Thursday, June 01, 2006

Analyzing: Star Wars Episode 6 Return of the Jedi

To be honest, I wanted to write about a horror movie today as sort of a welcome back now that Stacie has returned to the land of the blogging over at the fine Final Girl blog. Thank god for horny teenagers, you know? And spearguns apparently. Regardless, welcome back.

Anyways, down to business. I want to look at Return of the Jedi today. A movie that features everything from tribal teddy bears to giant slugs to iron underwear.

Something is revealed though in this movie. Luke Skywalker has a sister. That sister happens to be Leia Organa. Twins separated at birth. Hidden from a father who is the biggest wuss ever to oversee a galaxy. The father, of course, is Darth Vader. A man who was a bad ass until you realized what a pussy he was in the first three chapters. Vader is a topic all on his own though, and not really what I'm here to discuss.

You see, just before Luke goes off to confront his father, he tells Leia that they are siblings. Leia is of course shocked and questions how that could possibly be the case. She becomes hysterical and calls Luke a liar. Wait, no. That's not what happens at all is it? She just says that somehow she's always known that.

Fast forward to Han and Leia talking after they blow up the shield generator. Han asks Leia is she loves Luke. She says yes and tells Han that Luke is her brother. Han of course goes nuts, how can that be? He's from Tatooine, you're from Alderaan. You have different parents. You never even met until we rescued you from the Death Star. Wait, no. That's not what happened either. Han just accepted it. No questions. No shock. Not even a simple acknowledgement of being slightly surprised.

Wouldn't you expect some sort of proof? Something that would link them together? Maybe a medallion that they each have half of and they're able to form the whole thing together. Something other than Luke's word? And does Vader know that Leia is his daughter at any point? After their contemptuous exchanges in A New Hope, wouldn't Vader feel like something had slipped through his fingers? A chance to turn his daughter to the dark side?

Which brings me back to Luke. Vader had been scouring the galaxy for him. And the Emperor also wanted to find him. Seemingly, they both wanted him for the same purpose, to turn him to the dark side. That's the easy part of the story, but keep in mind, from The Phantom Menace, "Always two there are. A master and an apprentice."

So, Vader wants to be the master. He wants Luke to help him kill the Emperor and rule the galaxy in his stead. Vader, however, is too weak to kill the Emperor himself in his mechanical state. The force is a living thing and Vader, in many ways, is not. Vader is death made to walk. He is a head an a torso. Everything else is a mechanical prosthetic. He can't even breathe on his own. As such, he cannot control the force as well as he could before the transformation. Vader could have, should have been stronger than any jedi, but he wasn't ready when he faced Obi-Wan and as a result, he's now just a giant wuss dressed like a badass. Kind of like an emo kid.

This is the great tragedy of Darth Vader. Palpatine wanted Anakin because he would be stronger than him and someday overthrow his master. But Vader can't defeat Palpatine on his own, and therefore can never become the master. Vader is destined to always be the apprentice.

Which is why the Emperor wants Luke. He sees in Luke all the same potential that Anakin had, without the weakness of Vader. Here is an apprentice who, by destroying Vader, would demonstrate just how much stronger he is. Luke would be the student who he would teach and eventually would kill the emperor, because that is the destiny of every Sith master. They all secretly fear and hope for the day that their pupil strikes them down, completing the training.

Luke however, is not just stronger physically, but mentally as well. He does not possess the same character flaws that his father did. His weaknesses are different and harder to use against him. Anakin was proud, angry, jealous and scared. Luke suffers only from a fear of failing. He knows the consequences if he fails. His friends will die. His sister will die. The galaxy will live in fear. His fear is not a selfish fear. And that is why ultimately he does not fall to the Emperor.

Vader on the other hand is a weak, foolish, scared individual. All the power in the world, and he's scared of the thing that it can't be used for. He can't save the woman he loves. What he doesn't see is that it was trying to save her that ultimately killed her. But when he sees Luke being killed by the emperor, he finally realizes that he can save his family. He does have the power to do that. He said that he wanted Luke to rule by his side, but that's not it. He wanted to, no, needed to see that despite his failure to save Padme, he still succeeded. He had a strong son who knew right from wrong. His son knew how to use his power. His son did what had to be done. Luke was the Jedi that Anakin could never have been. And in that moment, with the realization that Luke did not hate his father, Anakin was able to kill the Emperor and save his son, and in the end, himself.

I think sometimes, maybe...just maybe, I think about Star Wars too damned much.


Unknown said...

Good analysis except you got one part way wrong. The emperor wanted Vader as an apprentice and nothing more. The Sith want to stay in power as long as possible. He wanted Vader as his puppet and to stay as his lap dog, doing his bidding, for as long as he could. He manipulated Anakin as well as the whole galaxy to achieve the perfect overthrow of the gov't with no real threat opposing him afterwards. His ownly flaw was that he did not realize Padme would have her children who would eventually be the cause of his demise.