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Episode VIII : The Last Jedi - Discussion * SPOILER THREAD * — Page 166

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Well, I’m not the one saying that TLJ is deconstructing things. I’m not the one taking the middle of the film as the definitive take on its meaning. Normally you look at how a film ends to determine that. And thanks to Rogueleader’s comment above, I found a an endless string of articles on Star Wars being postmodern (the older films, not the ST). And really, there are as many interpretations of Star Wars as there are philosophies out there. There is no right answer because philosophy is really about what something means to you. What I see in all these claims of postmodernism is evidently very different. I found the term pre-modern to be most applicable. Lucas built it on a collection of old things set in bygone days. He added on the layers of internal myths and legends to create a layered and textured world that he threw us into. The list of his sources seems varied and endless. It is Casabalanca, Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Damn Busters, Flash Gordon, and so so many others. To know what all went into it would require a time machine to catch all the films and books that influenced him prior to when the film started shooting. As far as I can see, JJ and RJ have followed that eclectic inspiration as they have worked on these films. RJ even posted three films that he was watching for inspiration - Twelve O’clock High, To Catch A Thief, and Three Outlaw Samurai. Very much the type of films that Lucas would have watched (and he actually did watch Twelve O’clock High). I felt he ended up with a film that is closer to the original trilogy in feel than the others. While JJ tried to go back visually, RJ went back to the roots. And if his take is postmodern, then we really need to think about what it was Lucas did because he really created a new mythos for the modern world by basing it in a galaxy far away. If The Santa Clause and TLJ are postmodern, than the entire saga is a postmodern creation.

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yotsuya said:

Well, I’m not the one saying that TLJ is deconstructing things. I’m not the one taking the middle of the film as the definitive take on its meaning. Normally you look at how a film ends to determine that. And thanks to Rogueleader’s comment above, I found a an endless string of articles on Star Wars being postmodern (the older films, not the ST). And really, there are as many interpretations of Star Wars as there are philosophies out there. There is no right answer because philosophy is really about what something means to you. What I see in all these claims of postmodernism is evidently very different. I found the term pre-modern to be most applicable. Lucas built it on a collection of old things set in bygone days. He added on the layers of internal myths and legends to create a layered and textured world that he threw us into. The list of his sources seems varied and endless. It is Casabalanca, Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Damn Busters, Flash Gordon, and so so many others. To know what all went into it would require a time machine to catch all the films and books that influenced him prior to when the film started shooting. As far as I can see, JJ and RJ have followed that eclectic inspiration as they have worked on these films. RJ even posted three films that he was watching for inspiration - Twelve O’clock High, To Catch A Thief, and Three Outlaw Samurai. Very much the type of films that Lucas would have watched (and he actually did watch Twelve O’clock High). I felt he ended up with a film that is closer to the original trilogy in feel than the others. While JJ tried to go back visually, RJ went back to the roots. And if his take is postmodern, then we really need to think about what it was Lucas did because he really created a new mythos for the modern world by basing it in a galaxy far away. If The Santa Clause and TLJ are postmodern, than the entire saga is a postmodern creation.

Like I said, the difference between Lucas and RJ is, that in Lucas’ work the hero works to become the legend, where the hero ultimately overcomes his or her flaws to reach a state of enlightenment, while in TLJ the legend is presented as having symbolic value, but ultimately unattainable in reality, because in the end the best we can hope for is to own our failures, and be at peace with our flawed human nature.

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DrDre said:

yotsuya said:

Well, I’m not the one saying that TLJ is deconstructing things. I’m not the one taking the middle of the film as the definitive take on its meaning. Normally you look at how a film ends to determine that. And thanks to Rogueleader’s comment above, I found a an endless string of articles on Star Wars being postmodern (the older films, not the ST). And really, there are as many interpretations of Star Wars as there are philosophies out there. There is no right answer because philosophy is really about what something means to you. What I see in all these claims of postmodernism is evidently very different. I found the term pre-modern to be most applicable. Lucas built it on a collection of old things set in bygone days. He added on the layers of internal myths and legends to create a layered and textured world that he threw us into. The list of his sources seems varied and endless. It is Casabalanca, Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Damn Busters, Flash Gordon, and so so many others. To know what all went into it would require a time machine to catch all the films and books that influenced him prior to when the film started shooting. As far as I can see, JJ and RJ have followed that eclectic inspiration as they have worked on these films. RJ even posted three films that he was watching for inspiration - Twelve O’clock High, To Catch A Thief, and Three Outlaw Samurai. Very much the type of films that Lucas would have watched (and he actually did watch Twelve O’clock High). I felt he ended up with a film that is closer to the original trilogy in feel than the others. While JJ tried to go back visually, RJ went back to the roots. And if his take is postmodern, then we really need to think about what it was Lucas did because he really created a new mythos for the modern world by basing it in a galaxy far away. If The Santa Clause and TLJ are postmodern, than the entire saga is a postmodern creation.

