Page 1

A fans guide to

edited by daniel low


about

In the beginning there was merely Star Wars (1977). Its success permitted sequels and prequels as well as mountains of licensed merchandise. Consequently, a new way of naming the films was adopted. Imparting a sense of temporal chronology within a fictional universerve (while winking at the serialized television of George Lucas’s youth ), Roman-numbered episode names were attached to each film. The perculiar result was that twenty-two years after the first film’s appearance, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, the plot-originating Episode I appeared. Then, after twenty-eight years, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) appeared, finally allowing audiences to fully understand the opening scenes of 1977’s Episode IV.

Readers would find it cumbersome to read these scaled-up titles in every film references, so we have adopted the stylistic convention of using an episode’s desciptive title (along with its release year) for first occurances within our chaptersas in The Phantom Menace (1999).


5


chapters Characters introduction

11

Religion in Star Wars

43

Event

59


7

Politics

73

Top 10 Star Wars Quotes

83

culture effect

107

fan reviews

119


Characters


Introduction


Obi-Wan Kenobi

11

Homeworld

Species

Stewjon

Human

Height

Weapon

1.82 meters

Lightsaber

Also known as the “Negotiator,” Obi-Wan Kenobi kept a cool head in the thick of combat. Obi-Wan was never at a loss for a quick word of wisdom or humor. He served as a General in the Repulic’s army, with Clone Commander Cody often at his side. For over a decade Obi-Wan guided young Anakin Skywalker on the path to Jedi Knighthood. Having to rein in an adventureseeking youth made Obi-Wan wise -- and cynical -- beyond his years. True to his role, Obi-Wan recognized both Anakin’s strengths and weaknesses, and he tried to impart his lessons with the patience and understanding that his mentor, QuiGon, did. Following the tragedy of the Clone Wars, and the rise of the Galactic Empire, Obi-Wan was one of the few Jedi survivors. He hid on Tatooine, living in exile while keeping a watchful eye over Luke Skywalker, Anakin’s son who was also strong in the Force.


Anakin Skywalker

13

Homeworld

Species

Tatooine

Human

Height

Weapon

1.88 meters

Lightsaber

The Jedi Order discovered Anakin Skywalker as a slave boy on Tatooine. He had the potential to be the most powerful Forceuser ever, and perhaps was even the Chosen One of an ancient Jedi prophecy. Apprenticed to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin was a headstrong and challenging Padawan learner. Despite the strict rules of the Jedi Code, he fell in love with and secretly married Senator PadmÊ Amidala. At the onset of the Clone Wars, the Jedi Council quickly promoted him to Jedi Knight. A daring pilot and a skilled warrior, Anakin’s confidence is his greatest asset, and, at times, also his greatest liability. In an effort to teach him responsibility, Master Yoda gave Anakin a Padawan learner: young Ahsoka Tano. Though their relationship was stormy at first, Anakin and his apprentice quickly found a common ground.


Luke Skywalker

15

Homeworld

Species

Tatooine

Human

Height

Weapon

1.72 meters

Lightsaber

Raised as a farmboy on the backwater desert world of Tatooine, Luke had no idea that he was the secret son of Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One born to bring balance to the Force. After his stepparents were murdered by the Empire, he destroyed the Death Star and became the Rebellion’s greatest hero. But Luke’s true destiny lay with the Jedi Order. He learned the ways of the Force from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, and discovered the terrible secret of his parentage. Luke insisted there was still good in Darth Vader, and his love for his father reawakened Anakin’s spirit, inspiring him to sacrifice himself to destroy Darth Sidious.


Padmé Amidala

17

Homeworld

Species

Naboo

Human

Height

Weapon

1.65 meters

Royal blaster pistol

An idealist during a time of corruption and war in the Republic, Padmé Amidala was determined to fix what wrongs she could in the Senate, where she represented her idyllic home planet of Naboo. Despite her busy career, Padmé found time for a secret, forbidden marriage with Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi hero of the Clone Wars. Though not a soldier, Padmé nonetheless found herself often in the thick of danger as she courageously defended her deepest held beliefs.


Princess Leia Organa

19

Homeworld

Species

Aideraan

Human

Height

Weapon

1.5 meters

Blaster pistol

Separated from a mother she barely knew and a father she later counted among her worst enemies, Leia Organa is a princess who grew up enmeshed in the politics of her time. She accomplished much by a young age: a leader in the Rebel Alliance, a former member of the Imperial Senate, and a member of the Royal Family of Alderaan. She never desired the power that was thrust upon her, but so strong was her commitment to peace, freedom, and democracy that she was willing to accept the burdens and the risks that it took to accomplish her goals.


Han Solo

21

Homeworld

Species

Vehicle

Corellia

Human

Millennium Falcon

Height

Weapon

1.8 meters

Heavy blaster pistol

An outlaw smuggler with a heart of gold, Han Solo proved his heroism after he got mixed up with the Rebel Alliance in their fight against the Empire. Han and his co-pilot Chewbacca flew the freighter Millennium Falcon to help the Rebels destroy the Death Star, but when Jabba the Hutt placed a price on his head, he was frozen in a carbonite slab and hung in Jabba’s palace. His friends, including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian, rescued Han in time for him to lead the ground attack that led to a Rebel triumph in the Battle of Endor.


Chewbacca

23

Homeworld

Species

Kashyyk

Wookiee

Height

Weapon

2.28 meters

Bowcaster

An immense, fur covered hero of great strength and loyalty, Chewbacca the Wookiee was a well-known figure in both the underworld and in the Rebel Alliance. Born on Kashyyyk over two centuries before the Battle of Yavin, Chewbacca was a wise, sophisticated being with exceptional skills in starship piloting and repair. He is a gentle giant, with compassionate blue-eyes set within a furry face. If his friends are threatened, though, Chewbacca unleashes his strength in a furious rage.


Darth Vader

25

Homeworld

Species

Tatooine

Human

Height

Weapon

2.03 meters

Lightsaber

Once a Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker swore loyalty to Sith Lord Darth Sidious in order to gain the power of the dark side of the Force. Vader betrayed the Jedi Order and his Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. With the rise of the Galactic Empire, Darth Vader became the Emperor’s dark enforcer. He carried out the Emperor’s will, and commanded legions of Imperial troops. Vader was tasked with discovering the secret headquarters of the Rebel Alliance, as well as chasing down the Rebels who destroyed the Empire’s massive Death Star battle station. Darth Vader was encased in sinister black armor. The man underneath was mortally wounded in a lightsaber duel, and the dark suit includes extensive machinery to keep Vader alive. The sounds of his mechanical lungs accompany his every step. Such injuries greatly diminished his ability to use the Force, but Vader is still very powerful. He can command the power of the dark side to hurl objects or remotely crush the throats of his victims.


