Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is the latest in the Star Wars franchise and there are three aspects of it that I want to talk about. Two of these aspects are about parallels between the movie and real life and the third is about the movie itself.
The first is about the Force, the thing that binds the universe in the Star Wars movies. In the original trilogy, the Jedi were treated like a religious order with the Force as their god. Then, in the prequels, it was treated more as a scientific endeavor, with the source of the power being tiny midichlorians in their blood.
Now, during the current Star Wars trilogy (Star Wars Episode VII and Star Wars Episode VIII), it seems to be moving back to the original mindset.
However, Luke has had a change of heart. I will not give away anything too big, but it is enough to say that he believes the Force belongs to everyone. He says that to say the Force would die with the Jedi “is just vanity.”
Now, this seems to directly contradict the other films, which seem to show that only specific people can use the Force, i.e. the Jedi. In this, it seems as though the Jedi could be an allegory for the priesthood. They are people who are called by the universe to be “ordained” and learn how to do certain special things. Also, they are typically forbidden from marriage, with only a few exceptions.
But Luke’s change of heart seems to say that the Force belongs to everyone, so anyone should be a Jedi. Given the parallels between Jedi and the priesthood, this idea parallels the modern idea that anyone can become a priest.
Of course, there are very solid and concretely obvious reasons why not anyone can become a Jedi. The Force is not “strong” with everyone. There are certain people who can use that power better and people who would be manipulated to the dark side if they were taught in the way of the Jedi.
So too, there are people who understand the power of the priesthood more fully and those who would tend to abuse that power.
The second parallel I can draw from The Last Jedi to real life is with regards to the fact that with each trilogy, the protagonist had less and less training. In the prequels, Anakin started training to be a Jedi when he was a child. Luke took maybe a week of training with Yoda. More recently in The Force Awakens, Rey picks up her first lightsaber and starts fighting immediately.
Now, this is not an exact parallel because there is some fan-service and wish-fulfillment happening, probably, but it seems, continuing with using the parallel between Jedi and the priesthood, that it is a parallel with just how great each level of theologians has been.
Starting off, there were St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, as well as others. They were truly the greats. Then there was the next level of people, such as Martin Luther who may have taken some good ideas from those who came before, but they are not as stable in the True faith as those who came before, so they end up going off the rails. Then, finally, there are plenty of people nowadays who believe that Truth is as flexible as elastic and come up with plenty of ideas that are not at all based on anything factual or logical.
The idea about the movie itself that I wanted to talk about is the idea of fight scenes. As I wrote about in a previous article, death scenes are an important part of fiction because they show how people react to their mortality. Consequently, action scenes have to be done well to assist in that also.
I will not go so far as to say that action scenes are only good if they are intense, but, when your movie is supposed to be more on the serious side, it helps if the audience believes that the characters are in danger.
If the audience is not convinced that death is real, then why would we care about the conflict?
What does that type of conflict say about the human condition? What does it say about the spiritual lives of the characters? Unless the fact that it is not intense is part of the point of the show, like One Punch Man. Or maybe you have a car chase scene, like the one in Blues Brothers which is so over-the-top that it is hilarious. But the difference is that neither of those examples seem to claim to have an intense physical conflict in them.
Now, I have not seen The Force Awakens, so I was going into this sequel blind, more or less. I knew the basic story of the previous movie, as well as the “surprise” of who died at the end. But there were only two times when I was caught off-guard with a twist. But nothing scary or intense happened during any of the action scenes. In fact, one of the fights actually concluded in a Force-influenced tug-o-war battle between Kylo Ren and Rey. Nice setting up an intense scene, guys.
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