Like I said, the difference between Lucas and RJ is, that in Lucas’ work the hero works to become the legend, where the hero ultimately overcomes his or her flaws to reach a state of enlightenment, while in TLJ the legend is presented as having symbolic value, but ultimately unattainable in reality, because in the end the best we can hope for is to own our failures, and be at peace with our flawed human nature.

Luke is not the hero in TLJ so I don’t know what you are talking about. Rey is the hero.

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yotsuya said:

DrDre said:

yotsuya said:

Well, I’m not the one saying that TLJ is deconstructing things. I’m not the one taking the middle of the film as the definitive take on its meaning. Normally you look at how a film ends to determine that. And thanks to Rogueleader’s comment above, I found a an endless string of articles on Star Wars being postmodern (the older films, not the ST). And really, there are as many interpretations of Star Wars as there are philosophies out there. There is no right answer because philosophy is really about what something means to you. What I see in all these claims of postmodernism is evidently very different. I found the term pre-modern to be most applicable. Lucas built it on a collection of old things set in bygone days. He added on the layers of internal myths and legends to create a layered and textured world that he threw us into. The list of his sources seems varied and endless. It is Casabalanca, Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Damn Busters, Flash Gordon, and so so many others. To know what all went into it would require a time machine to catch all the films and books that influenced him prior to when the film started shooting. As far as I can see, JJ and RJ have followed that eclectic inspiration as they have worked on these films. RJ even posted three films that he was watching for inspiration - Twelve O’clock High, To Catch A Thief, and Three Outlaw Samurai. Very much the type of films that Lucas would have watched (and he actually did watch Twelve O’clock High). I felt he ended up with a film that is closer to the original trilogy in feel than the others. While JJ tried to go back visually, RJ went back to the roots. And if his take is postmodern, then we really need to think about what it was Lucas did because he really created a new mythos for the modern world by basing it in a galaxy far away. If The Santa Clause and TLJ are postmodern, than the entire saga is a postmodern creation.

Like I said, the difference between Lucas and RJ is, that in Lucas’ work the hero works to become the legend, where the hero ultimately overcomes his or her flaws to reach a state of enlightenment, while in TLJ the legend is presented as having symbolic value, but ultimately unattainable in reality, because in the end the best we can hope for is to own our failures, and be at peace with our flawed human nature.

Luke is not the hero in TLJ so I don’t know what you are talking about. Rey is the hero.

That doesn’t really matter, since we’ve been made aware of the fact, that despite becoming a Jedi at the end of the last trilogy, Luke was not able to overcome his flawed human nature, and thus the state of enlightenment has been proven to be unattainable, not only to the hero of the OT, but of any trilogy that follows.

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That is totally not what I took from the movie. It seems like you’re taking a super depressing message whereas I see a really hopeful one. Unless I’m misinterpreting you. Our failures and mistakes make us think we aren’t capable of becoming who we want to be, but if we continue to believe in ourselves we can overcome our failures and eventually become who we want to be. Luke doesn’t think he is the legend people believe in, but in the end he once again believes in himself and truly becomes that legend. In TLJ, the legend has both tangible and symbolic value.

The way you describe Lucas’ work is exactly what happens in RJ’s work. Luke overcomes his flaws and reaches a state of enlightenment.

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RogueLeader said:

That is totally not what I took from the movie. It seems like you’re taking a super depressing message whereas I see a really hopeful one. Unless I’m misinterpreting you. Our failures and mistakes make us think we aren’t capable of becoming who we want to be, but if we continue to believe in ourselves we can overcome our failures and eventually become who we want to be. Luke doesn’t think he is the legend people believe in, but in the end he once again believes in himself and truly becomes that legend. In TLJ, the legend has both tangible and symbolic value.

The way you describe Lucas’ work is exactly what happens in RJ’s work. Luke overcomes his flaws and reaches a state of enlightenment.

The reason I’m more inclined to go for the depressing message is, that I find much of what I have seen depressing. The heroes of the OT lived to see all that they fought for destroyed. Han and Leia’s relationship dissolved, while their son became a homicidal maniac, who ultimately murdered his father, Luke saw his Jedi academy destroyed, and abandoned his friends, and the galaxy at large, the New Republic was wiped out in an instant, once again forcing the good guys in the role of an even smaller rebellion. To me Luke finding a shred of dignity, and some hope that the next generation may make things right for a while cannot compensate for the depressing notion, that some evil force can just be pulled from behind the curtain to push the reset button without explanation. The real hope for me is that TROS will provide some much needed context to help me believe our heroes can finally break this rather cynical and depressing cycle.

