I’m still struggling with my antipathy for the Last Jedi. I enjoyed it on the surface. I enjoyed it’s set pieces. I enjoyed some of the twists. Yet, I can’t shake my deeper sense, that TLJ has severely undermined the mythology, by deconstructing Star Wars.
Then I read this article:
“Deconstructing Star Wars and 'The Last Jedi: Understanding how the new movie went off the rails.”
I think this article describes many of my own feelings with regards to TLJ. In order to understand the film, I asked myself three simple questions: what? how? and why?
What does TLJ do exactly in my view? My answer is, that it attempts to deconstruct Star Wars, it’s myth, and legends, and replace it with a postmodernist point of view. The film to an extend recognizes myth and legend have a function, but at the same time makes it clear that they are not real. This view point is examplified in the final minutes of the film, where Luke faces off against the FO alone. The event is presented as a source of inspiration to the galaxy, and children in particular, but ultimately it’s all an illusion. The Star Wars mythology has become self-aware. In doing so Star Wars stops being a modern myth.
How does it do this? It does this by recycling many of the OT story threads, and set pieces, and placing them in a postmodern context. In broad strokes it tells the same story as TESB with some ROTJ thrown in the mix. As a Star Wars film it’s highly self-referential, characteristic of ‘postmodern’ writing. It’s the OT, but without what it considers to be mythological constraints. It replaces the heroes journey with anybody can be a hero. While on the surface this idea might seem appealing, it’s the implementation of this idea, that’s problematic in my view. Rey doesn’t choose to become a hero. The responsibility is thrust upon her by the Force. Darkness rises and light to meet it, says Snoke. Rey’s character doesn’t need to learn, progress, and struggle with temptation, because she apparently is the chosen representative of the light side of the Force.
Why does it do this? Here’s where the real crux is in my view. It does this without real purpose, meaning it doesn’t do this to tell an original story. TLJ sets the Star Wars universe back three decades. Luke’s act of defiance at the end of the film, while more symbolic, mirrors his heroic act at the end of ANH. The destruction of the first Death Star lit the fire that would destroy the Empire. Another Empire has to be beaten by a struggling rebellion, and another fallen Jedi apprentice has be be conquered by a new hope. We’re narratively right back to square one, which seems completely at odds with the idea, that TLJ puts the franchise in a new direction.
Wow, this is a great article. It makes me angry and sad all over again for what has transpired in TLJ but it is also great being able to read something that so soundly articulates many of the things I find wrong with the movie. Your comments above are also very much on point and a great way to analyse such matters. Nearly every time you post in here about TLJ I am amazed at how well your view on matters lines up with my own.
I think the post-modern view itself is very relevant to TLJ and the below video does a great job on explaining why. I watched it a few weeks back and was amazed at how much sense this bloke makes and helped me also realise why I really don’t like the new ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ show. Not a Trekkie myself but I do love the original movies (really don’t like the new JJ ones though, the first one was barely acceptable and the rest are garbage) and am quite enjoying my first watch through of The Next Generation:
Edit: I’ve been asked to remove the link as apparently it crosses a line that Jay laid down earlier in the thread on political discussions. PM me if you would like to see the video.