Some ideas, ideals, metaphors, and meaningful takeaways from the end of a Star Wars era...
Spoiler alert: Although abstract and somewhat cryptic, this will contain spoilers to the conclusion of the Star Wars saga. If you have not seen The #RiseofSkywalker yet and plan to do so, you probably won’t want to read this.
The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the One (and sometimes vice versa)
I know, I’m borrowing from another story here (but the genres are broadly the same, so allow me that.)
We all have different talents, skills, knowledge, and to put it bluntly, different values. But we are stronger collectively. We must each have self-assuredness, and yes of course confidence (with humility and without arrogance being key), but perhaps the greater challenge is accepting what we lack, and finding ways to work around this, work in spite of this, to become who we are. To become something more than we are today. If we are a cog, a grain of rice, a blade of grass, we also all have the power to be an invoker of change, a part of a greater whole, the greater good. Some will sacrifice. Some will even perish, but if it is towards something, it is not in vain.
Fulfill Your Destiny
Are these just the loaded words of one interpretation of one ‘person’ with their own agenda, or of the self? Is the very act of uttering this always a manipulation or coercion, or a statement of self-importance, the ego of ‘self talk’? Or is it a yawp, attempting to neutrally inspire one to action? Whatever the case, beware the source (even if it is your own mind.)
The Power of Nurture Over Nature
Is nurture more important than nature? If we allow ourselves to believe so, and to continue to try, even when all we see appears futile, we may find redemption in the end.
We are the product of every decision, every happenstance, every rhyme and reason. We are the embodiment of a lifetime of decisions, and a lifetime of random occurrences. We are tied to our pasts, to our heritage, to our creators and descendants, but not beholden to them. The lineage of who we are matters, but not with finality – with influence. We are a product. And a work in progress. We are our blood, we are our upbringing. Yet we are also ultimately responsible for who we become.
The Line Between Good and Evil
In the epic battle of the good and valiant granddaughter of ‘unnatural forces’, with the evil of seemingly unlimited power, how does one decipher the strength of each (and how do they?) Perhaps to begin to unravel this we must first acknowledge that the line between good and evil is narrower than we think. Maybe we all dance on it more than we’d like to admit. Does our greatest strength come from anger? Our desire for justice, though existing in varying degrees in each person, lives in the same part of the mind as all our other worldly pleasures. This is something one must consider.
& Ergo Ego
Rey appeared to be born of honourable parentage, but without adequate knowledge or memories to refer back to, the soul can turn cold when abandoned. It turns to survival mode, and ego can take over – an understandable byproduct. When all that you can trust is yourself, nowhere is safe.
We are not an island. It is possible to live separately, to live in various stages and forms of isolation, but rarely do we thrive in such circumstances. Self-sufficiency is empowering, no doubt, but do not the sweetest pleasures often come from those that are shared?
I Am All [Jedi] Before Me
The survival instinct of all living creatures has undoubtedly have to be the most powerful force within. But if that were indisputable, then how do we sometimes choose to spare a life that could take our own? Rey found a way to defeat the enemy by summoning the power of others. Faced with this enormity, the greatest challenge she had ever faced, she did not succumb to the seemingly obvious and only choice in front of her (prescient though it was.) She found strength in solidarity. Ego cast aside, and the gift of power absolute, her connection with another and all others before her was what allowed her to summon the strength to defeat the most powerful evil of all. Her battle, and journey, was no more or less meaningful than all others who faced their end, but her actions would have made their struggles for naught. Thus, the fate of the universe (and many other universes) at this moment, really was in her hands.
The Meaning of Life
Few of us (okay, none of us, unless you believe in otherworldly and phantasy scenarios) shall ever face such circumstances, but if we believe that our choices and decisions do not also have potentially wide-reaching consequences, then what is the meaning of it all, this thing we have so simply labelled “life”? We want to, we have to believe that some of the things we do matter. What gives life meaning? What is meaningful? The specifics are for each individual to decide, but there seems to exist an acknowledgment that making a difference, affecting the lives of others, changing the world somehow, large or small, may be enough to satisfy the burning question, the embers of desire, or emptiness, or unresolved questions that live inside us all.
The Stand Outs
Once neutral about Daisey Ridley, I am now a fan. She has grown to be a young woman worthy of the role. I felt her commanding presence from her first moment on screen this time. And I have a deep, deep, aching desire to be inside Adam Driver’s mind. I will follow his future work closely. (This Juilliard-graduated former Marine Corps Corporal who seemed to have little prior regard for fame and all that glitters has now stolen my attention. If you like him, I recommend the Jarmusch film ‘Paterson’.)
To Heal Others Is To Heal Thyself
I thought the destiny of the character of Rey was to die (every ‘thing’ dies eventually, but I am speaking of an end known and shown to us, before natural forces allow a quiet fade to black.) Instead, Ben’s kiss from Rey was his final moment of life, and it was he who succumbed and faced his mortality. Much like Neo and Trinity, they learned they had the power to revive the other (he being ‘the one’, and she through her love for him), but not without grave cost. We will all face our end. Perhaps the only solace is in knowing that others will live on.
