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Episode VIII : The Last Jedi - Discussion * SPOILER THREAD * — Page 167

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DrDre said:

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.

This is the REAL problem with Luke’s character: the problem isn’t that he is depressed or has PTSD, the problem is that they didn’t justify Luke’s behavior enough. They could’ve given more reasons for his depression: maybe he went and tried to find a way to save Ben, but everytime he tried so he failed, and decided to give up. They could’ve also explained that Luke felt like HE was the monster for accidentally unleashing a new dark sider onto the galaxy, leaving his friends behind because he felt like he’d make things worse.

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The whole legend/messiah/hermit routine was done really well in the Dune novels IMO. It’s a similar scenario (maybe Rian’s a fan?) where Paul’s prescience/power comes to a standstill and he wanders off into the desert to die. He survives of course, and becomes this ragged preacher who rails against the current regime from the sidelines, challenging his own legend as he does so.

The difference is Frank Herbert still manages to maintain the dignity of the character. I’m a big fan of the Gary Kurtz ‘disillusioned Luke wandering off into the sunset’ idea, but it comes with the caveat that Luke not become pathetic. Since I find ROTJ to be disappointingly dumbed-down (after the brilliantly nuanced TESB), I still cling to the notion of Luke rejecting the binary view of the Force shared by his mentors, and seeking a new path.

This is what TLJ should have been IMO. Not Luke ‘giving up’, but Luke rejecting the notion of Jedi orthodoxy. Perhaps he and Kylo could have shared a vision where death to one of them was revealed as the only outcome. Kylo embraces the vision (in his lust for power and the restoration of his grandfather’s evil legacy) and Luke rejects it because he’s sick of this ‘Dark Side/Light Side’ business and doesn’t want to kill his sister’s son. His not training Rey could be a ruse, a deliberate way of setting her on a new path free of the old Jedi constraints. When Yoda appears in TLJ, Luke reveals the ruse - that the old ways are gone now - and then does the Force-skype with Kylo. This would be a way of restoring the legend, setting a new agenda as well as a new ethical framework for Star Wars (there is no Dark Side, only the choices we make), and kickstarting a new type of Jedi.

I mean this essentially what the film was doing, but I don’t believe we needed to have Luke stand over Kylo with murderous (however fleeting) intent, or revert Luke to pre-ROTJ status with Yoda repeating the “always looking to the horizon” lecture. Luke’s ‘looking to the horizon’ was his strength. This movie should have, and could have, reinforced this.

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If you guys don’t mind me going off topic briefly, are you excited/anxious about the upcoming Dune film, Maul? Since you mentioned it I thought you might be a fan.

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RogueLeader said:

If you guys don’t mind me going off topic briefly, are you excited/anxious about the upcoming Dune film, Maul? Since you mentioned it I thought you might be a fan.

I haven’t looked into it to be honest, although a good friend of mine (we read Dune together in High School during the 80s) is super psyched. I quite liked the '84 film, even though it was arguably pretty hokey. My Dune relationship slightly echoes my Star Wars one in that I considered it all ‘canon’ (that is all of Frank’s novels as well as the Anderson/Herbert additions) until I had an inexplicable mental shift and realised it all didn’t quite add up. So, strictly speaking, I think the first four (Frank Herbert) books are awesome and everything else is a few rungs down from there. But I re-read Dune every couple of years. I think it’s basically a work of genius.

How about you? Are you a Dune-ist?

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I actually have not read it! I’m familiar with it and some of its ideas through its place in science fiction, its comparisons to Star Wars, and the Lynch adaptation (which I’ve never watched all the way through). I don’t know I haven’t read it yet, I know it is considered a classic and I’ve been wanting to pick it up, but now that movie is coming out I thought about holding off and getting my perspective on the film through a non-reader lens. Maybe we could discuss the film and compare our thoughts once it comes out since you are a repeat reader and I’ve never picked it up.

I will say the director, Denis Villenueve, is basically the best pick to adapt it. He is also a book fan, and all of his films have been pretty great (most recently Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049), and it has a stellar cast line up. I think they’ve split it into two parts in order to not cram in as much just in two hours. I think it is promising, and if he can’t adapt it satisfyingly I don’t think anyone can!

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DrDre said:

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.

And how many times does that happen in mythology… the old hero is disillusioned and won’t help the new hero. You make it sound like this is an epic fail in Luke’s story when it is a classic mythological journey and very valid. Just because you don’t like it does not negate Luke’s OT Hero’s journey, but that journey is over and Luke is now the Mentor and Rey is the Hero. And the state of enlightenment is precarious and can be lost. Because it can be lost does not mean it is unattainable. Your analysis is flawed.

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DrDre said:

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.

For many of us, you are completely misreading the universe. You are taking the OT as the final success. But we don’t see the final success. We see the death of Vader, the Emperor, the second Death Star, and one Imperial fleet. In the SE, we see them topple Palpatine’s statue on Coruscant, but we don’t see the rest. We don’t see the final battles that the Rebels had to fight to secure the new Republic, we didn’t see the political issues Leia had to deal with to forge the new Republic. And it is obvious from the opening of TFA that Leia has found a new cause in defeating the First Order - essentially a surviving branch of Palpatine’s Empire. Her job from ANH is not done yet. The Empire has not been defeated completely. This is a theme vistited by Timothy Zahn in is novel trilogy. Nothing about the ST galactic story line was not touched on in some way by the EU. And the Republic was not destroyed by the Starkiller weapon than the Empire was destroyed in ROTJ. It took a hit, but the member worlds can pick and new seat and reform their government like the Empire reformed in pockets (with the First Order being the one the ST is detailing with).

And if you want a real world discussion about the ongoing fight against tyranny, we have only to look to the 20th century to see how that played out over and over again. Without even getting into all the back story, WWI led to WWII, which led to war after war around the globe. It is even coming back to haunt us today with the Nazi flag on public display. Of course in Star Wars those trials are more personal and also galaxy wide, but I personally feel the frustration of an enemy we defeated in 1945 rising again today. The ST and it’s depiction of the continuing struggle to defeat tyranny should be resonating with a lot of people. Seeing what you have spent a life-time building crumbling in front of you should resonate with many. Stories are not supposed to end in the perfect success all the time. In the serial nature of Star Wars, the next chapter after ROTJ (if it had occurred 2-5 years after ROTJ) Would have been about the struggle to finally defeat the Empire, Leia’s struggles to help forge the new Republic (with her adversaries having valid concerns). But we skipped over all that to get to the next generation and their struggle.

