod to Phantom Menace there.
Every philosophy and organization has problems, but things only get better if you engage with these issues and try to improve them. However, Luke has lost all hope and purpose, and doesn’t even make an attempt to make things better. His pessimism and shame has clouded his better judgement. Even after finding out that his best friend has been murdered and the Republic he fought so hard to build has been destroyed, Luke rejects the call to adventure ( of the Hero's Journey mythology) three times:
* When Rey first offers the lightsaber to Luke in the beginning of the film.
* When R2 plays Leia’s message to Obi-Wan, which was Luke’s original call to adventure.
* When Rey again offers Luke the lightsaber right before leaving Ahch-To.
It is because Luke rejects all three of these calls and gives very little constructive advice to Rey that she turns to Kylo for advice. There was simply no one else that could help her. If Rey did not have such high moral character, she may very well have turned to the Dark Side because of Luke’s neglect. Or, is that 'our' expectation of how the Force works?
“Time it is for you to look past a pile of old books…Lost Ben Solo you did. Lose Rey we must not…Pass on what you have learned.” - Yoda (TLJ)
“The greatest teacher failure is.” - Yoda (TLJ)
“We are what they grow beyond.” – Yoda (TLJ)
Ah, Master Yoda. Truer words were never spoken. Our expectations of what constitutes 'being a Jedi' and 'what the Force is' are thrown in our face in this movie. We are asked to 'grow beyond' our early (movie) roots and ideas. Even Yoda knows Luke couldn't stay awake trying to read those 'sacred texts' of the Jedi. Snore-fests.
This film has grown beyond the original Star Wars Saga. Forget The Force Awakens. Kill it if you must. The Last Jedi has taken us into a bold new direction. Just as Luke grew beyond Obi-wan and Yoda in the Original Trilogy, Rey has grown beyond Luke. She isn’t tied to the Jedi Order. She isn’t beholden to sacred texts or arcane rules. While she is now that last Jedi, the Jedi have become something different. Even what it means to be a Jedi has grown beyond what a Jedi once was.
The past had to be laid to rest so the future could grow from the ashes.
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Now, I know I did not cover everything. I didn't mention the Porg. Or, kudos to Rian Johnson for going back to 'hand puppet' Yoda versus questionable CGI Yoda. Or, the 'Dark Side' cave and Rey's experience in there.
Plenty for others to discuss and toss out. We all have our “expectations” and “points of view” on this installment of the saga.
- Academy Principal
Jax replied the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
Kol Drake replied the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
I am looking forward to see how J.J. Abrams ties all the threads together and ends the 'post trilogy' as well as the 'Ninth-ology'(?)
BUT, since this is about SW VIII: The Last Jedi -- I wanted to post this piece from The Nerdist I found to be very interesting.
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From the Nerdist website --
Proof That Luke Skywalker’s Story Got the Proper Ending: King Arthur
by Eric Diaz
Dec 13 2019
For two years, Luke Skywalker’s role in The Last Jedi has not sat well with a certain sect of Star Wars fans. Their argument is that Luke’s failures and self-imposed exile as shown in the sequel trilogy is a smear on his character, and that his Joseph Campbell-style “Hero’s Journey” as initiated by George Lucas is tarnished by this portrayal. The thing is, Luke’s story in the Sequel Trilogy is one hundred percent in keeping with the one heroic myth that Luke Skywalker most adheres to: the myth of King Arthur and Camelot.
The legend of King Arthur has been around for some 1500 years. And there are many, many versions of it. But the best known is Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, first published in 1485. Malory combined all the best known myths and legends about Arthur and distilled them into one narrative, and that has been the basis for most Arthurian books and films ever since. George Lucas was clearly influenced by Arthurian legend when creating Star Wars, and not just with Luke. The Jedi Council is made of 12 knights who gather in a circle, for instance, like the Knights of the Round Table. That’s not a coincidence.
Most Arthur-themed films tend to cover one aspect of the legend, and gloss over the rest. But there’s one movie that encompasses most of the broad strokes of Arthurian legend: John Boorman’s 1981 fantasy epic Excalibur. The film covers Arthur’s life from birth to death, and even gives a decent helping of the story of Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon. Boorman does make some changes to Le Morte d’Arthur to be sure, but it is still by far the most accurate representation of the myth on film. So for my comparisons to Luke Skywalker, I am going to draw from and cite Excalibur first and foremost.
In the film and in legend, Arthur’s father Uther (Hereditary’s Gabriel Byrne) was a powerful knight and a skilled warrior, who nevertheless made some very bad life choices. Merlin (Nicol Williamson) gifts him with the mystical sword Excalibur, hoping that with it he can unite the land. But Uther’s lust for power, and for the wife of his ally the Duke of Cornwall, led him down a dark path. Anakin Skywalker in the prequels is very much in the Uther mold, and his fall to the dark side also centers around an unhealthy possessive attachment towards a woman. Pendragon seduces the Duke’s wife, Igrayne, and she bears him a son named Arthur.
After Uther’s death, Merlin realizes that it is Arthur who is the true future king. He spirits him away from his mother and his young half sister Morgana, and sends him to be raised as a simple peasant in the countryside. This is very similar to how Obi-Wan takes an infant Luke to be raised as a farm boy on Tatooine. Unlike Arthur, though, Luke has a twin sister. But since Arthur has a slightly older half-sister who is also royalty, there is a similarity there too.