The Power of Storytelling
Last night, over drinks and on a different topic with my husband, he asked why entertainment [like this] is so popular, why does it garner so much attention and interest? My answer is simple: because they are stories. And stories have forever been the way, maybe more appropriately ‘a way’ but a powerful and efficient one, that we can understand and comprehend life. There are also facts, figures, statistics, and critical analsysis – these all are tools we use to comprehend, but stories told from one generation, or one mind, to another are are invaluable tool in comprehension. Fantastical or factual, born out of reality or imagination, it often doesn’t matter, the wellspring from which they came. They bond, create empathy (this is now a known fact within sociology), and are also, of course, a method of self-expression (embellishment being an accepted part of the practice.) We benefit from the creativity and imagination of others. We are entertained, yes. But more than that, we are able to see the world in another light, from another perspective, or into another time which we have not ourselves lived... so many doors are opened to us through this expression... this crafting of tales and retelling of stories.
A Book Is Closed
More than a chapter, a book is now closed. It is the end of an epic. I feel the satisfaction of having just closed the 1000th page of Tolkien’s saga. Not every element loved, but every word savoured. That I can say for certain. Out of one man’s mind, a man with such a simple name, George, yet probably the most known Lucas of this age and time, this entire journey began. I have been alive for all 42 of it. My connection to this story is long and the roots run deep. I have followed Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and the others from the beginning of my life to the end of hers. I don’t believe in fate or destiny. Life would be easier if I did, I imagine. I have a dear friend who believes strongly that many things do happen “...for a reason. We just have to figure out what that reason is.” I am not sure if I agree with her in entirety, but I can say that I do believe in the necessity to process the events of our lives. From a physiological angle, our bodies need to rest, and in doing that so must our minds. And we rest our minds not just through sleep, but through understanding of the world around us, and who we are in it. Maybe finding symbolism and meaning in our lives can be distilled down to a coping mechanism. As Jon Favreau wrote of elves: “Their nimble fingers, natural cheer and active minds are perfect for toy building” but an overly-active mind can be debilitating. The events, people, and all things we encounter and experience in life need to be filed away in our own grey matter CPUs. It is very possible that we file them away in the wrong cupboard, drawer, or folder... or whatever metaphor you prefer. Once filed, they can become entrenched in our thinking, but nevertheless they can be moved to a more appropriate position in the grand schema.
Let the Opinions Fall
I suppose it would be said that I am an independent thinker (and I value this in others, though of course it is best when accompanied by a malleable mind and the ability to change it when new and pertinent information is presented.) I like critical analysis, and critique (too much sometimes), and always have, ever since I was probably a young teenager watching and thinking about movies, relationships, and the human condition. I read reviews, and watch interviews discussing the art and craft of acting, and many other aspects of artistic process. On Christmas Eve I heard only “reviews not good” on the latest Star Wars, but I haven’t been on media much as of late and over the holidays, so that is all I’ve heard. I’m sure now the opinions will abound, as they always do, on account of the internet, but for me, this was the end of a journey, an era, and I am both sad to have it end yet also satisfied with where and how it ended. There will never be another story like this. I, like Lucas, do love symbolism, philosophy, and the sometimes ambiguity of morality (I used to believe right and wrong were absolutes, but now I know the layers and truths run much deeper), so for me this was a personally moving experience.
In Memoriam... Goodbye to Friends and Saviours
Say what everyone will. I see the ideas, and ideals, and many metaphors and meaningful takeaways here. In the darkened theatre last night, not on All Hallows Eve, but on New Year’s Eve, my mind felt sharp and crisp once again (relief is the only way to express that), and the 24 frames per second flew into my brain and filled it with a warmth that can only be described as electricity, or perhaps a warm fire. And I thought of life, and my life, and the end of an era, the beginning of a year, the end of some relationships, and the potent and almost hypnotic beginning of others. Maybe that is why I had this strange question in my head... is it all too much or is it all too little? Maybe it is both. Beneath the shine, brilliance, and surface glow, and the crack of fireworks that were yet to come, are the meanings and morals and stories of life. They are more than entertaining us, exposing themselves to judgement and critique. They are here to inspire us. And maybe in inspiring us, they remind us that we are worth inspiring, and worth saving? From what? From ourselves. From apathy. From hopelessness. From complacency in being ineffectual in this world. And so while Zach Helms may have saved Harold Crick with a wristwatch and a Bavarian sugar cookie (footnote below), it may just so have happened that Star Wars “saved” Amanda at the the almost-last hour of 2019.
“As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And so it was, a wristwatch saved Harold Crick.”
Writer: Zach Helms, Film: Stranger Than Fiction
Most Helpful Opinions
Honestly speaking, I wasn't a fan of the movie. Although I see the issues they were going for, I thought it was executed poorly apart from the visual aspects.
(For reference, I tried to go into it free-thinking. I watched it opening night and I read no reviews/saw no headlines/saw no trailers/etc. before the movie came out.)