Darth Sidious

27

Homeworld

Species

Naboo

Human

Height

Weapon

1.78 meters

Lightsaber, Force lightning

Darth Sidious is the name assumed by Palpatine when he became a Sith Lord. In time, the Sith identity became more real than Palpatine’s public face. After the Clone Wars and his ascension to Emperor, Palpatine essentially lived as Sidious for the remainder of his life.


C-3PO

29

Homeworld

Type

Tatooine

Protocol droid

Height

Manufacturer

1.71 meters

Anakin Skywalker

Created with discarded scrap metal and parts by a young Anakin Skywalker on Tatooine, C-3PO was originally made to help Anakin’s mother Shmi with household chores. Threepio would later meet his lifelong droid friend R2-D2 when Anakin befriended Padmé Amidala. Threepio and Artoo would pair up again for many adventures, although the protocol droid dreaded danger and would much rather focus on etiquette and diplomacy. Threepio would later serve useful as a translator for not only Padmé in negotiations during the Clone Wars, but also much later for other human companions Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. The protocol droid’s talent for communicating in other languages comes in handy when delegating with Jabba the Hutt, the Talz, and Ewoks.


R2-D2

31

Homeworld

Type

Naboo

Astromech Droid

Height

Weapon

1.09 meters

Electro-shock prod

A resourceful astromech droid, R2-D2 served Padmé Amidala, Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker in turn, showing great bravery in rescuing his masters and their friends from many perils. A skilled starship mechanic and fighter pilot’s assistant, he formed an unlikely but enduring friendship with the fussy protocol droid C-3PO. R2-D2’s mechanical body contains numerous arms tipped with all manner of useful tools, from welding torches to computer interfaces. Like other astromechs, his language is a cacophony of beeps and whistles understandable only by some other droids. But the spunky little droid’s abundant personality generally makes his meaning plain enough.


Boba Fett

33

Homeworld

Species

Kamino

Human

Height

Weapon

1.83 meters

Blaster rifle, Flame projector, Rocket darts, vibroblade

A faceless enforcer, Boba Fett’s distinctive, customized Mandalorian armor strikes fear in the hearts of fugitives. He is a legendary bounty hunter, accepting warrants from both the Empire and the criminal underworld. He is all business, laconic, and deadly. Fett has carefully guarded his past, cultivating a curtain of mystery around his origins. He is in truth a clone, an exact genetic replica of his highly skilled “father,” Jango Fett. From Jango, Boba learned valuable survival and martial skills, and even as a child he was proficient with a blaster or laser cannon. With Jango’s death at the hand of Jedi Knight Mace Windu, Boba would forever harbor a deep hatred for the Jedi and their allies.


Clone Troopers

35

Homeworld

Species

Kamino

Human

Height

Weapon

1.83 meters

Blaster rifle, Thermal Detonator

At the time of their introduction, the Republic clone trooper represented the future of galactic warfare. Far superior to the battle droids, the clone troopers formed the backbone of the Republic’s new military that waged war against the forces of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. So symbolic were they of the times, the galaxy-wide conflict that saw their debut took its name from their ranks: the Clone Wars. Born and raised in the clone hatcheries of Kamino, these physically identical soldiers are trained for no other purpose than combat, but have nonetheless developed into individuals under the guidance of their Jedi generals.


Stormtroopers

37

Homeworld

Species

Human

Human

Height

Weapon

1.83 meters

Blaster rifle, Thermal Detonator

Stormtroopers are elite shock troops fanatically loyal to the Empire and impossible to sway from the Imperial cause. They wear imposing white armor, which offers a wide range of survival equipment and temperature controls to allow the soldiers to survive in almost any environment. Stormtroopers wield blaster rifles and pistols with great skill, and attack in hordes to overwhelm their enemies. Along with standard Stormtroopers, the Empire has organized several specialized units, including snowtroopers and scout troopers.


“No loose wire jokes.”


Religion in Star Wars


Jediism Jediism became accepted as a religion following the Jedi census phenomenon in 2001 and the preceding email campaign to put “Jedi” as an answer to the census religion classification question. The phenomenon attracted the attention of sociologist of religion Adam Possamai who analyzed it in the framework of what he dubs “hyper-real religion”. Although inspired by elements of Star Wars, Jediism has no founder or central structure. Jediism believers align themselves with the moral code demonstrated by the fictional Jedi.Although Jedi acknowledge the influence of Star Wars on their religion, they also insist their path is different from that of the fictional characters; to some, Jediism focuses more on the principles common to many religions than it does on the myth and fiction found in Star Wars.

There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force. Sometimes, the line “There is no chaos, there is harmony.” is added between the third and fourth lines. Some groups have adopted an alternative phrasing:

Emotion, yet peace. Ignorance, yet knowledge. Passion, yet serenity. (Chaos, yet harmony.) Death, yet the Force.


43


Census figures released in 2012 of England and Wales showed 176,632 respondents indicated “Jediism” as their faith, making it the most common “alternative” faith and the seventh most common overall. This was a decrease from 390,127 Jedi in the 2001 census. During the drafting of the UK Racial and Religious Hatred Act, an amendment was proposed that excluded Jedi Knights from any protection. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn, the proposer having made his point that defining religious belief in legislation is difficult. In 2009, a Jediist customer was removed from a Tesco Supermarket in Bangor, North Wales, for refusing to remove his hood on a religious basis; the owner justified the boot by saying, “He hasn’t been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. ObiWan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.” The following year, a Jediist was thrown out of a Jobcentre in Southend, Essex, for refusing to remove his hood; he later received an apology


45

“This will be a day long remembered. It has seen the end of Kenobi, and will soon see the end of the rebellion.�


SITH The dark side of the Force is a prominent moral, philosophical, metaphorical and psychic concept in the Star Wars universe, the undarkened Force being a mystical energy which permeates the Star Wars galaxy. It is used by the Sith. The Sith are a monastic organization in the Star Wars universe whose members dedicate themselves to the dark side of the Force. Their individuals, known as Sith Lords or Dark Lords of the Sith, traditionally use the title Darth before their Sith name. The Sith are the archenemies of the Jedi, and like them, their main weapon is the lightsaber. They only exist two at a time: a master and an apprentice, and are the main antagonists in the Star Wars film series as well as in many other Expanded Universe works. The first use of the word “Sith” was in the novelization of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, as a title for Darth Vader, the “Dark Lord of the Sith”. The Sith were not formally introduced or mentioned on-screen until the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, in 1999, though they had been named in some Expanded Universe works before that time. The Star Wars saga began with the film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which was released in 1977. And since then, films, books, computer games and comics have been released, all set in the fictional universe of Star Wars which has expanded the history of the Sith within their stories.