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It is not a cynical message at all in my opinion. I think this story is for everyone, but to me, most of all, it is for those people who feel like they have lost everything. People whose greatest fears came to true (like Luke, Han and Leia).

Not to get too personal, but these last few years of my life have been some of the hardest for me. Personal loss, betrayal, a lot of mistakes, and total failure. I recently had to start back at square one, and it almost feels like my life is repeating itself. Maybe that is why I relate to the new movies so much. I’ve experienced what feels like history repeating itself, my greatest fears manifesting, really doubting any hope for the future. So I think I can really relate with the emotions the characters are going through. And since these characters function as role models of a sorts, seeing them at their lowest point after they thought things were good, and being able to persevere and still find that hope is really powerful to me.

So maybe not everyone can immediately relate to that, but I think in some shape or form most if not all people go through that experience of being at their lowest point, and that is who I think this story is for. If our heroes can come back from their greatest fears coming true, then maybe I can too.

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RogueLeader said:

It is not a cynical message at all in my opinion. I think this story is for everyone, but to me, most of all, it is for those people who feel like they have lost everything. People whose greatest fears came to true (like Luke, Han and Leia).

Not to get too personal, but these last few years of my life have been some of the hardest for me. Personal loss, betrayal, total failure. I recently had to start back at square one, and it almost feels like my life is repeating itself. Maybe that is why I relate to the new movies so much. I’ve experienced what feels like history repeating itself, my greatest fears manifesting, really doubting any hope for the future. So I think I can really relate with the emotions the characters are going through. And since these characters function as role models of a sorts, seeing them at their lowest point after they thought things were good, and being able to persevere and still find that hope is really powerful to me.

So maybe not everyone can immediately relate to that, but I think in some shape or form most if not all people go through that experience of being at their lowest point, and that is who I think this story is for. If our heroes can come back from their greatest fears coming true, then maybe I can too.

I’m happy to hear, that you were able to relate to the story, and that it has inspired you in this way. Despite of how I personally feel about these films, any film that manages to inspire people is a success on some level. 😃

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Thank you! Yeah, we’re just coming at with different viewpoints, and I’ve found that viewpoints definitely evolve over time. So to me all our conversations are about learning different perspectives and interpretations. So hopefully in the end we can both acknowledge criticisms and find things to appreciate about it.

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DrDre said:

DominicCobb said:

DrDre said:

Well, I would say modernism and postmodernism are opposing philosophies, much like capitalism, and socialism, and so they clash by default. I would also say RJ quite deliberately set out to create a work, that clashes with past perceptions in a great many ways. My interpretation of TLJ is, that it first rejects and deconstructs the concepts of legends, and heroism, as presented in the first 7 parts of the story, and then reframes it in a postmodern context by the end. I think this clashing of opposing views, is at the heart of the fan division, where many fans view the film as refreshing, and a necessary step in the future development of the franchise, whereas others view it as a betrayal of what came before. For this reason, even if I dislike the direction chosen by RJ, I still believe TLJ is one of the most interesting Star Wars films, and blockbusters in general to date.

I don’t have the time for a lengthy response right now but I don’t think modernism and postmodernism are exclusively opposing philosophies in general (both ideas can exist within a single work) and certainly not in the context of those two films, nor do I think the two films specifically align with those two movements (I actually don’t think TLJ is a very good example of a postmodern work). Even back to my comparison, I think one could easily make a similar argument about SW and TESB. Point ultimately being, such an analysis is subjective, and the idea that the two films objectively clash with each other is silly, as is the suggestion that anyone who disagrees is doing so in bad faith.

Who suggested the two films objectively clash with each other, or suggested that anyone who disagrees is doing so in bad faith?

ATMachine definitely seemed to suggest as much.

You may disagree, but consider this. A great many critics consider RJ’s latest film Knives Out to be a postmodern work:

https://zodiacvideos.com/rian-johnson-trades-in-lightsabers-for-postmodern-whodunnit-knives-out/

It seems RJ takes great interest in postmodernism, and I personally see a pattern.

Anyone who knows his work would know his interests (obviously I haven’t seen his newest film but I have seen all his others, and the fact that Knives Out would be considered postmodern isn’t surprising to me).

You may feel TLJ is not a good example of a postmodern work, but I would say it is not for lack of trying. I would classify it as being a flawed postmodern work, as RJ struggled to fit his postmodern concepts to the largely modern myth that is Star Wars. I would argue RJ spends too much time deconstructing the mythology, and ultimately does too little to reconstruct it by the end of the film.

I don’t think it’s a good example because I think there are better ones, and I hesitate to classify a work with postmodern elements as postmodern when it features many other elements that do no fit the bill (in my opinion). More germane to the current topic, I think you can find elements of postmodernism in a number of Star Wars films, including specifically TFA. Regardless, postmodernism by nature being a response to modernism, so even by your own definition (which I disagree with) if TLJ is the former and TFA the latter, there is not necessarily a clash created if a sequel (which are by nature responses to the prior film) features a philosophy that is in dialogue with another, different philosophy.

