From a certain point of view…

Yesterday I completed my Star Wars watch-through in honour of Star Wars Day, which I had started on Saturday (the big day itself – “May the Fourth be with you”, in case you hadn’t already got it!).

This was certainly not the first time I’ve watched all six films (more-or-less) back-to-back, but it did lead me to consider once again some of the themes that are present in the unfolding saga and especially the way that the addition of the prequel trilogy puts quite a different spin on things.

Taking the original trilogy on their own, most people would probably say that the films are essentially the story of Luke Skywalker, in his rise from farm boy to Jedi Knight.

However, with the extra 3 films (in which Luke only appears very briefly, and as a baby at that, in the end of the third one) it’s no longer tenable to see the whole story as being fundamentally about Luke.  Instead, many would argue (myself among them), it becomes the story of Luke’s father, Anakin Skywalker (AKA Darth Vader – and I hope I haven’t just spoiled the major plot twist for you, although I think that fact is by now pretty much common knowledge amongst pretty much anyone who cares at all about Star Wars so it’s probably safe to mention it).

Once again it charts his rise from lowly origins (as a slave on the same backwater world where Luke was later to grow up) to becoming a Jedi Knight, but then goes on to have him being seduced by the dark side of the force into becoming the evil Emperor’s apprentice (Darth Vader; NB allegedly, George Lucas had no idea that vader was the Dutch word for father when he first named him, although I gather he already had in mind the basic plot of at least the original trilogy, including the revelation that Vader – the chief villain of those films – was the father of Luke – the hero of the same films, so it was a singularly appropriate choice of name) and eventually redeemed through his interaction with his offspring.  Or, to put it more succinctly, the double trilogy (I’m not sure if that makes it a sexology or a hexology, although the first is probably ruled out due to alternative connotations of the word) is basically about the rise, fall and redemption of Anakin Skywalker.

All that is  stuff that I’ve thought for quite a long time about the films – probably more or less since the prequel trilogy came out – and it’s not particularly original thought on my part, since I’m fairly sure I’ve read most of those ideas in various discussions about the films.

However, there was one point while I was watching the films this time round when an idea occurred to me for, I think, the first time.  Again, I’m sure I’m not the first to come up with this, although I don’t recall having read it elsewhere.  It struck me that, during the fight between Anakin and Count Dooku at the start of the third film (Return of the Sith), Anakin is at something of a turning point between his previous career as a Jedi fairly firmly on the side of the light (for some reason, it always seems to be referred to as the good side of the force, rather than the light side) and his turning toward the dark side, although there had been earlier blips and there would be later moments of light before he finally turned completely (as well, of course, as his eventual redemption through sacrificing himself to save Luke from the Emperor at the end of the final film).  I don’t know whether it was intentional on the part of the film makers, or just a consequence of the lightsabers involved, but it seems to me that at the end of the fight, when Anakin has both his own blue lightsaber (one of the traditional colours of the Jedi – representing the good side of the force) and Dooku’s red one (the traditional colour of the Sith – representing the dark side) poised to execute the latter, urged on by the Chancellor (later to become the Emperor) and wrestling with himself over the morality of doing so, the symbolism of the two blades together well represents this moment of balance.

As I said before, if I could have a lightsaber I’d probably choose a purple one.  That too could, I suppose be seen as some kind of balance between the dark and light sides, since purple is a mix of red and blue.  However, I think that would probably be over-analysing it somewhat – really I just think it’s a nice colour. 🙂

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  1. I was intending to make one further observation in the post but didn’t get round to it (either because it didn’t fit into the eventual flow of my thought or just because I was writing quite late and my brain was already going into sleep mode, or probably a bit of both): it will be interesting, when (and if) the recently announced sequel trilogy appears, to see how the new films alter our understanding of the main theme of the story. It’s fairly obvious that Anakin Skywalker won’t be in the new films, except perhaps as a force ghost (which I’d expect to be a fairly minor character), so it will no longer be tenable to see the whole thing as his story. Assuming that Luke and Leia or their descendants are involved, it will perhaps become a family saga (and maybe one in which each of the trilogies can be seen as a Bildungsroman focusing on one member of the Skywalker family). I look forward to finding out…

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