When Arthur comes of age, he alone is able to pull Excalibur from the same stone his father plunged it into before his death. Merlin then informs Arthur (now played by Nigel Terry in the film) of his true lineage and destiny, and explains to him about his father…without getting into too much detail. All of this is echoed by Obi Wan giving Luke his lightsaber in A New Hope, and explaining that his father was a great Jedi Knight once, while also skipping certain truths. Much like Merlin and Arthur, Obi-Wan is an old wizard who sets Luke down on his path to becoming a leader.
As we know, over the course of the Original Trilogy, Luke destroys the Death Star and helps bring down the Empire. Similarly, under Arthur’s leadership, the foreign invaders are repelled from Britain, and he becomes King. He establishes the glorious kingdom of Camelot, and the land is united. The end of Return of the Jedi suggests the same thing. With the Empire gone, a New Republic will be formed and everything will be made right again. And for a long time, that’s pretty much where the official canon story of Star Wars ended.
However, that’s not where the Arthurian myth ends. After years and years of peace and prosperity, Camelot falls into complacency. Due to Arthur’s neglect, his wife Guinevere falls in love with her husband’s best friend, the roguish knight Lancelot. The devastation of their affair causes Arthur to sink into a deep depression. During this time, his half-sister Morgana (played by a young Helen Mirren) seduces him and becomes pregnant with his child. She gives birth to a son named Mordred.
Obviously, this is where Star Wars differs from Arthurian legend the most. Lucas was never going to go that icky with his big family-friendly saga. Luke obviously never has sex with Leia (thank the Maker), and she is his friend, not an enemy. But before he knew she was his sister, there was undeniably a love triangle thing happening with himself, Leia, and his BFF Han Solo. So shades of the famous Arthurian love triangle do sneak into Star Wars too, sort of. Nevertheless, Ben Solo is still both Luke’s nephew and his surrogate son in a way, as he essentially raises him. It’s a less gross version of Arthur and Mordred’s relationship.
As Arthur sinks further into depression and isolation, the kingdom of Camelot withers with him. In Excalibur, Merlin says to him, “You are the land and the land will be you.” This applies to the Star Wars galaxy as well. After Luke’s failure with Ben Solo, he retreats to Ach-To, essentially to die. But as the opening crawl to Episode VII tells us, “In his absence, the First Order rises.” By cutting himself off from the Force and retreating, evil is allowed to flourish once more.
In Excalibur, a young idealist Knight named Percival manages to break through to the ailing King Arthur. Percival (although in most myths, it’s Sir Bedevere) grew up on stories of the mythic King. To him, Arthur is a living legend. This is very similar to how Rey sees Luke in The Force Awakens. It is she who ultimately gets through to Luke, and convinces him (with some nudging from Yoda) to live up to his legend status and confront his evil nephew once more in final battle.
Mordred is very much the basis for Kylo Ren. He grows up jealous and covetous of Arthur’s kingdom, and feels entitled to it all. Not in the film but in some tellings of the legend, Arthur even tries to kill Mordred as a child. When Arthur confronts him, he offers Mordred his love as a father. Mordred’s responds with, “That’s the only thing of yours I don’t want.” Arthur and Mordred battle, and the two kill one another in the battle of Camden. In Excalibur, as in many retellings of the story, Arthur is whisked away to the isle Avalon. Probably to die, but also possibly to transcend into a higher existence. It’s never made clear in some myths, and Excalibur leaves it vague.
Luke’s final confrontation with Kylo in The Last Jedi is almost exactly like Arthur’s final fight with Mordred. Like Arthur and Mordred, Luke emerges after a long exile to finally become the legend others regard him as. Much like Arthur, in his last act Luke realizes his life is not meant to be an ordinary man’s life, but the “stuff of future memory.” Something that will inspire others to greatness themselves. Like Arthur, Luke transcends into something greater than himself.
Obviously, there are changes made in the translation from one story to the other. It’s unlikely that Kylo Ren will die without having been redeemed in some fashion in The Rise of Skywalker, as redemption is too baked in to what Star Wars is all about. Mordred never gets as sympathetic a portrayal. But for all of those out there insisting that Luke’s arc betrays some kind of heroic principal set in mythology, I suggest cracking open a book on Arthurian legend. Or maybe even just watching Excalibur. Because (t)he template for Luke’s journey has been around for over 500 years.
I can see how this comparison makes sense. Especially with all the Joseph Campbell influence, etc.
Now, this person used the movie, Excaliber - 1981, as his baseline for comparison.. since it stuck to the Arthurian 'legend' best in their opinion.
My guess would be -- Lucas was influenced by an earlier movie, Camelot - 1967. An idealized version of the story, yes -- BUT, a super cast and even I liked the musical scores... and the final time before heading into 'the final battle'... when Arthur is telling a young page 'to remeber the dream that was Camelot. Lucas had to have seen it while scribbling out his ideas for the first movie -- which would come out a decade later.
I can imagine Obi Won as Merlin.
- Falling is part of the journey
Nick replied the topic: Star Wars: The Last Jedi -- Observations
"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err."