And Luke’s journey is very poignant in this era of mass shootings. Luke is a teacher who had a student slay his own classmates. In Star Wars this is due to the influence of the Dark Side and it may be possible that Ben Solo can still be redeemed. But when you look at Luke specifically, he was riding high on success. He Built his own lightsaber, he trained and refined what he learned from Yoda, he rescued Han, he saved his father and saw the Emperor die and the Empire fall. He started rebuilding the Jedi Order. Success was his. But even people who experience such success are still the same and have the same flaws. Mythology teaches us this as one of the purposes of mythology is simplify the human condition to share wisdom with the young. Mythology is full of old heroes who have fallen in one way or another. Heroes can fall in the middle of their journey even. Luke is crushed when Ben falls and kills his fellow students. He is crushed to thin of a new Vader in the body of his own nephew. This is something you seem to make light of. You don’t seem to relate to how crushing a blow that could be. You want Luke to handle it like he is a God, not a human. The success he had achieved crumbled and he crumbled with it and those old insecurities come back out, just like the mythic tales and reality.

Success is temporary and we have to keep working at it. That is a very old truth that the ST is exploring and Mythology did many times.

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yotsuya said:

DrDre said:

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.

And how many times does that happen in mythology… the old hero is disillusioned and won’t help the new hero. You make it sound like this is an epic fail in Luke’s story when it is a classic mythological journey and very valid.

I disagree. The hero and mentor archetypes are generally separate, and rarely does the hero become the mentor, except at the end of the story, when their journey is complete. Generally the mentor’s role is to provide aid, and when a mentor refuses to help, it is usually, because the mentor feels the hero does not meet the standards, that the mentor requires. So, the type of disillusioned mentor that Luke represents is rare, and it is even more rare for the mentor to pretty much refuse to help the hero right through to end of the story. In fact here the hero becomes so disillusioned with the mentor, that she tells him to stuff it, and takes the sacred texts to help herself.

One might say, that Luke provides an important lesson to Rey, through his failure. “The greatest teacher failure is!” However, I would point to this article, that through the perspective of several people, who are knowledgeable about the craft of storytelling, explains why TLJ’s use of failure is flawed:

https://medium.com/@matthewkadish/why-the-last-jedi-is-a-failure-storycraft-ba27d0b7aea7

"When it comes to having characters fail in their tasks within a narrative, both of these concepts of creating audience identification come into play. Audiences WANT to see the main characters of a story succeed, and thus are rooting for them to do so. And in failure, it’s possible for audiences to relate to the characters by either acknowledging the threat that lead to the defeat, or by acknowledging the relatable flaws of the character that allowed said defeat to happen.

However, from a storycraft perspective, Michael Hauge makes an important distinction when it comes to allowing your characters to fail, and that is:

If a character is going to fail, that character must do so despite their best efforts.

In other words, a character must do everything right, and STILL fail, in order for that failure to successfully allow the audience to identify with that character. Otherwise, if a character fails because they are stupid, lazy, incompetent, or dictated to do so by the plot, audiences will end up REJECTING the character and actively dislike him."

The problem with Luke’s failure is not, that he fails, but that he doesn’t fail despite his best efforts. Luke makes one mistake with Ben Solo, a mistake unbecoming of a Jedi, and then just gives up, rather than to take responsibility for his mistake, and try to fix it, and then fail. Luke is thus shown to be incompetent, and a coward. Two traits that generally don’t sit well with many viewers.

And if you want a real world discussion about the ongoing fight against tyranny, we have only to look to the 20th century to see how that played out over and over again. Without even getting into all the back story, WWI led to WWII, which led to war after war around the globe. It is even coming back to haunt us today with the Nazi flag on public display. Of course in Star Wars those trials are more personal and also galaxy wide, but I personally feel the frustration of an enemy we defeated in 1945 rising again today. The ST and it’s depiction of the continuing struggle to defeat tyranny should be resonating with a lot of people. Seeing what you have spent a life-time building crumbling in front of you should resonate with many. Stories are not supposed to end in the perfect success all the time. In the serial nature of Star Wars, the next chapter after ROTJ (if it had occurred 2-5 years after ROTJ) Would have been about the struggle to finally defeat the Empire, Leia’s struggles to help forge the new Republic (with her adversaries having valid concerns). But we skipped over all that to get to the next generation and their struggle.

If you want to make comparisons to the real world, you know very well that all the wars you mention had a very different dynamic, and the motivations for each of the parties were very different as well. WWI was very different from WWII. The Cold War and its proxy wars were very different as well. Compare this to the Star Wars universe, where we got another war with pretty much the same participants, hoping to achieve the same goals, in a similar setting, and you should know that your argument is flawed.

Just because you don’t like it does not negate Luke’s OT Hero’s journey, but that journey is over and Luke is now the Mentor and Rey is the Hero. And the state of enlightenment is precarious and can be lost. Because it can be lost does not mean it is unattainable. Your analysis is flawed.

The state of enlightenment should not be lost so easily, otherwise you risk deflating the value of enlightenment. Over the course of multiple movies we’ve been told and shown, what that state of enlightenment represents. It means becoming a Jedi. Being a Jedi means attaining a state of inner tranquility through calmness and meditation while avoiding emotions affiliated with the dark side of the Force, such as fear, anger and hatred. Does this mean Jedi are flawless? No, but because of their training they are not easily seduced to give in to negative emotions. So, we can expect a Jedi not to falter, except under extreme duress. One such example is Mace Windu, who when faced with the real possibility of the Jedi’s destruction, after having been manipulated by a Sith Lord to participate in a war, that severely depleted their ranks, and left much of the galaxy in ruins, gave into fear, and attempted to assasinate the Chancellor. Luke, who was not a Jedi yet, and after having faced the real possibility of the destruction of the Rebel Alliance, also gave into fear, and anger, when his father threatened to go after his sister. BUT and this is a big but, after he realized what he might become, he let go of his fear, and anger, and threw away his weapon in the face of one of the greatest evils the galaxy has ever seen. In that moment he reached that state of enlightenment, and became a Jedi. Now, does that mean it is impossible for Luke to falter in the future? No, but it would have to be under extreme duress. Does the situation with Ben Solo represent extreme duress for a Jedi, who has been through the experiences Luke has been through? I don’t think so. Luke is confronted with a possible future, a future he knows through his teachings, is always in motion. Ben hasn’t hurt anyone, and if the novice Rey can sense good in him in the present time, surely Luke, who felt good in his father, when no one else could, should have been able to sense the good still present in the conflicted young Ben Solo. Additionally, unlike the situations with Mace Windu, and young Luke, there is no immediate crisis, or war going on. The New Republic is still in full control of the galaxy. There thus seems to be no rational explanation, why a Jedi Master like Luke would falter under such relatively favourable conditions, and ignite his lightsaber in fear of a hypothetical future. The fact that this is his own blood, should be all the more reason not to reach for his lightsaber in this situation. An average person may be tempted, but to have a Jedi Master fall so easily, and after one setback just give up? That deflates the value of enlightenment to such a degree, that it loses much of its meaning for me. Mark Hamill understood this:

“You see in the story why that is, but I had a real problem, because I don’t believe a Jedi would ever give up. You see, if he makes a mistake, he doubles down and does the right thing, regardless of the magnitude of his mistake — choosing Ben Solo and being so wrong and giving rise to the possible Darth Vader.”

That to me is the essence of enlightenment in the context of the Star Wars saga, and I’m personally not willing to give up on that so easily, and with such little context, and explanation, just to have the story continue, and to have Luke display a cool new Force power, and learn a lesson about, what it means to be a Jedi. A lesson he learned long ago when he faced his father, and the Emperor under much less favourable conditions.

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It really does seem as if the people upset that Luke is like this in the story are judging him (and his creators/performers) as harshly as LUKE HIMSELF is IN the story. Only the difference is that Luke learns to allow himself empathy, sympathy, and forgiveness, whereas some of his fans aren’t willing to go that far.

There’s a legitimate anger that this fictional hero was shown to be flawed again, and none of those folks wants to forgive that. People seem to prefer INVALIDATING it entirely, rather than simply disagreeing with it. “Luke makes ONE mistake,” you say. Sure. I’d say he probably makes a bunch of little ones on the way to that big one, much like many relationships don’t fail because of the one big act-out, but the tiny trail of screw-ups that led to it. But even if we account for the idea he only made the one mistake, which was sensing Ben’s slip to the darkside and responding like “oh no, I have to stop him before he kills everybody” for one second - that mistake was a very big one. And it led to his having an entire building dropped on him while this kid went off and slaughtered half his temple, took a bunch of students with him (suggesting to me he’d been making small mistakes up to that point if Ben could so easily convince those students to swing his way) and joined not only the dark side, but wound up running the First Order. The kid became a homicidal maniac like his grandfather. Did Luke spark that? It’s hard to say no. Is Luke responsible for that reaction? A little. But it’s not like Ben Solo is a wind-up toy. He could have chosen, at any point along the way, to stop fighting the light and allow himself the forgiveness and empathy he keeps denying himself. But he doesn’t. And in a lesser, but still hurtful way, neither does Luke. Neither did Anakin. It’s a Skywalker thing, apparently. A stubborn, hurtful, unneccessary Skywalker thing.

Imagine the indignation you have at the idea of your hero failing despite your not wanting him to fail, not imagining he could even do it, and knowing how frustrating and helpless it would make you feel, to have your notions of greatness bruised and even broken. Now imagine you’re the hero. The guy who actually MESSED UP. The man who understands what that pressure means, and still broke under it despite your best efforts, you know for a fact that screw up cost untold number of horrors and deaths. You’d be upset, right? You’d be unforgiving. You’d be angry and disappointed. You’d be, funnily enough, in the exact same headspace Luke is in for much of The Last Jedi.

And by the end of the movie, Luke comes around. But many of his fans can’t. They’re still focused on the failure, and the unfairness of it having happened AT ALL, and that focus prevents them from going on Luke’s journey. The whole thing is forgone because it’s flat out illegitimate, to them. In a way, they never got off Ahch-To island. Their resentment and disgust with Luke is keeping them there, just like it kept HIM there. It prevents them from joining him as he projects his way to Crait for the most impressive single act of Force mastery in all the films.

The Last Jedi is a great empathy test, honestly. It asks the audience how willing they are to forgive people, to look for the good in people despite their biggest flaws. Can you recognize the potential in people, greater and lesser, accomplished and inexeprienced? Can you give part of yourself to those people despite all that, because you know there’s more to them than their failings? It’s not really a bad thing if you can’t do it for all the characters, either. Or that you’re willing to offer more of that empathy and sympathy to Poe, or Rose, than you are to Kylo, or Luke. But the movie takes great care to explain why these people are all acting like this, even if you don’t agree with the actions themselves.

It’s one of the more stubborn contradictions in the myriad responses to The Last Jedi that the people least willing to go where the film wants to go are fans of the man who best embodies the full emotional/mythological journey the film takes.

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Broom Kid said:
I’d say he probably makes a bunch of little ones on the way to that big one, much like many relationships don’t fail because of the one big act-out, but the tiny trail of screw-ups that led to it.

Sure, but it is the story, that has to sell this to the viewer. If these little mistakes are important in understanding Luke’s state of mind, when he enters Ben’s room, then show this to the viewer. It’s not the viewers responsibility to make sense of it all. It’s too easy to say, this story is not about Luke, but about the new generation, because it quite obviously is about Luke, and his redemption, only a few chapters have been ripped out of the book, that deal with his failure, and we are only there to witness the consequences.

And by the end of the movie, Luke comes around. But many of his fans can’t. They’re still focused on the failure, and the unfairness of it having happened AT ALL, and that focus prevents them from going on Luke’s journey. The whole thing is forgone because it’s flat out illegitimate, to them. In a way, they never got off Ahch-To island. Their resentment and disgust with Luke is keeping them there, just like it kept HIM there. It prevents them from joining him as he projects his way to Crait for the most impressive single act of Force mastery in all the films.

The problem is not, that the disgust is keeping “them” there, the problem is, that the story wasn’t able to provide the proper motivations for getting on that island with Luke in the first place. “They” are still with Luke on the Death Star, when he fulfills his destiny, and becomes a Jedi. It is the writer’s responsibility to write a story that compels “them” to understand Luke’s point of view, that makes “them” understand, that despite all he has learned, and experienced, this situation was so distressful, and extreme, that even “they”, if they were Jedi, would be tempted to just cut the boy in half. “They” should be made to understand Luke’s decision to run, and hide, rather than fix the problem, he helped create. Evidently, the writer wasn’t completely up to the task, considering the controversy surrounding this part of the story. It’s very difficult to laugh at the punchline of a joke, if you don’t buy the setup.