47 However, the history of the Sith was officially described for the first time by George Lucas himself in the novelization of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, written by Terry Brooks. There, it is explained that the Sith were created two thousands years before the events of The Phantom Menace, when a rogue Jedi who believed that the true power of the Force layed in its dark side, and that denial of power was a waste. With the Jedi Council of the time disapproving such beliefs, the dissident Jedi left the order, swearing vengeance against them. Although alone at the beginning, he soon gained many followers. Some were Jedi who agreed with his views and beliefs, while others were recruited. However, the greed and hunger for power from its members was so great that the Sith order was destroyed from the inside. Still, in the midst of destruction, one member was able to survive: Darth Bane. Learning from the order’s past mistakes, Bane restructured the order, so that there could only exist two members at a time: a master and an apprentice. Bane also adopted cunning, subterfuge, and stealth as the fundamental tenets of the Sith. Centuries later, Darth Sidious, the latest Sith Master in existence, carefully planned a scheme to exact revenge against the Jedi and restore the Sith control of the galaxy, which led to the Clone Wars, the destruction of the Jedi Order, and the transformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. However, the Sith were not completely victorious; Darth Vader, the last apprentice of Darth Sidious, was redeemed by Luke Skywalker, a Jedi Knight and son of Anakin Skywalker, making him destroy his master and with him, the Sith order itself.


An ancient order of Force-practitioners

Sith practitioners fought amongst

devoted to the dark side and

themselves and dwindled their

determined to destroy the Jedi, the Sith

numbers. Weakened by infighting, the

were a menace long thought extinct.

Sith were easily wiped out by the Jedi.

Thousands of years ago, a rogue Jedi had come to the understanding that the

One Sith had the cunning to survive.

true power of the Force lay not through

Darth Bane restructured the cult, so

contemplation and passivity. Only by

that there could only be two -- no more,

tapping its dark side could its true

no less -- a master, and an apprentice.

potential be gained. The Jedi Council at

Bane adopted cunning, subterfuge, and

the time balked at this new direction.

stealth as the fundamental tenets of

The dark Jedi was outcast, but he

the Sith Order. Bane took an apprentice.

eventually gained followers to his new

When that apprentice succeeded him,

order.

that new Sith Lord would take an apprentice.

With the promise of new powers attainable by tapping into the hateful

Thus, the Sith quietly continued for

energies of the dark side, it was only

centuries, until the time of Darth

a matter of time before the order

Sidious...

self-destructed. Power-hungry


49

“The Force is strong with you. A powerful Sith you will become. Henceforth, you shall be known as Darth… Vader.”


The Dark Side The first three Star Wars films, from 1977, have also been interpreted as Vietnam protest movies, with the United States of America being subtly portrayed as ‘the Empire’. Niall Ferguson writes in Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (2004, page 102): “In Star Wars, George Lucas perfectly captures America’s yearning not to be expressed as the dark side of imperialism. It is not without significance that as his cinematic epic unfolds backwards a generation later, the arch-villain Darth Vader is revealed to have been an all American Jedi Knight in his youth.” Thus, the ‘Dark Side of the force’ represents, for anti-Vietnam activists like Lucas, the American Empire’s moral slide from engaging in noble projects in its preliminary years as the sole world superpower, such as the Marshall Plan (as represented by Anakin Skywalker’s original childishness and kindness), to becoming an occupying force engaging in acts of imperialist aggression, which is how many regarded the continuation of Vietnam (as represented by Darth Vader’s indiscriminate violence and lust for greater power and territory). Similarly, Anakin Skywaker’s moral descent from ‘chosen one’ to villain - that is his choosing to follow the path of the dark side - can be seen as metaphoric of how large great powers can abandon their initially benign motives in favor of a politics and lifestyle based upon sentimental self-aggrandizing, selfishness, and aggression. When Anakin Skywalker tells Yoda: “[I have visions] of pain ... suffering ... death” not speaking of himself, but someone he knows, this is representative of America’s desires, or indeed of any country’s desire, to intervene and attack a perceived enemy before they become capable of assault. Yoda tells him to be “careful when sensing the future” and that such thoughts are a “path to the dark side”; and acts


51 taken in this vein are really “the shadow of greed” and not compassionate. Thus, this particular “path to the Dark Side” can be seen as Lucas’s opposition to preventive wars, as expressed in the Bush Doctrine. The Dark Side is representative of how masses of people, and how the individual in society, can surrender their moral compass and sense of decency in favor of cruel and inhumane actions. Lucas has said, “On the personal level it was how does a good person turn into a bad person and part of the observation of that is that most bad people think they are good people, they are doing it for the right reasons”. The temptations of the dark side, and the seemingly effortless ways Anakin Skywalker often adopts them, can be seen as representative of how an advanced nation based upon laws can slide into a dictatorship, as Germany did in the 1930s. In Christopher Browning’s book Ordinary Men, he argues that members of the Nazi party were not uniquely evil, but were typical members of the working and lower middle classes. Yet, they engaged in acts of extreme violence and murder against innocent members of the Jewish and other communities. This whim, a surrendering to the worst extremes of human nature, is conveyed when Anakin kills the young Jedi Knights, the most obscene act of violence, in Episode 3.


53


“For reasons we can’t explain, we are losing her.”


55


EventS AROUND


From robotics to lightspeed, the Star Wars films are known for their creative presentation of possible future innovations. The exhibit Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, coming October 19 to

STAR WARS: WHERE SCIENCE MEETS IMAGINATION EXHIBIT COMING TO THE TECH

The Tech in San Jose, California, explores the technologies of a galaxy far, far away, looking at the real science behind them and the research that might someday bring Star Wars technology to life.

