screams in the void said:
But within the Star Wars universe, Luke Skywalker still is a Jedi in TLJ, and has all of the powers a Jedi has within that universe.
Luke appearing on Crait was an illusion, but that is still very much a real power. Probably one of the most powerful uses of the Force we’ve ever seen. One that succeeds in its goal of saving the Resistance, but also not allowing his nephew to get more blood on his hands.
So the projection might be some kind of metaphor, but it is not a metaphor in-universe. He very much performed a heroic feat that is worthy of the Jedi legend.
Within universe, Luke had began to doubt the function of the Jedi. He believes that since he has failed like the Jedi before him, that the very existence of the Jedi as they are now are just a part of the problem. That light begets dark. So he has begun to believe that the Jedi need to end in order to stop the cycle, and for something better to start from scratch and take its place.
But in the end, he sees the value of the Jedi, and instead of throwing it all away and starting over, like Kylo Ren wants to, he sees the merit in accepting those mistakes and learning from them in order to grow.
So just because Luke questions that nature in TLJ, doesn’t undo himself as a real person or his very real powers. Because a meta-commentary exists within the film doesn’t necessarily mean that the meta-commentary exists in the universe the characters occupy.
The legend of Luke, in-universe, is an idealized, unchanging version of Luke that doesn’t exist, but Luke Skywalker still very much exists.
The Last Jedi actually still fulfills the latter steps of the Hero’s Journey as well, keeping in line with Luke’s Journey in the OT:
Rescue from Without
Just as the hero may need guides and assistants to set out on the quest, often he or she must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.
The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him. And yet, in so far as one is alive, life will call. >Society is jealous of those who remain away from it, and will come knocking at the door. If the hero. . . is unwilling, the disturber suffers an ugly shock.
The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom and share it with the world.
The easy thing is to commit the whole community to the devil and retire again into the heavenly rock dwelling, close the door, and make it fast. But if some spiritual obstetrician has drawn the shimenawa across the retreat, then the work of representing eternity in time, and perceiving in time eternity, cannot be avoided" The hero returns to the world of common day and accepts it as real and worthy of salvation.
Master of Two Worlds
This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
Campbell: "Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division, from the perspective of the apparitions of time to that of the causal deep and back—not contaminating the principles of the one with those of the other, yet permitting the mind to know the one by virtue of the other—is the talent of the master. The Cosmic Dancer, declares Nietzsche, does not rest heavily in a single spot, but gaily, lightly, turns and leaps from one position to another.
Freedom to Live (for an eternity) Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live (for an eternity)
This is a part of what I love about it. It can carry these messages that might seem contradictory, but they’re not. It’s gets closer to true understanding, like the Force representing the eternal Tao, which is in itself shows balance in contradictions.
The Last Jedi deconstructs the hero, while still following the hero’s journey. It deconstructs legend, but still shows that there is truth to legends. You just can’t confuse deconstruction with destruction. To me, the film simply asks, what makes a hero a hero, and what makes a legend a legend?
While the Last Jedi has post-modern ideas, it doesn’t conclude in nihilism like a lot of post-modernist thought does, saying none of it matters. By deconstructing certain ideas, it does shows their flaws, but also their crucial value.
From a more personal perspective though, I do really appreciate Luke’s story in VIII.
Luke was always my favorite character growing up. He was my hero. But as I’ve grown up I’ve realized that we can’t always stand up to that heroism. We make mistakes, we hurt people we care about, we fail people sometimes. But just because we fail doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to be better. It’s the constant struggle of self improvement that allows for us to be better. It is not a place you reach, but something that must be maintained.
Which also makes me think of Luke. Even though he overcame the dark side in Return of the Jedi doesn’t mean he gets a key to never struggle with the dark side again. The constant struggle is much more appropriate to what the dark side represents.
While not my situation, one example I see a clear parallel to is raising kids. Kids often idealize their parents and as they grow up, eventually see that their parents aren’t perfect people. They have flaws, and probably those flaws will reflect on their children in someway, for better or worse. Eventually parents will slip up, say something that hurts their kids feelings, takes a punishment too far. Being imperfect, failing your kid sometimes, can feel horrible, but eventually you have to accept that you’re going to make mistakes, and despite them you have to learn from those mistakes and be the best parent you can possibly be, because that’s all you really can do.
Since Luke has gone through his own failure, and even gone as far as isolating himself because he thinks he will only makes things worse, gives me hope that even if I feel like I’m at my lowest point in my life, like Luke, that I still have a chance at bouncing back and becoming closer to that idealized version of myself than I ever thought possible.
For me, this makes Luke my hero even more than he was before.
Definitely not trying to say your opinion is wrong. It doesn’t work for you, and that’s totally fine! This movie isn’t a masterpiece, but it isn’t a disaster either. And I do disagree that The Last Jedi contradicts the mythology set up by the rest of the saga. To me, it is a great defense of that mythology, showing us why it is so important. All these movies carry life lessons within a fantastical setting, including this one, and that’s what makes these movies fairy tales.
EDIT: I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind and I know it probably isn’t going to, but I just want to ask others who might disagree with me to stay open-minded about what I said. I love Star Wars, and I just want others to love it to. Like them or not, the Prequels and Sequels are a part of the Saga. You can choose to ignore them, but I just want others to try accept them and find meaning in their stories so people can enjoy them and have fun with the whole saga. That’s all I want! You guys are great, thanks for all of the interesting discussions.
I agree with this and am keeping an open mind . I have a copy of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces and it has an outline of the hero’s journey and TLJ follows that outline brilliantly . It is also worth noting that Carrie Fisher was an in demand script doctor and lent her input into the TLJ script .Also , regarding the recent conversation here , the HelloGreedo post that OOJason made a page or so back addresses a lot of the dynamics of recent conversations .When someone comments like this …“So Star Wars is now a learning-lessons-about-life-meta-documentary which uses a fictional space fantasy fairy tale as a backdrop some old bearded guy invented in the 70s?” or this “Sounds like you didn’t understand the other movies either.” both are antagonistic . the first one is patronizing and the second one is insulting someones intelligence . You may not have intended it as you say , but perhaps people , and this includes myself , should think about how their comments will be received before making them .
I agree! I think great arguments are made from both parts of the fence, but I would be happier if there were no fence at all, and we would just accept we are all fans with different points of view willing to see the films through each other’s eyes.