JEDIT: Seems like most of what I’m saying here has already been covered. Carry on.

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RogueLeader said:

Thank you! Yeah, we’re just coming at with different viewpoints, and I’ve found that viewpoints definitely evolve over time. So to me all our conversations are about learning different perspectives and interpretations. So hopefully in the end we can both acknowledge criticisms and find things to appreciate about it.

There are things I appreciate about it, and at times I almost like it, so I hope TROS will tip the scales. 😉 These conversations certainly hel me appreciate it more, seeing it through someone else’s mind.

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yotsuya said:

While Luke’s actions in the OT happened in confined quarters with no witnesses, his actions here happen in the open in front of many witnesses on both sides with few understanding the reality of what just happened. Luke did not take this action to create a false myth that would destroy the Jedi (what postmodernism would do), but to create a new myth to help rebuild the Jedi.

This is where the case for Luke in TLJ breaks down for me. That his legacy was enacted behind closed doors made no difference to the universe of The Force Awakens, wherein every character’s motivation was dictated by a quest to find Luke, specifically because of the actions he committed to 30 years prior. Rejection of his legendary status would be much more plausible had it been an overexaggerated or a falsified one, e.g. if the world believed he single handedly conquered the Empire with his own two hands and killed Vader, without any redemption or familial connection; but it’s not. Rey, the layman who’s lived a secluded life on a desert planet with little connection to the outside world has the events of the throne room scene in Jedi down to a T. She is our frame of reference for what the majority of the galaxy’s population knows Luke Skywalker to be, which is a 99.9% factual perspective. Functionally the old Luke legend should serve the same purpose as the new & reinvented Luke legend, perhaps even more so because it’s not a trick of the lense with wonky astral-projection attached. It doesn’t serve this purpose because the Director wanted a deconstructionist angle in his film without prioritizing how it would actually make sense in the 8th Act of this 9 Act story.

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Swazzy said:

This is where the case for Luke in TLJ breaks down for me. That his legacy was enacted behind closed doors made no difference to the universe of The Force Awakens, wherein every character’s motivation was dictated by a quest to find Luke, specifically because of the actions he committed to 30 years prior. Rejection of his legendary status would be much more plausible had it been an overexaggerated or a falsified one.

But it’s Luke doing the rejecting of his legendary status, not the universe. It’s a question of Luke never quite believing in himself, and even when he did, he did it the wrong way. He is being ruthless towards himself in that confession to Rey, and it shows that he never quite believed in himself the way others did, and when he tried to, he did it with reservations and a lack of conviction.

That’s very much in character for Luke Skywalker. “Always with you, it can not be done.” That’s the part of the legend Luke sees that nobody else in the larger universe has ever even heard of, and that’s the part that scares him the most, and haunts him the hardest. The Last Jedi is a movie that is consistently about discovering who you REALLY are, and the only way you can do that is when you are brought low by your biggest fear, and you decide you have to move beyond it. HOW you do that is what defines you. That happens with Poe, it happens with Finn, it happens with Rey, it happens with Kylo, and it happens with Luke.

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Broom Kid said:

Swazzy said:

This is where the case for Luke in TLJ breaks down for me. That his legacy was enacted behind closed doors made no difference to the universe of The Force Awakens, wherein every character’s motivation was dictated by a quest to find Luke, specifically because of the actions he committed to 30 years prior. Rejection of his legendary status would be much more plausible had it been an overexaggerated or a falsified one.

But it’s Luke doing the rejecting of his legendary status, not the universe. It’s a question of Luke never quite believing in himself, and even when he did, he did it the wrong way. He is being ruthless towards himself in that confession to Rey, and it shows that he never quite believed in himself the way others did, and when he tried to, he did it with reservations and a lack of conviction.

That’s very much in character for Luke Skywalker. “Always with you, it can not be done.” That’s the part of the legend Luke sees that nobody else in the larger universe has ever even heard of, and that’s the part that scares him the most, and haunts him the hardest. The Last Jedi is a movie that is consistently about discovering who you REALLY are, and the only way you can do that is when you are brought low by your biggest fear, and you decide you have to move beyond it. HOW you do that is what defines you. That happens with Poe, it happens with Finn, it happens with Rey, it happens with Kylo, and it happens with Luke.

That’s what I meant by rejection, that he rejects it at all is confusing. You cite a criticism from Yoda in Empire to explain his lack of resolve, as if the following film didn’t go to great lengths to demonstrate that Luke had grown beyond that. He became less of a doubter than the master who once called him the same, when he thought he could redeem a murderer through love for his father alone, and succeeded in doing so. For what reason would he have to doubt himself at that point? For what reason is there to parse from the remainder of that film that he’d remain a doubter? It’s less a character assassination than it is a character regression; that you have to compare TLJ Luke to ESB Luke is telling of exactly what’s wrong with the writing.