Star Wars creator George Lucas said, “I’m happy that Star Wars can help to educate people about technology in an entertaining way. Technological innovation and filmmaking have a lot in common; they both begin with imagination and creativity.” The expansive exhibition includes authentic props, costumes, and models from all six Star Wars films, including the Yoda puppet, C-3PO, R2-D2, the Chewbacca costume, the threesection Darth Vader helmet from Revenge of


59 the Sith, as well as the models of the X-wing and the Millennium Falcon. There are also costumes for Mace Windu, Princess Leia, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Stormtroopers, and lightsabers belonging to Luke, Obi-Wan, Darth Maul, and Count Dooku. The immersive, hands-on experience in the exhibition’s “Living on Tatooine” section features three augmented reality kiosks in which visitors interact with a simulated environment on a large screen. Visitors position physical props in order to complete tasks of increasing difficulty to build communities in the virtual environments. Intrepid guests can hop aboard a full-size replica of the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and a fourand-a-half minute “ride” -- with the requisite rumbling sound effects, fans,

and lights -- as they learn about realworld space exploration from Anthony Daniels, the voice of C-3PO. ”Since 1977, Star Wars has sparked our imaginations about science and technology,” said The Tech President Tim Ritchie. “How fitting to have the final showing of Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination in a place devoted to changing lives through science and wonder.” The exhibition’s run at The Tech was announced yesterday at a press conference featuring Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo and Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams. This is the last chance to see the exhibition in its current incarnation following a tour that began in Boston in October 2005. Since then, more than two million visitors worldwide have seen Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination.


61


STAR WARS IDENTITIES EXHIBIT RETURNS TO THE CANADA AVIATION AND SPACE MUSEUM Last year, the Montréal Science Centre hosted the world premiere of Star Wars Identities: The Exhibition, an event that ran through September 16, 2012. Produced by X3 Productions and made possible by Lucasfilm Ltd., the exhibition is a sensational event that explores the amazing nature of human identity through the magic of the Star Wars universe and its legendary characters. “Since Star Wars takes place in a fantasy world, the characters need to be identifiable so that the audience can connect to them,” explains George Lucas, creator of Star Wars. “These larger-than-life characters come complete with friends, enemies, values, and beliefs. This exhibition examines how the Star Wars characters are like us, what we may have in common, and what makes up our individual identities.” In addition to offering an impressive collection of some 200 objects from the Lucasfilm Archives, Star Wars Identities is a highly interactive, character-driven adventure into the fascinating subject of human identity, based on the latest scientific research. As they travel through the Star Wars universe, visitors will rediscover their favorite characters in a whole new light. They will also develop a better understanding of their own complex identity. And through the magic of cutting-edge multimedia, they will be able to create their very own Star Wars character by combining elements of their own identity with those of their favorite fictional characters. They can later share these unique identities with friends and family via social media.


63 Star Wars Identities has divided its study of human identity into three major themes, each presented in a separate zone within the exhibition: the characters’ origins, the influences that shaped them, and the personal choices that altered their lives. Within these three themes, ten components of human identity are explored. These components include species, origins, parents, culture, mentors, friends, occupation, marking events, personality and values. Science-based video clips explain the how each component influences our identity. The Montréal Science Centre is proud to have helped develop the exhibition’s scientific content with an advisory committee composed of experts from a variety of scientific fields including psychology, neuropsychology and genetics. As Claude Benoit, president and CEO of the Old Port of Montréal Corporation -- managers of the Montréal Science Centre, explains: “Star Wars Identities has all the ingredients to become a huge success: a movie saga with larger than life characters; fascinating objects from the Lucasfilm Archives; a strong theme -- identity which brings up fundamental questions: Who are we? How do we become what we are?; and a quest that allows us to create characters who resemble us. This is the type of exhibition that will delight everyone, including people who don’t often visit museums and science centers. After all, this is the Science Centre’s true mission: to make science accessible to everyone and above all, to make it truly interesting for as many as possible, presenting science in a fun, surprising and intelligent way.” Star Wars Identities will be presented in 12 world-class exhibition venues over the next six years. Starting in Canada, it will also travel to Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific region.


65


67

Star Warriors Screening with Special Deleted Scenes Back in 2006, George Lucas wanted to produce a Star Wars spectacular for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in California, for New Year’s Day, 2007. Central to his plan was bringing costumed Star Wars fans -- more than 200 Stormtroopers, Imperials, and Rebels -- to march from countries all over the world. Lucas specified that he wanted these troopers in the parade both to make it spectacular, and to thank the fans for the great work they do for charity and community. Star Warriors tells the story of these marching fans, focusing on their selection, training, and participation in the 2007 Rose Parade. Produced by Kevin Burns and Prometheus Entertainment for Lucasfilm, the movie is a tribute to the 501st and Rebel Legions, the global organizations of Star Wars costuming enthusiasts, their charity and volunteer work, and of course their participation in the parade. Star Warriors has previously only been shown on the big screen at Star Wars Celebration Japan in 2008. This special screening of Star Warriors at Celebration Europe will conclude with a selection of never-before-seen footage featuring the fans’ preparation for the parade, focusing on the costumed fan groups from Europe.


“Noooooooooo


oooooooooo!”

69


Politics


order 4

“Cor’ika, we’ve got a hundred and fifty shabla contingency rules, everything from arresting the Chancellor if he goes gaga to reducing key allied worlds to slag if they switch sides…” Jedi General Etain Tur-Mukan

Order 4 was one of the 150 contingency orders that the clone troopers of the Grand Army of the Republic were trained to execute for a variety of emergency situations during the Clone Wars. Order 4 stated that if the Supreme Chancellor was incapacitated, the command of the Grand Army would temporarily fall to the Vice Chair of the Senate until another Supreme Chancellor was elected. Order 4 was the fourth of 150 contingency orders created by the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. All such orders dealt with different emergency scenarios that the Galactic Republic might face during the war; the clone troopers of the Grand Army were trained to carry out Order 4 without delay. Order 4 specified that if Supreme Chancellor Palpatine—the Supreme Commander of the Grand Army and an office occupied by Palpatine during the war—was incapacitated in such a manner as to prevent him from performing his duties, command of the army would temporarily fall to the Vice Chair of the Galactic Senate, a position held at the time by Mas Amedda. The Vice Chair would be relieved of his command once a new Supreme Chancellor was elected or an alternative Supreme Commander was chosen.