The Last Jedi is a great empathy test, honestly. It asks the audience how willing they are to forgive people, to look for the good in people despite their biggest flaws. Can you recognize the potential in people, greater and lesser, accomplished and inexeprienced? Can you give part of yourself to those people despite all that, because you know there’s more to them than their failings? It’s not really a bad thing if you can’t do it for all the characters, either. Or that you’re willing to offer more of that empathy and sympathy to Poe, or Rose, than you are to Kylo, or Luke. But the movie takes great care to explain why these people are all acting like this, even if you don’t agree with the actions themselves.

It’s one of the more stubborn contradictions in the myriad responses to The Last Jedi that the people least willing to go where the film wants to go are fans of the man who best embodies the full emotional/mythological journey the film takes.

As stated above, I disagree with the notion, that the movie takes great care to explain why these people are all acting like this. We have no idea, why Ben Solo would be tempted by the dark side in the first place. The boy was raised by two loving parents, and he had the great Luke Skywalker there to mentor him. What happened? We have no idea, why Luke would be so afraid of a Force vision, that he would draw his weapon on his own blood. What caused him to be in this state of mind? We have no idea, why Luke would consider leaving two dark side users to wreak havoc on the galaxy a solution to his predicament. Not only did he abandon Ben, he also abandoned the other students, that Ben took with him, and left them at the mercy of Snoke. Why? This is the same guy, that came back after learning his entire life was a lie, and his father was space Hitler, the same father that mutilated him, and cut off his hand. This was not the first major crisis he faced, and it never caused him to flee to an island to die. So what changed?

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If the only way you approach the argument that Luke has been characterized improperly is by saying that the audience is merely blinded by their emotion, insofar as to say they should be ashamed of being impassioned by their connection to the films, the conversation doesn’t last much longer afterwards. The reason they cut the flashback after seeing the temple burn is because it would look absolutely ridiculous to visualize Luke packing up and leaving for good without a plan of action or a means to correct the mistake he felt so badly about.

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Swazzy said:

If the only way you approach the argument that Luke has been characterized improperly is by saying that the audience is merely blinded by their emotion, insofar as to say they should be ashamed of being impassioned by their connection to the films, the conversation doesn’t last much longer afterwards.

And yet…

I’m not saying the audience is blinded by their emotion, simply that they choose instead to not move past that reaction to the decision having been made at all. This depiction of their fictional hero bothers them very, very much, to the point where their deconstruction of why it doesn’t work goes very, very deep in many ways, some intentional, some unintentional.

It honestly doesn’t need to be justified any farther beyond “I don’t like it, and I don’t like how it happened, I don’t like that it happened, and it bothers me that my fictional hero of choice was written to behave that way.” That’s honest, and true, and there’s not really any counter-argument to it. It’s rooted precisely in how you feel, and you don’t need to justify it beyond that, and you don’t need to respond to people who unfairly ask you to justify it beyond that point, really. If you simply don’t like that Luke Skywalker was put in that position and did the things he did, there’s nothing more anyone can say, honestly. You didn’t like it. There’s not really a way to “fix” that or talk you out of it. I can share why it worked for me, though. But that’s not being done as a means to convince you of your wrongness or anything like that. It’s just part of the conversation, and a desire to be understood.

I enjoyed it a lot. It’s likely I’m inclined to enjoy it, not just because I recognize and empathize with depictions of depression and struggle, and not just because I enjoy watching people figure themselves out and triumph accordingly, but because I don’t really hold these characters as sacred? Star Wars is for messing with. While this whole place was borne out of a notion that disagrees strongly, it’s also a place that has come to nurture and promote that specific notion. Star Wars is for messing with. It’s malleable. You can do things with it, and many of the best things that have happened with the property have happened precisely because people wanted to mess with it, to make the characters do things they otherwise wouldn’t do, and then see how they react, how they grow (or don’t) and what that might say about US, here in the present.

The idea that Luke Skywalker became a depressive old hermit who checked out for a decade because he was so ashamed of himself and angry at losing touch with what made him “a legend” in the first place? That’s not blasphemy to me. That’s interesting. And the way it was done was not just sad, but charming, too. To a lesser extent, a similar thing was done with Thor in Endgame. And to a lesser extent, some of his fans reacted much the same as Luke’s fans have reacted: The decision to do it was, in and of itself, unforgiveable, and so anything built upon that (to them) broken foundation isn’t worth giving over to. All they see is the humiliation and the “disrespect” to such a strong character. They see that as a punitive act against their hero, and they basically just… stop there.

I don’t think it’s disrespectful at its core to do things like that to beloved characters. They’re not people, they’re ideas being explored. And I think if you nail the execution, you’ve almost always managed to make that character even BETTER than they were before. I feel like the Luke Skywalker I saw in The Last Jedi was maybe the best he’s ever been, and it’s certainly the best performance Hamill’s ever given, and it seems messed up to me that he wasn’t seriously considered for a best supporting actor Oscar. But he couldn’t have been that great, I don’t think, if Luke hadn’t been put through those trials and tribulations.

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Broom Kid said:
The idea that Luke Skywalker became a depressive old hermit who checked out for a decade because he was so ashamed of himself and angry at losing touch with what made him “a legend” in the first place? That’s not blasphemy to me. That’s interesting. And the way it was done was not just sad, but charming, too. To a lesser extent, a similar thing was done with Thor in Endgame. And to a lesser extent, some of his fans reacted much the same as Luke’s fans have reacted: The decision to do it was, in and of itself, unforgiveable, and so anything built upon that (to them) broken foundation isn’t worth giving over to. All they see is the humiliation and the “disrespect” to such a strong character. They see that as a punitive act against their hero, and they basically just… stop there.

I don’t entirely agree this is the case. To some sure, but to many others the disrespect is not in the humiliation, or punitive act against the hero, it is in the fact that they feel, it has not been properly motivated or set up. To them it’s like the story telling them, Luke’s different now, deal with it, and if you can’t, that’s your problem. For me it is similar to having the PT end with Anakin the hero, and then introduce him as Darth Vader in the next movie, and then show a tiny ambiguous flashback to explain how Anakin is suddenly an evil mass murderer.

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Broom Kid said:
I don’t really hold these characters as sacred? Star Wars is for messing with. While this whole place was borne out of a notion that disagrees strongly, it’s also a place that has come to nurture and promote that specific notion. Star Wars is for messing with. It’s malleable.