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Swazzy said:

That’s what I meant by rejection, that he rejects it at all is confusing. You cite a criticism from Yoda in Empire to explain his lack of resolve, as if the following film didn’t go to great lengths to demonstrate that Luke had grown beyond that. He became less of a doubter than the master who once called him the same, when he thought he could redeem a murderer through love for his father alone, and succeeded in doing so. For what reason would he have to doubt himself at that point? For what reason is there to parse from the remainder of that film that he’d remain a doubter? It’s less a character assassination than it is a character regression; that you have to compare TLJ Luke to ESB Luke is telling of exactly what’s wrong with the writing.

People don’t just magically lose self doubt and insecurity when they become successful though. In many successful people, their fears of their own failures only get amplified. They don’t see it as having won, or having bettered themselves. They see it as having a harder fall when they inevitably screw it all up again. Sometimes our heroes don’t think of themselves as heroes, and their struggles with insecurity and self-doubt are doing things to them we’d never suspect looking from the outside.

Granted, the characterization of Luke in the sequel trilogy is, on a behind-the-scenes level separate from the larger storytelling, prompted by the fact they needed a reason to keep him out of The Force Awakens. But when it came time to personalize that reason, to make it make sense, Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill worked together to come up with a version that not only makes sense, but is very emotionally resonant. I don’t think it’s confusing at all that a person as innately good as Luke would react with self-doubt, insecurity, and hesitancy in response to having the mantle of Legend placed upon him, and he’d definitely be mad at himself for allowing himself to believe he was one, even for a second, especially when, in that second, it led to his losing Ben.

The reason “happily ever after” works so well in fantasies is because you don’t have to go into the parts after THE END where nothing ever ends, and the people, despite the things they learned and the change they’ve affected, still wrestle with who they are, and why they do the things they do. Politicians are like this. Teachers are like this. Athletes, artists - any sort of role model you can think of, all you have to do is check out a biography from the library and read the parts that come after any other story would have stopped and “Happily ever after’d” and see similar struggles.

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Broom Kid said:

Swazzy said:

That’s what I meant by rejection, that he rejects it at all is confusing. You cite a criticism from Yoda in Empire to explain his lack of resolve, as if the following film didn’t go to great lengths to demonstrate that Luke had grown beyond that. He became less of a doubter than the master who once called him the same, when he thought he could redeem a murderer through love for his father alone, and succeeded in doing so. For what reason would he have to doubt himself at that point? For what reason is there to parse from the remainder of that film that he’d remain a doubter? It’s less a character assassination than it is a character regression; that you have to compare TLJ Luke to ESB Luke is telling of exactly what’s wrong with the writing.

People don’t just magically lose self doubt and insecurity when they become successful though. In many successful people, their fears of their own failures only get amplified. They don’t see it as having won, or having bettered themselves. They see it as having a harder fall when they inevitably screw it all up again. Sometimes our heroes don’t think of themselves as heroes, and their struggles with insecurity and self-doubt are doing things to them we’d never suspect looking from the outside.

Luke’s story in ROTJ is not one of becoming successful in spite of his flaws. It’s overcoming those flaws, losing self doubt, and insecurity that make him successful, that make him a Jedi.

Granted, the characterization of Luke in the sequel trilogy is, on a behind-the-scenes level separate from the larger storytelling, prompted by the fact they needed a reason to keep him out of The Force Awakens. But when it came time to personalize that reason, to make it make sense, Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill worked together to come up with a version that not only makes sense, but is very emotionally resonant. I don’t think it’s confusing at all that a person as innately good as Luke would react with self-doubt, insecurity, and hesitancy in response to having the mantle of Legend placed upon him, and he’d definitely be mad at himself for allowing himself to believe he was one, even for a second, especially when, in that second, it led to his losing Ben.

Well given Mark Hamill’s repeated statements, I would say Mark Hamill has his reservations about the way his character developed, but worked together with RJ to present RJ’s vision the best way he could.

The reason “happily ever after” works so well in fantasies is because you don’t have to go into the parts after THE END where nothing ever ends, and the people, despite the things they learned and the change they’ve affected, still wrestle with who they are, and why they do the things they do. Politicians are like this. Teachers are like this. Athletes, artists - any sort of role model you can think of, all you have to do is check out a biography from the library and read the parts that come after any other story would have stopped and “Happily ever after’d” and see similar struggles.

To me that’s kind of the point of myths, and fantasies, that it isn’t reality. That we do not find out our hero is secretly a drunk, beats up on his loved ones, neglects his or her children, is afraid of hights, suffers from all sorts of compulsions, etc, etc. I don’t get the idea, that making the Star Wars characters more realistic automatically makes them better.