73

Republic Executive Directive 9302-84121 “In Accordance with Republic Executive Directive #9302-84121 this HoloNet Channel has been reserved for military use for the Duration of the Emergency.” Republic Emergency Broadcast System

Republic Executive Directive 9302-84121 was an executive order issued by the Office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic on 13:5:23 GrS (22 BBY). The directive authorized government seizure of the HoloNet channel that carried HoloNet News, allowing the Republic to re-purpose it as a military communications channel. It was issued in response to the Clone Wars between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which had erupted days prior with the Battle of Geonosis. Republic Executive Directive 9302-84121 was a decree of the Office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic. The directive claimed the HoloNet channel that regularly featured HoloNet News for exclusive usage by the newly-formed Republic Military. The nationalization of the channel was intended to expire when the state of emergency instigated by the Clone Wars was brought to an end.

“For future updates, set transceiver to Approved Government Channels” Republic Emergency Broadcast System


Right of Denial “Your condition gives you a temporary reprieve from these marching orders, Master Devan, though I fully expect you are opting for the same choice Master Lanius and the rest of the Academy staff have made personally.” “What … what choice?” “The Right of Denial, of course. I would beg you to reconsider, but I doubt you would hear me.” Darrus Jeht and Devan For’deschel

“I didn’t just walk away from the Order—I didn’t exercise Right of Denial. I stopped being a Jedi.” Bardan Jusik, on his resignation from the Jedi Order


75

The Right of Denial was a Jedi tradition that allowed members of the Jedi Order to protest against a decision made by the Jedi Council, the Order’s governing body. During the Clone Wars, the right was invoked by the Jedi instructors of the Almas Academy, a Jedi academy that was located on the planet Almas, after the Council attempted to conscript them to fight in the conflict. The Right of Denial was a tradition followed by the Jedi Order that, when invoked, allowed a Jedi to protest against an order from the Jedi Council, the Order’s governing body. The right was rarely used, and, by the time of the waning years of the Galactic Republic, entreating the Right of Denial was considered to be almost treasonous. Jedi who invoked the right had to hand in their lightsabers to the Order, as possessing such a weapon while still protesting a Council decision was a criminal offense. Additionally, the individuals were stripped of their legal authority, leaving them as Jedi in name only. Calling upon the Right of Denial was not regarded as a denouncement of the the Jedi Order; rather, it was only an act of contempt against the Jedi Council and not the Jedi Code, the guiding principles of the Order.


Unification Policies

“And it was his so-called Unification Policies that have drawn so many worlds back into the web of Republic influence.� Paak, a member of a separatist group, on Tarsus Valorum

The Unification Policies were a set of legal guidelines and recommendations proposed by Supreme Chancellor Tarsus Valorum around 1,000 BBY. They were used as part of the Ruusan Reformation to unify the Galactic Republic after the devastating New Sith Wars. The main opposition for the policies came from many separatist groups that wanted to keep their star systems out of the Republic.


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In 1,000 BBY, the end of the New Sith Wars with the Ruusan campaign— the last set of battles of the wars— left the galaxy weakened. Galactic Republic Supreme Chancellor Tarsus Valorum proposed the Unification Policies to help reunite the star systems that had started to show the seeds of rebellion after the war; he wanted to bring those worlds back into the web of Republic influence. Valorum proposed the Unification Policies as part of his Ruusan Reformation, a series of proposed reforms that were meant to restructure the whole Republic. After the policies were enacted, the Galactic Senate was able to enforce the regulations of membership in the Republic. The Unification Policies were first proposed following the New Sith Wars, which ended with the final battle of Ruusan in 1,000 BBY. Because several separatist groups, such as the Anti-Republic Liberation Front, saw the Unification Policies as a form of bullying, nearly one hundred small rebellions arose following the policies’ approval. Darth Bane, the last remaining Dark Lord of the Sith, worked behind the scenes to pit rebellious organizations against the Republic, hoping to distract the Republic from the secret survival of the Sith Order. One such event happened in 990 BBY on the planet Serenno, where Bane’s apprentice, Darth Zannah, worked to get a small

Anti-Republic Liberation Front cell to perform a kidnapping of Valorum, by then the former Supreme Chancellor. One member of the cell, a man by the name of Paak, was originally against the idea, but his hatred of the Unification Policies was so great he eventually went along with the plan to kidnap Valorum. The members of the cell attempted to kidnap the former Chancellor but were stopped by Jedi Knight Johun Othone. Over the years, several separatist cells tried to oppose the government’s ability to keep star systems in the Republic, but their efforts were in vain. The Republic stood for almost another thousand years, and many of the rebellious groups eventually disappeared.


“I find your lack of


faith disturbing.�


Top 10


Star Wars Quotes


“When 900 years old, you reach… Look as good, you will not.”

Film: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi Who: Yoda to Luke Skywalker What makes it great?


10 In cinema, the Degoba system is possibly one of the most ambitious and atmospheric sets ever made, especially at the time of production in the late 70s/ early 80s. The swamp-ish scenery and aged frailty of Yoda’s appearance emphasises a beautiful theme in the Star Wars films – the past. The past is a theme that the original saga concentrates on a lot in terms of narrative and plot, and the visits to Yoda in Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi personify (or more accurately, Yodafy) this theme in the character of Yoda and the decaying nature of his home. Luke is trained in the Force by a slowly dying master, whose wisdom knows no boundaries. This whole context is summed up in this beautiful, quirky and humorous quote from Yoda that reveals his age, his connection to Luke’s past and his modest and humble personality as a shaman-esqsue old prophet.

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“The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be… Unnatural.”

Film: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith Who: Senator Palpatine to Anakin Skywalker What makes it great?


09 Eerie! In the scene mentioned, Senator Palpatine and Anakin attend a bizarre operatic style performance with an aesthetic baritone vocal underlay. Palpatine literally spits out this line to Anakin, in his serpent like tone, as he draws him to the Dark Side using a story that echoes Garden of Eden-style temptation. At the centre of Anakin’s mental corruption lies his vulnerability. His relationships with mentors such as Palatine define his instability and insecurities throughout the first three episodes.

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“You don’t know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life ”

Film: Episode IV: A New Hope Who: Governor “Grand Moff” Tarkin to Princess Leia What makes it great?


08 Grand Moff Tarkin. Possibly the coldest looking character in the history of cinema. His white hair, pale, old, emotionless face, and violent vocabulary bring us one of the most sinister supporting roles in the whole saga. To look at, Darth Vader is just a helmet, but here is a grandfather euthanizing a 19 year old girl, and giving us our most chilling glance at the ordinary, human face of the Dark Side.

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“He’s holding a thermal detonator!”