Can you honestly say you wouldn’t be the least bit affected if the next film symbolically retcons the major themes of TLJ for the sake of mass appeal and fanservice? Genuine question because I don’t think there’s one true answer for this.

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DrDre said:
For me it is similar to having the PT end with Anakin the hero, and then introduce him as Darth Vader in the next movie, and then show a tiny flashback to explain how Anakin is suddenly an evil mass murderer.

Additionally to know that Anakin fell to the dark side is supposed to be a shock to the audience, and a disturbing one at that. To know that Luke gave up is at first shown to be sympathetic, then unforgivable, then just blase when the previous two flashbacks become synthesized. But ultimately we’re meant to think it’s a sensible turn of events when not only is it not but it’s hardly fleshed out enough to empathize with either Luke or Ben’s situation. Obi-Wan’s apathy to Vader is at least justified by Vader explaining that Obi-Wan wanted Vader to redeem himself up until the desire to see him be redeemed could no longer be sustained.

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DrDre said:

I don’t entirely agree this is the case. To some sure, but to many others the disrespect is not in the humiliation, or punitive act against the hero, it is in the fact that they feel it has not been properly motivated or set up. To them it’s like the story telling them, Luke’s different now, deal with it, and if you can’t, that’s your problem.

While harsher than I’d phrase it… that’s basically it. Either you can make that leap, or you can’t.

There’s nothing wrong with you as a viewer or a consumer of entertainment if you can’t, it’s not a personal failing or anything like that. But Luke is different now. He HAS to be different, and maybe he’s now different in a way you don’t like CONCEPTUALLY. And at that point, if you’re already firmly disagreeing with the very notion that he HAS to be different, and even more strongly disagreeing with HOW he’s become different - it’s going to be very hard for any story to keep hold of you, because you’re going to need convincing this idea is justified, and you’re automatically disinclined to buy it. It’s a relationship between movie and viewer that is instantly confrontational. The movie wants you to accept this is how he’s different, and this is why he’s different, and there’s only so much time (even with two and a half hours) to get into how that happened. And you want the movie to convince you that the premise isn’t mean-spirited, or stupid, or capriciously punitive. You want reassurance from the filmmakers that they’re not just doing it to do it, to be disrespectful to this character as a means to make these other characters (that you don’t really like much anyway) stronger. It’s seen as a transaction, not a story. “Oh, so you make my guy (note the possessive) into a big loser so these other people get to be winners at his expense. No thanks.”

There are limits for many viewers as to what “Luke Skywalker” can be, and should represent, and those limits are broken from jump the second The Force Awakens says Luke has disappeared for ten years. Because he’s not around in that movie it’s easy to not wrestle with the idea too much, but The Last Jedi has to dig into why those limits have been transgressed. Viewers willing to accept the idea that “Luke Skywalker” is a vessel for ideas and concepts that don’t line up precisely with what we’d seen in prior movies seem to be enjoying The Last Jedi more than those who essentially reject the notion out of hand.

“Luke wouldn’t do that” is a very strong statement, and definitely a valid one. I think he would, because I think Luke is capable of doing a lot of things depending on what ideas need to be expressed by the writers and creators in charge of the stories he’s in. I get why people would balk at his whole situation in this movie. But I don’t balk at it, and I in fact love what happened because it made him a richer, more interesting, more empathetic, and more lovable character. His failures didn’t ruin him. They eventually made him even greater. That’s inspiring to me. Even good people fall down. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just means they need to work harder at remembering who they can be, and moving back towards that light.

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Broom Kid said:

DrDre said:

I don’t entirely agree this is the case. To some sure, but to many others the disrespect is not in the humiliation, or punitive act against the hero, it is in the fact that they feel it has not been properly motivated or set up. To them it’s like the story telling them, Luke’s different now, deal with it, and if you can’t, that’s your problem.

While harsher than I’d phrase it… that’s basically it. Either you can make that leap, or you can’t.

There’s nothing wrong with you as a viewer or a consumer of entertainment if you can’t, it’s not a personal failing or anything like that. But Luke is different now. He HAS to be different, and maybe he’s now different in a way you don’t like CONCEPTUALLY. And at that point, if you’re already firmly disagreeing with the very notion that he HAS to be different, and even more strongly disagreeing with HOW he’s become different - it’s going to be very hard for any story to keep hold of you, because you’re going to need convincing this idea is justified, and you’re automatically disinclined to buy it. It’s a relationship between movie and viewer that is instantly confrontational. The movie wants you to accept this is how he’s different, and this is why he’s different, and there’s only so much time (even with two and a half hours) to get into how that happened. And you want the movie to convince you that the premise isn’t mean-spirited, or stupid, or capriciously punitive. You want reassurance from the filmmakers that they’re not just doing it to do it, to be disrespectful to this character as a means to make these other characters (that you don’t really like much anyway) stronger. It’s seen as a transaction, not a story. “Oh, so you make my guy (note the possessive) into a big loser so these other people get to be winners at his expense. No thanks.”

There are limits for many viewers as to what “Luke Skywalker” can be, and should represent, and those limits are broken from jump the second The Force Awakens says Luke has disappeared for ten years. Because he’s not around in that movie it’s easy to not wrestle with the idea too much, but The Last Jedi has to dig into why those limits have been transgressed. Viewers willing to accept the idea that “Luke Skywalker” is a vessel for ideas and concepts that don’t line up precisely with what we’d seen in prior movies seem to be enjoying The Last Jedi more than those who essentially reject the notion out of hand.

“Luke wouldn’t do that” is a very strong statement, and definitely a valid one. I think he would, because I think Luke is capable of doing a lot of things depending on what ideas need to be expressed by the writers and creators in charge of the stories he’s in. I get why people would balk at his whole situation in this movie. But I don’t balk at it, and I in fact love what happened because it made him a richer, more interesting, more empathetic, and more lovable character. His failures didn’t ruin him. They eventually made him even greater. That’s inspiring to me. Even good people fall down. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just means they need to work harder at remembering who they can be, and moving back towards that light.

Yes, this sums it all up pretty pretty well. 😃

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To explain Luke’s transition would not be for the sake of appeasing fans, it would be for keeping the narrative sound despite a 30 year gap in the story. Also,

Broom Kid said:
His failures didn’t ruin him. They eventually made him even greater. That’s inspiring to me. Even good people fall down. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just means they need to work harder at remembering who they can be, and moving back towards that light.