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DrDre said:

Luke’s story in ROTJ is not one of becoming successful in spite of his flaws. It’s overcoming those flaws, losing self doubt, and insecurity that make him successful, that make him a Jedi.

And people don’t just overcome things once and then they’re never a problem again, either. If a story has to continue, then drama must ensue. And Luke is a focal point of that drama. Nobody becomes a perfect person at age 30, no matter how fantastical the story is. There’s still a lot of learning and overcoming to be done, backsliding and correcting that has to be accounted for. Our heroes are still people, and people are inherently flawed. That they triumph over their flaws is inspiring. But triumph doesn’t erase everything. But that speaks to your next point:

To me that’s kind of the point of myths, and fantasies, that it isn’t reality. That we do not find out our hero is secretly a drunk, beats up on his loved ones, neglects his or her children, is afraid of hights, suffers from all sorts of compulsions, etc, etc. I don’t get the idea, that making the Star Wars characters more realistic automatically makes them better.

It doesn’t “automatically” make them better, but it does make them more sympathetic and more relatable IF the execution is done well. It’s not a math problem, really. There’s no simple equasion to be applied to get Luke Skywalker in the W column and keep him there forever no matter what. He’s a fictional character in a myth. Myths aren’t reality, but they reflect it, and the best storytelling, even when it’s escapist, makes sure to not just reflect the foibles of the people reading and watching those fantasies play out, but to provide them inspiration that you can take out into the world with you. If even someone like Luke is still unsure of himself despite all the things he’s done, it’s not so bad when you’re unsure of yourself. Luke is not only providing the positive example of what to do in the face of failure, he’s a preventative warning of what NOT to do. You don’t have to make the same mistakes a great person made. You’ve seen what happened when he made them, so now you don’t have to go down that path. You’ll make your OWN mistakes though, and now through the power of myth, and the escapism of fantasy, you have an example (among, hopefully, more real life examples you can measure against as well) of what you can do when you make those mistakes.

If you want to look at Star Wars as an aspirational fable, you can still do that even if one of its heroes (or most of them, if not all of them) have character flaws. It doesn’t make them “losers.” It DOES make them failures, but some of the most successful, happy, accomplished, and upstanding people this world has ever turned out were also failures. It’s what they did in the face of those repeated failures that made them role models and legends. That’s a big part of The Last Jedi’s storytelling. The biggest part, really.

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Broom Kid said:

DrDre said:

Luke’s story in ROTJ is not one of becoming successful in spite of his flaws. It’s overcoming those flaws, losing self doubt, and insecurity that make him successful, that make him a Jedi.

And people don’t just overcome things once and then they’re never a problem again, either. If a story has to continue, then drama must ensue. And Luke is a focal point of that drama. Nobody becomes a perfect person at age 30, no matter how fantastical the story is. There’s still a lot of learning and overcoming to be done, backsliding and correcting that has to be accounted for. Our heroes are still people, and people are inherently flawed. That they triumph over their flaws is inspiring. But triumph doesn’t erase everything. But that speaks to your next point:

To me that’s kind of the point of myths, and fantasies, that it isn’t reality. That we do not find out our hero is secretly a drunk, beats up on his loved ones, neglects his or her children, is afraid of hights, suffers from all sorts of compulsions, etc, etc. I don’t get the idea, that making the Star Wars characters more realistic automatically makes them better.

It doesn’t “automatically” make them better, but it does make them more sympathetic and more relatable IF the execution is done well.

Well, I might be more sympathetic, if I didn’t have issues with the execution as well. I feel TLJ failed to really sell Luke’s point of view. That even if you accept Luke letting his fear of a possible outcome get the better of him (despite being a Jedi, who are trained to not let fear control them, and know that the future isn’t set), I don’t see how abandoning everything, and leaving the galaxy at the mercy of two dark siders is in any way a solution to the problem. I feel given our history with the character we deserved a proper setup to his character arc in TLJ. In stead the movie gives us one flashback, where Luke seemingly forgets everything he learned, and then runs from the consequences. This to me makes Luke less relatable, and less sympathetic. In the end Luke needs to be convinced to do the right thing by Yoda, even after he learns of his best friend’s death.

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I disagree, I thought it sold his POV really well. His “solution” to the problem is a bad one, but it’s bad in very understandable ways. When you unfairly come down on yourself, hard, for not living up to ideals you keep pushing out of reach for yourself, you’ll make punitive decisions that are less about making amends and more about getting the hell out of the way, because you honestly believe, at that point, that’s the best option. Just leave. Everyone else is better off without you, because all you do is mess things up for everyone you love. Depression is a liar, it’s said. He’s acting the way he’s acting in no small part because he probably knows in some place what he’s doing is the wrong thing, but he can’t see how anything else could possibly work. The judgment you’re casting is exactly the judgment he’s already applied to himself. He’s being selfish and petulant. But that’s also a part of who he is, and you can struggle to overcome those aspects of yourself, but most people never truly eradicate them. They’ve got to work to keep them at bay, all the time.