Film: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi Who: C3P0 translating to Jabba The Hutt What makes it great?


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07 When read back, this quote may not seem so memorable. But these few words perfectly sum up what C3PO is all about – translating gobbledegook and panicing. As C3PO interprets the bounty hunter’s message for Jabba The Hutt, he realises what he’s saying, as he’s saying it. The line is delivered with the purest form of quirky English terror, and mirrored with Jabba’s fearless, cackling response, a classic moment in Star Wars history is born.


“I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate… you have anger… but you don’t use them.”

Film: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith Who: Count Dooku to Anakin Skywalker What makes it great?


06 In the midst of one of the most explosive and action packed Star Wars opening sequences, it’s showdown two with Count Dooku. In his final moments, the fantastic Christopher Lee revisits his beautifully aging but forcefully powerful Sith Lord, somersaulting around with his cgi head a stunt double’s body. This line has fearless analysis, witty taunting, fighting spirit, and above all, great power and wisdom. His reward for this insight? – Execution. A fate suffered by many philosophers.

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“Great, kid. Don’t get cocky ”

Film: Episode IV: A New Hope Who: Han Solo to Luke Skywalker What makes it great?


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05 Han Solo: The late 70s embodiment of everything boyish from his school boy wit, to his gangster bravery. A character so stylish, so cool, so smooth and rude that any woman would throw themselves at him (even stuck up princesses with feminist qualities). He’s the big brother we all wish we had, and never is that personified more than during a bit of two player co-op against a wave of tie fighters. “Great Kid. Don’t get cocky” has all the begrudging praise an older brother is ever likely to give, yet contains the first all important glimmer of respect we crave from our older siblings.


“Lando’s not a system he’s a man!”

Film: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Who: Han Solo to Princess Leia What makes it great?


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04 Leia, Han, and the gang are looking for a safe system to escape the Empire. Leia and Han are also quietly fighting for leadership. As Leia constantly tries to prove she has the intellectual upper hand, Han smarmily, but all the more loveably, counters her points. And this is the quintessential “Quiet down dear� line, as she mistakes Lando Calrissian for a star system. It’s Star Wars does battle of the sexes/couple bickering on a long drive. The humour in the new trilogy is blunt and unsophisticated, but this serves to remind us that Star Wars once did subtle.


“…I know ”

Film: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Who: Han Solo to Princess Leia Organa What makes it great?


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03 As Han Solo is about to be frozen in carbonate, the tensions between him and Leia surface in the form of affection, and seconds before his displacement, she declares her love for him. In the original screenplay, Solo was written to respond with a generic “I love you, too”, but caught up in the character of Han Solo, and in true Harrison Ford improvisational fashion, he simply spouted “I know” with a cheeky grin. A defining moment in the characterization of Solo. Just goes to show it isn’t all in the script.


“Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.�

Film: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Who: Darth Vader to Luke Skywalker What makes it great?


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02 One of the most inspirational, plot twisting, shocking, memorable scenes in cinema history; Darth Vader revealing to Luke, Maury-style, that he’s the daddy. As Luke screams in horror, Vader propositions him with overthrowing the Emperor and ruling the galaxy together. This quote sums up the conflict in the relationship between Vader and Luke as Father and Son. It is chilling and poetic; foreboding and naïve; a superb ending to a superb scene. It’s also not a bad proposition, I would have gone for it.


“You can’t win, Darth. Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

Film: Episode IV: A New Hope Who: Obi wan Kenobi to Darth Vader What makes it great?


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01 Here we are at number one. The top Star Wars quote. The inspirational, wisdom fuelled last words of Obi Wan Kenobi: Jedi Master. In a heroic battle between good and evil personified; a lightsaber climax ensues between the master of the Dark Side, Darth Vader, and his former mentor. In Kenobi’s farewell f-you, he illustrates the weakness of the Dark Side, and how in using the Force for evil, they fail to see its true power. A noble, and dignified battle, resulting in a noble, dignified death. He may have been reduced afterwards to a role as Luke Skywalker’s Jiminy Cricket, but he got there with pure class.


“A vergence, you say?”


culture effect


When director George Lucas approves the Jedi Style for the next movie, he will be drawing from fighting and fencing traditions that are decidedly Terran. At the forefront is Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard, who composed and directed the fight scenes for Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He’s at it again in Australia reportedly looking at martial arts clubs and kendo dojos for stunt people and swordsmen and women. The choice of who gets to train and perform for the fight scenes in Episode II will have a major impact on the style movie-goers see in Lucas’ next installation of the Star Wars saga. When Gillard created the sword fight scenes in Episode I, he had to combine fighting from many fighting arts and transform them into a novel and cinematically dramatic expression of Jedi sword fighting. Not only did he squash the pre-release skepticism among professional martial artists about the quality of the sword fighting, but he also created what most viewers regard as probably the most memorable scenes from The Phantom Menace. Breaking from the kendo-based sword fighting already established in Episodes IV, V, & VI, Gillard created a faster, more refined style which was meant to establish the competence and plausibility of Jedi swordsmen in the futuristic, pseudo-fantastic world of the Star Wars. Lucas’ final approval of Ray Park to play Darth Maul would guarantee a Chinese influence which is most notably demonstrated in the flying leaps found in Chinese martial arts and the fluid twirls of the double-edged lightsaber. Where will sword fighting go in Episode II? Several rumors as well as statements made by George Lucas himself, producer Rick McCallum, and, most recently, by Hayden Christensen’s tae kwon do instructor, have indicated cultural influences that will and must have a profound influence on Jedi sword work. Most actors have little or no training in sword work or martial arts,


107 and when they do, they usually take roles that best demonstrate the cultural history of their art. Jackie Chan and Jet Li create films that include Chinese cultural themes, Chuck Norris’s films were thematically related to Japan and Okinawa, while Jean-Claude Van Damme films reflect international kick boxing. These martial artist actors reflect the culture of their art, while untrained actors, especially in traditional cutlass and broadsword films, learn choreographic routines, not martial arts -- which require years of training and a life-long pursuit. With Hayden Christensen chosen to be the new Anakin, fans will be able to see glimpses of the perfect candidate for the role of a young Jedi in training. A recent article in the Ottawa Sun with 1992 Olympic silver medallist Sayed Najem gives some background of the martial arts crash course Christensen has taken to prepare himself before heading to Australia when shooting begins this summer.