This is verbatim the themes shared by Luke and Anakin in the OT. Such drastic departure and character change only to accomplish the same exact moral in a less satisfying way (in my opinion).

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DrDre said:

yotsuya said:

DrDre said:

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.

And how many times does that happen in mythology… the old hero is disillusioned and won’t help the new hero. You make it sound like this is an epic fail in Luke’s story when it is a classic mythological journey and very valid.

I disagree. The hero and mentor archetypes are generally separate, and rarely does the hero become the mentor, except at the end of the story, when their journey is complete. Generally the mentor’s role is to provide aid, and when a mentor refuses to help, it is usually, because the mentor feels the hero does not meet the standards, that the mentor requires. So, the type of disillusioned mentor that Luke represents is rare, and it is even more rare for the mentor to pretty much refuse to help the hero right through to end of the story. In fact here the hero becomes so disillusioned with the mentor, that she tells him to stuff it, and takes the sacred texts to help herself.

One might say, that Luke provides an important lesson to Rey, through his failure. “The greatest teacher failure is!” However, I would point to this article, that through the perspective of several people, who are knowledgeable about the craft of storytelling, explains why TLJ’s use of failure is flawed:

https://medium.com/@matthewkadish/why-the-last-jedi-is-a-failure-storycraft-ba27d0b7aea7

This is a flawed examination of the film. Why? It ignores other successful films that likewise have failure. And most importantly it ignore the Star Wars trilogy structure and that failure is vital to the middle chapter of the trilogy. Should we examine TESB in terms of failure? Shall we list who all fails in that film? How pervaisive failure is. About the only person who succeeds in that film is Boba Fett. Lando fails to keep the Empire out of his city, Han and Leia fail to escape the Empire, Darth Vader fails to capture Luke, Luke fails his duel, fails to save Han, fails to listen to Yoda or Ben. The majority of successes for the Rebels relate to the escape from Hoth followed by a string of failures. TLJ is the middle act and the middle act of a film is always setbacks and failures. ATOC can be seen to do the same thing in some ways. Remember, when TESB came out, it was the sequel… the continuation of the story. For GL it was the second act that he’d cut down (ANH is really the first act followed by a truncated third act). His original draft was really Tatooine, asteroids, Bespin, Endor (in terms of the final locations).

If a character is going to fail, that character must do so despite their best efforts.

In other words, a character must do everything right, and STILL fail, in order for that failure to successfully allow the audience to identify with that character. Otherwise, if a character fails because they are stupid, lazy, incompetent, or dictated to do so by the plot, audiences will end up REJECTING the character and actively dislike him."

That is not the only way to tell a story. In fact if all the failures are like that, the character seems too perfect. Character flaws are what make for interesting characters. Sometimes those flaws cause failures and that is a good thing and audiences identify with that.

The problem with Luke’s failure is not, that he fails, but that he doesn’t fail despite his best efforts. Luke makes one mistake with Ben Solo, and then just gives up, rather than to take responsibility for his mistake, and try to fix it, and then fail. Luke is thus shown to be incompetent, and a coward. Two traits that generally don’t sit well with many viewers.

I disagree. Luke is shown to be human and wounded. It is consistent with how he is portrayed in ANH and TESB. In ROTJ he is riding high, but it still comes back when he says “I shouldn’t have come. I’m endangering the mission.” Luke is not perfect and is not supposed to be. He is the hero and he has been shown to have flaws. He took the failures with his nephew personally (I won’t even get into how common this is). What we have to do in TFA and TLJ is remember that Luke is no longer the hero. He is Sampson with his hair cut. How many failures did Hercules suffer? Over and over we have the old hero fallen and make a late effort to set things right. Luke is supposed to be Rey’s mentor but he can’t get past his failure to see what he needs to do. He is stuck at the end of his hero’s journey and sets things right with a final sacrifice.

And if you want a real world discussion about the ongoing fight against tyranny, we have only to look to the 20th century to see how that played out over and over again. Without even getting into all the back story, WWI led to WWII, which led to war after war around the globe. It is even coming back to haunt us today with the Nazi flag on public display. Of course in Star Wars those trials are more personal and also galaxy wide, but I personally feel the frustration of an enemy we defeated in 1945 rising again today. The ST and it’s depiction of the continuing struggle to defeat tyranny should be resonating with a lot of people. Seeing what you have spent a life-time building crumbling in front of you should resonate with many. Stories are not supposed to end in the perfect success all the time. In the serial nature of Star Wars, the next chapter after ROTJ (if it had occurred 2-5 years after ROTJ) Would have been about the struggle to finally defeat the Empire, Leia’s struggles to help forge the new Republic (with her adversaries having valid concerns). But we skipped over all that to get to the next generation and their struggle.

If you want to make comparisons to the real world, you know very well that all the wars you mention had a very different dynamic, and the motivations for each of the parties were very different as well. WWI was very different from WWII. The Cold War and its proxy wars were very different as well. Compare this to the Star Wars universe, where we got another war with pretty much the same participants, hoping to achieve the same goals, in a similar setting, and you should know that your argument is flawed.

That is not how I see it. The failures of WWI led to WWII. The Treaty of Versailles setup Germany so someone like Hitler could take it over with ease. It humiliated them and his message was one of pride. And there was a wonderful discovery that the founder of the Baath party in Iraq had served as a General in Eastern Europe under Hitler. He carried those fascist teachings back to Iraq and so we get the same two parties in conflict again in a different generation. But with other issues coloring it. The Cold War was an offshoot of the race to beat the Nazi’s to the atomic bomb. We won and the Soviets caught up and Nazi Germany never got close. It is all a weave of cause and effect with the same players in different combinations. Star Wars borrows from real world examples, but rarely copies exactly (though Palpatine’s rise very much mirror’s Hitler’s except the Jedi and Clone War). And when you go back further into history, the number of real world examples for what has happened increase. Such as the War of the Roses. Henry VII thought it was over and he still had to contend with new rebellions. Even when the last Plantagenet heir was dead, there were new enemies to combat. Life is circular and things repeat. Life is also hard. Success is not a measure of growth and the good myths teach that. Likewise Star Wars teaches that (and has for a long time). It isn’t about whether the heros win this round, but whether they keep going and keep trying and keep winning enough rounds to keep the bad guys at bay. Star Wars isn’t about clean Hollywood story telling, but about myths and the old one reel serials where the moment things succeed, something else comes up. Expecting ROTJ to be the pinnacle of Luke’s story ignores the primary inspiration behind all of Star Wars. Expecting the post ROTJ new Republic to stand for 1000 years likewise ignores the serial inspiration that led Lucas to create this in the first place. In the serials, something always goes wrong and the heros are back in the fight before they have even had a chance to catch their breath.