I get the feeling behind “But Luke Skywalker shouldn’t have to keep failing in order to be interesting” or even more simply “I don’t WANT Luke Skywalker to fail anymore.” I absolutely understand that emotion behind the complaints. Nobody wants to see their hero succumb to depression and spiral out into self-loathing and self-destruction, right? Nobody wants their friend to cop out. But Luke doesn’t get to be that trapped in amber happily-ever-after hero once the decision is made to make Episodes 7, 8, and 9. And my counter to “I don’t want Luke to fail anymore” is that Luke Skywalker’s victories are as satisfying as they are BECAUSE he fails at first. And fails again! The best he’s ever been as a character is when he’s struggling to overcome his own self-doubts about what is possible, and whether or not he can do it. Luke is at his best as a character, and as a key component of Star Wars storytelling, when he’s in a low place, and through his goodness, his will, and his sense of right and wrong, he not only gets out of that low place, he finds himself standing in a much higher one, and he brought his friends with him, too.

The Last Jedi does that for him. You can be mad at him (or mad at the people who wrote him) for making him un-perfect as a means to move the story forward, but I’m not mad at Luke, or the people who remembered how interesting and relatable and INSPIRING he is when you trip him up and bring him low. I’m empathetic towards him. I’m sympathetic, and I’m pulling for him to realize he’s made bad decisions, even if it takes Yoda showing up and zapping a tree to finally get the light to spark in his eyes. I want my friend to get it, and I’m relieved and happy when he does, because I know what he can do when he finally gets it, and it’s something to see.

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Broom Kid said:
And my counter to “I don’t want Luke to fail anymore” is that Luke Skywalker’s victories are as satisfying as they are BECAUSE he fails at first. And fails again! The best he’s ever been as a character is when he’s struggling to overcome his own self-doubts about what is possible, and whether or not he can do it. Luke is at his best as a character, and as a key component of Star Wars storytelling, when he’s in a low place, and through his goodness, his will, and his sense of right and wrong, he not only gets out of that low place, he finds himself standing in a much higher one, and he brought his friends with him, too.

I disagree. To me watching Luke rise above himself only to be kicked back in the dirt, or watching the rebels beat the Empire only to have it all destroyed just to have to do it all over again, or watch Han become a responsible leader, only to then abandon his friends and family, and become a smuggler again, is not all that satisfying. It may be satisfying in the moment, when they have their moment in the movie, but in the long run it seems pretty pointless, because they are running in circles. Yoda even has to give Luke the same lesson about looking to the horizon in TLJ, because apparently he didn’t get it the first time. I just feel the OT characters had their arc in the OT. This trilogy should have been about the new characters failing, and then overcoming new challenges. Now it seems the old guard had to fail, such that the new generation can step into their shoes, and do it better.

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DrDre said:

I disagree. To me watching Luke rise above himself only to be kicked back in the dirt, or watching the rebels beating the Empire only to have it all destroyed with a blast from a super weapon to have to do it all over again, or watch Han become a responsible leader, only to then abandon his friends and family, and become a smuggler again, is not all that satisfying. It may be satisfying in the moment, but in the long run it seems pretty pointless.

I don’t think the presentation of perserverance and goodness in the face of oppression and hardship is pointless. Wins don’t lose value simply because losses might follow. Championships still count even if the team ends up sucking 15 years later. All the good things a person did in their life don’t suddenly disappear when they die. But again, that’s kind of the philosophical divide I think we keep butting up against here: There’s a sense of score-keeping being applied to the OT characters in the ST, that certain things just shouldn’t have happened because look at this record! Look at X, Y, and Z, now you’re telling me all that grinding and leveling up doesn’t matter - and now this person over here that only JUST started playing gets a fully loaded sheet? There’s almost a gamification being applied to the story and I just don’t look at character or story in that way, and I don’t think characters in fiction are best served by keeping them boxed in.

If you only focus on the fact a failure happened at all, and not on the way everyone rose above that failure, (Everyone - the new characters too - that they’re learning from the past as well as learning on their own isn’t a negative thing, I don’t think) then it feels to me like you’re willfully missing the point. If you refuse to accept that a failure could have happened in the first place, you’re not meeting the story on its own level. And of course a failure could have happened. It’s not out of bounds, it’s not out of the question. I believe that stories work because they have the freedom to examine those sorts of scenarios. “What if a hero never truly reckoned with his own insecurities and succumbed to depression after a preventable tragedy?” I understand the knee-jerk response of “That would suck and I wouldn’t like that” but that’s a starting point, not the final answer. You can do things with fictional characters that you’d never want to see in real life, and the inspiration comes in showing ways out of that darkness. I understand the impulse to say “but they should never go into the darkness in the first place” and you’re right to feel that way, but I don’t think that makes for affecting drama or potent myth, either.

edit: completely off topic, but I want to say I’m a big fan of your color grading work on the fan preservations and I seriously cannot wait for you to finish that work and see it applied to the OT. It’s amazing stuff and I’m very appreciative. Thank you for dedicating so much time and energy to it.