One other rumor that compliments information on training for the upcoming film is talk about Makiya Yamaguchi, a student of Shorinji Kempo, a Japanese martial art that is both a fighting style and a religion. Here, as Ray Park did with Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson and stunt doubles, another experienced martial artist may have a profound influence on what is seen on the silver screen. Gossip on the internet has revolved around four possible cultural influences -- Chinese, Filipino, Korean, and Japanese. The first three may, in the end, have only a minor impact on Episode II Jedi fencing, while Japanese influences will probably get the rubber stamp from George Lucas, who made statements to Japanese audiences during the premiere of The Phantom Menace regarding the influence of Japanese culture on the next film. Specific references seemed to indicate his desire to employ Japanese actors. Into this fans and the media read “Japanese kendoists or swordsmen.” Lucas has always admitted his indebtedness to the samurai films of the late director Akira Kurosawa, and he promises more of a Nipponese influence in his next two installments. No practicing martial artist can deny the profound influence Ray Park’s wu shu background has had in Episode I. An experienced martial artist can see it in his stance, his precision, and acrobatic movements. Chinese staff, whose closest influence on Ray Park can be seen in Mortal Combat, gave significant inspiration to fighting in Episode I. Similarly, Chinese broadsword stances and movement will remain an indelible mark on the apprentice Sith Lord. But what happens in Episode II may be light years apart from the fighting we saw in Episode I. Darth Maul represented a sort of rogue training in lightsaber fighting, a style which Qui-Gon Jinn ascribes to that of a Sith Lord. Did Maul begin training at the Jedi Temple? Or did he go through training with a secret master? What has his role been before his climactic demise? [If Darth Maul’s “Journal,” a children’s book, is to be believed, Maul was found as a boy and brought up by Sidious who taught him in secret. -Ed.] So will Chinese martial arts have an influence on the next film? Possibly a good deal more than was previously thought. Rumors have vacillated back and forth on whether Park will return. Definitely not as Darth Maul, Lucas insists. Will he help


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train? Could he become a Jedi? Or will it be a cameo? One thing Lucas would want to avoid is upstaging a new villain with a familiar face. With Ray Park, many skills and talents were added to the Sith Lord’s choreographic repertoire, but unless another Chinese martial arts instructor of his caliber joins the training team for Christensen and the reportedly hundreds of stunt actors, the imprint of the Middle Kingdom will probably be limited to The Phantom Menace. Given Ray Park’s performance, that’s not such a bad legacy, and certainly he makes Gillard’s job in Episode II that much more difficult. It is in this area of sword fighting that the most interesting rumors have begun to beguile fans looking forward to seeing Yoda participating in sword fight scenes. TheForce.net has credited a source who has seen conceptual art of Yoda wielding not a single lightsaber, but two shorter versions. The same post then gives a short description of the Filipino martial art called arnis, also referred to as escrima or kali.


Many, prima facie, would not even entertain the idea that such a diminutive creature imbued with the Force such as Yoda would rely on physical prowess, but there is little physical prohibition on a person of Yoda’s stature from fighting either with or without a lightsaber. Smaller fighters are generally faster, have a stronger center of gravity, and can easily slip under arms, even legs. Targets to groin, knee caps, ankles, and the throat are open -- targets a taller person is not used to protecting. In regard to weapons, it is not the physical stature of the person that determines victory as much as it is his or her skill -- the precise reason that swords have remained the principle combat weapon for millennia. A person of Yoda’s size holding a regular length lightsaber could wield it as human armies once used halberds, spears, and war hammers against horsemen. And yet the countervailing theory exists that perhaps Yoda, as he showed when he lifted Luke’s X-wing from the swamp with minor prestidigitation, might choose not to use a weapon in favor of bolts of energy as the Emperor did in Return of the Jedi. This hypothesis has a good rationale behind it, but from a cinematic point of view it would be much more visually exciting to see Yoda in combat mano a mano than to see him standing on the sidelines directing Jedi into battle. Besides, Yoda does indeed have a lightsaber (as, presumably, do all Jedi), which logically leads to the conclusion that he knows how to use it. So could Yoda use techniques similar to arnis? Not a difficult idea to imagine. The arnis martial artist is known as the escrimador. He or she holds either one or two sticks a little more than three feet long in front of the body. Movement of the weapons is done in a circular figure-eight motion that requires strong and flexible wrists, much resembling the flowing motion seen in nunchakus. In order to hit an opponent, the hand guides the stick to the target in rapid and successive strikes that can either inflict sharp pain on muscle or can break smaller or more delicate bones. Strikes to the wrist can disable a fighting arm, hits to the head can cause trauma, bloody lacerations, and psychologically break an opponent’s fighting spirit. Proponents of the art make the assertion that with advanced practice, the basic movement from armed arnis to empty-handed or sword armed techniques can be effectively bridged. This is a characteristic of a complete martial art system. Effectiveness in transferring skills, however, comes from an


111 equal amount of practice in the variant style. Therefore, being able to fight arnis-style by simply taking away the sticks would not be effective without extensive training. Similarly, replacing the sticks with swords requires additional training because the escrimador has to learn to cut with the sharp edges of the blades. So would it be possible for Yoda to fight arnis-style? Absolutely. Combined with telekinetic powers, Yoda could easily fly through the air, make parries, beat-attacks, and then cut into an opponent. A digitized Yoda combined with puppeteering skills remains the greatest obstacle. The technology is there, and yet there is still the question in purists’ minds whether the scene in The Phantom Menace where Yoda walks as he talks to Obi-Wan was convincing. Magicians at ILM have recently finished test footage, and if George has his way, Yoda will do more than hobble on a gimer stick. A new spotlight of news comes from an interview with Lebanon-born Canadian Sayed Najem, who tells about the training he’s given to Hayden Christensen. Christensen isn’t leaving anything to chance, training for a week with the 1992 Olympic silver medallist in “blocks, punches, and kicks.” While no amount of training in one week will make the future Anakin by any means proficient in tae kwon do, it is an easier task to teach fighting competence than it is to train a heart, spirit, and mind into a seasoned veteran, no matter how great Christensen’s genuine eagerness. Najem fauns over his student, waxing that Christensen is “focused” and “learns fast.” What else would an instructor say? But probably most encouraging to martial artists is Najem’s declaration that Christensen is both “humble and quiet.” Whether it comes from a fighting insecurity or a true personality trait, there’s nothing like sincerity when it comes to training a student. Perhaps this is an element that estranges Anakin from Obi-Wan. And what about tae kwon do? How will that affect sword fighting in the next movie? Probably in movement and stances.