Just because you don’t like it does not negate Luke’s OT Hero’s journey, but that journey is over and Luke is now the Mentor and Rey is the Hero. And the state of enlightenment is precarious and can be lost. Because it can be lost does not mean it is unattainable. Your analysis is flawed.

The state of enlightenment should not be lost so easily, otherwise you risk deflating the value of enlightenment. Over the course of multiple movies we’ve been told and shown, what that state of enlightenment represents. It means becoming a Jedi. Being a Jedi means attaining a state of inner tranquility through calmness and meditation while avoiding emotions affiliated with the dark side of the Force, such as fear, anger and hatred. Being a Jedi means attaining that state. Does this mean Jedi are flawless? No, but because of their training they are not easily seduced to give in to negative emotions. So, we can expect a Jedi not to falter, except under extreme duress. One such example is Mace Windu, who when faced with the real possibility of the Jedi’s destruction, after having been manipulated by a Sith Lord to participate in a war, that severely depleted their ranks, and left much of the galaxy in ruins, gave into fear, and attempted to assasinate the Chancellor. Luke, who was not a Jedi yet, and after having faced the real possibility of the destruction of the Rebel Alliance, also gave into fear, and anger, when his father threatened to go after his sister. BUT and this is a big but, after he realized what he might become, he let go of his fear, and anger, and threw away his weapon in the face of one of the greatest evils the galaxy has ever seen. In that moment he reached that state of enlightenment, and became a Jedi. Now, does that mean it is impossible for Luke to falter in the future? No, but it would have to be under extreme duress. Does the situation with Ben Solo represent extreme duress for a Jedi, who has been through the experiences Luke has been through? I don’t think so. Luke is confronted with a possible future, a future he knows through his teachings, is always in motion. Ben hasn’t hurt anyone, and if the novice Rey can sense good in him in the present time, surely Luke, who felt good in his father, when no one else could, should have been able to sense the good still present in the conflicted young Ben Solo. Additionally unlike the situations with Mace Windu, and young Luke, there is no immediate crisis, or war going on. The New Republic is still in full control of the galaxy. There thus seems to be no rational explanation, why a Jedi Master like Luke would falter under such relatively favourable conditions, and ignite his lightsaber in fear of a hypothetical future. The fact that this is his own blood, should be all the more reason not to reach for his lightsaber in this situation. An average person may be tempted, but to have a Jedi Master fall so easily, and after one setback just give up? That deflates the value of enlightenment to such a degree, that it loses much of its meaning for me. Mark Hamill understood this:

“You see in the story why that is, but I had a real problem, because I don’t believe a Jedi would ever give up. You see, if he makes a mistake, he doubles down and does the right thing, regardless of the magnitude of his mistake — choosing Ben Solo and being so wrong and giving rise to the possible Darth Vader.”

That to me is the essence of enlightenment in the context of the Star Wars saga, and I’m personally not willing to give up on that so easily, and with such little context, and explanation, just to have the story continue, and to have Luke display a cool new Force power, and learn a lesson about, what it means to be a Jedi. A lesson he learned long ago when he faced his father, and the Emperor under much more unfavourable conditions.

Again, Mark came around to what RJ did. Yes, he had some early complaints and misgivings, but in the end he didn’t. And again, that is ignoring the serial nature of Star Wars. The story wasn’t finished in ROTJ. None of us knew what was coming next, but if the story continued, anything could happen and definitely an end to whatever success had been achieved. That is the nature of the story structure. And just what about this concept of enlightenment is inherant to ROTJ? ROTJ is about redemption. And Luke fails to achieve that through any action of his own. It only happens when Luke’s life is in danger and he is pleading with his father. Luke faced the dark side, even draws on it, and is able to remain untainted. I wouldn’t call that enlightenment. Star Wars is more about myth and humanity than it is about enlightenment. I would say a Jedi only achieves enlightenment by becoming one with the Force which Luke doesn’t do until TLJ. I think you have the concept of the story of the OT a lot elevated from what it really is. And Luke’s success at the end of ROTJ is really based on failure and giving up. He fails to turn his father back, fails to hold to his non-fighting stance. In the end, he only wins by giving up. He accepts failure. He doesn’t even try to stand up to the Emperor. You could argue that he was gambling that it might at last get through to his father, but there is no sign it might work until it actually does. To me it seems completely in character that when Luke is faced with a student that he sees might be the next Darth Vader or Palpatine, that he would be tempted to deal with them, only to cool off and remember that the future is uncertain. That it was his nephew and student increases his guilt. Luke has always been hot headed and his actions in ROTJ are no different. Seeing some grand enlightenment for the character really ignores that he is still the farm boy from Tatooine at heart. He has grown and matured, but is not perfect and has only shed his bad traits for a moment of final success. Lucas gave us a feel good ending but with the hope of eventually having a 7, 8, and 9, we all knew something bad would happen. Complaining about how JJ and RJ have followed the same format and GL is kind of silly. Especially when they based the part that is giving you your major gripe from GL’s original treatment (Luke in self imposed exile).

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Broom Kid said:
“Luke wouldn’t do that” is a very strong statement, and definitely a valid one.

That is the main issue I think. For some, the events described don’t tally with their vision of Luke. For others of us, it does. I think the main focus is on whether you actually saw who Luke really was during the OT or not. If you take him as fallible and human as I feel he was portrayed, his actions between ROTJ and TLJ are in keeping with his character traits. If you take him as founder of the new Jedi order and don’t let him be human, you won’t like what this story has to say. The important lesson of this saga is that we are all human and fallible. Some fall further than others. Luke has a history of making mistakes and being hard on himself. He has great passion but he can be easily discouraged. All we have in the tale of the fall of Ben Solo is a case of Luke being discouraged by those events. If you don’t think he would act that way or be discouraged then I think you have missed something about the entire saga. Try watching TESB and TLJ back to back. Then tell me that TLJ isn’t in character. Yes, in ROTJ, he is more confident, but confidence can be shattered easily. Luke has shown that to be the case. Insisting that he maintain the confidence that he has for most of ROTJ is unrealistic. The unsure Luke we see in ANH and TESB is just hiding under the surface in ROTJ and only needed a sufficiently horrible event to bring it out.