I think what ruined a lot of their themes for me came down to the world's convenience. In the original trilogy and even the prequels, there was a sense of dread. In the prequels, it was a sense of fear of the unknown. In the original trilogy, it was simply a real despairing situation-- being ruled by an oppressive authority and all. It truly feels like the Rebellion is small and losing. For Rise of Skywalker (RoS), it felt like all the dread was taken away by how the movie never really let the characters hit too low of lows. It felt more like an action movie like "He's going to take over the world! We need to stop him! Luckily, we're basically invincible."
=If someone dies, why do they have to suddenly back? The [imo unnecessary] love romance on Kamino / the droid shop owner supposedly die, but then they’re suddenly revealed to come back later. Chewbacca dies, and a few minutes later he is back. Rey possibly dies, but is shown to be not dead. C3PO ‘dies’ but then a little while later, his memory is restored. Ren is like the only one that actually dies, but even he becomes a force spirit. They take all these “oh damn” moments to “ehh not a big deal.”
=Palpatine announces he's back to everyone. Why? Wouldn't it be better if he waited or hid till he was fully ready. Sith Lords prior to original trilogy all hid/worked in the shadows.
=Oh, how convenient that, when the group was searching for the dagger, they fell into the exact right spot.
=Oh, how convenient that, when facing a fleet of Death Star level advanced weapons, a rag tag groups of ships could successfully defeat them.
=So, uhh, how did Palpatine even come back? So he can sap life force now? They just kind of leave it vague. How convenient for the plot.
- *takes a deep breath…* Rey is WAY TOO POWERFUL. I said this line since the first sequel, and I'm doubling down for this film. Refer to Luke: He faced Vader various times in the series, but was beaten down and even losing an arm. He really only was able to defeat him at the very end. This gave a sense of vulnerability to his character, and you could even argue a sense of frustration or despair. However, it’s important to note… NO ONE TEACHES REY. Luke doesn’t do much apart from a pep talk when he’s a spirit. Ok, maybe Leia teaches Rey a bit (naturally only AFTER they meet up), but didn’t they mention Leia left training? She is certainly no master, so how did Rey learn Jedi mind trick, force pull, heal, etc.?
= Rey is basically even with Ren in the first sequel.
= She is able to deflect force lightning easily like Mace Windu. Windu was supposed to be an experienced Jedi Master, and yet she does the technique nonchalantly. To note, this is the same force lightning Palpatine uses to freakin destroy a good section of the fleet.
=Apart from the ending of RoS, she never really took damage.
=She holds back the transport ship with force alone, but what the heck— even Luke found it difficult to move the X-wing out of the Dagobah swamp. Yoda even had to put effort into it. She is able to hold the ship back / bring it closer to ground, all while it’s exerting a force in the opposite direction and is larger than an x-wing.
= She can force heal. I have no problem with the concept— force heal has been around in Star Wars books/games since basically the beginning. However, it seems silly that she can suddenly do it even though she is a complete force newbie. Even if one makes the argument, “Oh but she is just really powerful in the force…” well, so was Luke. So was Anakin/Vader. They were supposed to have extremely impressive midichlorian counts. They didn’t just go from 0 to hero. If force heal was an established thing, wouldn’t Padme, y’know, not die? Surely, Rey is not the only Jedi who could do it, and if she is, holy crapola, that’s just more overpowered.
— The Force doesn’t make sense in RoS compared to the rest of the films. In the other films, it is not some all-powerful entity like to which Palpatine displays when he is destroying the fleet. Similarly, the force spirits in my opinion interact too much with people in the film. I.e. Luke catching the lightsaber being thrown into the fire, Luke giving advice, Han giving advice. Before, they seemed more like watchful guardians rather than players. Also, what’s up with Han becoming a spirit? I guess not only Jedi are spirits…? It generally didn’t seem like it fit. They use force as some all powerful weapon, while in first 6, it’s just an aid.
Generally, it takes away the believability of danger that the film claimed, and it ruined the immersive-ness of the world. It made no sense — Rey loses to the training droid at the beginning, and yet she beats down trained Sith lords?
— I had trouble believing some of the character development. Kylo Ren doesn’t seem to gradually go from bad to good. He seems to do it suddenly, like a 180 flip. I thought Ren’s character was pushed too hard as well. Flinn’s character seemed shafted. Poe’s character seemed somewhat shafted. I felt the romance between Rey and Ren seemed slightly unnatural. Like, I get the sort of vague bonding moments, but it didn’t seem like it transferred to romance.
The plot seemed incongruous in the sense that they're going on some search like it's an ancient civilization. Really though, it's like 30-50 year old wreckage. Didn't really seem to fit.
—What was the point of Hux? (Note: I actually laughed in the theater when he said his "I'm the spy!" line.)
— What was the point of the knights of Ren?
— What was the point of Jannah (Finn’s love interest)? Oh, how convenient there was so much chemistry and they perfectly matched.
— Also, uhh, Palpatine had a kid? Did Palpatine have a wife? What.
— Wait, Palpatine can transfer his essence? Feels like a leap.
— What does “you are every Jedi” even mean? Feels like a leap.
—Are we just going to ignore the ‘no romance’ rule associated with being a Jedi?