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Broom Kid said:

DrDre said:

I disagree. To me watching Luke rise above himself only to be kicked back in the dirt, or watching the rebels beating the Empire only to have it all destroyed with a blast from a super weapon to have to do it all over again, or watch Han become a responsible leader, only to then abandon his friends and family, and become a smuggler again, is not all that satisfying. It may be satisfying in the moment, but in the long run it seems pretty pointless.

I don’t think the presentation of perserverance and goodness in the face of oppression and hardship is pointless. Wins don’t lose value simply because losses might follow. Championships still count even if the team ends up sucking 15 years later. All the good things a person did in their life don’t suddenly disappear when they die. But again, that’s kind of the philosophical divide I think we keep butting up against here: There’s a sense of score-keeping being applied to the OT characters in the ST, that certain things just shouldn’t have happened because look at this record! Look at X, Y, and Z, now you’re telling me all that grinding and leveling up doesn’t matter - and now this person over here that only JUST started playing gets a fully loaded sheet? There’s almost a gamification being applied to the story and I just don’t look at character or story in that way, and I don’t think characters in fiction are best served by keeping them boxed in.

If you only focus on the fact a failure happened at all, and not on the way everyone rose above that failure, then it feels to me like you’re willfully missing the point. If you refuse to accept that a failure could have happened in the first place, you’re not meeting the story on its own level. And of course a failure could have happened. It’s not out of bounds, it’s not out of the question. I believe that stories work because they have the freedom to examine those sorts of scenarios. “What if a hero never truly reckoned with his own insecurities and succumbed to depression after a preventable tragedy?” I understand the knee-jerk response of “That would suck and I wouldn’t like that” but that’s a starting point, not the final answer. You can do things with fictional characters that you’d never want to see in real life, and the inspiration comes in showing ways out of that darkness. I understand the impulse to say “but they should never go into the darkness in the first place” and you’re right to feel that way, but I don’t think that makes for affecting drama or potent myth, either.

I might agree to some extend, if the new challenges weren’t so similar to the old. That to me is what makes it pointless, or perhaps pointless is too strong a word. Let’s say it is a case of diminished returns. We all make mistakes, and face challenges, that we hope to overcome, but to make the same mistakes, and to have to overcome the same challenges over and over again? After four decades I expected the story to be in a different place, and not to have this constant sense of deja vu.

edit: completely off topic, but I want to say I’m a big fan of your color grading work on the fan preservations and I seriously cannot wait for you to finish that work and see it applied to the OT. It’s amazing stuff and I’m very appreciative. Thank you for dedicating so much time and energy to it.

Thanks! It’s much appreciated! 😃

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Luke thought he could take down Vader because he was his father’s kid, and had enough training. He was severely mistaken. He lost a hand, couldn’t save his best friend Han, and endangered Leia and the rebellion with his presence alone. Not only does he stay on track with his original mission statement, despite having every virtue and preconceived notion questioned, despite having his mentors be liars in his eyes, despite being so lost in the world, he was ultimately strengthened by his own failure and came out a better person on top. That’s a moral I can personally abide by, and it’s hardly an unrealistic thing.

Luke then thinks he can train Ben Solo, despite sensing the Dark Side throughout his training. He was severly mistaken; he lost his nephew to a powerful Dark Side Force user and felt like he betrayed Han and Leia, although they would disagree. Han himself thought Luke was a more reputable person to be trusted with turning Kylo back from the dark than he was, Leia thought it possible because he was a Jedi, and Luke didn’t agree. And now despite being a wiser, more mature human being who’d been through many worse things in the past, he opts to flake on his mission statement and let much worse things happen from his inaction than had ever happened from any of his direct actions. Because he’s…insecure? If the reasoning really was that he felt he stood to lose even more, then he’d first prevent more loss from occurring while he was still readily available to do so. But he doesn’t because the script requires him elsewhere for reasons that were undeveloped prior to actually putting him there.

Functionally it’d be more sensible to have him go there to mediate, to find the precise moment to reintroduce himself to the conflict in order to ensure the “brightest timeline” so to speak. And in his meditation he begins to doubt whether he’s committed to the right course of action, but before fully following through, it takes Rey, a young adult who has been through near-identical trials and tribulations, to truly connect and bring him out of his hole.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77