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DrDre said:

Broom Kid said:
The idea that Luke Skywalker became a depressive old hermit who checked out for a decade because he was so ashamed of himself and angry at losing touch with what made him “a legend” in the first place? That’s not blasphemy to me. That’s interesting. And the way it was done was not just sad, but charming, too. To a lesser extent, a similar thing was done with Thor in Endgame. And to a lesser extent, some of his fans reacted much the same as Luke’s fans have reacted: The decision to do it was, in and of itself, unforgiveable, and so anything built upon that (to them) broken foundation isn’t worth giving over to. All they see is the humiliation and the “disrespect” to such a strong character. They see that as a punitive act against their hero, and they basically just… stop there.

I don’t entirely agree this is the case. To some sure, but to many others the disrespect is not in the humiliation, or punitive act against the hero, it is in the fact that they feel, it has not been properly motivated or set up. To them it’s like the story telling them, Luke’s different now, deal with it, and if you can’t, that’s your problem.

Well it’s a different way of telling the story. From go “what happened to Luke” is the primary mystery of the trilogy. It’s not like we catch up with Luke right away and he’s different, instead we’re gradually given more and more information about where he’s at (literally and metaphorically). The fact of the matter is the trilogy took a very specific approach with the characters - the new characters are the center and POV, and while the old characters pop in and get their moments, it is not a direct continuation of their stories from ROTJ. The difference in Luke is designed to be jarring and hard to accept, and in fact they give us an audience surrogate (Rey) to express this exact thing. You’re not supposed to just “deal with it,” you’re supposed to wonder why it’s happened.

Whether you accept the explanations or not is another thing. But I think Broom Kid has a point that many probably just tuned out entirely because they couldn’t get past something like the “disrespect” of him throwing the lightsaber. While others were a bit more open to the idea and curious.

For me it is similar to having the PT end with Anakin the hero, and then introduce him as Darth Vader in the next movie, and then show a tiny ambiguous flashback to explain how Anakin is suddenly an evil mass murderer.

Believe it or not, many wish this was the case (to preserve the surprises of the OT). Personally I think, being that the films were prequels, the point of their existence was to give backstory to the mysteries of the OT - but because of that, they should only be watched after. Ultimately the ST, whether one agrees with the approach or not, is designed to replicate the feeling of dropping into a story where we don’t know everything that happened beforehand - much like the OT did. I’ve said it often before, but I think the real title of TFA should have been Episode X.

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DrDre said:

For me it is similar to having the PT end with Anakin the hero, and then introduce him as Darth Vader in the next movie

That’s…exactly what I wanted the PT to do.

Well, one of two ways (the second being you end episode II presuming that he’s dead, then Vader is a mysterious masked figure in episode III about whom you don’t get answers until Empire).

a trolling bantha

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RogueLeader said:

I actually have not read it! I’m familiar with it and some of its ideas through its place in science fiction, its comparisons to Star Wars, and the Lynch adaptation (which I’ve never watched all the way through). I don’t know I haven’t read it yet, I know it is considered a classic and I’ve been wanting to pick it up, but now that movie is coming out I thought about holding off and getting my perspective on the film through a non-reader lens. Maybe we could discuss the film and compare our thoughts once it comes out since you are a repeat reader and I’ve never picked it up.

I will say the director, Denis Villenueve, is basically the best pick to adapt it. He is also a book fan, and all of his films have been pretty great (most recently Sicario, Arrival, Blade Runner 2049), and it has a stellar cast line up. I think they’ve split it into two parts in order to not cram in as much just in two hours. I think it is promising, and if he can’t adapt it satisfyingly I don’t think anyone can!

Well that does sound promising. I mean with the Lynch film I was like “well, what are you gonna do?”. I loved the visuals and general weirdness of the movie, but I basically felt (without slighting Lynch at all) that Dune just isn’t movie material. The books are just so rich in scope, and go waaay deep into politics and how myths are formed and how religion can manipulate all these things etc etc. I actually come away from reading Dune feeling smarter each time ha ha! But yeah, breaking the story up into a couple of parts would be wise! Thanks for the posts - I’m getting kinda excited for it now!

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[yotsuya said:]
If you don’t think he would act that way or be discouraged then I think you have missed something about the entire saga. Try watching TESB and TLJ back to back. Then tell me that TLJ isn’t in character. Yes, in ROTJ, he is more confident, but confidence can be shattered easily. Luke has shown that to be the case. Insisting that he maintain the confidence that he has for most of ROTJ is unrealistic. The unsure Luke we see in ANH and TESB is just hiding under the surface in ROTJ and only needed a sufficiently horrible event to bring it out.

In my view you missed something in the saga, because you keep going back to TESB to argue Luke in TLJ is consistent with his portrayal in the OT. The problem is you view Luke as this flawed static character. Luke in ROTJ is just the same character as in TESB with a little more confidence. Take that confidence away, and add a few years and you have Luke from TLJ. However, you ignore much of Luke’s character development in the OT. The Luke that let himself fall to his death rather than accept Vader’s offer, is not the same character as the one who left Yoda and Obi-Wan on Dagobah, and that’s without considering the time he’s had to reflect on the consequences of his actions. Then there’s his development in ROTJ, where after being goaded by Palpatine, and Vader to release his anger, at that seminal moment he realizes he will follow in his father’s footsteps, if he doesn’t let go of his fear, and anger. So, he throws away his weapon, and declares himself a Jedi. These are scenes of critical character development, that you just seem to ignore. The Luke at the end of ROTJ is not the impetuous naive, youth we met in ANH, nor is he the impatient hothead from TESB, nor is he the overconfident Jedi wannabe at the start of ROTJ. He is a fullfledged Jedi, in tune with the Force, and able to avoid emotions affiliated with the dark side of the, such as fear, anger and hatred. That is his arc in the OT, his hero’s journey. You say:

“Try watching TESB and TLJ back to back. Then tell me that TLJ isn’t in character.”

What you’re really saying for the Luke of TLJ to be in character, he has to regress back to the character he was, when he first entered the cave on Dagobah. To me that’s one of the running themes in the ST: regression. Han regressed back to smuggler, Leia regressed back to the leader of a fledgeling rebellion, the galaxy regressed back to the Galactic Civil War, and Luke regressed back to his younger stupid self.