Probably the most significant development in Jedi sword fighting to date is the re-infusion of Japanese sword arts into the Star Wars universe. At the front of these rumors are three significant facts: 1) Lucas said in Japan that he was going to use more Japanese in the next film, 2) a rumor that Shorinji Kempo practitioner Makiya Yamaguchi may be a new Sith apprentice, and 3) McCallum’s statement that Gillard and/or his people are checking out training halls in Australia for stunt people and kendoists. During pre-Episode I rumor-mongering, there was unsubstantiated talk of possible pitched battles between Jedi and Mandalorian (i.e. Boba Fett) commandos. In the end, it turned out to be Federation Droids against Gungans. Again, in the pre-Episode II time period, there is rumor of Jedi fighting taking place. And this time there will be Mandalorian commandos. From a chronological perspective, the manner in which the Jedi are “exterminated” is yet to be seen. For an order of knights that numbers into the thousands, how will they be destroyed by the Emperor? Swordsmen and women all over the world wait in anticipation. Sadly, they are to be wiped out by Darth Sidious and his forces, probably by a combination of political machination, deception, and mass executions. One would hate to see the Republic’s elite defenders fall to opponents simply because they lacked sword fighting skills. In discussing possible Japanese influences on Episode II, three different traditions fall neatly into a historical delimitation established by Europeans -- the Three Estates. Europeans historically divided their societies (especially France) into the First Estate -- the clergy, the Second Estate -- the nobility, and the Third Estate -- the commoners. In regards to Japanese martial arts, three fighting traditions fit neatly into this structure. Shorinji Kempo works well for the First Estate, kenjutsu (kendo) for the Second Estate, and karate for the Third Estate.


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If the fall of one Jedi Master has such a profound effect on a single apprentice, one can only imagine how the story will unfold when the very Jedi Council is threatened with extinction at the hands of a rising Emperor. While stories of old last because of their inherent universality, Star Wars fans all over the world await with bated breath the ultimate fall of the Jedi.


“I sense Count Dooku.”


Fan Reviews


So why does it matter? This essay, which was written for Catholic World Report magazine, is partly based on reviews and essays.

The circle is complete. The saga that began in midstream over a quarter century ago with Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi — also known to aficionados as Episodes IV, V, and VI, respectively — has at last come to a close with the May release of Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the third and final installment in the new trilogy of “prequels” detailing the back story to the original trilogy. Though the new prequels have been widely contrasted unfavorably with the original trilogy, the Star Wars universe remains a cultural institution of immense proportions. Its impact on Hollywood alone has been incalculable. It’s impossible to imagine Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., The Matrix, or The Lord of the Rings without Star Wars. In fact, Lucas’s bitterest critics charge Star Wars with nothing less than “ruining” Hollywood by turning it from the gritty, “relevant” sophistication of films like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall toward juvenile fantasy, spectacle, and romanticism. Here’s a typical complaint from Peter Biskind’s gossipy manifesto Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock’n’Roll Generation Saved Hollywood: “When all was said and done, Lucas and Spielberg returned the 1970s audience, grown sophisticated on a diet of European and New Hollywood films, to the simplicities of the pre-1960s Golden Age of movies… They marched backward through the looking-glass.”


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Those with different values, obviously, might care to see it the other way round: It was Lucas and Spielberg who “saved Hollywood” from the decadence of the “sexdrugs-and-rock’n’roll generation” and brought old-fashioned good-versus-evil storytelling back to theaters. That’s not to say that Lucas’s critics don’t have a point. Artistically, the flaws and limitations of the Star Wars films — and of its many less distinguished heirs, from Independence Day to Tomb Raider — are inescapable. They are silly, indifferently acted, poorly thought out in some respects, and not infrequently inconsistent verging on self-contradiction. As Lucas’s saga progressed, moreover, the flaws have become more pronounced. When Lucas cannily gave the original Star Wars film the puzzling subtitle Episode IV — A New Hope, it wasn’t because he had a clear vision for a series of six (or nine) films. Rather, he was paying homage to the serial matinee adventures of his childhood, and wanted to evoke the sense of a larger canvas where in fact he had only hazy ideas for possible sequels and even hazier ideas for what was then a wholly hypothetical back story. As a result, the more Lucas has tried to extrapolate what happened before and after the first Star Wars film (A New Hope), the more problems have emerged. The Empire Strikes Back is widely regarded as the most complex and interesting film of the lot, but by Return of the Jedi the seams were definitely showing. The prequels brought a host of new problems, adding more fuel to the fire. Yet, despite these pitfalls, Lucas’s universe has had an impact on generations of moviegoers utterly out of all proportion to its formidable qualities as spectacle


or excitement. The Force, the Jedi knights, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan, Princess Leia, Yoda, lightsabers, and the Death Star hold a place in the collective imagination of countless Americans that can only be described as mythic. In my review of A New Hope I called Star Wars “the quintessential American mythology,” an American take on King Arthur, Tolkien, and the samurai / wuxia epics of the East, dressed in the space-opera trappings of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon and festooned with a variety of nostalgic Hollywood influences — serialadventure swashbuckling, WWII movie dogfights, movie-Nazi villains, saloon shootouts. The saloon shootouts, of course, come from that other great American mythology, the Western. (So does Han Solo’s general cowboy look and demeanor.) By the 1970s, though, the Western no longer enjoyed the hold on the popular imagination it once had (though its influence has continued to be felt in films from Star Wars to Die Hard to Armageddon). Ultimately, what the Star Wars films offer is not a coherent philosophy of life, morality, or spirituality. Rather, they offer rousing storytelling suffused by themes of moral struggle and transcendence. They aren’t Christian, and not without their problems — any more than the classical Greco-Roman myths that generations of Christian children have grown up reading. Yet, like those classical myths, they give imaginative shape, albeit imperfectly, to basic human insights, and like the classical myths they have become a part of the cultural landscape. If the adventures of Hercules and Odysseus can be enjoyed by Christians and shared with their children, those of Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi have a place as well. Star Wars is pop mythology — a “McMyth,” as a recent critical article put it — but in our McCulture even a McMyth can be vastly preferable to no myth at all, and certainly to other, less wholesome mythologies. Even for those who generally prefer more traditional fare, there is still much to enjoy and appreciate in these half-baked, stunningly mounted fantasies of good and evil in a galaxy far, far away.


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A Fans Guide to Star Wars  

A Fans Guide to Star Wars  

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